Panic! At The Disco’s latest album, Death Of A Bachelor, is lead vocalist Brendon Urie’s solo album in all but name.
Currently listed as the only official member in the band, the 28-year-old wrote most of the songs, and even played most of the instruments on the album.
“I’ve always been writing songs on my own even since the band started,” he said in a phone interview from Los Angeles, California.
“At this point, I can get more of my ideas out instead of always having to compromise with the rest of the band. It’s been great – when I have an idea or a vision for a song, I am free to carry it out the way I see fit.
“I have so many ideas and so many ways I want to portray them. I would be jumping from guitars to vocals and other instruments, and it was fun to do that.
“I wanted to take the excitement I felt during the process and put it in this record.”
The new album certainly sounds like he’s been having fun on his own. The songs are an eclectic mix of catchy pop tunes, Sinatra-esque big band influences and, of course, some of that theatrical bombast that Panic! At The Disco has been well-known for.
Panic! At The Disco was founded in 2004 by childhood friends Urie, Ryan Ross, Spencer Smith and Brent Wilson.
Urie was initially roped in as a guitarist for the band, but took over lead vocal duties from Ross after the rest of the band heard him sing.
The band benefited from a glowing endorsement from Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz, who signed Panic! At The Disco as the first band in his then-new Fuelled By Ramen label.
In 2005, Panic! At The Disco released its debut album A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, which featured major hit I Write Sins Not Tragedies.
The band went on to release three more albums – Pretty. Odd. (2008), Vices & Virtues (2011) and Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die! (2013) – going through various lineup changes over the years before finally ending up with Urie as the sole member in the official lineup last year.
Released in Jan 15, Death Of A Bachelor toppled heavyweights like Adele’s 25 and David Bowie’s Blackstar from the top of the Billboard 200 chart to become the band’s first ever number one album in the United States.
It is an achievement that, in a way, justifies Urie’s decision to keep going under the Panic! At The Disco moniker instead of plain old “Brendon Urie”.
“I’m honoured to have a No. 1 album, finally! The thing is you never know how your album is going to do by the time you are done recording it. I never think about it when I work on it,” he said.
According to the singer, it never occurred to him to release the album under any other name.
“I never wanted to leave the band name, no matter what happened.
“That name has given me the opportunity to travel the world, meet so many people. I know some members (of the band) in the past no longer want to be associated with it, but me? I never want to leave it!” he said.
The name HAS changed once before though; when the 2008 Pretty. Odd. album was released, the band dropped the exclamation mark from its name. “Oh man, we thought we were clever when we did it, then people started talking about it and guessing why we did it,” he said, laughing.
“To tell the truth, I kind of missed it – having it in there symbolised a sort of excitement I feel when I am in the band.”
According to Urie, he approached each song in Death Of A Bachelor differently, saying that the songs are very “honest and confessional”.
“Everything I sing about, I’d been through. I had stuff I wanted to talk about. It’s all honest and confessional, and that makes it more impactful,” he said, adding that that’s the way his songwriting has evolved since he started writing music when he was 13 years old.
“I started (songwriting) very young, mimicking bands I grew up with. After a while it became a need to get things out. It was like a diary, and I got more honest as I grew older, more confessional,” he explained.
His song titles are also getting a lot shorter now compared to, say, 11 years ago when A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out album featured song titles like The Only Difference Between Martyrdom And Suicide Is Press Coverage and Lying Is The Most Fun A Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off.
“Yeah, I’m getting older now and it’s getting harder and harder to remember long song titles,” he said with a laugh.
“Don’t Threaten Me With A Good Time (on the new album) is about as long a title as my memory can remember these days!”