Panic! at the Disco's Brendon Urie Talks 'Death of a Bachelor,' Weezer Tour & Not Hating 'I Write Sins Not Tragedies'
Panic! at the Disco is gearing up to co-headline a summer tour with Weezer, but for the first time since the band’s formation in 2004, what was once a “they” is now a “he” -- just frontman Brendon Urie, to be exact.
“I really like the solo thing right now,” Urie told Billboard, though he promised that he has no intention of dropping the Panic! stage name. “Over time, it slowly started to just weed everyone out and everybody wanted to do their own thing, and I’m here because I want to be. It’s not because I felt trapped or I felt that I can’t do anything.”
Fans of Panic! at the Disco have witnessed the band’s sound evolve from their 2005 debut album A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out to Urie’s solo work on Death of a Bachelor, which earned the band its first No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 chart in January. Each album is reflective of the transitions Panic! has faced at the time of the music’s creation, and Death of a Bachelor is the first time Urie had the chance to create something that was entirely his own artistic vision.
“The way that I went about [creating the album] this time was a little different in terms of writing,” Urie said. “I would start an idea like I usually do, but then I would be around friends a lot and I was going out more and I would just get their opinions as friends, or if somebody had an idea, they would send me a track, and I would get inspired by that.”
Those friends include producer Rob Mathes, Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo (whom Urie will be touring with later this year), and Alex DeLeon of The Cab, to name a few. With friends like that, it’s no surprise that Death of a Bachelor sold 190,000 equivalent album units in its first week.
To best understand Death of a Bachelor, it’s easier to talk about what Urie didn’t do for the album than to list the roles he took on while recording. “I didn’t play the brass instruments,” Urie said between laughs. “I don’t want people thinking I jumped from the drums to the trombone, because I didn’t.”
Urie’s only hope for the future right now is that he can make his tour with Weezer -- a band he says he is “such a fanboy” of -- “the best thing possible,” although his management has rejected most of the fiery ideas he’s thrown their way thus far.
“I’m kind of talking at this point of way too crazy of shit, because I’ve brought up setting myself on fire and all these crazy ideas,” Urie said. “I’m starting there and I’m trying to find a middle ground to where they’ll let me do crazy stuff on stage.” Sorry, Brendon: To paraphrase the Panic! song "Crazy=Genius," you can (try to) set yourself on fire, but you’re never gonna burn, burn, burn.
As for his set list, Urie said that, despite the band’s history, he loves his old songs just as much as his new ones -- yes, even “I Write Sins Not Tragedies.”
“I actually don’t hate ['I Write Sins Not Tragedies'],” Urie said in a fit of laughter in response to a compilation video (below) of the singer joking around with fans while playing the song. At one point in the video, Urie even exclaims to the crowd, "Goddammit, I'm f---ing tired of this song," but the singer insisted that it's all just a joke. “It was just one of those things where you act a character and you play this fool and then it becomes something crazier. Obviously, my humor doesn’t hit.”
On a more serious note, the singer added: “I love playing the new songs, [but] at the same time, playing old stuff for me, when you play it live, it changes the meaning of the songs for me. So when I’m playing it back and I hear new fans [and] old fans singing old songs back to me, the songs just continue to grow.”
Before Urie hits the road with Weezer and Andrew McMahon In the Wilderness on June 10, he will be doing a few shows here and there, including an Artists Den appearance he taped Sunday in Los Angeles, which fans can catch clips of on Panic! at the Disco’s website before the hour-long special airs in the fall.
Despite the unpredictable history of Panic! at the Disco, Urie has finally reached an equilibrium. For now, he can say with almost 100 percent certainty that Panic! at the Disco is a one-man show filled with Sinatra ballads, Periscope tune-ins and lots and lots of “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” performances.
“I think I’ll continue doing this; there’s nothing about it that feels monotonous yet,” Urie said about the future of Panic! as a solo act. “So maybe if I feel like I drop into that pit of monotony, then I’ll switch it up again and maybe just make it zero members ... No, I’m just f---ing with you. I don’t know. I don’t know what happens.”