Panic! At the Disco fans got to see a lot of Brendon Urie in the band’s most recent video. In the clip for the single “Girls/Girls/Boys”, the frontman appears to be naked (although he’s only shown from the waist up), and he lip-synchs the song against a stark black backdrop. It is, in fact, a tribute to an earlier video, D’Angelo’s polarizing “Untitled (How Does It Feel?)”, released in 2000. The R&B star was famously hesitant to bare his ripped physique for the camera, and later felt that it actually hurt his career. Urie, on the other hand, had no such qualms.
“I love being naked, man,” the gregarious singer says, on the line from a tour stop in Mexico. “It was kind of just a natural thing. ‘Oh, I just get to be like I am all the time at home? Oh, cool. Just put a camera there.’ It is strange. You’ve got 30 people behind the camera just watching you, and, like, people you’ve just met for the first time that day. But it kind of surprised me how comfortable I ended up being after the first 10 seconds when the music started. ‘All right, here we go. One take. Fuck it.’ It kind of worked out. I like that rush that you get.”
Urie clearly doesn’t mind having all eyes in the room trained on him. He relishes being the face of Panic! At the Disco, and in fact it is Urie alone who is pictured on the cover of the group’s latest album, Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die!. “Full disclosure: I love it,” he says with a laugh. “I really do. I mean, since I was a kid—youngest of five kids—I’ve always been starved for attention, like ‘Look at me! Look at me! Look what I can do!’ And I like it. It feels very natural. It’s never been a big, big problem since we’ve done this record. Some of my favourite record and album covers and stuff have all been the singer, and they create a character and they dress up a little bit. That’s kind of the focus. I enjoy it. Like I said, it feels very natural. I like being the centre of attention. And that’s my ego talking.”
The singer is getting plenty of time in the spotlight on the current tour in support of Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die!. He is, in fact the only member of the original configuration currently touring under the Panic! At the Disco banner. As the project’s focus has shifted, from carnivalesque emo to ’60s-throwback rock to unabashed glitter-pop, its lineup has also changed. Founding drummer Spencer Smith is still in the band, but he has been sidelined since last summer in a bid to break his dependence on alcohol and prescription pills.
Always able to see the upside of things, Urie says he doesn’t consider Smith’s sabbatical a bad thing. “It’s actually been really good on both ends,” he insists. “Spencer is able to be at home and get his help that he deserves, and we also have people who’ve stepped up and been able to help us. The guy who’s drumming for us now [Dan Pawlovich] was our tech in the beginning, and he’s been able to tech himself and drum. So it’s been pretty amazing. Everybody’s stepped up and supported us through everything that’s happened. I mean, so many dynamic changes over the last six months. But it’s good. I mean, we’re looking up. It’s been positive so far.”