HER fist-pumping anthems are made to be sung out loud in arenas.
But Imagine Dragons’ death-inspired latest album Mercury Acts 1&2 is so raw and personal that singer Dan Reynolds will never perform some of its tracks again.
Within five years, the frontman lost his sister-in-law, business executive and ex-girlfriend to cancer, while his longtime best friend tragically took his own life.
His grief led to his most vulnerable work yet, seeing his favorite metaphors open to interpretation being replaced by deeply personal ruminations.
And while it provided cathartic relief, Dan has no desire to reiterate the pain contained in the most tragic of tracks.
No More than I Wish, written after Dan witnessed the death of his sister-in-law and mother-of-seven, Alisha Durtschi Reynolds.
In an exclusive interview to mark the release of the 10th anniversary edition of their debut album, Night Visions, out today, he says: “It’s not something I want to experience every day. There are certain songs that I don’t think I’ll ever sing live. For example, I Wish is one of those songs.
“I wrote it right after I was in the room with my sister-in-law and brother, just the three of us in one room. She had died in her thirties, seven children. Make sure she’s here, make sure she’s not here.
“A week later I wrote this song. Even when we brought Rick in [Rubin, producer], Rick said, “We’re not touching this. This is simply what it is.’ I will never sing this song live. I don’t even want to hear that song.”
Though the track may be forever reserved for the ears of fans listening to streaming platforms or CDs, Dan said the production process was “beautiful”.
Most Read in Entertainment
“Having a sounding board to express your feelings; I feel like they’ve built up and you’re holding on to them,” he says. “Saying ‘I miss you’ can be incredibly cathartic. For me it was a really nice experience.”
For the first time in their career, the Dragons brought in an outside producer to help them create the record.
They turned to Rick Rubin, the bearded music man who has worked with everyone from Slayer and Johnny Cash to Public Enemy and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Contrary to his reputation as a hippie Zen master, Rick was ever-present on long days in the studio.
Dan says: “We usually produce ourselves, for better or for worse. This time we wanted someone to come in and challenge and challenge us and Rick certainly challenged us.
“Rick was in the room the whole time, opinions on everything. First there, last gone. Very convenient. Incredible producer. And also just a wonderful person, a dear friend now. He’s a really complex person.”
There are certain songs that I don’t think I’ll ever sing live.
The 59-year-old had Dan comb through each song’s lyrics, a process the frontman found “painful,” and wanted to know the meaning behind everything.
“I can usually hide behind metaphors, which is one of my biggest weaknesses as an artist,” says Dan. “I hide behind metaphors because growing up music was a refuge from Mormonism and I didn’t want my parents to know what I was singing about. Rick really made me more vulnerable and spoke more clearly in my lyrics. There is a way to be poetic and less metaphorical.
Imagine dragons not afraid of big issues. Their seminal debut album, Night Visions, and its follow-up, Smoke and Mirrors, both dealt with Dan’s crisis of faith.
Raised as a Mormon by his devout family in Las Vegas, Nevada, he did missionary work before the band’s first record was released.
Six years after “Night Visions” topped the charts with hits “Radioactive,” “On Top of the World,” and “Demons,” Dan’s relationship with Mormonism was once again in the spotlight through his acclaimed documentary, “Believer.”
It explored the Mormon Church’s attitude towards the LGBT community as Dan set out to start the inclusive LOVELOUD festival in Utah.
His turning away from religion led to difficult conversations at home, and Dan believes his mother prays daily for his return to a practicing Mormon.
Despite their differences, the 35-year-old remains close to his family and respects their faith.
He says: “My focus is always on family. It’s tough. Anyone who comes from an Orthodox faith home. Mormonism is your culture. It’s more than your religion. It’s commonplace. Behind every conversation there are layers of religiosity. And I am very close to my family. I have seven brothers and one sister and my mother and father and they are still active Mormons. “So in this case it was difficult because I never want to be disrespectful of what they love and what they believe in, but I also have to follow my truth. It was tough and they were wonderful and supportive and loving, but I think my mom probably still prays every day for me to return to Mormonism.”
