Long awaited, they have returned. Imagine Dragons has set a new standard in ambitious pop with their latest album Mercury - Act 1 which focuses on authenticity, vulnerability and growth. Their global reach is a result of their widely accessible lyrics, relatable themes, tones and their strive to entertain at such a high degree.
They currently have over 15 million followers on Facebook, and over 5 million followers on both Instagram, and Twitter,. Today, Dan Reynolds gives us some insight into how this album came to be and what it means to the band to be able to release their most raw and honest works yet.
This album captures the importance of self evaluation—whether that be major life choices and or surrounding yourself with people who provide positive support which in turn allows room for you to grow—, acceptance of what has happened with an open mindedness to what is to come and ultimately being ok with who you are. That said, what did the creative process for this album look and feel like? Were there moments of hesitation throughout this process?
I wrote the songs over a three-year period, so a lot of different things happened in my life. I experienced the birth of my son as well as the loss of a few dear friends and family. It really forced me to be more existentially minded. Rick Rubin helped me to be honest and vulnerable. There really wasn’t much hesitation. Our goal was to create an album that really encompassed all the emotions of life and death that I had experienced in the most raw and real way.
Each track across the album left me with the sensation of self worth and the urge to engage with loved ones and close friends alike. What were your major inspirations for Mercury - Act 1 and your most recent work?
Many of my biggest influences were very versatile and sometimes even genreless. I love Harry Nilsson in particular. He tried all sorts of things but at the end of the day it was still Harry because his words were his. I love the drama and eccentricity of Queen. The vulnerability and directness of Cat Stevens.
Are there any aspects from your previous work that helped guide the direction you took towards the creation of the album?
We wanted to go to new ground on this record. Rick would often question if a song was too in the box, or not exciting enough to pursue due to it feeling too contrived. He also pushed me to be less metaphorical with lyrics. We sat down together and went over every lyric from every song. He wanted to understand it all and be sure of the honesty and everything that I said.
With your fanbase being located all across the world and your primary language being English, how do you think language affects your reach? And do you find that it creates any barriers?
Nothing makes me feel closer to humanity than a tour. Language has not seemed to be a barrier for us. I think those who listen to the Dragons feel the emotion within the music and melody even if sometimes the language is a barrier. But truthfully it has never seemed to be a barrier. Everywhere we go around the world they sing along with me.
I especially enjoyed the various titles throughout the album that tackled mental health, how and what it can feel like to struggle in that mindset. They all revolved around positivism and growth from those tribulations. Do you find your work process and outcome to be therapeutic in this regard? (does it help you to stay focused on projects, friends, family, hobbies etc.?)
Music has always been incredibly cathartic and therapeutic for me. I started writing at the age of 12 because it helped me confront depression and anxiety. It gave me a sounding board to voice my deepest feelings that I couldn’t say aloud. It still does the same thing for me today at 34 years old. I’ve written hundreds of songs that no one will ever hear. They are my journal entries and have served as therapy for me.
Is there a specific track and or lyrics that you feel most connected with in Mercury - Act 1? If so, what are some of the primary factors that led to this?
The first track on the album, My Life, really serves as a springboard for many reasons. It confronts some difficult truths for me that I’ve always been afraid of voicing aloud. I wanted to start the record with this song because it sets a precedent of vulnerability and truth that the rest of the record follows.
Are there any creative fields or media styles that you'd wish to explore outside of what you are already working on? If so, have you ever thought about combining these fields with your music?
I have been working on developing a PC game for a couple years now and can speak on that more in the near future. That has been a real passion project for me, and it certainly will go hand in hand with music as well.
With the release of your last album, Origins, in 2018 are you eager to release your new works? And was there anything that you had originally planned to be released in this album that didn’t make the final cut?
This is the longest time we have taken off between album cycles. It’s been over three years. I wrote literally hundreds of demos that didn’t make the cut. We narrowed it down to 70 with Rick Rubin and then brought 30 into the studio to actually flush out with the band. Then that got narrowed down even more. I’m always writing as it is more of a lifestyle for me than a career choice. I’ve written a song almost every couple days since I was 12.
As you continue to push the boundaries of your music even further do you find it to be your responsibility as musical artists that each and every song and or performance is bigger than the last?
I really don’t think much about that. I think the pressure would be the death of me. We just try to go to whatever place excites us sonically, and as far as lyrically and melodically I just am expressing wherever I’m at in life.
What are some of the difficulties you have had to overcome over the course of the last year and a half while we have all faced major changes due to COVID-19 and the wide range of sociopolitical unrest happening globally? And did this influence any of your work?
It certainly has been a hard few years for everyone. The solidarity is something that has been very difficult at times but also revealing in positive ways. I’ve spent a great deal of time just being a dad and enjoying the constant time with my four kids and wife. I’m sure the loneliness of it all played an impact on this record though. But more so I would say this record is about the finality of life.
Do you have any plans to perform live in the near future? If so, are you planning to incorporate anything new and exciting that we can look forward to?
We have been putting together our biggest world tour yet and will bring this album to as many places as we can. Performing live is my favorite part of my career. This will be our biggest production yet.