EMPEROR’S NEW CLOTHES
HOW BRENDON URIE EMBRACED BEING LEFT ON HIS OWN TO TAKE BACK THE CROWN…
When Brendon Urie sat down at the piano in his LA home studio in 2015, he did so to begin writing the soundtrack to transformation. Both Panic! At The Disco and his personal life had seen recent reflection, re-evaluation and re-routing. And the songs that would make up new album Death Of A Bachelor flowed from his fingers to lay bare the changes he was going through.
There was the title-track-to-be, a farewell to his carefree days of singledom consigned to the past by his marriage to wife Sarah. There was Don’t Threaten Me With A Good Time, a glass raised in the direction of every drunken evening and hungover morning lost to the bottle. There was House Of Memories, about coming to terms with his place in the world, and Hallelujah, too, its opening lines of ‘My life started the day I got caught under the covers with secondhand lovers’ tucking into bed the playboy Brendon of old. And then there was Emperor’s New Clothes. In April 2015, it was announced to the world that Spencer Smith, Panic!’s drummer since their inception in 2004, was officially exiting a band he’d been on hiatus from for the past two years. The announcement left Brendon the last man standing in a group the one-time guitarist try-out had never intended on even fronting, let alone leading. With Panic!’s sometimes troubled and conflicted line-up consigned to the past, it left one man free to set its future course. “There’s a lot of arrogance behind that song,” Brendon laughs of a track that took its name from the Hans Christian Andersen fable. In it, an Emperor’s vanity and pretention is preyed upon by tricksters who dress him in ‘clothes’ that they claim are invisible to those not worthy of seeing them. In reality, it leaves the Emperor parading around in nothing but his birthday suit. “It was a song that I felt I hadn’t written in the past,” Brendon continues. “It was a song that I was able to say was mine; ‘I do what I do because I feel that it’s my right, I own this, I’ve earned this.’ It’s about my life as a songwriter and now the leader of this band. ‘I’m taking back the crown; I’m all dressed up and naked.’ [Unlike the fable’s Emperor] I know I’m naked, and I’m showing you this doesn’t bother me. I’m showing you exactly who I am and want to be.”
The line ‘Done my time and served my sentence’, meanwhile, was Emperor’s most pointed reference to Brendon’s feelings about Panic!’s past, which saw five whittle down to one, more often than not under a cloud of disagreement and disgruntlement.
“I don’t think I would’ve been at this spot that I am now, in the position I find myself in, had I not gone through some kind of tribulation, feeling caged and feeling like I have less worth,” he explains of the lack of conviction that marked his early years in Panic! – a life he is seen walking away from in Emperor’s accompanying video, to be reborn as an allpowerful Demon. “Being able to say, ‘You know, I’ve done the crime because I didn’t speak up’ – it’s like an obstruction of justice! It took me a long time to learn that I need to speak up, and I need to tell people what I think, and I need to be honest. That was a huge thing; it changed everything for me. It just took many years to learn that.”
“I’M SHOWING YOU EXACTLY WHO I AM” BRENDON URIE