This year certainly wasn’t Brendon Urie’s first taste of the music business, as he’s fronted the enormously successful rock outfit Panic! At the Disco for the past 11 years. But what 2016 did do for Urie and his band was prove that longevity can really come with its rewards — which came in the form of a No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 (a first for the rock group), a once-unimaginable co-headlining tour with Weezer and, finally, recognition from The Recording Academy.
To close out their whirlwind year, Urie and the Panic! guys will take the stage at the Allstate Fan Fest in New Orleans, Louisiana, on New Year’s Eve as part of the Central Time Zone celebration for the Dick Clark’s New Years Rockin’ Eve With Ryan Seacrest broadcast.
“I can’t think of a better way to end our year, it’s kind of like the icing on the cake,” Urie tells Billboard of the band’s New Year’s Eve gig. “I would say this is the wildest year I can remember to date. It’s been so amazing, what a crazy ride.”
Check out what else Urie had to say about Panic’s momentous year, as well as some of his picks for the best music and moments of 2016.
How would you say 2016 was different to past years in your career?
This is one of the first years of the past few that I have felt the excitement that I felt on the first album cycle. It’s so wild to get that – you never know if that’s gonna return. The first times are the best times, the first tour, the first album. But this one is really up there. I just had so much fun during the entire process, and I really hope that translated. It’s just been incredible.
What do you think it was that made things feel that way again?
During the writing process is when I think a lot of that began, because I was so excited about the stuff I was writing. Even frustrated moments during the process didn’t last that long — I would use kind of tragic moments, move on and be even more excited about the stuff I was creating. I’d be happy about the stuff I’d done [in the past], but this is the first time I remember feeling so ecstatic that I couldn’t control myself.
If you could describe 2016 in one word, what would it be?
If it’s one word, I would say victorious. I can’t even hide it, it’s been amazing.
What are you looking forward to in 2017?
Grammys, off the bat, that is something I’m so excited for. And the tour coming up — it’s crazy to think that it’s still possible to create something new on tour. So that’s what I’m excited for, showing people something new that we’ve never done before. I’m excited, outside of touring as Panic, [to see] what other kind of trouble I can get into. What other kinds of non-music things I can jump into. We’ll see how dangerous I get.
Since you just released Death of a Bachelor this past January, will there be any new material in 2017? Or what can fans expect from Panic in the new year?
Yeah, I’m always creating. Whether I’m writing a lyric or making a beat, every day I’m doing something. I never really stopped working, so I’m curious to do the sort of Frankenstein method now and see if I can pull all of these things to kind of jigsaw puzzle this [next] album. I’m just going to keep writing until that happens — it seems like it’s going really well right now. There’s a few ideas I’m really excited to keep working on.
Anything else you want fans to know about this past year or what’s coming?
I want to say just a sincere thank you to the fans. It’s been amazing, the support and the love, and the places they’ve taken us. The chance to get to meet them and give back a little bit has been amazing this year. I just want to thank them and everyone that’s been involved. I’m really excited for New Year’s, it’s going to be so cool. We’re going to close out this year right, jump right into 2017 on a positive.
Brendon’s 2016 Music Highlights
ALBUMS OF THE YEAR: We just got another one from Run The Jewels [Run The Jewels 3], so I’ve been listening to that nonstop since Christmas day. That one’s amazing. I haven’t stopped listening to Lemonade, that’s one I constantly listen to – Beyonce is Queen. The Weeknd’s [Starboy] is incredible. [The albums are] so unique. When I listen to them, it gets me excited about writing. Like man, I want to do something – not necessarily something that sounds like it, but something that gets me that excited.
SONGS OF THE YEAR: I can’t get [Rae Sremmurd’s] “Black Beatles” out of my head. Drake was one that I listened to all the time, Views is crazy. I think “Controlla” is great, “Child’s Play” is just such a great song. I mostly to listen to things that are so different because there’s something so intriguing about trying to understand where someone is coming from.
SHOWS OF THE YEAR: Well technically I got a free concert from Weezer every night, that was amazing. Halsey brought me out for her performance at Coachella, that was mind-blowing to me. My first time at Coachella, that was really cool. I got to hear Guns N Roses play, it was amazing.
MOMENTS OF THE YEAR: There’s been a few, it’s been pretty wild. The Weezer tour was just amazing. The first discussion with Rivers about the tour, like ‘Hey man, would you ever want to tour?,’ and for him to actually say ‘yes.’ I was floored. I just threw it out, thinking he would never say yes, so that was a cool moment. Like, ‘Hey, we’re gonna become friends on this tour, it’s gonna be great!’