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Thank god, the "!" is back

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ALEX R. KIRZHNER
  • Alex R. Kirzhner

In 2007, if you had asked me who was on top of the emo rock world, I would have two answers for you. First, My Chemical Romance, who were on tour for massive rock opera The Black Parade and then, Panic! At The Disco, who blasted up the charts with their first release A Fever You Can't Sweat Out and whose fans were eagerly anticipating another release.

Then came Pretty. Odd., the Beatles-inspired baroque pop album released in 2008 - and the controversial drop of the trademark "!" from Panic's name. Fans were furious (and I, for one, was excited to see such consternation over a grammatical choice). Where was the raging, heartbroken emo of Fever? Where was the exclamation mark?

But Panic! At The Disco has always done what they've wanted, and they followed Pretty. Odd. with Vices and Virtues, and now, Too Weird To Live, Too Rare to Die. Good on you for recognizing that title, which is a quote from Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Vegas is more than just an allusion in the album title - it's Panic!'s home and the major inspiration for this latest, synth-heavy album.

Panic! At The Disco will perform at Radio Radio Wednesday as part of a small venue tour, before joining Fall Out Boy as a support act. And thank god, they've added the "!" back.

ALEX R. KIRZHNER
  • Alex R. Kirzhner

NUVO: Why the small venue tour?

Brendon Urie: Honestly, it's been a while since we've done that and I'm kind of excited for the contrast and the juxtaposition of doing these awesome intimate shows face to face with the fans and jumping to the Fall Out Boy tour. But it's something that we haven't really done in a while and it's fun to do both of them. I don't know if we really have a preference to which one we prefer more, but these shows are going to be pretty exciting and we're going to be just as sweaty, keeping them on kind of the same level.

NUVO: How does your stage show change? I'm thinking of the venue you're going to be at and it's not small, but it's definitely not a theatre-sized stage.

Urie: Sure. We wanted to bring more production, but then we did realize how small some of these places would be. And that's going to be all-good because we've changed our live show a little bit and we've got a few transitions. The energy is going to be different as well and that just goes with finishing this record and being so excited to get on the road again. It will be different in the best way possible.

NUVO: Now, am I right to say that this record integrates some of your synthesizer collection that you've been working on? Tell me about working those into songs.

Urie: A lot of the synths, Spencer [Smith] and I actually - this was probably five years ago - we picked up a couple of hardware synths for a rack that we were trying to build ... and they were just amazing. Then we realized, it would be cool to produce our own stuff and our own demos to sound better and get the collection going a little bit further on.

A lot of the sounds have a specific feel behind them that they kind of dictated what the song would be. Sometimes on a more personal note with the songs, I would start with the lyrics that I wanted to tackle, but some of the songs would start with a sound and that would influence me, "Oh, this is how I felt when I was [this old] or this reminds me of this memory." I wanted to revisit that. A lot of the sounds were kind of nostalgic in their own way and it kind of made the record eclectic enough.

NUVO: I was interested to read the note from Spencer that he posted on [Tumblr] about his struggles with addiction. I wondered if you as a band talked about posting that or if that was something he had decided by himself. How do you think this will impact the tour?

Urie: Sure, yeah. That came about because Spencer was going through this and did want to be honest. He directly wanted to get this out, he wanted it to be from him and so did I. I wanted him to have that comfortability to be honest with not only the fans, but himself.

It's going to be hard in the beginning, but hopefully it's going to pay off. So far, it's been great and we're really excited about all of these intimate shows and I think that's going to, like you said, bring some intimacy to it as well, you know? But, that will be something that will be good in the long run for everyone. I think it's better to be honest than hide behind something that can plague you for so long.


Editor's note: After this interview, Smith withdrew from this tour to further deal with his addiction issues.

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