Too weird to live

An in­ter­view with Panic! At the Disco’s Bren­don Urie

GA Voice - - Arts & Entertainment - BY GREGG SHAPIRO

Panic! At the Disco made head­lines after be­ing tar­geted by the hate­ful and ab­surd West­boro Bap­tist Church when the church’s mem­bers rewrote one of the pop band’s songs, “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” to the unin­spired “You Love Sin What A Tragedy.” The picket-perky church then showed up at the band’s per­for­mance last month in Kansas City. So Panic! At the Disco wel­comed the ex­trem­ists with open arms, promis­ing to do­nate $20 to the Hu­man Rights Cam­paign for ev­ery pick­eter that showed up. Only 13 pick­eters par­tic­i­pated, and Panic! At the Disco de­cided it was only fair to make their do­na­tion an even $1,000 to HRC as well as donat­ing five per­cent of mer­chan­dise sales. Noth­ing like turn­ing anti-gay hate into LGBT ac­tivism. Bren­don Urie, 27, the man (and naked body) be­hind the much-dis­cussed mu­sic video for his band’s sin­gle “Girls/Girls/Boys,” is a proud and open sup­porter of the LGBT com­mu­nity. He’s talked openly about his past ho­mo­sex­ual ex­pe­ri­ences and be­lieves peo­ple should embrace their full iden­ti­ties.

Panic! At the Disco, which be­gan its ex­is­tence as an emo act when the band mem­bers were still in their teens, has mor­phed into a more ma­ture rock band, writ­ing and per­form­ing hook-heavy and ac­ces­si­ble pop songs for lis­ten­ers of all ages. The songs on the band’s lat­est al­bum, “Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die!” con­tinue to dis­play two of Panic! At the Disco’s strong­est at­tributes: clever use of elec­tron­ics, in­clud­ing key­boards and beats, and a dis­tinct the­atri­cal­ity.

Shapiro: For the unini­ti­ated few, Bren­don, would you please say some­thing about how the band came up with the name Panic! At the Disco?

Bren­don Urie: [Laughs] Sure. We were 17 years old at the time and we were lis­ten­ing to The Smiths and this other band from Orange County called Name Taken, iron­i­cally enough. In a Name Taken song lyric, they ac­tu­ally say “panic at the disco,” which makes no sense. There’s re­ally no con­nec­tion or rel­e­vance to the song it­self. So, it was ei­ther that or “burn down the disco” by The Smiths (from their song “Panic”). For what­ever rea­son, we just thought Panic! At the Disco just sounded kind of cool [laughs].

Shapiro: In keep­ing with the “Disco” of the band’s name, the songs on ‘Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die!’ con­tinue to in­cor­po­rate synths and dance beats.

Bren­don: I’m a huge fan of elec­tronic mu­sic, dance mu­sic, disco, any­thing that gets me up and danc­ing, hon­estly. I’m a hell of a dancer [laughs]. I like to have a good time. For what­ever rea­son, elec­tronic mu­sic has pushed it­self into the realm of dance now with EDM (elec­tronic dance mu­sic). You just want to get up and move. That’s re­ally what in­spired this last al­bum. I just

wanted to make a record that touched on some hon­est top­ics lyri­cally, but mu­si­cally I wanted to have a party record that I could dance do with my friends.

Shapiro: The “Love is not a choice” re­frain on the song “Girls/Girls/Boys” has spe­cial mean­ing at this time when same-sex mar­riage is mak­ing strides in many states across the coun­try. Would you say “Love is not a choice” is a long-held sen­ti­ment for you or some­thing that you’ve only re­cently come to?

Bren­don: It’s def­i­nitely been the case for as long as I can re­mem­ber. I’ve al­ways felt that way. A song, for me, is just an eas­ier way to por­tray an hon­est feel­ing; es­pe­cially on this last al­bum. The way I wanted to at­tack th­ese goals that I set for my­self; I wanted to be more hon­est and straight­for­ward. For me, that lyric, “Love is not a choice” is true. I’ve never been able to ex­plain bet­ter or clearer than in that lyric right there. I hon­estly be­lieve that you love whom you love. It’s not a choice. Some peo­ple say, “Be­ing gay, be­ing straight, that’s a choice. You choose to do it.” I beg to dif­fer; I don’t think that’s true. I love all kinds of peo­ple. I just wanted to cel­e­brate that fact.

Shapiro: Panic! At the Disco is on tour through­out the sum­mer. What can peo­ple ex­pect from a Panic! At the Disco con­cert?

Bren­don: There’s a lot of stuff you can ex­pect, hon­estly [laughs]. This time around, for this tour, I wanted to make it a more en­er­getic show. The en­ergy has def­i­nitely changed over the years, but this time around, it’s a non­stop hour and a half. There are a cou­ple of slower num­bers in the set, but you almost don’t no­tice it un­til the end be­cause you are prob­a­bly so worn out at the end of it. I know I’m worn out from the work­out [laughs]. I’m hop­ing the au­di­ence is worn out as well. It’s def­i­nitely a chal­lenge to get through. It’s great! I love it!

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