Despite the title of Panic! At the Disco’s latest album, “Pray for the Wicked,” frontman Brendon Urie insists he “can’t stand for evil.” At the “iHeartRadio Album Release Party with Panic! At The Disco” for the new record, which dropped today (June 22), Urie expressed his disgust for Donald Trump and his “zero tolerance” immigration policy that split more than 2,000 immigrant children from their parents at the U.S. border.
“Everyday it’s like another dumb piece of sh– thing that he just did,” Urie told Variety. “Like this pimp sh– that he just did where he set up the means to separate kids and put them in detention centers — in cages — like animals, and then signed the order and said, ‘I did this. I got rid of it.’ It’s like, ‘No, motherf—er. You made the order.’ That’s evil — that’s actual evil.”
Urie is hardly the first musician to denounce the president for his actions, but while he says he feels a responsibility to speak out against injustice, a concert stage isn’t necessarily his venue of choice.
“What I would rather do is use music as an escape, obviously, but I think it is important, to a certain degree, to make it known — to let it be known where I stand — because I can’t stand for evil,” Urie said. “I can’t abide; I will not stand for it, and I will continue to fight. And whether or not I use that during our show remains to be seen because I have said stuff in the past, but I don’t necessarily want to give Trump his time during my show for our fans. I want us to build something more beautiful rather than take away by having to talk about that jackhole. So there is a certain degree that I do want to be political, and I do want to have a stance on stuff, but I want to do it a smart way.”
As far as how he plans to take action, Urie said he intends to start a fund to support causes he cares about, as well as volunteer his time to community service efforts. During Thursday’s concert at the iHeart Radio Theater in Los Angeles, Urie kept his political comments brief, introducing the song “Girls/Girls/Boys” as his “f— you” to Trump. The song about bisexual relationships has been revered as an anthem for the LGBT community.
The political climate also played a role in developing “Pray for the Wicked,” which represents two years of both societal and personal changes for Urie since Panic!’s last album, “Death of a Bachelor” dropped in 2016. In that time, a new president was elected, and Urie completed a stint on Broadway starring in “Kinky Boots,” which he said had a significant influence on the sound of “Pray for the Wicked.”
During his eight-shows-a-week Broadway schedule, Urie used his downtime between double-header performances to set up his laptop, recorder and acoustic guitar, putting down beats and crafting new lyrics while Netflix played in the background. Since he completed his time on the Broadway stage in August 2017, the singer said the experience has also reshaped him as a performer.
“It changed it so drastically that I don’t even think I noticed it,” Urie said. “I end up onstage now, and I feel more comfortable than I have, but when I watch videos of us from the last six months of one-off shows, it’s weird in a good way. I look at myself, and I go, ‘I don’t recognize me ever looking like that onstage, but that’s cool.’ I have a different vibe about me, like I’ve been meditating with crystals or something — like I’ve been cleansed or something.”
As much as it is inspired by new developments, Urie said “Pray for the Wicked” is also a reflection, in part, on the band’s and his maintained success for more than 13 years since “I Write Sins, Not Tragedies” put them on the musical map.
“How did I get here? Why am I still here? It can’t be just me,” Urie said. “Being eight-years-old and making cardboard cutouts of guitars and putting yarn around it and standing in front of the mirror just singing whatever songs at the time — dreaming of it — to being here now. A lot of it touches on that.”