Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Interview: Brendon Urie of Panic! At the Disco

August 02, 2006 11:21 AM
by Christina Fuoco
LiveDaily Contributor

Panic! At the Disco frontman/guitarist Brendon Urie admits the vast desert soundscape of Las Vegas is not the most ideal scene from which to arise.

"It sucks," Urie said during an interview on his tour bus parked behind Tempe, AZ's Marquee Theatre. "It's horrible. There's no places to play. There's no real support for bands. No one really cares. Everyone plays death metal or post-hardcore screamo, and that's pretty much it. Everyone sounds the same."

Newer bands, like Panic!, basically have two choices for venues in which to showcase their material: "backyards, or you play The Joint or House of Blues in front of 2,000 people," he said. "It's ridiculous."

So, with no live shows under its belt, Panic! took an alternate route to discovery. The band posted its music on a website devoted to Decaydance, a label founded by Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz.

"There was no way we could have played a show in Las Vegas, so the only way we could be discovered was through the Internet, which was the way it worked," Urie said.

Wentz heard Panic!, and traveled to Las Vegas to watch the fledgling, high school-bred band--which also included drummer Spencer Smith, then-bassist Brent Wilson and guitarist Ryan Ross-- practice. Jon Walker replaced Wilson on bass earlier this year, after an acrimonious split.

"We didn't really know [Wentz] until we were signed," Urie recalled. "I never saw Fall Out Boy live. ... Ryan posted our stuff, and [Wentz] visited us in Vegas and watched us practice a little bit. He told us they were going to sign us,"

"[Wentz is] the reason we were discovered," Urie added. "We were kind of reaching out to him. Just the fact that he took a chance on coming out and seeing a band who had never played a show is cool. He does a really good job. He's put in a really good word for us during interviews. A lot of the hype we can owe to him. We toured with [Fall Out Boy], too. That was a lot of fun."

LiveDaily: What do you think about all the hype surrounding your band? You're selling out theaters, on the covers of magazines ...

Brendon Urie: The hype is pretty good. So it's a good sign. There's different kinds of hype for different reasons. Hype is good. The crowd just has more expectations from us when we're on stage. That's cool, too. I hope we haven't been too disappointing. We try. [laughs]

Speaking of "expectations," that's been a word that has followed Panic! At the Disco around since its formation.

When we first started off, we made our record and then we played our first show. There was a bit of an expectation, you know, "Fall Out Boy signed them. They never played a show. They better be, like, real good." In the beginning, we sucked, too. We were horrible. We're still not too good, but we've gotten better. I'll just say that much.

With your breathlessly long song titles, you seem to come from the Pete Wentz school of writing.

[Laughs] Ryan writes all the lyrics, and me and him will have a music idea, and we'll sit down together and kind of work it out. And then when we have the basic idea, me and him sit down, we'll present it to Spencer and [now ex-bassist Brent Wilson], and we'll all collaborate, with whatever ideas we have. For the first half, we wrote the music first and then [Ryan] wrote lyrics to sort of fit the feel. For the second half, the songs, Ryan would write lyrics like this storytelling kind of picture. We would write music based around that--like, the feel, the theme of what he was talking about. If he was talking about a whore, it would have a sleazy feel to it. We're weird guys. I don't know if a lot of people get our humor. A lot of people probably think we're jerks. We're real sarcastic. Really ironic and stuff. We mean well, but we joke around probably a lot more than we should.

What was it like to work with producer Matt Squire?

It was awesome. I love that guy. Pretty much all the songs we ever wrote were on the album. So it was kind of hard pulling stuff together. Some of the song ideas we didn't use because we didn't have the time. We're kind of perfectionists. We like to sit down with one song and really work it to our liking. He had so many good ideas that fit perfectly. I should say we had pieces of songs and put them together. We had seven or eight full songs, and then he edited every single one of them. He really helped us out with some ideas.

