Panic! At The Disco's Brendon Urie Talks Confessional New Album and Dreams of 'Setting Myself On Fire' During Upcoming Tour
Panic! At The Disco frontman Brendon Urie can barely contain his excitement at the Jan. 15 release of the band’s Death Of A Bachelor album. “I’m just so excited, every week I go through sitting with it on my laptop, I’m like, ‘Should I just leak it?’” he told Billboard backstage at KROQ’s Almost Acoustic Christmas show at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif., on Sunday.
As anxious as he is to share the new album, the diehard Frank Sinatra fan had also paid homage the day before to the Chairman Of The Board in Milwaukee on what would have been Sinatra’s centennial birthday. That was just the jumping off point for an entertaining discussion about whether Urie will be touring at 80, what made Sinatra a "badass" and why he can get away with calling out the people he doesn’t like on the new album.
Have you played the Forum before?
No, never played here, it’s amazing walking up. And all the people that have played, they have them listed the number of times they played -- like times eight, times ten, times three. It’s so cool.
Looking at all those photos, who's the artist you wish you'd gotten a chance to see?
I’d have to say Sinatra 'cause it was his birthday yesterday. I would have loved to see Sinatra in the late '50s, early '60s -- like in the Sands in Vegas, just chain-smoking, drinking whiskey. I don’t even know if I could’ve hung out -- he seemed so intense. You watch the HBO special, he was so cool. He’s way more badass than I assumed he was when I was a kid. My next thing would’ve been Queen, it would’ve been Freddie Mercury.
Are you going to bust out a Sinatra song tonight?
I did it last night -- I just did like 20 seconds of “My Way.” I want that played at my funeral, it’s such a good song.
In a recent interview, Dallas Green from City & Colour chose his own song for his funeral one day.
That’s ballsy, I would hope that I could write a song I would play at my own funeral.
Is there one you’ve written yet that could be close?
Maybe not yet, I wrote a song called “End Of All Things,” which is very fitting just because of the title. I still want to write the “My Way,” I haven’t written the opus yet.
Neil Diamond wrote his, “Hell Yeah,” when he was 64. It comes with age and experience.
Hopefully in like 40 years, when I’m like 80, I’ll be able to crank out the one.
Will you still be on tour when you’re 80?
If I’m healthy enough. Maybe not doing backflips anymore, but hopefully touring. The Stones can do it and they rage like nobody’s business, so hopefully. Talk about Sinatra -- he played well into his 80s. He was like 85 years old, still touring.
So, tell us about the new album.
Death Of A Bachelor -- it’s cool 'cause in the past I was writing most of everything, but this time it was actually all me and I got to record every instrument on this album, except for the horns, which was a huge deal for me. I did drums, background vocals and the background vocals I was playing different characters, I was doing operatic Queen stuff for songs like “Victorious” and “Emperor’s New Clothes.” That was just a lot of fun. And again, Sinatra creeps back in there, so there are a couple of songs I wrote trying to do like a Nelson Riddle arrangement.
It must be exciting thinking about taking this on tour.
It adds this dynamic, it’s like waves. It comes in, the Sinatra thing kind of breaks it down a little bit and then it kind of creeps back up with the higher energy stuff from the first album. Then I can settle it down with some stuff.
Does it feel more like you’re pouring your heart out on stage now?
Yeah, especially now because everything is a little more confessional. Everything I’m writing about is very close to my heart and very much about what I’ve been through, mostly in the last couple of years.
Were there things that emerged in the writing that surprised you?
Most definitely, there’s a song called “The Good, The Bad And The Dirty” that I started writing just as a task trying to relate all the people I’ve met over the last decade of touring, trying to put them all in a song. Then I realized I praise a lot of people a lot of times, but sometimes it gets real. I don’t get along with everybody and so I wanted to talk about that. That just crept up on me because it didn’t happen until I wrote the chorus. [I was like,] “Ooh, that’s kind of brutal, I like it.”
Have you gotten responses from the people you called out in the song?
The funny thing about the people I don’t like, they’re very self-centered. So I don’t think they’ll catch on very quickly. That’s why you can get away with it because they’re like, “I wonder who that’s about. Definitely not me, we’re friends.”
What is your holiday wish?
The thing I always strive for is the live show. We came out of the gate with a circus tour right away just to grab people’s attention and I’ve always wanted to beat that every time. In summer we’re doing a tour and I’m incredibly psyched to see what I’m gonna do. I’ve already talked about a couple of ideas -- wearing a fire suit and setting myself literally on fire during a song, but I don’t know what the fire marshal code is for that. I talked about shooting myself out of a cannon a few years ago into a net above the crowd. But we’ll see what’s possible. I always say it and the label’s like, “No.”