Exclusive: Panic! At the Disco Playing 2015 Shorty Awards; Brendon Urie on Being 'Last Man Standing'
On April 20, the 7th Annual Shorty Awards -- hosted by Rachel Dratch, and featuring Wyclef Jean and Kevin Jonas as presenters -- will hit New York City's TimesCenter to honor the best in social media.
Today, Billboard can exclusively reveal that Panic! At the Disco will perform at this year's Shorty Awards. It will be one of the band's first performances since drummer Spencer Smith officially left the band after 10 years.
Billboard chatted with frontman Brendon Urie about what it's like being the "last man standing" in PATD, writing songs based on melodies he sings to his dog, and possibly hitting the studio with Every Time I Die's Keith Buckley.
What do you have planned for your Shortys performance?
This is our first time playing at the Shortys and I think it's gonna be great. Obviously it's gonna be very, very loud. I'm curious to see what kind of reaction we'll get. Because playing awards shows is always different from playing your own shows, festivals, club shows. Awards shows are always very unique.
Is it more difficult, since you're playing to people who aren't necessarily Panic fans?
I wouldn't say difficult but different. When you're playing your own show you've got your own fans who are accustomed to your own show and songs. Awards shows are how we treat a festival. I go in knowing not many people will know a song we're going to play, or even our band, so it's a chance to showcase what we are and give them a taste of what our band is about.
The Shortys are all about social media. Who do you think has the funniest Twitter accounts?
I follow a couple. I think Joe Mande is pretty great, Rob Delaney makes a huge impression on everybody. I like Patton Oswalt, when he goes off on rants and will just post a million different things. I really enjoyed Norm MacDonald's background stories on Twitter after the SNL 40th anniversary. I follow a lot of comedians.
Yeah, he was saying Eddie Murphy almost played Bill Cosby in the celebrity Jeopardy! sketch.
That was crazy. I wanted to see that!
This will be one of your first shows since Spencer Smith officially left. I know you've been playing without him for some time, but is it going to feel different now that it's really over?
Yeah, it is. I love him so much, even as a friend, but having him make that decision for himself… I'm really proud of him. To come out and be so confident telling people, "Hey, this is what I need to do." We've played without him for a while, but this will be one of the first since he officially left. I think it will be fun. The fans are always very supportive, so that makes it a lot easier.
Were you surprised by the decision, or were you expecting it at this point?
It didn't take me by surprise. It wasn't talked about a lot. We had minimal conversations about what he wanted to do. Any time we'd hang out we were just hanging out as friends. There was never any business or band meeting. We still hang out all the time. It's nice to have a friend instead of worrying about band and business stuff. I knew shortly before [the announcement]. We had a few discussions and he told me what he wanted to do and I backed that 100 percent. Obviously I'm going to miss him in the band, but I'm proud of him. I love him to death.
So that makes you the sole original member. How does that feel?
Thinking about where I started -- I joined as the last member of the band before we started touring and got signed. Now I'm last man standing. But to me I love it so much. I love this band. I love everything about it -- touring, songwriting. So for me it's never been a question of stopping or letting go of it all because I love it too much.
Speaking of which, are you working on new stuff?
Always. I've really never stopped writing. I'm picking through demos that I'd been working on for the last couple of years. Every day I'm writing something. I write an idea a day. Even if it's 10 seconds of a melody or a lyric. I love it too much to not work. It would drive me crazy to not do anything.
Do you think we'll see new Panic music within this year or next? If you had to guess.
If I had to guess, I'd say this year.
Unlike when you started out, you're married now. Do you ever work on stuff with your wife or do you go off into your separate place?
Normally, yeah. I go and write and do whatever. But I'm around, so a lot of songs start from inside jokes we have. Or little melodies that we'll sing to our dog. One of the songs that we sang to our dog turned into a song on the last album. It was just so catchy.
That's hilarious. Which one?
Melodically, "This is Gospel." Before I had anything written to it yet, it was about little pet names for my dog. And I was like, "I actually like this melody, it's been stuck in my head for a week, so I might as well try to make it a real idea."
You're working on an Every Time I Die tattoo now. You're a huge fan of them -- what is it about them that you love so much?
Apart from just the music, they're all really good guys. I love hanging out with them, every time we get together it's a fun hang. They're really funny. I love [guitarist] Jordan Buckley's artwork. I was watching his stuff and was like, "I'd love to get this tattooed at some point." I love so many things about the band. I grew up in the hardcore scene a little bit, the punk scene, and I love that kind of music. I think they're so original and so clever with their lyrics. We went to an Every Time I Die show a couple nights ago and some girl got on the shoulders of her dude. Keith [Buckley] was on the barricade, she grabbed Keith and was bear-hugging him. He was like, "Oh shit" into the mic and got pulled into the crowd. And he just kept going. He's a pro.
Would you ever work with them in the studio?
Definitely. I've talked with Keith a little bit about a couple projects. Nothing set in stone yet but we've talked about it over a couple of drinks. You get in that mindset, "Oh man, we should start a band, we should do this thing," and all that kind of talk. But seriously, we've talked about it and I'd like to get together with him, probably soon, to just work on whatever. Whether it gets used for Panic or something else. It's always fun to collaborate with people you're a fan of.
What other music is getting you excited these days?
I usually go on Spotify and listen to new releases on Tuesdays, that's my thing. The new Action Bronson is awesome, the first song ["Brand New Car"] is incredible. He's such a funny guy. The new Kendrick Lamar album blew my mind. It's so original and so cool. And everything is so tastefully done. And there are times you can laugh, he's playing a character, like, [affects Kendrick voice] "This - dick – ain't - free." God, it's so good! I love it.
The 7th Annual Shorty Awards will take place Monday, April 20, 6:30 pm ET, at TimesCenter in the New York Times building.