We were really uptight when we were writing. We were like, "Man this sucks. We have to work on this chorus." He was like, "No, man, the chorus is good. Leave it alone." He helped us pick the priorities for songs. He was pretty much on the same wavelength as us. He got the idea that we wanted. That's the first time we ever worked with anyone else. There's a lot you can learn from Matt Squire. He's quite the mentor.

From what I understand, singing is something relatively new to you..

I had only been in the band for four months, [and] I had been the singer for, like, two weeks when we were signed. So it was, like, weird. I was the lead guitarist/backup singer. I wasn't the singer. Ryan was. Then, like two weeks before we got signed, they were like, "OK, sing." I was like, "OK, whatever." We had, like, four or five months to write the record. At that point, we only had, like, three demos. It was the most stressful time for us. We were so under pressure. We would practice all day. I got out of class at 10 a.m. I had a nap, go to practice at 2 and stay there until like 1 in the morning. We had 11- to 12-hour days. I would have to wake up again in an hour and go to school. That was my last year in high school. I was a junior when I joined the band, and my senior year I spent writing and recording.



Barely out of high school when signed as the first act for Powered By Ramen's new Decaydance imprint, guitarist Ryan Ross and drummer Spencer Smith of Panic! at the Disco had previously cut their musical teeth in a local Las Vegas Blink 182 cover band. It's that familiar, contempo-punk-pop sensibility, bolstered by the amped-up emo-core ambitions of singer Brendan Urie (typified by the snarky gem "The Only Difference Between Martyrdom and Suicide is Press Coverage") that dominates the opening tracks of the album. It's a shrewd hook, one the band steadily expands -- sonically and lyrically -- thereafter. The nervous energy of "London Beckoned Songs About Money Written By Machines" is set off by sonic embroidery that's sounds as intriguing as the vocoder shtick of "Nails For Breakfast..." does dated. Yet "Camisado" quickly shakes up Supertramp's prog-pomp with a double-shot of modern punk-pop smarts, an alchemy the band and producer Mint Squire performs with similarly inventive, genre-blurring ambition (complete with a quasi-Grand Guignol "Intermission" nearly worthy of Queen) on "Lying is the Most Fun..." and such standouts as "But Its Better If You Do" and the arch delight "Build God, Then We'll Talk." Too many young bands are content slaves to fashion; this one has forged a promising debut by shrewdly taking fashion hostage, then standing it firmly on its head.

18 comments:

Missy Grace said...

I loved this interview. I read it over and over again. Brendon Urie I love you so much, you're so cute! You make the number one singer for Panic! At The Disco. You're my favourite singer. Panic! is my favourite band, only because you're in it and make the music sound good. Love you! Bye.

Anonymous said...

Hey! I LOVED THIS INTERVIEW! Brendon Urie is soooo cute, and I am so happy for him that he worked up enough money to pursue his dreams. Brendon is an amazing singer, and very very very cute. He is my fave singer, and I won't give up trying to meet him!

Anonymous said...

Awsome interview! Brendon you have an awsomw vouice and i liove how you are dedicated to the band. Try and get Ryan in a couple of interviews. I would really like to know more about his lyrics and how they came to be. I also think it would be interesting to hear Jon and how he felt about replacing Brent.

Anonymous said...

hey brendon i now you prolly never look at this but i will say somwthing any ways i love you your so hott not cute hott i love panic ! at the disco if it wernt for pete yall wouldnt be here pete you rock to i love yall and the only differebce between marthdom and suicide is press coverage and build god then we"ll talk are my fav songs from panic!at the disco i hope yall make another cd i would love to get it love lots your biggest fan Brittany Landry

Anonymous said...

nice interview,brendon i just want to tell i think u are cute and also hot i love u and panic at the disco your songs are great i hope i can meet u someday keep up the good work u have a beautiful voice i hope u release a lot more cds and someday u can come to honduras.love u.your biggest fan(bigger than Brittany)

vaz said...

brendonnn urieeeee is mineee [he jest doesnt kno about us yet]... i wish man heheheh hes soo hott

vaz said...

brendOn u are soo hott i think iam going crazy over u LOL heheh anyways ull probably never ead this ini urs or my lifetime but i hope u make another album relly soon . one as good as the first onee i love this shitt xoxoox

max said...

