Hot on the heels of his new album release, we had a chat with Brendon Urie of Panic! At The Disco. Now we've had a chance to listen to his latest genre-bending offering, it's perhaps less surprising that there's talk of Sinatra, minotaurs and a decade of partying (sometimes in heels) alongside the everyday music chatter.
Stepping out without bandmates for the first time, has only served to increase Urie's swaggering musical style, and the resultant album is one even the more reluctant listener would struggle to stop listening to. Here's what he had to say about it all...
"I'm not starting my own religion, I'm not preaching, and I'm not starting a church of any kind, but I love being able to accumulate so many experiences over the years and use that as ammunition for what I truly believe in."
COUP DE MAIN: This is the first album you've made with no other band members. Did that change the songwriting process for you at all?
PANIC! AT THE DISCO - BRENDON URIE: Yeah, slightly. It's going to be different as opposed from working with other people, complementing ideas, and having to listen to other people's ideas and opinions. Of course it's got to be different. To be honest, I was working alone most of the time on the last three albums. Instead of writing alone and then presenting it to other band members, I was writing alone and then finishing ideas on my own. If I felt the need to delegate to anyone else I could, but it was never a pressure - "Okay, I have to co-write,” or, "I have to look at these people." It was more the freedom of, “Okay, I'm going to show this to a couple of friends that I happen to know that work in the industry, that produce and write, and get their opinions." It just organically happened that way; so liberating.
CDM: How would you describe the change between previous album, 'Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die' and 'Death Of A Bachelor' in five words?
BRENDON: Oh man! Oh, jeez. 'Every song is completely different.'
CDM: 'Victorious' - the second single taken from this album - is a massive opening track for the album. Are the themes of success approached in the song genuine, because despite all the swagger the song makes them sound somewhat bittersweet?
BRENDON: Oh yeah, there's a lot of bittersweet attitudes in these songs. Even the last song on the album, 'Impossible Year', is very bittersweet, a very sombre tone, but I like that! I like having that juxtaposition where you can have a very triumphant sounding song and then throw in all this crazy imagery. That's part of the fun of writing, you know? You get to throw it all up in the air a little bit and trip people up. I love doing that. 'Victorious' for me was a chance to write a song exactly how I was feeling - I was feeling triumphant, I was feeling like I could do anything as long as I've got the people that I love by my side. We're gonna go out and conquer it, and party, and just be awesome.
CDM: In 'Don't Threaten Me With A Good Time' you talk about footprints that "don't look very human-like." If Panic! At The Disco were a monster, what kind of monster do you think it would be and why?
BRENDON: Oh, man! It would probably be a minotaur, or a centaur... something like that. Something with either hooves, or a man-face, or a bull-face, something like that! It would be a combination, because you couldn't really classify it. I also like to put wings on my mythical creatures, because I've always wanted to be able to fly! That's a dream of mine.
CDM: The same song mentions a "guy in a chiffon skirt" and yourself in high-heels. Why did you decide to include these gender-bending images?
BRENDON: That's all real, actually! I've been to a couple of parties in West Hollywood, where that's very present, and that was based on a real experience! I wanted to talk about a lot of stuff that I've been through. Party-wise, it's taken me almost a decade to party enough to accumulate enough experiences that I could sing about and put in one song! <laughs> It was a culmination of all the things that I've seen, and I've witnessed, and that's exactly what happened!
CDM: 'Hallelujah' is a really upbeat track with a lot of religious references. You also refer to your fans as "sinners". Why is religion such an inspiring theme for you to explore?
BRENDON: I grew up in a very religious family, so that was never going to leave me. I just accepted it over the years. Although I'm not religious myself, it is so much a part of me. It's a part of my history, a part of my tradition and my culture, so I don't want to just throw it away and leave it behind, because it's made me who I am today. So, I flip it on its ear. I like to use it as a catalyst for something that I believe. I'm not starting my own religion, I'm not preaching, and I'm not starting a church of any kind, but I love being able to accumulate so many experiences over the years and use that as ammunition for what I truly believe in. The fact that it can be anything; an upheaval, or something a little more sombre and spiritual is really up to me, and I love being able to use that as a tool.
CDM: 'Death Of A Bachelor' is a really classic and old-school sounding song in places, showcasing your vocals against a relatively pared down track musically. What was it about this song that made it special enough to become the title-track?
BRENDON: Oh, man! Everything about it. From the time that I wrote it, it changed so much. I wrote it trying to write a Sinatra song, and wanting to push it further. I didn't want to just copy Sinatra entirely. So, I wrote it on piano, got most of it done, and then I threw it into a track that I'd been working on two, three weeks before. It was a perfect marriage. I would have never thought of that, but the fact that it was a happy accident and just so happened to work so perfectly made me so very excited. When that happened, I started to see that, "Oh yeah, there are no rules," again. I got really excited about the writing process again. The idea of the title, I'm not talking about myself as a bachelor, or as a married person at all, it's actually about who I saw myself as; who I used to be in the band, who I saw myself as as an artist, as an individual. Now I've come so far that I don't feel like that same person. I look back at the past as fond memories but I'm able to move forwards in a new light, like I'm reborn. That's really what I wanted to come across. I'm shedding off the old me and I'm reborn as the new me - it's great!
CDM: You mentioned Sinatra there, and there's also a nostalgic little record crackle at the end of 'LA Devotee'. Do you think the changing of the physical way we listen to music has changed the emotional experience of listening to music?
BRENDON: Absolutely! I think anything you listen to is going to be different. You're going to listen to a song differently if you're just sitting around somewhere listening on your phone as opposed to sitting in a dark room listening to a vinyl album. It's going to be a totally different experience. You can't really take a vinyl record player on a plane so you're not going to have the same experience, but if you walk yourself away and allow yourself to experience these different moments with music, you're so much richer in experience for that. That's what I believe. I love going back to vinyl! I still have a great vinyl collection that I'm building up every couple of months. It's something I love to do. I love every type of listening format, from MP3s to CDs to vinyl. There's something special about each one. It's a sign of the times. I love looking back, and even putting new music on vinyl - if it's right!
CDM: What format would you most like your music to be listened to on?
BRENDON: I think some songs are better on vinyl. A lot of times, like with this new album, I wouldn't want to restrict it to one format, but for me, I would rather listen to it in a club! 80% of this album; put it on in a club and just rage! Play it super loud!
CDM: Do you think that crazy does equal genius?
BRENDON: <laughs> I think it's a very fine line between the two, to be honest with you. I think it's hard to tell sometimes. It's debatable which one stands as the priority with every artist! I mean, look at Kanye West! Is he crazy? Is he a genius? I think that in music he does have genius moments; his production, his writing is very clever. It's very smart, and it is genius because it's recreating sounds. But then you look at his personal life and you're like, 'Wow, you're actually crazy!' Who can tell? That's why I like referring to Brian Wilson, he's the main example - the epitome of crazy and genius.
CDM: Coup De Main is based in New Zealand. Do you have any plans to bring the new album out here on tour?
BRENDON: I would love to! I just saw my booking agent last night and I said, "Hey man, are you gonna let me tour the world this time, or what?” I keep telling him we've got to go back! It's been so long - I want to go back there so bad! We always have a good time. Last time we played Auckland it was insane, so, yeah, I'd really want to go back. There's no plans set in stone right now, but I'm pushing for it, for sure.
Panic! At The Disco's new album 'Death Of A Bachelor' is out now - click HERE to purchase on iTunes now.
Watch the music video for 'Hallelujah' below...