I was quite excited to chat to Brendon from Panic! At The Disco. Having been a fan of the band from their debut album A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, there was something about their pop driven rock songs that mixed elements of baroque and cabaret and sixties classics such as The Beatles and The Beach Boys. The new album Vices & Virtues, the groups third and first since the band split in two. Brendon and Spencer have taken things back to the original foundation of Fever and expanded on it to a new level for the group. I spoke to Brendon about the writing process for this album, how their recent trip to SXSW went and tried to coax out of him if they are coming to play Soundwave Revolution.
Music Feeds: Hey Brendon how you doing?
Brendon Urie: I’m good man, how are you?
MF: Yeah man pretty good. Thanks for having a chat to us today.
BU: Of course, thanks for talking to me.
MF: Congratulations on the new album, how does it differ to Pretty Odd and A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out?
BU: You know it’s hard to compare them. I’m very proud of all the records I’ve done thus far. We’re just trying to be ourselves every time and try things we thought we would never have done.
MF: For me, it feels like as a band you guys have come full circle and are starting all over again. Do you think that’s a fair comment?
BU: I think that’s pretty fair. For Spencer and I it kind of felt like a fresh start when we started writing for the record. We’ve been working on music together for six plus years. This time we went from four people trying to agree on ideas to just the two of us, which was great. We had more of an idea of what to do and to stick behind it this time, which was different.
MF: With the departures, did you and Spencer ever think “You know, Panic is done” and start again as a separate project?
BU: Yeah, I guess briefly it was brought up when Ryan and Jon left. We knew we wanted to keep making music together. We did consider coming up with another name, but it didn’t take long to realise that we wanted to keep making the same music as Panic so it made sense to keep the same name. We’re very proud of the name, I remember when we came up with it, it holds a special place in my heart, so we’re proud to keep it.
MF: Now with the name, and you’ve probably been asked this a million times now, but the exclamation mark has come back. why did you get rid of it in the first place and why has it come back?
BU: You know when we left it off the second record it was a short decision that we felt wouldn’t have any repercussions. We had no idea it would cause so much attention. It was pretty funny when it did, we were like “Oh man”, but since then we’ve just been having fun with it. We wanted to bring it back because it’s exciting and I kind of missed it! [laughs]
MF: You recently played at the SXSW festival; how was that for you guys?
BU: It was awesome. we’ve wanted to play South By for such a long time. We were usually on a different tour or something and were never able to play it. Finally we got the opportunity and it was awesome. It was weird though, we had a really good time but our schedule, we only played once on the last day of the whole festival. People who had been there for six days were burnt out and it was hot and they were tired. We’re there going “Yeah it’s going to be great” and everyone was so tired, we felt kind of bad. But it was awesome. So many great bands you can’t catch them all.
MF: What’s the vibe like there in Austin during the festival. I’d imagine it would be amazing but at the same time there’d be a lot of schmoozing going on behind the scenes?
BU: Yeah it’s definitely a cool vibe. It’s weird. There’s a lot of interesting, different looking people! Nobody is the same. It’s kind of fun to be around all the different little cults and groups and see who everybody is listening to. There’s so many bands you may not of heard yet and so much great music, you can’t walk ten yards without seeing a new band. It’s definitely a cool vibe. I loved it.
MF: Coming back to the songwriting for this album, it was only you and Spencer and you had to take up the role as main lyricist; how did you approach the lyric writing process?
BU: In the past I never really considered myself a lyricist, so it was quite a leap for me to accomplish that. It went the way I wanted to approach it by writing everyday. Just wake up and write something, even if it was some stupid line that made no sense and didn’t work, but t was important to me to keep working. I can be lethargic at times in the past so this process helped me keep going.
The hardest part about lyric writing was getting your ideas to flow to convey the message we were trying to get across. A lot of the times a song will just start with lyric and we’d go “Ok, how do we go about building a story of those couple of lines”.
MF: In terms of the music going from four down to two, was it more collaborative or still individuals bringing in parts?
BU: Yeah we’re stilling bringing in parts. I had a lot of demos on my laptop. just old stuff we had worked on in the past. There was a couple of old ideas that never got used for one reason or another, and when we went back we realised these songs were so cool so we brought them to this record. Mona Lisa I think was one of those songs. It was cool to bring back some of the old stuff that we didn’t think would see the light of day.
It’s different with song to song, sometimes it’ll just be an idea I’ll have that’s two minutes long and we’ll stretch it out, arrange it and figure out all these cool parts. It’s a lot easier to write with someone with the same opinions, less conflict that way!
MF: Talking of Mona Lisa, the video for that is fantastic like all your videos.
BU: Thank you.
MF: Do you have much control on how the videos are made?
BU: Yeah we love to be as involved as we can. We worked with Shane Drake, who we’ve worked with in the past and he’s so great at it and is a lot of fun. For me, I’ll come up with a crazy idea like “Let’s get shot out of a cannon!” and then build a video around it and he’s like well “what about this?” He also spends the time while shooting to make changes to the script which is kind of cool. he has this organic feel that feels very natural.
MF: The big question I have to ask is when are you guys going to head back down to Australia?
BU: God, I hope soon. I actually think it might be in August, but I’ll have to double check that. We really want to get down there so I hope soon, we miss it! [laughs]
MF: Cause there’s a rumour running around down here that you’ll be coming out for the new Soundwave Festival in September.
BU: Oh yeah?
MF: Yeah, any truth in that one?
BU: Might be, I don’t know if they’ve confirmed it but I hope that’s the case. I’ll double check on that and get back to you!
MF: Last question man, if you were to make a mix tape, what’s the first track you’d put on it?
BU: I might have to throw to Arcade Fire for that.I’ve been listening to the Suburbs album since it came out which was like seven/eight months ago right? It’s just phenomenal, I listen to it everyday. The one song, it’s towards the end of the album, I just love the song, it’s hypnotic. It’s called Sprawl II it’s just so good.