Panic! at the Disco’s Brendon Urie tells us why disco isn’t dead

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Panic! at the Disco was on top of the world with its 2005 platinum debut, A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, anchored by top 10 single “I Write Sins Not Tragedies.” A decade later, the lineup evolved, the sound has shifted, and an exclamation point has been dropped and re-added, but front man Brendon Urie and the rest of his crew are still going strong, revitalized by their 2013 album, Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die!, and hit single “Miss Jackson.”

The band performs Saturday at The Zoo Amphitheatre in Oklahoma City, and Urie took time out of his schedule to chat with Oklahoma Gazette about leaving Las Vegas, growing to love the club scene and hanging out with Action Bronson.

Oklahoma Gazette: It’s the 10-year anniversary of the band this year. Has it been more of a year of reflection or one of looking forward?

Brandon Urie: A little bit of both. Definitely moments of nostalgia, looking back at who I was and who I thought I was and who I thought I’d become. I never thought it would get to this point, to be totally honest. We always hoped it would keep going, but if anything, I thought we’d still be in a van, pushing down the road to play in a dive bar. Luckily, we’ve been so much more fortunate than that. It’s taken us all over the world, and it’s a beautiful thing.

OKG: You’ve talked in the past about getting over that kind of “too-cool, kind of hipster mindset” with your latest album. In turn, it’s been arguably the most successful album you’ve had since the debut. Do you feel like it’s that the fans you started out with were kind of dealing with that same shift in mindset as well or that you are just reaching a new audience at this point?

Urie: I hope so. Our older fans — change should be a huge part of their lives. In this day and age, so much is happening, the idea of just being open and being honest and accepting people, I think that’s really great. I hope that affects everyone in a positive way. That’s a huge goal for us to push people to think that way and be more open-minded and accepting of each other.

OKG: You were just 18 years old when A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out came out and became this massive success. How hard is it to guide a creative career in that sort of bright light at such a young age?

Urie: I guess, for me, it came from a very honest, real place of wanting to create. I always liked that. It was never ‘Oh God, we have to do this thing’ or ‘Oh God, we have to make another record.’ It was always ‘Awesome. We get to make another record.’ I still enjoy what I do, which is very, very important. We never expected that debut album to be so successful. When it happened, it was like, let’s just run with it.

OKG: Each album you’ve put out since then has been pretty drastically different from the one that came before it. Is that something you think will always be the case?

Urie: There’s a conscious effort to want to be something different, but once I start writing, intuition takes over and it’s a natural process wherein the music takes me somewhere. It’s still surprising to me. I’m not really even sure what I’ll create tomorrow or a week from now, and that’s one of the most exciting parts about all of this. I’m not sure what will happen, but it’s always exciting.

OKG: Is it difficult to get fans on board with every stylistic shift, or have they been receptive for the most part?

Urie: You know, fans will come and go, but I love when you are able to take fans in a direction. It’s like, ‘Have a little faith in me. Take my hand and we’re going to see how far down this rabbit hole we can go.’ They can at least experience it, and if they don’t like it, then we can cross that bridge when we come to it. There’s a trust necessary, and so far, it’s been phenomenal.

OKG: Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die! is almost a full year old now. Now that it’s had a little time to settle on you, what about it as a whole would you say you are most proud of and pleased with?

Urie: For me, the songwriting. I’ve gotten a little bit better at writing exactly what I want in a way that’s true to the original idea behind it. It’s a hard thing to try and recreate something in your head, but it’s gotten more fun and a little easier. These songs are really personal to me, things I went through growing up in Vegas, and it was liberating to talk about that stuff.

OKG: How exactly has your relationship with your hometown of Las Vegas changed over this past decade?

Urie: It’s huge. When I was 17, I couldn’t be happier to leave Las Vegas. I was tired of it. We all grew up there, and I think most people have that feeling of needing to get out of your hometown, being hungry for adventure and knowing what else was out there. A lot of the time, we were bitter. All the clubs were 21 and up, and people didn’t care that the music scene was almost nonexistent for all of us. In the past three or four years, I’ve gotten such a deeper appreciation for Vegas; I get nostalgic. I love to go back there now. Whereas I used to be so bitter, now I can just go back and dance and have a good time.

OKG: I know this material was largely inspired by dance music and hip-hop. Who would you say are some of the specific artists you took cues from? Or was it more just about that general aesthetic?

Urie: I was going to clubs, and I liked that driving beat. I liked seeing people on the dance floor, having the times of their lives, and I knew I wanted to make music like that — music that is exciting and you dance to like no one is watching.

OKG: You were in the process of getting married as you wrote and recorded this album. How did that factor into what we hear on the record?

Urie: My wife has helped me grow as an individual. There’s something about the way we are together that lets me believe in things I wasn’t able to before. Now I believe in love, that it was a real thing, and I felt like a new man. I could talk about things in my past that I hadn’t been comfortable with before. I was becoming a new person in the best was possible, and it gave me a confidence to dig into the past and write about those things in an honest way.

OKG: You collaborated with quite a few artists on the new album, and you have a lot more that you’ve been working on since then, including Action Bronson. How exactly did that connection come about?

Urie: I love Action Bronson so much. I’m a huge fan of his. He’s just great. He’s such a character — hilarious, talented and such a popular guy. I just really wanted to hang out with this dude. Months back, we were in the same city as him, and we knew we just had to go to the show. We went, we watched him perform live and then we went out with him after. I’ll do my best Action Bronson: ‘Hey, man. We should fucking do some shit this weekend or something and just hang out.’ I was like, ‘Fuck yeah.’ We hung out for a day, and I sung on some of his work, and it was cool. There were no rules, and I had the best time possible.

OKG: What sort of plans do you have for yourselves after this tour wraps up this fall?

Urie: There’s some festivals and one-off shows here and there, but I’ve been working on songs here and there. I’m always writing and always trying to create. There’s ideas I want to get out, and I’m hoping to record more this fall. We’ll see.


Panic! at the Disco with Walk the Moon and Youngblood Hawke

6 p.m. Saturday

The Zoo Amphitheatre

2101 NE 50th St.

thezooamphitheatre.com

602-0683

$32.50-$45


Joshua Boydston

This article was written by an Oklahoma Gazette contributor. To reach an editor, please email jchancellor@okgazette.com with this story's headline in your subject line.

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