Panic! At The Disco have always resisted being put in a box. From dabbling in theatrical rock on their debut ‘A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out’ to the vaguely sinister 80s pop of ‘Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die’, Panic! have refused to conform to a genre throughout their career, despite often finding themselves lumped in with the emo-pop-punk crowd.
Their latest release, Death Of A Bachelor, went even further, drawing on Frank Sinatra and the sound of swing classics for inspiration. It worked; the album made Number 1 on the Billboard charts, and marks their first even top spot after shifting 190,000 units (physical and digital) in the week following its release. For context, Adele is currently at Number 2.
When we talk to Brendon Urie – whose glittery suits and endearingly unhinged persona in videos is undoubtedly a big part of Panic!’s identity – he’s keen to share the thought process behind Death Of A Bachelor. Scoring a Billboard Number 1 is symbolic not only as a career first, but because Brendon admits that, while writing the album, he pondered on whether his music would leave a lasting legacy. Here’s what’s been on his mind.
“I’ve been thinking lately about legacy – how I want to be remembered, and what I’ll leave behind. Losing Lemmy and John Bradbury from The Specials – losing these great people has made me think about it. They were so much a part of my life that I hope I have that kind of influence on people. That’s something I’ve always wanted to do – make a positive change and be a part of someone’s history. Not just creating my own, but people being a part of each other’s. Lately I’ve been thinking: ‘Who’s going to remember me? What will be said about me? What will I leave behind?’ I’ve been thinking of it for the last year or two but especially so now, with the kind of news we’ve had lately.”
“The first time I heard about Motörhead was through Dave Grohl. I was a huge Foo Fighters fan and hearing him talk about Lemmy Kilmister, he was like: ‘Yeah, I got into Motörhead because when I was a kid, I heard them in an interview one day, and they said: ‘We’re the kind of band that if we move next door to you, your fucking grass would die!’’ I thought that was the coolest thing. When I hear him say that they affected him so much at such a young age, I can only hope I’ve had that kind of influence or inspiration to some other kid who digs my band. Then in turn they’ll grow up to be another Dave Grohl and pass that on. That makes me so excited to think about. It’s nice to remember the greats.”
“I like to make music upbeat and fun to listen to. The Cure’s Lovesong is a really good example of a song that’s really pretty and poetic, but it’s the most sad-sounding song, it’s crazy. I love that juxtaposition. That’s one of the things I really like to practice when I’m writing.”
“It’s nice to be able to vent a little in songs. A lot of the new album is all about the kind of stuff I’ve mentioned. There’s a song called House of Memories; that talks about legacy and how I’ll be remembered. Another song, The Good, The Bad, and the Dirty, is about people I don’t like. A lot of times, people that I know, I may be nice to them, like friendly or polite in person, but I don’t like everybody, and I rarely sing about people I don’t like or have no respect for. I don’t go off on a tangent, but it becomes this kind of lesson in being honest. To a certain point, anyway. I don’t get out the names or the blacklist!”
“I think any name like pop-punk, rock and roll, jazz, hip hop… it doesn’t really mean shit. Look at The Beatles and Led Zeppelin – they’re both categorised as rock’n’roll, but neither of them sound anything alike. It’s ridiculous. There are bands that I’m a huge fan of that are considered pop-punk, but the majority of pop-punk bands I don’t like at all. It’s easier to describe it as such to get an image in someone’s head. It becomes easier for people to understand. If someone says, ‘Panic! At The Disco, what do they sound like?’ someone else might use words like pop-punk or emo, rock, I guess, just to get some kind of idea across. There are people that fit into a genre entirely, like GG Allin – punk as fuck. What music do I like? Well, how long have you got?”
Panic! At The Disco’s Death Of A Bachelor is out now.