Panic! At the Disco Talks "Vices & Virtues," Weezer Compliments and More
Wed, 23 Feb 2011 14:12:19
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Panic! At the Disco fans had reason to panic –or, Panic!- in 2009, when half the band split, leaving vocalist/guitarist Brendon Urie and drummer Spencer Smith to regroup and come out swinging when the time was right and when they were ready.
The band – half Warped Tour attraction, half pop act and a little bit of stylized art rock performance project- has emerged with the excellent, ear pleasing Vices & Virtues, which fills the room with its melodic sensibilities. Like the title of the band's Platinum-plus debut, A Fever You Can't Sweat Out, you won't be able to purge your mind of the songs on Vices & Virtues, which will embed themselves in your brain and your booty, which you will be shaking since Panic! At the Disco make music that angst-written white kids can dance to. The first single, "The Ballad of Mona Lisa," drips with emotion and melodies so vivid and memorable that they will undoubtedly echo from the stages at Warped Tour and beyond. It's nerdy but lived in pop that comes from a very real place that makes the hiatus of a band like Fall Out Boy a little bit more bearable for the late teen set that flocks to this sound and style.
ARTISTdirect.com News Editor Amy Sciarretto spoke to Urie just before Vices and Virtues impacted and he was anxious for P!ATD fans to hear the new album. He discussed the upside to downsizing, the possibility of expanding the band's ranks again in the future, nerdy pop, his biggest vice (it involves sleeping) and his best virtue (it involves his job.)
'Vices & Virtues' is your new album and you're now a two-piece. How does that feel to be the "Incredible Shrinking Band," so to speak?
It's very personal for us --- we wanted to prove to ourselves we could do it. We knew in back of our minds that we could. We're excited and pleased and confident since this is what we wanted to do.
How was it writing as a two-piece? What was the biggest difference?
Yeah, it is definitely different. It was a whole different process, where you have to finish longer ideas than just a verse and chorus that you brought to rest of the band and they took the reigns and control. I wrote music for a while, but never considered myself a lyricist, but in this process, I discovered myself as this person by writing.
What was the biggest upside to downsizing?
I think a lot of people would take it negatively, but for me personally, it is great. I was able to get out all the ideas I have not been able to use in past years and recordings, and it was nice to be condensed to two opinions, which were the opinions of Spencer and I. We had been on the same page for years. It was freeing and liberating and now the record is coming out, so it is validated.
Will you ever expand to permanent members or is it just going to be you and Spencer for the foreseeable future, with touring members lending a helping hand?
I definitely think we will get some permanent members eventually. It's tough to find people you click with immediately, that you can live with, write with, share your ideas with. It is like a marriage. We have to find people we get along with but honestly, right now, we have a great situation. Our buddies are on tour with us and they will stick with us, since we can use their help. We will talk about it in the future.
You guys have the ability to write your own ticket - you have that established fan base in your pocket already. Speaking of the fanbase, how do they feel about a leaner, meaner P!ATD?
We met with a few fans when we've had a few shows -- ones in New York, London, Germany. We've talked to fans before show and it is nice to have their support and know they are behind us. We isolated ourselves from that world of reading comments and going on forums during the recording and that was validating as well. We have the most dedicated and passionate fans, and that's the best feeling.
It's good that you steered clear of online chatter when recording. When that gets in your head during writing, it can get problematic!
It's hard to write a song for anyone but yourself. We figured out what we wanted to do, by asking what type of band did we want to listen to? Our last record, Pretty. Odd, was so much different than A Fever You Can't Sweat Out, but our fans stuck with us through it all and we definitely put them through a roller coaster over the past few albums and years.
So what's your number one vice?
Lethargic behavior, when I don't want to leave the house, when I am laying in bed, thinking, 'Give me another hour.' That is tough, even when laying there, thinking, 'Come on, get up.' It's like one half of your mind pushes you to get up and the other half thinks, 'Screw you.' Fighting that battle is tough, and it's an every day battle.
And your best virtue?
I am getting better at self expression. It was tougher in beginning, but with writing, I am coming out of my shell. I have been energetic, but lost touch with myself, whatever that means. It is important and I've been getting that out in a manner in which we can have fun, in music and on stage.
When I listen to the record, especially "The Ballad of Mona Lisa," it reminds me of Weezer. It's pop, but it's nerdy pop. It's not entertainer, mainstream, manufactured pop.
I am comfortable with nerdy pop tag! I love it, that's awesome. It doesn't bother me. I feel like we are completely ecstatic with any label people give us. We put labels on it, too, when we talk about songs. Like we might think, 'We want a debonair, dapper part' and those are just descriptive words to get the idea in our heads out. We have fun with labels.
That's so refreshing, since bands hate labels! You are "anti" that attitude.
We're not rock star in that sense.
So you like being compared to Weezer, at least by me, on “The Ballad of Mona Lisa?”
I take that as complement, actually.
Take us inside the song. How did you arrive there? Break it down, in the moment, for me and for P!ATD fans!
"The Ballad of Mona Lisa" came from an idea before we started writing for Pretty. Odd, actually. A year after Fever, we were on tour, writing, getting ready to record and that was a demo that never got used. I had showed it to band, and another song beat it out for the next record, but I am so glad we got to use it finally. It was sitting on my laptop, not doing anything, and it was kind of a crime. I was at first apprehensive to use it, since it was written after first record, and I was not sure how I feel about that and I thought about it and then I stopped overthinking it. Part of it was working with Butch Walker to see that we could use the song. That song almost didn't get made. It was a stupid little demo and then it was cool to dig that out and we thought, 'This is awesome."
Are you excited for new Panic! At The Disco?