All I got to say is: BRENDON YOU ROCK!
You really add to the bands personality, and so does equally Ryan, Jon, and Spencer. You're guys' music is so much different from any other band I've heard and its the best I've ever heard too. Yeah, I think you have reeeeallllyyy good looks, and so does Ryan ( I just got to say this, but I LOVE YOU SO MUCH... kinda creepy I know) and Spencer, and Jon... wow, you guys rock!! Your music is the best, and I really mean it, you all put so much work into it and everything. I don't want to just say I love the band just because you're all hott, but I love the band because of the music the most, its the best, literally. This interview gave good information about how things have been going and how Panic! at the Disco became what they are now. Yeah, I think I'm switching from talking to Bredon to talking to uhh something I don't know. Either way I LOVE PANIC! AT THE DISCO, you're basicly my life :D ..... yep yep, I hope to go to one of the concerts some day (can you guys come to Iowa please) and ppossibly go back stage, I'll do anything for that, I seriously will, I'll even stop talking.... anyways I think this is long enough, c yaz.

Kelsey_Pilon said...

Brendon you probably don't realize it yet, but you are a mentor to many people. People say your cute, and they are deffinetly right about that, but you also come across as a really great person. I really hope that one day I do meet you. If I don't meet you, I really hope I could some how communicate with you! Come do a show in London Ontario sometime- I know many people that adore you guys!!!

gmacmann said...

Yo I love this band. Brenda's cool, but he's gay. lol

Imani said...

OK Well I just want o tsay i officially lik Brendon even more then I already did. But there is one HUGE flaw. Ok in the last paragraph when they are talking about Panic's lbum tthey said Pwered By Raman it's FUELED By Raman. OK?

sva123456 said...

AAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I hate whoever messed up its FULED by ramen IDIOTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Fionne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fionne said...

Talent got it's way to more talent^-^ and now it's friendly rivalry, to me. P!ATD and FOb are both good bands. I love them both^-^
I love ya Brendon and Pete!

AMC said...

Okay, It is so weird to think of Ryan as being the lead singer!!! I think making Brendon the singer was the best thing that Panic! could ever do! Brendon is SO cute!!!!!! I LOVE YOU BRENDON!!!! Plus: I love Pete Wentz and it's cool he got them signed, but Brendon's interview is much better than Pete's. Haha

Annonymous lover... said...

Anonymous lover...

i love brendon but i love ryan ross even more. i would love ryan on lead vocals because i think he is the hottest in the band.
(and pete wentz rocks too)

Brooke said...

Of course everyone thinks your cute but some ppl dont even care about the music. These guys have worked so hard to be where they are now and all u guys recognize is only their music. I do love your band cuz i think the words that Ryan wrote are very inspiring and Brendons singing is amazing. I hope you guys come to tulsa, oklahoma some time cuz i would love to see you perform live then on the mtv music awards. by the way a does anyone know if they are playing at the o7' music awards? well i luv u
Panic!@td....good luck with your new album.

Lorelei said...

wow, hahah i kinda cant believe im posting. but i have panic!s songs on my on-the-go all the time for at least a year and a half.

totally, brendon and ryan are mighty finnnne and [hehhe] i have magnets of them in my locker, but their music is even more amazing. i think. hahha but i know i definitely didnt enjoy his little mustache on the VMAs...

im dying for their new album! i know they can top it, theyre unstoppable. their music is inspiring. their style is amazing. they put on such a great show.

i complain to my friends every day [no lie] about how i miss their show

every once in a while ill catch myself dreaming about meeting them....hahhhah thats just about how dorky i am.

the next tour is the only thing im living for.....