The split between Panic! at the Disco and former bassist Brent Wilson just got a whole lot nastier, with both sides hurling unpleasant accusations at each other.
On Monday (June 12), MTV News spoke to Wilson at his home in Las Vegas, and it quickly became clear that he was in no mood to make nice with his former bandmates.
“I was kicked out of the band,” he said. “”It was 100 percent a surprise to me. We were about to leave for a show in California, and they called me the night before and told me I was out of the band. The only reason they gave was that it was for ‘musical purposes.’ Everything was good and fine, we had just gotten back from a tour in Europe, and there had been no previous conversations about anyone leaving the band. I don’t know why they chose me.”
Of course, that story is in stark contrast to the one Panic told MTV News last month, when guitarist Ryan Ross said the split was “a decision we all came to as a band” (see “Panic! At The Disco Claim Split With Bassist Was Amicable, Mutual Decision” ).
“The [story] they told you made me really angry, because they said the matter was discussed as a band, and it wasn’t discussed at all,” Wilson said. “It was done as a phone call and the only person who spoke was [drummer] Spencer [Smith]. Apparently [frontman] Brendon [Urie] and Ryan were on the speakerphone too, but they didn’t say a word. They never even said they were sorry.”
And it’s a pretty safe bet to say that Wilson won’t be getting that apology anytime soon, because when MTV News reached out to Panic for comment on the matter, the bandmembers didn’t pull any punches.
“We made the decision based on Brent’s lack of responsibility and the fact that he wasn’t progressing musically with the band,” Smith said in a lengthy e-mail message. “Brent did not write any of his bass parts on the record. Brent did not record one note of bass on the record. Brendon and Ryan wrote all of the bass parts and Brendon recorded all of the bass parts. We had to simplify some of the bass parts that were recorded because Brent could not play them live.
“Our record would’ve sounded absolutely the same even if Brent wasn’t in the band during the writing or recording process,” he continued. “These are all things that only a few people know, and we were fine with that. Stating these things would only make Brent look bad and we had no intention of doing that.”
Wilson also claimed that his departure means he’ll miss out on the hefty financial windfall Panic was set to receive as part of their headlining tour, which kicked off last Tuesday (see “Panic! At The Disco Announce First Headlining North American Tour” ). He says he can’t help but think that the two factors were related.
“We were about to start a tour where the band would’ve been bringing home around $300,000, or something like $50,000 apiece, and basically they kicked me out, so the question about money goes through my head a lot,” he said. “And I believe it. Brendan and Ryan can both play multiple instruments and Spencer handles a lot of the business, so that sort of leaves me as the odd person out.”
Panic contend that this statement just isn’t true, and that most of the money the band is set to make on the tour is being spent before it even materializes, on expensive stage props and guest performers (Los Angeles-based Vaudeville troupe Lucent Dossier was recently added to the bill for all shows).
“Anyone who goes to a show on this tour will see that we have a lot of production on the road with us,” Smith wrote. “We are basically breaking even with the amount of money it is costing us to put on the show that we want to put on. So any statements from Brent about the amount of money that we are bringing in on this tour are uninformed. Brent showed no interest in the business side of the band, therefore he really doesn’t have any idea what is going on money-wise with the band. … We have never and will never make any decisions with this band based on money.”
Wilson declined to comment on whether he plans to pursue legal action against his former band, but claimed that he’s not looking for a big payday. He just wants the band’s fans to know what happened.
“Panic was my life. I’m 18 and I thought I had things figured out: I gave up baseball in high school because of this band, and I could’ve gotten a college scholarship,” he said. “Now I’m taking some classes and my dad owns his own business, so I’m helping him out. But I’m not going to lie: The whole thing is really difficult. I never thought my best friends would do this to me.”
As for Panic, Smith said they’d like to put the whole thing behind them.
“With all of this being said, we hope we can move past this and continue to grow as a band,” Smith wrote. “We would like to thank every single person who has supported us for the past few weeks and look forward to seeing you all in the near future.”