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Too Rare To Die: Panic! At The Disco's New Dynamic

Tuesday, 08 October 2013 Written by Katie Territt

Since the release of their debut, 'A Fever You Can't Sweat Out', in 2005, Panic! At The Disco have been through their fair share of ups and downs. Members have come and gone, addictions have been battled and on October 8 they dropped album number four, the suitably-titled ‘Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die!’.

The band’s beating heart, frontman Brendon Urie, has been there from the beginning and in the twists and turns of their latest collection he found plenty to get the blood pumping.

"I'm always excited when we do a new record and the whole cycle starts again,” he said. “I'm glad that it didn't take as long as records usually take to come out for us. It's sometimes like three years apart, but I'm really excited for this one especially.

"To me, this record is so different to our previous albums. To me it's more eclectic. I think every song is different from one another, but also different from anything we've done in the past. There's always gonna be hints of influences that we've shared from the first record to now, but I like that it changes, especially with the songwriting and everything. The dynamic has changed so much, we've gone through so many different changes in the band over like eight years, so it's pretty crazy."

In the internet era, many artists spend the build up to new records scared that their music might leak. Panic! took a different stance, one that is becoming more and more popular, and streamed the whole record well in advance of its release. If he’d had his way, Urie would have gone one step further and he understands the ever-changing landscape in which the band are operating.

"If I could, I would've leaked it way sooner,” he said. “I thought about it actually. We were on tour at the beginning of last month and I wanted to leak it then. I have it all sitting right there on my computer and I was like, 'oh just one click away, I could give it to everybody'. I'm always excited to share it with anybody.

“Nowadays, it just seems like a smarter move because with the way that things go, if you release it in a different country, you can get it online anyway. We just figured we might as well own it, you know? Give people the best quality songs. It just made the most sense. If they download it for free, I'm not bitter towards it, it’s fine. However they get it, I just want them to hear it."

Although it's been two years since their last album, 'Vices & Virtues', the time passed quickly for Urie, who spent painstaking hours at the end of that tour cycle writing. As well as taking a heavy interest in the album’s production he took aim at a number of issues close to his heart in its lyrics, lending a personal edge to proceedings.

"The dynamic in the band has changed so much, like from writing with four people to writing by myself, just having to take the reins, which I like,” he said. “I write on my own all the time, I like being able to take charge. Songwriting is so fun to do, but this record was different because I was getting more into the production of stuff.

“We didn't have to re-record a lot of the songs, which was nice, flattering in a way. When you record certain things, the magic happens that one time, so you don't want to re-do it because you can lose that. Music aside, lyrically I was definitely more honest this time around, I wanted to be a little bit more confessional. As challenging as it was on certain songs, I think the payoff was way better, the reward was way better. I felt like burdens were lifted off my shoulders at certain times, it was very cathartic."

Back in 2008 the band’s 'Pretty. Odd' album received mixed reviews, with many viewing the drastic change in tone from their debut as a negative. Not one to shy away from criticism, Urie has ensured that the same passionate opinions are likely to appear when fans get to grips with their latest, synth-led collection.

"It was definitely intentional," he said. "I wanted to work with synths, I've always been a fan of electronics and synthesisers, that kind of music too - from hip hop to ‘80s pop. I wanted to work with a lot of different sounds. I got this package of programs of synthesisers that I just fell in love with immediately, so a lot of the songs were inspired by sounds that came from these programs.

“Some of them are so cool, and I was like, 'oh, I wanna write a song based on that sound'. It's so inspiring. A lot of it was inspired by other synth bands, from Depeche Mode to A-ha, to the Cure even. They have some synth sounds that are just phenomenal in my opinion. I wanted to incorporate a lot of that stuff."

With the band well known for their inventive, unusual and sometimes crazily long song and album titles, 'Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die!' is no exception. On this occasion, Urie plucked the title from the film version of Hunter S Thompson’s classic tale of excess in Panic’s hometown, Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas.

"That's the last thing that we pick for the album, there's never usually a concept in mind,” he said. “During the recording process, we try to throw out ideas. Actually, one that was a tentative title that we wanted to use was 'Bi-Polar Bear' which we just thought was funny for some reason, but we thought ‘no, it doesn't really fit’.

"I think about two or three weeks went by where I was trying to come up with album titles, going back and forth with a couple, and I was watching Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas. Johnny Depp's character is watching his friend getting on a plane, ditching him, and he describes him saying 'too weird too live, too rare to die'. I was like, ‘ahh that's so great, that's it, that's what it needs to be!’ I'd felt like this album was such a character album, it was trying to personify this Vegas mentality, and the movie was just this acid trip of insanity and this fantastical view of Vegas, and it was exactly how I felt about this record. It just kind of worked out perfectly, luckily."

The band have a mini-tour of the UK coming up next month, all four dates of which are already sold out, and Urie is excited to be getting out there with his new material, despite the logistical drawbacks of taking a show on the road a few thousand miles from home.

"It's been like two years I think, since we played in the UK,” he said. “It's going to be really, really fun. We try to incorporate a new show every tour we do, we try to change up something a little bit so it's a bit different. Night to night, the banter between songs is very organic because we feed off the crowd and they feed off of us. It's a very real, authentic thing.

“Production wise, I get really frustrated because a lot of the time we can't bring over the stuff that we want to. I would pay out of pocket if there was any way to bring over some production. The live shows are so important, visually. You could go and watch a band just sit there and play the songs like the CD, but then you could just listen to the CD.

"I want to bring a visual to it, an energy to it, that you don't get by listening to the record. It's a totally new experience. Whether we get to bring the production or not, it'll be a new type of energy, a new feeling. I hope we can bring something. If I have to smuggle something in my suitcase, I'll figure something out."

Despite drama, massive changes, tabloid gossip and the odd bit of negativity, Panic! At The Disco are still pushing on and making new music eight years after their debut. Through it all, Urie is still completely certain of where his heart lies.

"Every day it's where I want to be, whether it's good or bad, honestly," he said. "Even when things were, in my opinion, at its worst in this band, where the animosity was at its highest and it seemed like all odds were against us, at any point, I still love being in this band. I wouldn't trade it for anything.

"I feel like the most fortunate person in the world to be given this opportunity. The dynamic has changed so much, that I wouldn't be surprised if it changed again. I'm curious to see what kind of vibe would happen with that. I obviously can't predict it. I just love this project, I love being in this band. Just being able to be the front man in this band is a blessing. I thrive on being the centre of attention and I think my nervous energy translates so well in the live show and on camera, and I think that will only get better as time goes on. I don't think we've written our best stuff yet, so there's way more to come."

Panic At The Disco UK & Ireland Tour Dates are as follows

Sun November 17th 2013 - NOTTINGHAM Rock City
Mon November 18th 2013 - EDINBURGH The Picture House
Wed November 20th 2013 - MANCHESTER Academy
Thu November 21st 2013 - LONDON Forum

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