Exclusive: Panic! At The Disco's Brendon Urie on Spencer Smith's Addiction and Possible Band Reunion
By Katie Krause
Panic! At The Disco announced its fifth studio album, Death of a Bachelor, last week – along with a haunting yet visually stunning new video for “Emperor’s New Clothes.”
Lead singer Brendon Urie sat down with ET exclusively to open up about the new song and video, which is a continuation of the band’s 2013 smash hit, “This Is Gospel.” Urie wrote the song about his former band-mate, Spencer Smith, and his struggle with addiction. Smith left Panic! earlier this year. (Watch the video above for the full interview.)
Urie says it was important to revisit “Gospel” because it “never felt like a closed book.”
“For the sake of closure,” he adds. “It was really trying to continue this on as a short film and to tell the full story because it’s still not over. I mean, we still talk we still hang out, so it’s very much an alive piece of an idea that I wanted to just continue on.”
The 28-year-old goes on to share that writing the 2013 hit was his way of sending Smith a message.
“When I wrote 'This is Gospel,' that was all about Spencer and his struggle from my point of view but also my struggle just from a personal point of view… It was tough to have conversations, for me it's easier to put it into a song. So, I wrote the song to try to get through to him, just like, hey, this is exactly how I’m feeling.”
He adds that handling it the way he did ended up being the best decision for Spencer – and their friendship.
“It was a catalyst for a healthy conversation and a healthy jump forward into the relationship we still have, which is awesome," says the singer, who insists he and Spencer are still on good terms.
So, can fans expect a Panic! reunion in the future?
"I haven’t talked at all to Ryan [Ross] or Jon [Walker] in years -- it’s been so long,” he says. Ryan and Jon left the band in 2008.
“But, Spence and I still talk,” he adds. “When he mentioned to me that he wanted to leave, it was never a negative connotation. It was always, ‘Yeah, this is what feels right,’ of course I support that. There was never any animosity, no anger towards him...but as a reunion, I don’t know. We haven't talked about it at all. He is still wanting to do his thing, I’m still wanting to do Panic!... Can’t say no for sure, but you know, who knows, you never know.”
Brendon says there’s pros and cons to being the only original member left in the band.
“The challenges are it all relies on me to come up with most of the ideas. When you have four guys in a band you can bounce stuff off, but then the pros are, when you're bouncing ideas off each other, there's no real compromise, there's no arguments where pride comes in or ego comes in to play… so there's less of the ego and less of the arguing. But more, I think, as a pro for me, writing alone… I have a vision of what I want to do.”
And that’s exactly what Brendon does with “Emperor’s New Clothes,” which shows the singer transforming into a monstrous demon over the course of the Halloween-esque video.
“The demon creature - that's kind of the character I was playing when I wrote the song. The lyrics are all about that person. It’s fun to play characters in songs. I can just cheat a little bit… be this person for just a small amount of time and just help vent that idea.”
Brendon continues, “This time around the lyrics are like: 'I'm taking back the crown' / 'I'm taking back what's mine' - it was very much that like 'I don't care who gets in my way... I’m just gonna come right though and riot' and it was just like an evil feeling." Click here to check out the full video.
And, watch the video below to see what Brendon said about how his marriage inspired the new album, Death of a Bachelor.