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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.”


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