Panic! on the ‘learning curve’
Singer Brendon Urie tell Ashley Ropati his biggest regrets happened in high school.
'I know it sounds like a paradox, working on an album and trying to relax. I'm trying to relax though, it feels and sounds healthier.' Brendon Urie
Panic! At the Disco play New Zealand on Thursday night and the band’s frontman Brendon Urie ‘‘can’t wait’’. ‘‘I’m probably the worst person to ask about being in a band, I’m the only one left – they’ve all gone,’’ laughed Urie, the band’s only remaining founding member.
Formed in Las Vegas, Nevada, in 2004, Urie was barely 17 when the band erupted on to the global poprock scene with 2005’s A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out.
In February, Urie will perform one show at Auckland’s Vector Arena, to promote their fifth studio album, Death Of A Bachelor, which debuted at the top of the Billboard 200 chart in January and sold 190,000 equivalent albums in its first week.
As any pop-rock fan will tell you, Panic! certainly hasn’t had an easy ride. In 2006, bassist Brett Wilson was unceremoniously given the boot, followed by a highly-publicised walkout in 2009 by Ryan Ross and bassist Jon Walker.
In 2015, founding member and drummer Spencer Smith also said his good-byes.
Urie maintains he ‘‘never wanted to leave’’ the band, but a reunion for the childhood friends and original band members isn’t looking likely.
‘‘I guess when you talk about regrets, my biggest regrets happened at high school,’’ he said. ‘‘I look back now and I’m like ‘oh man, that’s so embarrassing, what was I thinking?’ But my biggest learning curve, without a doubt, was that first five years of being in a band.’’
Nowadays, Urie’s ditched the heavy stage makeup and showman’s top hat for a return to the basics.
Death Of A Bachelor is touted to have the same energy as any Panic! At the Disco offering, but the emo-poprock sound has been turned on its head with theatrical Sinatra and Queen influences.
‘‘I know it sounds like a paradox, working on an album and trying to relax. I’m trying to relax though, it feels and sounds healthier,’’ he said.
‘‘I guess my advice for bands these days would be just to keep doing what you’re doing and writing what you want to write. I remember growing up lip-syncing to Blink 182, the simple chord changes, I listened to a lot of them, they’re a technical band. I like to mix it up, for sure. I don’t really give people a choice.
‘‘You can choose whether or not you’re going to follow me down this rabbit hole,’’ Urie added. ‘‘But the fans are incredibly loyal, incredibly loyal. I’ve been really fortunate.’’
‘‘I guess when we started we were posting a lot (of our music) on the internet, and gaining exposure that way,’’ he said. ‘‘I used to think it was damning for (society) all of these talent shows and crap like that. But the music industry is changing, I guess we’ll eventually reach saturation point. We may have already reached it and just can’t tell?
‘‘I learn a lot about music through my friends, and what they’re listening to. I used to use Spotify then my account locked me out, so now I’m on Apple Music,’’ he said.
Urie’s musical tastes stretch far and wide, with the Las Vegas-native touting rapper Kendrick Lamar as a point of reference.
‘‘Outside of the rock world, oh man,’’ he said. ‘‘The amount (Kendrick Lamar has) achieved, in such a short time ... he’s absolutely killing it. Everything he puts out – he’s incredibly talented.
‘‘My friends will ask me about these new bands like ‘have you heard that new track?’ and I have no idea what they’re talking about. So I’m listening to a lot (more) Soundcloud. There’s this Swedish duo, these two DJs, I think they’re both guys? Anyway, their sound is very 80s synth – very Stranger Things, it’s cool.’’
As for what Kiwi fans of new and old can expect from a live Panic! experience?
‘‘I like to plan ahead before shows and mix it up a lot. So we’ll do a few high-energy songs, then slower songs,’’ he said. ‘‘I like to keep the energy high, like a workout – a Panic! At the Disco workout, it’s an aerobics class.
‘‘I love it down there, I’m excited we’re coming back. The fans are always supportive. They embrace the change, for sure.’’ ❚
Panic! At the Disco will play a oneoff show at Auckland’s Vector Arena on February 2, 2017.
For ticketing and show details, see TicketMaster.
Brendon Urie’s ditched the heavy stage makeup and showman’s top hat for a return to the basics.