Brendon Urie

frida marklund

06/12/17

BRENDON URIE IN NEW YORK, MAY 2017. PHOTOS: FRIDA MARKLUND. STYLING: ESTHER MATILLA. HAIR: NATE ROSENKRANZ AT HONEY ARTISTS. MAKEUP: LINDA GRADIN AT L'ATELIER NYC USING MAC COSMETICS. PHOTO ASSISTANT: LINN HANSSON.


Before taking on a lead role in the Cindy Lauper- and Harvey Fierstein-penned musical Kinky Boots—and zipping up the thigh-high, patent red stiletto boots that come with it—Panic! At the Disco frontman Brendon Urie had only seen a handful of Broadway plays. The first time he watched Kinky Boots with his wife, the coming together of shoe factory owner Charlie Price (the role he currently occupies) and drag queen Lola brought him to laughter and tears. He wasn't the only one who had an emotional experience; in particular, Urie remembers seeing an older man shift from uncomfortable and confused—"Oh god, what is this?"—to being the first out of his seat for the standing ovation. "Whether or not that changed his political or sociopolitical views, it was cool to see that have that impact on someone, an out-of-towner," says Urie. "By the end of the show, I was so on fire, it felt like I had just played a show. My adrenaline was pumping. I was seeing people changed."

Of his shift to acting, Urie, 30, says the greatest challenge has been memorizing lines and delivering them in an English accent. Otherwise, thanks to muscle memory and the company involved, it's been easy transition. "Everybody is unnaturally kind," says Urie—a refreshing change from the jaded attitude that often comes with touring. "Everybody is so happy to actually be there and make people feel a part of it."

Panic! fans will be excited to hear that even in the midst of Kinky Boots, Urie is at work on new music. "I kind of don't stop," he says. "Even a conversation like this, I'll take a line or something that made me laugh from today and write it down. It might be a lyric later. I like doing that. It feels less like work; it's more like rewarding conversation with friends." After Urie wraps his Broadway run on August 6, he'll be back in his home studio in L.A. "I'm really looking forward to pushing new music out," he continues. "I'm going to focus on the next step for Panic! Like, what the hell is going to happen? I don't even know. I think people assume that I have a plan all the time, but I really don't. I'm flying by the seat of my pants."

While Urie was still in rehearsals, he sat down with Interview to answer some odd questions we once asked Bob Dylan in 1986.


ONE THING I'D LIKE TO IMPROVE ABOUT MYSELF:
My voice. I'd like to keep working at that; that's one thing that I don't think I ever stop working at.

BANDS I WISH I'D BEEN IN:
Queen, obviously. I wish I was Freddie Mercury, straight up. Led Zeppelin, because we just watched Rock Star the other day with Mark Wahlberg. [laughs] I forgot that John Bonham's kid, Jason Bonham, is the drummer in that. That blows my mind. I've been on a kick lately. I'll go months or maybe even a year or years without listening to a certain piece of music that I really worshipped, so I took a little break from hearing Led Zeppelin by choice, and now I'm flooding myself again listening to Led Zeppelin II and Physical Graffiti. There's so much music from Led Zeppelin that I think I overlooked when I was a kid because I didn't understand it, so now to revisit it at an older age, I have a deeper appreciation for it.

AUTHORS I'D READ ANYTHING BY:
Robert Munsch. That was the first author I fell in love with when I was a kid. I was eight or nine, and there was a book he wrote, Love you Forever, and my mom read that to me when I was a kid and I would bawl out of happiness. It's a beautiful story. The kid gets tucked in every night, [the mom] says, "I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always," and then at the end, she's old and kind of fading, and he's carrying her upstairs saying, "I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always." [sighs] Jesus.

And then this guy A.J. Jacobs, he's so funny. He wrote The Year of Living Biblically. He puts himself in situations and writes about it. He spent a year living the code of the Bible, the Old Testament, living like the Bronze Age here in New York. 

WHAT'S FOR DINNER:
Oh, goulash. It's the best. It's my favorite.

THREE PET PEEVES:
People who hold onto the car horn too long, that... Oh, man. It's so irritating. I get so annoyed. People who stand in the way of where people are walking—I hate that. When you're at the airport and it's a walkway clearly, and you're trying to get around, and they just stop in the middle, like, "Look up! What are you doing?" And lukewarm coffee. I either need it super hot or ice cold.

