On the heels of their latest release, Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die!, Panic! At The Disco have been once again lighting up the road with brand new digs and an attitude to match. Songs like “Miss Jackson” and “Nicotine” brought to mind how flexible the band can be, and proved the old dogs haven’t aged a day in their decade-long stretch. While the album is a far cry from some of their earlier works, Panic! are ever-entertaining on the latest record, and the heat and drive of their live performances haven’t missed a step.
The group’s headline tour with The Colourist and X Ambassadors is inching closer to our area, and it’s hard not to get excited. There are at least 42 dates left in this run, including some that will take the band overseas and Down Under. We sat down with frontman Brendon Urie to talk about what fans can expect as 2014 wanes on and how the past, present and future have influenced their latest work of art and music. The transcription is below:
The band’s latest album, Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die!,is obviously a big reference to Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas. Was the book a big influence on the direction you were going?
Yeah, the book… I have to be honest, I think a lot of the people I was hanging around with as well saw the movie first and then that got me interested. I’ve always been a big Terry Gilliam fan and just the way he presented the book. I saw the movie first and then I went back and read Hunter S. Thompson’s work and a couple of others. I was really impressed.
It was kind of phenomenal how [Thompson] is just an idol, and I felt like this album was really celebrating my time growing up in Vegas and I felt like it was the perfect description of that character—you know, that character that I lived inside my mind and the person who was also a little apprehensive to show that character to the world—so it just worked out perfectly.
Two weeks had gone by and I hadn’t come up with an album title yet, and that just kind of popped out, so we said, “Oh, let’s try that.” It was the first one that I really didn’t second-guess, and it was awesome. It all worked out perfectly.
How do you think the new record differs in sound and style as opposed to some of your earlier works?
We always try to change our sound—something in between here I can’t quite make out. It’s always considered exciting for us when we’re writing and recording. For me, I love electronic music, I love hip-hop, and I never really incorporated those sounds—especially hip-hop—as much as I did this time around.
There are your influences and inspirations, but I tried to stay away from it and figure something else out that was more rock or punk—which are still genres that I love—but yeah, this time I wanted to see how far we could take it in that regard, and I was pleasantly surprised. Songs like “Miss Jackson” have a hip-hop vibe to it, and I love that. That suddenly surprised me. That’s when I knew this record was done. We did like one more song after that and said, “Yup, this is it.” And that’s a big moment, when you’re actually satisfied with everything at that point and you go, “We don’t have to record anymore. We could, but we won’t.”
What’s up for 2014? More touring? New tunes?
Oh yeah, definitely more touring. We’re starting a tour in the first couple of weeks of January and we’re gonna be touring up until the end of April for right now. Maybe a couple of summer festivals, the UK and stuff like that, so definitely more shows, which I’m really excited about. That’s the biggest thing when you put a record out. You’ve been in the studio and you’ve been working on songs so long you just want to showcase them and perform.
I’m really excited to get some more music out once we finish that touring cycle. I really want to push a new album out and just new songs. Something I’m really looking forward to is collaborating with new artists as well. From hip-hop to punk to rock to whatever, I’m really excited about a lot of artists that are out today, and I think it’d be really fun to get together with them and fuck around a little bit.
Do you have any bands in mind that you are thinking about collaborating with?
Definitely. Like I said, I’m a huge hip-hop fan. I’d love to work with Danny Brown or A$AP Rocky, obviously Kendrick Lamar is fucking crazy, and you know, J. Cole, his albums are really great. Apart from hip-hop, though, the group Haim, I was really impressed with their record [Days Are Gone]; that’s such a good record. There’s a couple of other bands too, but those are my top ones.
How has drummer Spencer Smith been doing since he left the tour to get help for substance abuse? Is there any chance he’ll be coming back around soon?
Right now we’re still. Luckily, things are much, much better, in a much better place, and that was our ultimate goal, to make sure that Spence was good. We do have our friend Dan [Pawlovich] filling in for him right now, and it’s been great so far.
I’m really just impressed with Spencer’s progress and I think that’ll continue into the beginning of the year, and we hope to see him after this little bit of tour and these last few months. I think it’s a testament to his honesty and I’m just proud that he was able to do that. It was a really big move. Our fan support has been insane. I’ve seen “Team Spencer” shirts at shows, and just the show of support has been really amazing.
We wish him a well recovery, and thanks for taking the time to talk to us, Brendon.
It’s been a pleasure.
Panic! At The Disco will be performing at Roseland Ballroom on Feb. 4 and The Electric Factory on Feb. 5. Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die! is available now. For more information, go to panicatthedisco.com.