Panic! at the Disco is a Grammy-nominated rock band formed in Las Vegas, Nevada in 2004. The band comprises vocalist, guitarist and pianist Brendon Urie and drummer Spencer Smith. In July 2009, guitarist Ryan Ross and bassist Jon Walker left the band, citing creative differences as the reason for their departure. They have since formed a new band, The Young Veins. Panic! at the Disco's debut album, A Fever You Can't Sweat Out, reached number 13 on the United States Billboard 200 and has sold over 2.2 million copies worldwide since its September 2005 release. The band's second album, Pretty. Odd., was released on March 25, 2008 and debuted at number 2 in the US.
The band will release their third album, entitled Vices & Virtues, on March 22, 2011, while the record's first single, "The Ballad of Mona Lisa", was released February 1, 2011.
Formation and early years (2004–2005)
The band was formed in Las Vegas, Nevada, by childhood friends Ross on guitar and Smith on drums. Later they recruited more members to create a band under the name of "The Summer League" with Brent Wilson and Trevor Howell. Howell would later leave the band.
Wilson met Urie at Palo Verde High School. Wilson asked Urie to try out as guitarist for the fledgling band, as they were looking for a replacement for Trevor at the time. Originally, Urie was not the band's lead singer. Rather, the position belonged to former guitarist and lyricist Ross. When they heard Urie sing backup vocals during a rehearsal, they were impressed with his backup vocal abilities and unanimously decided to make him the singer. The band then settled on the name Panic! at the Disco, which comes from the song "Panic" by Name Taken. The band contacted Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz through LiveJournal and sent him an internet link to their PureVolume site. Wentz took a trip to Las Vegas to meet the band. After seeing them practice, he asked if they would sign with his Fueled by Ramen imprint label Decaydance which made them the first on the new label.
A Fever You Can't Sweat Out (2005–2007)
Panic! at the Disco released their debut album A Fever You Can't Sweat Out on September 27, 2005, making a fan base through PureVolume and Myspace, though achieving little initial commercial recognition. After a consistent presence in PureVolume's top 10 signed artists, and reaching number one in Myspace's indie charts, Panic! at the Disco were featured on MTV's Total Request Live on January 17, 2006, where they premiered their music video for "I Write Sins Not Tragedies". Featuring Lucent Dossier Experience and a circus wedding theme, the video débuted at #10 on the TRL countdown, later winning the Video of the Year award at the 2006 MTV Video Music Awards.
Their second single, "But It's Better If You Do", was released in the UK on May 1, 2006 where it debuted, and peaked, at #23. The accompanying music video, released the previous month, portrays the band playing in a speakeasy in 1930's America, which, according to Urie, shows "the dark and secluded style of Panic!."
The band announced the departure of Wilson with a message on the band's website on May 17, 2006. Wilson has since claimed that the decision to leave was not his, and that he was fired without warning for monetary reasons. Wilson demanded a cut in royalties, and threatened to take his former band to court.
Just days after Wilson's departure, the band embarked on their first headlining tour through Europe, with long-time friend Walker filling in for the summer tour on bass while a permanent replacement was sought. All of the dates were sold out. Upon their return, the band embarked on a two-month North American headlining tour with supporting acts "high-concept, steampunk-meets-neotribal performance ensemble" Lucent Dossier Experience, The Hush Sound, OK Go and The Dresden Dolls, still retaining Walker as a temporary bassist. On July 3 of that year, the band's Myspace profile was edited to list Walker as bassist/vocals, and he became a permanent member of Panic! at the Disco.
The success of their first two singles helped catapult their debut album to the top of the Billboard Independent chart and to #13 on the Billboard 200 in July 2006.
Toward the end of July 2006, Panic! at the Disco released their third music video, "Lying Is the Most Fun a Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off". The video features people with fish tank helmets walking the streets of what appears to be a studio back lot. The video only shows the band in one shot, reportedly because they felt that their looks were distracting from their music.
In early August 2006, A Fever You Can't Sweat Out went Platinum, having sold over one million albums.
