Exclusive: Ryan Ross Talks About Cocaine Picture

'I didn't even really know [the cocaine] was there,' ex-Panic! at the Disco frontman says.

Last week, just days after [artist id="2008947"]Panic! at the Disco[/artist] announced that Ryan Ross and Jon Walker were leaving the band , a certain photo began making the rounds on message boards and gossip sites … one that seemed to confirm most Panic! fans’ suspicions about why Ross had split in the first place.

The picture shows the guitarist reclining on a couch, with three very young girls around him. In the foreground, there is a table cluttered with bottles of liquor, cigarettes and one very prominently placed bowl of what appears to be cocaine, chopped into little lines and ready to be snorted.

In a lot of ways, the photo looks like it could’ve been taken backstage at a Led Zeppelin show, circa 1970 … which is what bothered most Panic! fans, still angered by news of the split. To them, the picture was proof that Ross was more concerned with partying and chasing women — with being a rock star — than he was in continuing with Panic! at the Disco, which made him the bad guy in the whole situation.

To his credit, Ross remained silent about the photo and the backlash it created — until Monday, that is, when MTV News spoke to him about parting ways with Panic! , a conversation that also saw him addressing the rumors of his hard-partying ways, his reputation in the Panic! fanscape and, of course, that now-infamous picture.

“I’m usually the bad guy. That’s how it always seems to be,” Ross laughed. “I’ve tried not to read a lot of the comments our fans have been making about this, because I really hope they don’t think it was me who caused the split. We were all just going in different directions, musically. That’s it.”

And so, about that picture — well, Ross said it was taken the day after a party at a friend’s house, and that he had no idea the cocaine was on the table. It wasn’t his, and he didn’t partake in it the previous night. Oh, and he also denies the rumors that he somehow leaked the photo himself, to build buzz for his and Walker’s upcoming project.

“I planned the whole thing!” he laughed. “No, [the photo was taken] a couple of weeks ago — I do remember, believe it or not. I’m not gonna tell you whose house it was at, but yeah, there was a party the night before, and I slept on the couch, and we took a picture. I didn’t even really know [the cocaine] was there.”

And those girls in the photo? Turns out they’re not underage, or groupies, or anything salacious, really. They’re just Ross’ friends, and one of them accidentally caused the photo to be leaked.

“Oh, I definitely [know them] — it’s my friend Zee and a couple of her friends. And actually, they’re all older than me,” he laughed. “I think one of the girls put the picture on her Facebook, and was like, ‘Oh my God, I didn’t even know it was on the table,’ and then I don’t know what happened. But I think they got in more trouble than I did.”