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Imagine Dragons’ Dan Reynolds talks new album ‘Loom’

‘Heavy concepts but playful at the same time’

NEW YORK (AP) — The ambiguity of Imagine Dragons’ next album starts from the cover.

Two figures stand in the distance separated by a dawning sun. Or is it setting? Lead singer and songwriter Dan Reynolds, who dreamed it up, sees it both ways.

“You can’t really tell if it’s a sunset or a sunrise, and then there are two people kind of separated standing in front of it. That really kind of sums it up thematically when I listen to it,” he tells The Associated Press.

“Is the beginning of something new, or is this the end of something? And the sunset and the sunrise always kind of feels that way to me. It could be either/or.”

From the paranoid, slightly demented hip-hop-rock opening song “Wake Up” — with Reynolds singing: “Everybody’s coming for you/Wake up!” — to the strummy, swaying “Take Me to the Beach,” it’s clear the nine-track album called “Loom” isn’t one thing. The album comes out June 28.

It’s the first album since Reynolds’ divorce from musician Aja Volkman and there are songs about moving on — the sunny flirtatious “Nice to Meet Ya” — but also looking behind, like the bittersweet “In Your Corner” — “You turned your back/And now we’re here” — and “Don’t Forget Me,” with the lyrics “Guess we got lost in the light.”

“I just start creating and whatever comes out is what it is. That’s how I’ve been since I was 12. I try not to overthink it,” says Reynolds. “It’s just an honest output sonically, lyrically of how I’m feeling in the moment.”

For the driving, anthemic “Kid,” Reynolds says he came into the studio with his life a little chaotic. He just spoke words that he was feeling over a drum loop: “You got to get yourself together, kid/You got to get it together.” Then the band started building. The song, inspired by the ’90s music he loves, like by Gorillaz, became an exhortation for America, so adding a choir made sense.

“We had a lot of fun creating that one in the studio. I love the juxtaposition of things that are kind of tongue-in-cheek, but also maybe dark,” he says. “Heavy concepts, but playful at the same time.”

“Loom” was recorded in a new way for Imagine Dragons, which includes guitarist Wayne Sermon, bassist Ben McKee and drummer Daniel Platzman. For one thing, the band abandoned their usual preference for multiple producers in favor of just one — the Swedish duo of Mattman & Robin.

This album cover image released by KIDinaKORNER/Interscope shows “Loom” by Imagine Dragons. PHOTO: AP

Another change was approaching it fresh. “We usually go into the record having a bunch of demos that we’ve already just self-produced and done on our own,” Reynolds says. “But this one we had a bunch of demos and we just scrapped everything and went in with a clean slate.”

“Loom” comes two years after “Mercury,” a brooding, raw confessional double album that dealt with heartache, tragedy and Reynolds’ struggles with sobriety.

“Eyes Closed,” the new album’s first single, signals a change, with a big stormy banger and the chest-pounding lyrics: “I’m back from the dead, from the back of my head/Been gone and facin’ horrors that should never be said.”

Reynolds says he was going for a blustery, arrogant vibe but revealing a vulnerable core. “It really was about being something that on the outside looks put together and strong,” he says, “but on the inside it’s on the verge of maybe shattering.”

The title of the album — “Loom” — has multiple meanings. “Just because something is looming doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad. It could be good,” he says. “I also love the idea of the double meaning of it, kind of being a tapestry.”

The Dragons will tour across North America in support of “Loom,” kicking off June 30 in Camden, New Jersey, at Freedom Mortgage Pavilion and hitting such cities at Dallas, Seattle; Toronto; West Palm Beach, Florida; Denver; Charlotte, North Carolina; Phoenix; Salt Lake City; and concluding on October 22 at the Hollywood Bowl.

Reynolds says touring is deep within Imagine Dragons’ DNA and speaks about playing live as if it were a massive therapeutic effort, which their shows often become.

“It’s just a lot of people in a room together realising they’re not alone in their their feelings,” he says. “I don’t necessarily need them to feel happy or sad or anything. I just want them to look around them and see that other people are also feeling something and feeling, ‘I’m not alone in that.'”

Songs from “Loom” will make the setlist, of course. Reynolds considers it one of the band’s most up-tempo collections, even though there are ballads and slow moments.

“A lot of the record is kind trying to come to terms with just accepting. Things are looming and incoming, for better or for worse, and there’s just really nothing you could do other than accept it,” he says. “I still haven’t learned to do that, but we will”. – MARK KENNEDY

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