Panic! At The Disco have had a great start to the year, having already shot to number one on the US Billboard Charts with their new album ‘Death Of A Bachelor’. By ‘they’, of course, we mean Brendon Urie, now the sole member of the pop rock powerhouse. We chatted with the musician about the new album, Frank Sinatra and whether or not we’ll see him on our shores anytime soon.
‘Death of a Bachelor’ just dropped, so how crazy has the past week been for you?
Yeah, the past couple of weeks have been really insane (laughs). But it’s awesome, I’m really excited.
How bad was the urge to leak it before it actually came out? It didn’t leak until essentially, the last second.
Oh my God, It didn’t leak until like, almost three days before. I was sitting there with it on my laptop [almost] every night, a few whiskeys deep, just like [with] my finger on the ‘send’ button, ready to leak it, put it out on Tumblr or something. But I held strong! I held strong.
I think a couple of copies showed up in Target and the internet was like, ‘Brendon must have put them there!’
(Laughs). I’ll take full credit for that!
A lot of the songs on the album reflect the party lifestyle of LA and obviously being on tour and what not. Are you celebrating the lifestyle or mocking it? Is it ever sarcastic?
I guess not really mocking it, but I don’t really party in LA the way that most LA natives party. It’s not really my forte. My thing is like when I’m having a party, I know exactly how I want to party, who I want to invite… I’m able to facilitate exactly how I want to have a good time. Actually the song ‘LA Devotee’ is my favourite stuff to do in LA. Not going to the club and trying to pick up crazies and do shots with randos, mostly just being able to sit out and look out at the stars, and see the whole cityscape and go out of my way to stay out of the hectic chaos. But you know, it’s fun to jump into the chaotic nature of everything once in a while.
Definitely. Most of the album has a fun vibe except for songs like ‘Impossible Year’. That one in particular brings the tone down a little. You seem pretty happy in your life right now, so what was that track actually about?
I mean, well, every song has its own message, but ‘Impossible Year’…I have this habit of ending records on a sombre note, more of a bittersweet tone to it. That’s just really how I felt. I mean, ‘Impossible Year’, there’s those times, you know? I’d say like .1% of the time, you know, I fall into that deep hole where I’m just like, feeling everything, and you gotta have those moments where you’re feeling down and out, like nothing is ever going to happen, in order to really appreciate when stuff does happen and you’re feeling really grateful. So that was one of those very rare moments where I was feeling like, ‘man, this is gonna be so crazy, everything coming up, the future and just how I feel right now’. I was feeling very sombre. Some of my favourite Sinatra songs do that, reminiscing about old times, and it’s sadder, when he sings like, you know, ‘one for my baby and one for the road’, it’s so sad. He’s talking to this bartender and his only friend is this guy pouring him whiskey that he’s paying to pour him drinks. That’s really where I was coming from.
People have talked a lot about the prominent Sinatra influence on the record, which is great. Have you ever thought of releasing a Frank Sinatra covers album? That would be epic.
Thanks! One time in New York, about three years ago, I did a lounge act where I sang a couple of Sinatra songs and I did like two Panic! songs more lounge-style and that was great. I played with a live jazz band, I was at a cocktail lounge, people were drinking. It very much felt like a 1940s/50s style cocktail lounge, I was out there crooning for people who were hammered drunk, it was awesome. So I’m not opposed to it, I haven’t really made any plans to do it specifically but yeah I would love to do that. That sounds fun.
Would you describe yourself as a Bobby-Soxer?
What is that?
They used to call intense Frank Sinatra fans Bobby-Soxers because they were mostly teenage girls who wore Bobby Socks.
I didn’t know that! I’m a straight-up fanboy for Sinatra. I’m hoping to be like a part of the Board, like the Chairman of the Board, but I’m just a Board Member.
There’s this rapper called Logic, have you heard of him?
Oh yeah, I love Logic! He’s super talented. I love that guy.
He’s really, really into Sinatra. He calls himself Young Sinatra. He could join.
(Laughs). That’s bold! That is bold.
Definitely. Moving on, are you looking to release any B-sides from the album in the future, like anything that didn’t make the cut?
There are some extra songs that I didn’t put on the album but none that I feel the need to release. Anytime I feel the need to release them I will, but I put the 11 songs that I thought represented exactly where I was at during the writing process. But I mean I’m always working on stuff, there’s stuff that I’ve been producing on my own that…I don’t know if it will ever see the light of day, but something will come out of it.
A lot of fans have talked about the ‘Cabin Album’, an unreleased album from the pre-Pretty. Odd. era. Do you still have that?
