The title of their 2015 album embodied Reynolds’ melancholy and confusion away from the limelight, similar to the meaning of the popular idiom. “Right at the beginning of Smoke + Mirrors was really when A.S. was rearing it’s head in a big way,” he recalls. “It was the beginning of the disease in a lot of ways for me and learning to manage it. So physically I was in a quite a lot of pain, and mentally I was in a very bad place as well.”
Fast forward to the present, Reynolds credits A.S. as the inspiration for new music.
“I’m grateful for it,” he says. “Looking back in this last year from a place of health you’re able to have greater perspective and I’ve had more perspective to see that a lot of the great things in my life are due to struggle.”
Case in point: the anthemic lyrics he penned for “Believer” are reflective of his current state. “You made me a, you made me a believer, believer / (Pain, pain) / You break me down, you build me up, believer, believer.”
And the personal meanings behind the single comparably paint Reynolds as a phoenix rising from the ashes.
“A lot of my greatest strengths are due to my greatest weaknesses or flaws or physical ailments. It brought me discipline, gratitude and compassion. The song is about how pain made me a believer,” he reflects. “It’s made me a believer in myself, it’s made me a believer in my art and work. I wouldn’t have my art if it wasn’t for pain. It takes somewhat of a healthy place to appreciate it because when you’re in the midst of it you don’t appreciate it. You’re just upset.”
He adds: “The meaning of the song is really reflecting on specific things in my life that were painful, whether it was anxiety and dealing with crowds, feeling overwhelmed by that or the success of the band, disease, going through depression—anything that was a source of pain in my life. And just rising above that, finding a place of perspective where I could be appreciative of the pain in my life and make it my greatest strength.”
Fans can expect the upcoming Imagine Dragons album to come from “a place of color and reflection and emotion” — as seen in the “Believer” cover art and music video that was released on Tuesday.