Could he imagine returning to religion in the future?
“I’ll be Mormon culturally for the rest of my life,” says Dan. “You can leave the faith, but this culture as I identify with the Mormons. I grew up with them. Many of my friends are still Mormons. I have great respect and love for this community.
“It’s a beautiful thing for someone to have faith, right. I’m not a religious person, I’m not an atheist, I’m probably agnostic or something. I’m just looking for the truth, you know. I have no need to denounce anything. Life is so complex and finite. I would simply say that culturally I still associate with Mormonism, but religiously I am not a practicing Mormon.”
I have never met anyone in my entire existence who surprised me more.
Billions of streams, top 10 records and a Grammy award have given Imagine Dragons a powerful voice in pop culture.
Earlier this year, they became ambassadors for United24, a charity founded by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy after the Russian invasion.
The money raised through the organization funds things like medical and military supplies, as well as repairing damaged infrastructure.
The fact that Zelenskyy visited the band personally shows how much international clout they have.
“Meeting President Zelenskyy on Zoom in my entire existence has not met anyone who surprised me more,” says Dan. “He’s a hero. He’s at ground zero, not moving, he’s incredibly humble and powerful, just a beacon… A modern-day hero.
“We [the band] talked about Ukraine on the shows and we sang songs trying to remind people. And then her [Zelenskyys] put out his hand and it was a piece of cake.”
Passing on Zelenskyy’s main appeal to Ukraine’s supporters, he continues: “He said: ‘First of all, please tell everyone that it is important to share this on social media.’ Every vote counts because then the media picks it up, politicians see it and there is more pressure on politicians to help. please do it If it is not talked about, then it will be forgotten. Also put your money where your mouth is. There are great ways United 24, which we participate in, can buy ambulances and help on the ground. But keep talking about it.”
And Dan certainly has no qualms about using his platform to entertain people about the conflict in Eastern Europe, whether it’s by waving a flag on stage or speaking candidly in the media.
He says: “Ukraine is being harassed and bombed by a tyrannical leader. It’s a simple thing. It’s not a complex subject.
“We had to cancel stadium shows [in Ukraine] and throughout Russia and Europe, which are huge areas for us. There’s no part of me that likes punishing the people of Russia for their leader, but I won’t watch or say anything either.”
For the past two years he’s been working with 10 Ukrainians from Kyiv on a video game project, and hearing about their experiences has added a personal component to the conflict.
“I met with them three times a week, I know them on a deep, personal level,” he says. “When the war was on the brink, I thought, ‘What’s going on, is this going to happen?’ And they said, “No, no, no. This is all talk, it’s not really going to happen. It’s going to be a cold war.
“And then suddenly the next week it was like bombs, scared, they were scared for their lives. They had to flee the country. Many of their parents are still there because they are too old to go or will not go. It’s scary.
“It’s the year 2022 and that’s happening too. It’s personal for me too. I love the people of Ukraine. I played a lot of shows there. It’s one of our largest areas in the world. So it feels personal.”
With the band’s largest tour to date across the United States and the release of an expanded version of “Night Visions” featuring the previously unreleased track “Love of Mine”, the voice of Imagine Dragons and their anti-war message will continue to be heard loud and clear.
The band has also launched an interactive website to celebrate 10 years night vision. The game exclusively available on the night vision Microsite, recruits fans to acquire items to help fix a broken Dragon carriage (the Dragons’ old tour bus).
https://www.the-sun.com/entertainment/6177651/imagine-dragons-dan-reynolds-heartbreaking-never-perform-emotional-tracks/ Imagine Dragons’ Dan Reynolds Reveals Heartbreaking Reason He’ll Never Play Or Hear Emotional New Tracks