Panic! at the Disco frontman Brendon Urie on sexual fluidity and hot dudes
After years of speculation, Brendon Urie is coming out as … “a straight dabbler?” Panic! at the Disco’s glam frontman, who celebrates bisexuality on the band’s single “Girls/Girls/Boys” from its fourth LP, Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die!, opens up in our recent chat about his curious past with men and finding himself “attracted to dudes all the time.”
— Chris Azzopardi
Dallas Voice: What inspired “Girls/Girls/Boys?” Brendon Urie: Like every song on this record, the song is very autobiographical — just very honest and very confessional about exactly how I feel. The biggest summarization of the whole song in general is in the lyric “Love is not a choice,” which I completely believe. I’m proud of who I am and I’m gonna act accordingly. It’s really kind of loosely based on the majority of relationships I’ve been in, even now with my wife. Yeah, she’s attracted to girls, and I think some men are extremely attractive and I don’t wanna hide it. I have no shame in it. I like being able to shed some light on that. It’s nice to be able to open up like that.
You basically answered my next question: Was this song inspired by a relationship with a bisexual woman? [Laughs] It was! I’ve been in these scenarios and I just find that attractive. Maybe not just the bisexuality, but the openness and the honesty that one can accomplish by just knowing, “This is me, this is who I am.” It’s so attractive to have that kind of confidence.
Would you call the song a bisexual anthem? I mean, that’s a bold statement, but I’d be honored to call it a bisexual anthem — that’s kind of awesome. I feel like [bisexuality] needs to be celebrated, because a lot of times I feel like people are ashamed and they hide it and they might be a little scared to open up about it. Being able to do that is a big step for me.
Gay rumors about you have been circulating since the beginning of your career. And last year you tweeted, “Everyone’s a little gay.” Do you truly believe that for yourself and for other people? Oh yeah, definitely. It’s natural. I find myself being attracted to dudes all the time. I’m like, “Wow, that’s a beautiful man.” There’s no shame in it; that’s how I feel. To stifle that would probably bring on stress and probably make somebody homophobic.
How do you label yourself sexually, then? I guess if I had to classify myself, I’d say I’m straight. But I have, in the past, experimented in other realms of homosexuality and bisexuality. Overall I’m more attracted to women. Like with my wife, I’m just so insanely in love and attracted to my wife that I go, “Well, OK, my love of musicals can’t trump that I love pussy.”
A straight dabbler? Yeah, sure. It’s fun to dabble!
What’s it about D’Angelo’s music video for “Untitled (How Does It Feel)” that made you want to pay tribute to it in the “Girls/Girls/Boys” video? When I first saw that video, I was pretty young — I think I was 12 years old — but I don’t even know if it was something sexual. At that point I was just more mesmerized by how bold it was. I was like, “This guy is so confident that he has no problem being naked.” I did like his pants and how low they’d go. It got real close to seeing his junk. Something about it was so open and so just naked … not just physically but figuratively. He’s really opening himself up to be that comfortable in front of the camera. This song was such a vulnerable song that I felt it just made sense to do something like that.
Are you as comfortable with being naked as you look in the video? Oh yeah. Right now I’m naked. I’m naked all the time. If I’m home, I’m naked. [Laughs]
So you’re at home now? No … I’m walking through a grocery store, totally naked. [Laughs]
How aware are you that both women and men are swooning over this video? Are you getting salacious tweets? How does your wife feel about all this? I’ve gotten a couple. My wife was on set, actually. She was helping to oil me up! My wife is the coolest. She’s so down to let me do whatever crazy thing pops in my head. It’s kind of amazing.
But I’ve gotten tweets from fans, and it’s flattering. They’re like, “Your video is so hot.” I’m just a skinny white dude. I’m not built. I’m not some supermodel dude. I’m just a normal dude. And I feel it’s flattering in a way, and also surprising — you think it’s sexy? Really? I was just spoofing a video that I really love, but it’s nice to get some good feedback.
Thank your wife for me please. I thank her every day.
You guys are known for putting on a pretty gay show. It’s been about 10 years since you referred to your former bandmate Ryan Ross as your lover and chased him across the stage, trying to kiss him. What’s gay about the latest show? We have this thing we call “stage gay” where I become a different person onstage. I think I can say the same for the rest of the band: We become just a character, a different person onstage, and you treat every situation accordingly. So you get close to somebody onstage and there’s sexual tension and you’re all of a sudden this cocky person running around. I like to bring that person to the character I play.
It’s also just very flamboyant. Our costumes are pretty amazing. Some very flamboyant shiny, sparkly clothing. I have a pinkish, rose-gold jacket that’s my favorite thing ever. I gotta gay it up a bit.
What about the heavy eye makeup? When’s that making a comeback? I miss the makeup, actually. I’ve been looking at ideas in the past couple of months to not replicate what we’ve done in the past but to do something new and different, because I do miss wearing the makeup.
You’ve always prided yourself on being pretty odd. What do you find so weird about yourself? I always roll paper, which is a weird thing. I mean, I can roll a really good joint … but all day I’m just rolling bits of paper. My wife is impressed by it. She’s like, “Wow, these are perfectly rolled pieces of paper. Tightly packaged like a toothpick.”
Maybe you have a second career in origami. Maybe! I should look into that.
What’s on your iPod that would surprise people? Let’s see what I have here — this might actually surprise me. We’ve got Ace of Base. Gotta have Ace of Base. Here’s a funny one: OMC’s “How Bizarre.” I have weird one-hit wonders from the ’90s. Oh, and I’ve got Aqua. Definitely got Aqua.
And show tunes, right? I have a whole folder! I’ve got Li’l Abner and Cabaret. I have The Sound of Music!
What accounts for the shift in sound on Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die!, an album that meanders from your theatrical flourishes as of late and goes electro-pop? I was spending a good amount of time going to clubs and just watching people dance — things I really never did in the past — and going to Vegas, where I grew up, and just spending time at nightclubs. Basically not being the cynical hipster with the beer in the corner and actually joining in and being one of the people that I would’ve made fun of in the past. It’s liberating in a way. I wanted to make a record like that. I wanted to make a party record. One that got me excited. One that I felt could excite people to get up and dance — and dance like no one’s watching. And to celebrate life.
What inspired the nod to Janet Jackson with the “are you nasty?” line on the song “Miss Jackson?” A lot of times my samples are stolen from a place of admiration. With the “Miss Jackson” line, I was watching Janet Jackson’s “Nasty” and, when she gets out of that car and says that line, I’m just like, “Ahh, it’s so good!” I don’t know why I love it so much, but I love it. I just started having the best time dancing around, singing that.
You were naked when this all went down, weren’t you? Chances are that yes, I was naked.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 13, 2013.