During Panic!'s opening song at the 2006 Reading Festival, an audience member threw a bottle at the stage, which struck Urie in the face and knocked him unconscious, forcing the band to stop playing. After a few minutes, Urie got back up and shouted to the crowd, "You can't take me out! Let's see what you guys do with my left side", and continued with the same song. In a phone interview Ross stated that "We were kinda expecting that [bottling] going into the Reading, because we heard that that's kinda a tradition they have over there" and "We walked on and we were kinda expecting that to keep our heads up the whole time, and unfortunately Brendon, he was catching bottles coming towards me and Jon and then he was dodging them himself, and kinda just didn't see one coming that I saw and it got him pretty good, and I dunno that's the only time anything like that's ever happened so hopefully we won't have to worry about anything like that too much."
The band embarked on a world tour in the later part of 2006. It included dates in Australia, New Zealand, and continental Europe. On November 7, 2006, they kicked off their first-ever arena tour with Bloc Party (who shortly dropped out because of drummer Matt Tong suffering a collapsed lung) and Jack's Mannequin. The Plain White T's were added to the next few weeks of The Nothing Rhymes With Circus Tour. They opened up the shows beginning in New York through November 26 in Iowa. After that, Cobra Starship were on the tour through December 9 in San Diego. The band appeared along with Fall Out Boy, Marilyn Manson and other bands on the special edition soundtrack of Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas covering "This Is Halloween", which was re-released in 3D on October 20.
Their final single from A Fever You Can't Sweat Out, "Build God, Then We'll Talk", was released on March 5, 2007. The accompanying music video portrays the fallacy of relationships.
In May 2007 it was announced that a Smashing Pumpkins Tribute LP would be released, compiled by Myspace and Spin. The LP features Panic!'s cover of "Tonight, Tonight" and was included free in the June 26, 2007 issue of Spin.
Pretty. Odd. and ...Live In Chicago (2008)
In early 2007, Panic! at the Disco began writing their follow-up album, but decided to scrap all of the songs they had written so far that they had been working on in July 2007. While speaking to MTV, Ross explained that, before the decision to start over was made, the album had lacked a band set up and that it "sounded like a film score." He explained that the new songs have "a more positive outlook to them." The band began performing new songs during various festivals and gigs. Two of these songs were "Nine in the Afternoon" and "When the Day Met the Night".
On January 9, the exclamation point in the band's name was dropped. They defended the decision to drop the exclamation point during an interview with MTV: "It was never part of the name to us. (...) When we started doing new promo stuff for this album, we just told everyone not to use it anymore."
On December 11, it was announced on Billboard.com that Panic's second album was set to be released on March 25, 2008. Later that day, a series of puzzles began to appear on the Panic! at the Disco website. The first puzzle led to the answer of "YOU DON'T HAVE TO WORRY" – Smith explained that it was a lyric from a song named "We're So Starving".
The video for "Nine in the Afternoon" was shot on the December 21 and 22, ahead of the release as a single in January 2008.
A second puzzle revealed samples from a song on the upcoming album with the third piece of the puzzle leading to a blog entry on MySpace which updated the progress of the album while releasing a rough version of the song "We're So Starving". The band announced that they would be recording the strings and mixing the album at Abbey Road Studios. Panic later confirmed that the second album was titled Pretty. Odd. with a release date of March 25, 2008. A fresh puzzle appeared on the band's website on January 16, various parts of the puzzle were released on to different websites. A week later, the completed puzzle appeared on the website revealing the album cover of Pretty. Odd..
On January 10, Panic! at the Disco were confirmed as headliners for the 2008 Honda Civic Tour. The tour started from April 10 in San Francisco and finished in Anaheim on June 14. The band customized their own Honda Civic Hybrid that would be won by a fan and ticket holder.
On January 28, "Nine in the Afternoon" was made available (in full) on the band's official MySpace page. iTunes made the Deluxe Edition and Standard Edition of the album available for pre-order on January 29, 2008. The day after the video for the first single "Nine in the Afternoon" aired, the band shot a whole new video for the next single, entitled "That Green Gentleman (Things Have Changed)".
On March 30, the album hit #2 in the UK Albums Chart. The album debuted at #2 in the U.S., selling 139,000 copies in its first week. On April 8, the album debuted at #1 in Australia.
In August, Panic! at the Disco embarked on the Pretty. Odd. World Tour, performing in Singapore, South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand; accompanied by The Academy Is... and Cobra Starship in the last two countries.