Oh yeah, I still have it. But you know what’s so funny, they say it’s a ‘Cabin Album’, it was honestly like two, maybe three songs. They weren’t even finished. That was just the beginning of what ‘Pretty. Odd.’ became, and we were just so frustrated, so it’s not even a full album. Like everybody’s like, ‘you gotta leak the album!’ It’s like two and a half songs, and they’re nothing. ‘Pretty. Odd.’ was exactly what it should have been, and it was greater than any demo we had in the cabin. That’s why we left the cabin, because we were actually going literally insane, I mean having like, psychopathic trips, it was just bad. I don’t think it’ll ever see the light of day.
Fair enough. There’s a lot of speculation about past members and what they think about the new direction. Have you been in contact with any of them?
No. I don’t talk to anybody except for Spencer Smith. We’re still really good friends, he’s still one of my best friends. I never stopped talking to him. But you know, when past members would leave it was because they didn’t want to be a part of it [anymore]. It wasn’t because we hated each other, we just kind of drifted apart, as people do, you know? Friends will kind of just keep a distance from each other over time. I’m not sure what it was. But I never feel worried about what the fuck they think, because this has nothing to do with them. But you know, it’s nice to be able to still have friends from the past and be able to see them, but I’m not concerned. It is funny though. I still get messages from fans like ‘what about these guys?’ Like you do realise that was almost eight years ago? (Laughs). It’s cute.
Panic! has been around for over 10 years now and up and coming artists like Halsey have taken a lot of influence from you. Have you guys discussed a collaboration? I know you went to her show a couple of months ago.
I did go to her show, she is a very kind human being and a great performer, and I’m just a fan of her. I did get to meet her, we talked a little bit, she told me a story about how she went to a show and wore a wristband and there was a whole deal, but she is so sweet. We didn’t talk particularly about a collaboration, I didn’t want to talk her ear off, but I met her, took a picture, I just thanked her very much and gave her a hug and then I left, because I knew she had to be punished by all the label reps after the show, which is a headache in itself, so I didn’t want to stay there too long. But I would love to, I’m a huge fan of hers so I would love to collaborate with her on something in the future. Who knows what’ll happen, you know?
She is an amazing live performer.
Oh, so great, she has such a presence onstage.
She does, it’s insane. Speaking of live performances, you were on Good Morning America the other day. Is it weird to go into the mainstream scene, obviously on television, when you’re sort of like alternative scene royalty?
(Laughs). I mean, I don’t really think about it too much honestly. But that was a great experience. Apart from not sleeping at all, it was pretty great. Like we had been up for about forty-something hours, we got one hour of sleep, we had to wake up at 3am, be at the place by 4am for a rehearsal, wait around 4 hours until about 8am and get ready to play. It was crazy, like watching the behind-the-scenes of what morning TV is, I have so much respect for what they do. It’s ridiculous. I mean, I just like doing new stuff. Stuff I’ve never done before.
You’re usually rocking a metallic suit when you’re performing. Dude, where do you get them?
I have them made actually by my friend Anthony Franco. I pay him for them, I don’t ask him to sit in a chair and make them for me. I’ve worked with him for, oh my god, it’s almost coming up on ten years now, that’s pretty crazy. The first time I met him he did our Circus tour, way back when, and from that point I was just in love with his style, and he knows my body type, so he can make me perfect fitting suits, and it’s amazing. You know, I just like to wear shiny stuff!
Fair enough! Will we be seeing you performing in Australia any time soon?
I would love to, I’d actually love to come down for a show or a tour. I love Australia so much. It’s honestly one of my favourite spots in the world. The people are amazing, the shows are incredible, it’s everything that I want it to be everytime, so I would love to. There’s nothing set in stone right now, but I’m going to push my booking agent to book me something there.
Thank you. Just before we wrap up I wanted to ask if you were anticipating any albums this year?
I’m a huge fan of Every Time I Die. That’s like a left of centre sort of answer because they’re not super mainstream, but I love them so much, and they’re working on new stuff right now. I talked to Keith [Buckley, vocals] last night and I was l like, ‘hey man, I’m really excited for whatever the fuck you guys are working on because I love you’. But that’s one I’m really excited for. I know Kanye’s working on some new stuff [too]. I’m such a huge Kanye fan, so anything he puts out I’m going to enjoy.
‘Facts’ was a sick song. That got me super pumped.
(Laughs). Yeah! I loved it.
‘Death Of A Bachelor’ is out now via DCD2/Fueled By Ramen/Warner. Read our review here.