Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds joins Zane Lowe on New Music Daily on Apple Music 1 to discuss the group’s two new songs "Follow You" & "Cutthroat".

He tells Zane about reconciling with his wife and how the experience inspired “Follow You”, how Rick Rubin got involved with the project, the origins of “Cutthroat”, the album’s theme of life and death, and more.

So we'd communicated only through a third party, and it was divorce attorneys... And just everything was just super... Yeah, it was just messy. So I was dreading it and sick to my stomach, and we're going to sit at this table. And while I was on my way to sign these papers, she sent me a first text message, anything I'd heard from her in seven months. It was a long text, but the basis of it was, "I love you. I accept you for everything you are. And I don't need to own you to love you. So I want you to be free. We're going to raise our kids together, separately in life and it's all going to be okay." And it was just this incredibly healing and just far reaching and very generous text. And then we sit down at this table, apart from each other, the mother of my children with these divorce attorneys, like okay, all business. And I think right in the beginning of it, I said something to the extent of... I just looked at her and I said, "So why are we getting a divorce? Why are we doing this?" And she started laughing because of the heaviness of it all. And I think the attorneys in the room were just like....These crazy artists, yes.

So we both were like, just stop everything. We're going to go to lunch together and went to lunch. And it felt like a first date all over. And we were just like, let's wait for a second. Let's wait for a second and just talk and date. And that's what we did. And then I re-proposed to her, even though we never got divorced in the first place, but we were separated. And then we had a child together. So now we have four kids, and I have a 16-month-old boy now, Valentine, who's just the greatest gift. So, it turned out okay. But the reality of it is that not all relationships work. Sometimes it does, and sometimes... No relationship is perfect. That's where the song came from. So yeah, I wrote "Follow You" soon after that. And that's what the song is about. It's about loyalty. It's about sticking it out with whoever it is that you love. And even if it's yourself. The thing that hit me when she sent me that text was the love without expectations. And that, for me, was very transformative for our relationship.

Imagine Dragons’ Dan Reynolds Tells Apple Music About The Theme of Life and Death on the Album…

One of the themes of this whole record, and I can tell you this, is life and death. In the last three years, one of my best friends took his life. My sister-in-law, the wife of my brother who has seven kids together, passed away from cancer. I was in the hospital with her as she was there. That was my first time ever being in the room with someone who passed. I sat with my brother as he had to call each one of his kids and tell them that Mum had passed, and this cancer came on out of nowhere. And my business manager since the beginning of the band passed from cancer. So, it hit me on the most real level of the fragility of life, and to embrace every moment we have, to embrace every relationship we have, to cut through the bullsh-t, to say you're sorry. This is such a short period of time.

Imagine Dragons’ Dan Reynolds Tells Apple Music About Working With Rick Rubin On Their Forthcoming Album…

Rick is an essential part of this whole record. Rick was also the executive producer. So even "Follow You," he played a role in that as well, bringing in Cory Henry, who's an incredible organist that was on that song, who also plays on "Cutthroat." But "Cutthroat," he really, really dug in deep with us. That was Rick Rubin putting his imprint on the band in a big way. We had a demo that we had worked on, previous to Rick coming in, that was Cutthroat, but it was 50% of what "Cutthroat" became. So, when we were talking about do we want to work with a producer? Who would be a dream producer idea? Typically, we self-produced, but we thought it's the fifth album, let's change it up, let's try something new. And Rick Rubin immediately came to mind for me.

Imagine Dragons’ Dan Reynolds Tells Apple Music About His Misconception of Rick Rubin...

Rick is elusive... To me, you see the picture of Rick, and he's lying down on the couch, and he's silent. And that's what I thought Rick was going to be. And I thought this isn't going to work. I want something really hands-on. And that was not who Rick was at all, by the way. Rick was anything, but laying on the couch, silent producer. Very involved, very thoughtful, on his feet, pacing. Rick was everything I could've hoped for in a producer. But anyway, so when we were talking with Rick, so we reached out and we said, "Hey, would you be interested in doing this?" He said, "Yeah. Send me some songs. Let's talk."So I think when he said send me some songs, he expected three songs, but I sent him 100 songs. I had been off for three years. I had written and that was me narrowing down. And you have to know that I had 300 demos for this record. So for me, it was so hard. And I was thinking Rick was going to respond and be like, I'm not the man for the job. This is way too much. I'm busy... I'm Rick Rubin. I'm doing every record ever. But he responded after a week with every song, and he had comments on every song, a paragraph on every song. He dug into every song. "I like this. This is the reason I like this. I don't like this part. I don't believe this part. This sounds like this." Very, very honest and very articulate and very on point. There wasn't anything he said that I was like... Even when it was hard to hear, and it hurt, I was like, that resonates in a way. Never vindictive, never malicious, honest, because that's who Rick is. And he can't be any other way. We brought all the guys, we narrowed it down to 20 to 30 songs, I think, at that point. And then we just dug in on everything.

Imagine Dragons’ Dan Reynolds Tells Apple Music About Rick Rubin 'Pushing Him To Uncomfortable Places'...

So "Cutthroat" was one of the first ones we worked on. One of the qualities that Rick had on everything was he would say... a line he would say to me often was, "I don't believe you here. I don't believe you. What are you saying? I don't believe it." And I'm like, "Well, I'm talking about this." And he's like, "Okay, so you meant that, but why don't I believe it?" And he would push me to this place that would be... It's uncomfortable. It would be a song about... I'd be like, "Yeah, this is a song about my friend who committed suicide last year, Rick." And he'd be like, "I don't believe that, though. It doesn't sound like... I don't hear what you're saying to me. I hear what you're saying right now. I hear the hurt, but I don't hear it there." So something is lost in translation. So Rick pushed me to uncomfortable places. He pushed me to be less metaphorical as a writer and to be more direct, which can be more poetic, actually, and more powerful. And a lot of my favourite lyricists are, whether it's Cat Stevens or whether it's Bob Dylan or Biggie, there's a directness that's there always. And it cuts through all the bullsh-t or Tupac, the poetry is there, but it's there and not over thought.

And "Cutthroat," he said, "This song sounds manic, but it sounds like it's 75% there. Why don't you go all the way there? Are you angry when you wrote this?" I was like, "Yes, this is the most angry song I've ever written. I was really upset when I wrote this song.” And I'm very honest about mental issues I've dealt with. I've dealt with this since I'm young. This is nothing I'm... it's part of my music. That song was in a very manic moment. And he was like, "Right, I hear it, but let's really go there.” So that song's really, it's an exorcism of self, is the way I think of it. It's not about anyone else. It's not anger towards anyone else but myself. It's this anger of woe is me. Why? He taught me a lot about myself, taught me a lot about music. And that song, it was one of the first songs we wanted to release. And Rick was all about it too, because I also feel like it's a statement piece. It's a statement piece of the record. And it also just speaks to the value of what Rick brought in a really real way.