In December, the band released the DVD/CD set, ...Live in Chicago. The DVD contained the filming of the Chicago show of the Honda Civic Tour, a featurette, music videos and documentaries on the filming of the music videos, whilst the CD included all songs played at the same show, as well as alternative versions of four songs from Pretty. Odd.. A deluxe Limited Edition was made available, containing all the components as the Standard Edition as well as a hardcover book of photographs, "A Picture with books" taken by longtime friend Shane Valdez. A limited 4,000 copies were made available, and more than 3,700 copies were pre-ordered before the initial release date of December 2, 2008.
Lineup change and Vices & Virtues (2009–present)
In spring 2009, the band began recording material for their third studio album, Vices and Virtues. However, on July 6, 2009, Ryan Ross and Jon Walker announced via the band's official website that the two were leaving the band. The statement, in part, read: "Ryan Ross and Jon Walker will be leaving Panic at the Disco to embark on a musical excursion of their own. Though the four of us have made music together in the past, we’ve creatively evolved in different directions which has compromised what each of us want to personally achieve. Over the years, we have remained close and honest with each other, which helped us to realize that our goals were different and that parting ways is truly what is best for each of us." In an interview following the split, Ross explained that he first brought the idea to Smith in late June 2009 over lunch: "Spencer and I had lunch and caught up for a while, and then the big question came up, like, 'Well, what do you want to do?' and I said, 'Well, I think it might be best if we kind of do our own thing for a while,' and he said, 'I'm glad you said that, because I was going to say the same thing,' " Ross recalled. "And there was really no argument, which is really the best way that could've worked out." Ross said the split was largely due to creative differences between him and Urie. Urie wanted the band to explore a more polished pop sound, while Ross — and, by extension, Walker — was interested in making retro-inspired rock.
The news asserted that both tour plans with Blink-182 in August 2009 and new album production "will continue as previously announced," and the announcement ended with the teaser for a "surprise" soon to come. The following day, Alternative Press broke the news that "New Perspective," the first song recorded without Ross and Walker, would debut the following month on radio and as a part of the soundtrack to the film Jennifer's Body. On July 10, 2009, Alternative Press also reported that the band had regained the exclamation point, and included a new demo track by the band entitled "Oh Glory". "New Perspective" was released on July 28, 2009. Former The Cab member Ian Crawford filled in for Ross on their tour during the summer of 2009. Dallon Weekes, singer/songwriter of the indie band The Brobecks, filled in for Walker on bass on the tour as well.
The band re-entered the studio during early 2010 and spent much of the year recording their third studio album. On January 18, 2011, the band revealed that their new album, Vices & Virtues, would officially be released on March 22, 2011. The album was produced by Butch Walker and John Feldmann. The record's first single, "The Ballad of Mona Lisa", was released digitally on February 1, 2011, with the music video being released February 8, 2011.
Circus-style performers at a Panic! at the Disco concert
Panic! at the Disco performed in Times Square during the New Year's Eve events in December 2006/January 2007 with Carson Daly. They performed two songs, "Lying Is the Most Fun a Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off" and "I Write Sins Not Tragedies". Since both songs contain profanity, they sang censored versions of the songs.
Music critics have named a number of different genres to describe Panic! at the Disco's music. These include emo, and for their later material, baroque pop. Panic! at the Disco went on record many times saying that their second album would be completely different from A Fever You Can't Sweat Out, as Rolling Stone wrote in an article: "The group cemented its next direction with their first single, called "Nine in the Afternoon". "It’s influenced by the music our parents listened to: the Beach Boys, The Kinks, the Beatles", says Ross. "Our new songs are more like classic rock than modern rock. We got older and started listening to different music – and this seems like the natural thing to do right now."
In his review of their live album, Stephen Thomas Erlewine noted, "...Pretty. Odd. suggests that they're becoming that rare thing in 2008: a pop-oriented rock band. They might not be doing this knowingly, but the results are entertaining all the same."
Concerning their style of music, Ross has said, "I try to think of the person who's worked an eight-hour day, the person who gets in the car and puts on their radio. I'd like them to hear a song that makes them feel happy for three minutes rather than something that makes them more depressed than they already are. We're not afraid to write about love or being happy. We have an entire culture that is either provocative or negative. It's so geared toward being shocking that it no longer manages to shock. They've pushed it as far as they can go both sexually and in terms of anger. Which is why we're here, to provide something different." Pretty. Odd. is described as being like "[Panic] dropped the entire Beatles catalog into a blender, added some modern alternative ice and the horn section from Sonia Dada, then churned out a new-millennium Liverpool smoothie."