THE BEST CURE FOR THE BLUES:
Bourbon and music.

THINGS I'LL ALWAYS MISS:
I always miss New York when I leave it. It never feels like it's enough. This'll be the longest amount of time I've spent in New York—three months—so maybe that'll fix it, but I don't think so. Every time I leave I'm like, "Fuck, I want to go back."

THE FURTHEST THING FROM MY MIND:
I try to push all the anxious thoughts as far as possible, because if I focus on those too much it becomes a little panicky, I get a little freaked out. It's usually things like the pet peeves—I try not to focus on those too much because they make me feel anxious.

GAMES I PLAY:
Oh god, how much time do you have? I play a lot of video games. I play one called Fallout 4. Literally you go around, you collect junk, you build stuff, and you shoot zombies.

SOME GREAT MINOR MASTERPIECES:
I'm thinking about minor keys. "It Was A Very Good Year" by Frank Sinatra is a masterpiece to me. It's one of the most beautifully written songs I've ever heard. He goes through his life. He starts, [singing] "When I was 17 / It was a very good year," and describes what he did at 17, 21, 35 and, "I'm in the autumn of the year / And now I think of my life as vintage wine." It's so beautiful. It's one of my favorite songs.

CLUBS I BELONG TO:
Is Panic! a club? I don't think Panic! is a club. We have this new thing we did on tour, it's called House of Memories, and that's more of a nostalgic club. You show up, we've got food, drinks, and it's all these pieces we've saved for the last 12 years that we kept them in boxes of storage in our house. There's so much stuff: stuff from music videos, stuff from tour, I've saved every one my laminates, I've saved every hotel key I've ever had. That's my favorite club right now. I'm usually not nostalgic, but I think I'm becoming more the older I get.

ONE THING I'D LIKE FOR VALENTINE'S DAY:
To do nothing. To be at home and do nothing with my wife, just Netflix and chill. That's the best. [laughs]

TWO TRUTHS THAT AREN'T TRUE:
"Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise." Was that Ben Franklin? That's complete bullshit, that's so not true.

"A penny saved is a penny earned." I never really understood that. I never thought that cliché, that truth, was a thing. If you just hold onto your money, you'll always be rich, but what's the point? Donate or something.

A FEW INFLUENTIAL RECORDS:
Weezer's The Blue Album [Weezer (1994)] was a huge one for me. I learned how to play drums to that record. I stole the cassette tape from my sister and never gave it back. There was that, Sublime—which is a funny one for people to hear I think from me40 Oz. To Freedom. When I was 9 years old, my brothers moved in with me—they have a different dad, so they're my half-brothers—and I finally had older brothers, so they started introducing me to different music. They listened to A Tribe Called Quest, Wu-Tang, Pearl Jam, and Sublime. So Sublime, when I heard Bradley Nowell's voice, I flipped out. I was like, "This is something spiritual happening, the closest I can understand spirituality." He's got so much soul, and I just loved those songs, and they were funny, most of them were covers. Sublime really hit me hard. That was a good one.

EVENTS I WISH I'D WITNESSED:
I've seen the footage, but I would've loved to be there for MLK's "I Have a Dream" speech. And the Gettysburg Address—I think it would've been really crazy to be a part of that because it's such an important piece of our history.

There's that, and then I've got this weird thing where I've wanted to—I think Bob Dylan actually wrote the same thing—see Harry Houdini do magic. That would've been unreal to see; he was an anomaly in his day.

SOME PLACES I WOULDN'T WANT TO GO BACK TO:
School. When I do dream about being in school, I'm like, "Oh, no." It's nightmares. It's horrible. I would never want to go back to school. It wasn't that it was terrible—everybody gets a little bullied and picked on and stresses out about work and whatever—but life gets so much better the older you get. 

ONE LAST FAVOR I'D LIKE TO ASK:
Pass the salt—no, hand me a beer?


BRENDON URIE'S RUN IN KINKY BOOTS ON BROADWAY CONTINUES THROUGH AUGUST 6, 2017. TICKETS ARE AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE HERE. FOR MORE ON PANIC! AT THE DISCO, VISIT THE BAND'S WEBSITE.

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