Panic! at the Disco

Panic! at the Disco

Panic!  At  The  Disco’s  roots  coming of age in Las Vegas loom large  on  the  band’s   fourth album Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die!. From its glittery synth-based, drum-heavy sound, to its playful, celebratory subject matter, to the Rat Pack- inspired imagery on the cover, to the title itself (a line from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas author Hunter S. Thompson), the album finds the band, for the first time in its nearly 10-year career, owning up to loving their hometown.

“Before I started demoing any of the songs on the album, I was in Vegas and went  to  a  club,”  says  the  band’s  frontman and songwriter Brendon Urie. “I  was   listening to the driving beats and watching all these people dance and have a good time. And I thought, ‘I  want  to make music like this. These people are celebrating life.’ It made me stop being cynical and see how beautiful it actually was. We left Vegas when we were 17, because at that age, Vegas sucks. You’re   not 21. You can’t  go  anywhere;;  you  can’t  play  in  bars.  We never played live shows. So we were really bitter for a lot of years. But this last time I realized that people go there to drop their guard and let loose, and that inspired me. It was a real moment of clarity. Now  I’m  in  love with Vegas. I even wrote an anthem about it,  ‘Vegas  Lights.’”

Urie’s  inspiration  is reflected in the sound of the new album, which was recorded largely on a collection of Arturia and Moog synthesizers that he and drummer Spencer Smith had collected over the years.  “I  hadn’t  really  delved  into  it  all   because  I  didn't  know  how  to  use  the  technology,”  Urie  says.  “A huge part of the process for me is that I wanted to be a producer. I had the sounds in my head, I just had to figure out how to get them out. Our producer Butch Walker [who co- produced Panic! At The Disco’s 2011 album Vices & Virtues] and engineer Jake Sinclair were both mentors and taught me how to use the computer. I would explain  what  I  was  hearing  and  they’d  say,  ‘Well,  this  is  how  you  do  it.’ It was validating to get positive feedback from Butch, but I still wanted more. So I just kept writing, writing, and writing.” Eventually  Urie  came  up  with  the  album’s   anthemic core: “Vegas  Lights,”  “This Is Gospel,”  “Nicotine,”  “Girls/Girls/Boys,”   and  the  new  single  “Miss  Jackson.”  “We had all these songs and I was like, ‘This is it; this is the record I want to make,’”  Urie  says.  “I knew it would happen, but finally  it’s  here.”

The lyrics sprang from Urie wanting to tell his own story. Though he sometimes masked the ideas in a fictional way, his overall goal was to be as honest as possible.  “This  album  is  more  confessional  than  anything  I’ve  done  before,”  he   says. He found himself writing about his relationships. He describes the final

song  on  the  album,  “The  End  of  All  Things,”  as  the  most  revealing in terms of opening his heart. “When I was writing it, I was tearing up because I was feeling a lot of emotion.”

Urie strikes a more playful note on “The  Girls  Love  Girls  and  Boys” — a racy song about women who like girls and guys. Along  similar  lines  is  “Nicotine,”   which  compares  a  girl  to  a  bad  habit  you  just  can’t  kick.  Says Urie: “She calls you for a booty call. You think,  ‘I’m  not  going  to  see  this  girl;;  it’s  not  going  to  happen.   Twenty minutes  later  you’re  at  her  house.  I’ve  been  through  it;; where you know it’s  so  stupid  and  that  nothing good can come of it.”

Too Weird To Live, Too Rare to Die! takes a darker lyrical turn on the first single “Miss  Jackson,”  for which Urie drew on the personal experience of being cheated on  years  ago.  “It  was  very  cathartic  to  write,”  he  says.  “I had been through something where I had slept with a girl one night and then her friend the next, but nothing like that had ever been done to me. When it did, it flipped it around for me. Once I felt how it felt, it made me change. Taking something so serious and putting  a  fun  melody  to  it  made  me  feel  less  dark  and  that  I’d  really  overcome  it.”

Panic! At The Disco is now looking forward to a bright rest of the year. This Fall, they hit the road with their friends Fall Out Boy for The Save Rock and Roll Arena Tour. Urie promises their upcoming tours will be as big a spectacle as the tours they’ve  launched  for  their  previous  albums,  2005’s  double-platinum A Fever You Can’t  Sweat  Out,  2008’s  Pretty. Odd. (which debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard Album chart), and Vices & Virtues, which debuted at No. 7 and racked up critical accolades. “I  want  our  show  to  be  a  steady  stream  of  continuous  music,”  Urie says. “I  want  to  create  that  club  feel  where  the  music  doesn’t  let  up and the beat never stops. You came to a show. I’m  going  to  tire  you  out.  I’m  going  to  make   you work for it. I want to create an environment that doesn’t  feel  like  an arena. I want the audience to  actually  forget  where  they  are.  Then  an  hour  later,  they’re   like,  ‘Wow,  what just happened?’”