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Imagine Dragons' Dan Reynolds talks new album 'Loom' — 'Heavy concepts but playful at the same time'

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Imagine Dragons' Dan Reynolds talks new album 'Loom' — 'Heavy concepts but playful at the same time'
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Imagine Dragons' Dan Reynolds talks new album 'Loom' — 'Heavy concepts but playful at the same time'

2024-04-22 23:30 Last Updated At:23:40

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.

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 Oct. 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 realizing 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 is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits

This album cover image released by KIDinaKORNER/Interscope shows "Loom" by Imagine Dragons. (KIDinaKORNER/Interscope via AP)

This album cover image released by KIDinaKORNER/Interscope shows "Loom" by Imagine Dragons. (KIDinaKORNER/Interscope via AP)

PARIS (AP) — The Syrian soldiers came first, at night, for the son, Patrick, a 20-year-old psychology student at Damascus University, and said they were taking him away for questioning.

They came back the next night for his father, Mazen.

Five years later, in 2018, death certificates from Syrian authorities confirmed to the Dabbagh family that the French-Syrian father and son would never come home again.

In a landmark trial, a Paris court will this week seek to determine whether Syrian intelligence officials — the most senior to go on trial in a European court over crimes allegedly committed during the country's civil war — were responsible for their disappearance and deaths.

The four-day hearings, starting Tuesday, are expected to air chilling allegations that President Bashar Assad's government has widely used torture and arbitrary detentions to hold on to power during the conflict, now in its 14th year.

The French trial comes as Assad has been regaining an aura of international respectability, starting to shed his long-time status as a pariah that stemmed from the violence unleashed on his opponents. Human rights groups that are parties to the French case hope it will refocus attention on the alleged atrocities.

Here's a look at those involved:

— Ali Mamlouk, former head of the National Security Bureau overseeing Syrian security and intelligence services. Allegedly worked directly with Assad. Now in his late 70s.

— Jamil Hassan, former Air Force intelligence director. Survivors testifying in the case allege having seen him at a detention center in the capital, Damascus, where the Dabbaghs are thought to have been held. In his early 70s.

— Salam Mahmoud, in his mid-60s, a former investigations official at a Damascus military airport believed to house the detention center. Mahmoud is alleged to have expropriated the Dabbaghs' house after they were taken away.

The three men are accused of provoking crimes against humanity, giving instructions to commit them and allowing subordinates to commit them through the alleged arrest, torture and killing of the father and son. They also are accused of confiscating their house and of putting Air Force intelligence services at the disposal of people who allegedly killed them.

The accused are being tried in absentia. French magistrates issued arrest warrants for them in October 2018, despite acknowledging that there was little likelihood of their extradition to France. Defense lawyers will not represent them and French magistrates determined they don't have diplomatic immunity.

“The three people accused are very senior officials of the Syrian system of repression and torture. This gives a particular tone to this trial. They are not small fish,” said Patrick Baudouin, a lawyer for rights groups involved in the case.

“The legal file is very detailed, full of evidence of systematic, very diverse and absolutely monstrous torture practices," Baudouin said.

Patrick and Mazen Dabbagh had dual French-Syrian nationality, which enabled French magistrates to pursue the case. The probe of their disappearance started in 2015 when Obeida Dabbagh, Mazen's brother, testified to investigators already examining war crimes in Syria.

Obeida Dabbagh lives in France with his wife, Hanane, and is also a party in the case. According to the trial indictment, seen by The Associated Press, he told French investigators that three or four soldiers came for Patrick around 11 p.m. on Nov. 3, 2013, during the height of Arab Spring-inspired anti-government protests that were met by a brutal crackdown. The soldiers identified themselves as members of a Syrian Air Force intelligence branch. Obeida also testified they searched the house, taking cellphones, computers and money.

They came back the next night for Mazen Dabbagh, who was 54 and worked as a counselor at a French high school in Damascus, and also took his new car, the brother said.

Their death certificates said Patrick died Jan. 21, 2014, and Mazen on Nov. 25, 2017, but didn't say how or where.

French investigating magistrates collected evidence from those who deserted the Syrian government and military, and prison survivors as they built the case.

Testifying anonymously, survivors' accounts speak in the indictment of rape and of being denied food and water; of beatings on the feet, knees and elsewhere with whips, cables and truncheons; of electric shocks and burnings with acid or boiling water; of being suspended from the ceiling for hours or days.

Investigators also studied images provided by a Syrian policeman, who anonymously turned over photographs of thousands of torture victims.

Cameras are generally banned from French criminal trials, but this one will be filmed for historical record.

In a separate investigation, French magistrates have also targeted President Assad himself but face questions about whether he benefits from presidential immunity.

Magistrates are investigating chemical weapons' attacks that killed more than 1,000 people and injured thousands of others in the suburbs of Damascus in 2013. They issued international arrest warrants for Assad, his brother Maher Assad, commander of the 4th Armored Division, and two Syrian army generals — Ghassan Abbas and Bassam al-Hassan — for alleged complicity in war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The French probe was opened in 2021 in response to a criminal complaint by attack survivors. The investigation is being conducted under the principle of universal jurisdiction, which argues that in some cases, crimes can be pursued outside the countries where they take place.

The Syrian government and its allies have denied responsibility for the attacks.

The French warrants, very rare for a serving world leader, were seen as a strong signal against Assad’s leadership at a time when some countries have welcomed him back into the diplomatic fold. Victims' lawyers hailed the warrants as “a crucial milestone in the battle against impunity.”

The Paris appeals court is weighing whether Assad has absolute immunity as head of state. French prosecutors asked it to rule on that question at a closed hearing May 15.

That procedure does not impact the warrants for Assad’s brother and the generals.

In March, Swiss prosecutors indicted Rifat Assad, the president’s uncle and a former Syrian vice president, for allegedly ordering murder and torture more than four decades ago to crush an uprising by the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist movement, in the city of Hama, where thousands were killed.

A court in Stockholm put a former Syrian army general who lives in Sweden on trial in April for his alleged role in war crimes in 2012.

Courts in Germany found two former Syrian soldiers guilty in 2021 and 2022 of crimes against humanity. One was sentenced to life imprisonment, the other to 4 1/2 years for complicity. They had claimed refugee status in Germany before former detainees recognized them there. They were tried under the principle of universal jurisdiction.

Surk reported from Nice, France. Associated Press writer Kareem Chehayeb in Beirut contributed to this report.

FILE - In this photo released on Nov. 9, 2019 by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar Assad speaks in Damascus, Syria. In a landmark trial, a Paris court will this week seek Tuesday May 21, 2024 to determine whether Syrian intelligence officials were responsible for Patrick and Mazzen Dabbagh's disappearance and deaths. The hearings are expected to air chilling allegations that President Bashar Assad's regime has widely used torture and arbitrary detentions to keep power in Syria's civil war. (SANA via AP, File)

FILE - In this photo released on Nov. 9, 2019 by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar Assad speaks in Damascus, Syria. In a landmark trial, a Paris court will this week seek Tuesday May 21, 2024 to determine whether Syrian intelligence officials were responsible for Patrick and Mazzen Dabbagh's disappearance and deaths. The hearings are expected to air chilling allegations that President Bashar Assad's regime has widely used torture and arbitrary detentions to keep power in Syria's civil war. (SANA via AP, File)

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