Panic! on the ‘learn­ing curve’

Singer Bren­don Urie tell Ash­ley Ropati his big­gest re­grets hap­pened in high school.

Sunday Star-Times - Escape - - FRONT PAGE -

'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.

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