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Panic! at the Disco

Panic! at the Disco » Biography

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Panic! at the Disco is an American rock band from Las Vegas, Nevada, formed in 2004 and featuring the current lineup of vocalist Brendon Urie, accompanied on tour by bassist Dallon Weekes, guitarist Kenneth Harris and drummer Dan Pawlovich. Founded by childhood friends Ryan Ross, Spencer Smith, Brent Wilson and Urie, Panic! at the Disco recorded its first demos while its members were in high school. Shortly after, the band recorded and released its debut studio album, A Fever You Can't Sweat Out (2005). Popularized by the second single, "I Write Sins Not Tragedies", the album was certified double platinum in the US. In 2006, founding bassist Brent Wilson was fired from the band during an extensive world tour, and subsequently replaced by Jon Walker.

Influenced by 1960s rock bands the Beatles, the Zombies and the Beach Boys, and preceded by the single "Nine in the Afternoon", the band's second studio album, Pretty. Odd. (2008) marked a significant departure from the sound of the band's debut. Ross and Walker, who favored the band's new direction, departed because Urie and Smith wanted to make further changes to the band's style. The duo subsequently formed a new band, The Young Veins, leaving Urie and Smith as the sole remaining members of Panic! at the Disco.

Continuing as a duo, Urie and Smith released a new single, "New Perspective", and recruited Dallon Weekes as the group's bassist and Ian Crawford as the band's lead guitarist to accompany the band during live performances. Weekes was later inducted into the band's lineup as a full-time member in 2010, nearing the end of the recording of the band's third studio album, Vices & Virtues (2011). The album was recorded solely by Urie and Smith, with producers John Feldmann and Butch Walker.

As a three-piece, Urie, Smith, and Weekes recorded and released the band's fourth studio album, Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die!, in 2013. Prior to the release of the album, Smith unofficially left the band due to health and drug-related issues, leaving Urie and Weekes as the remaining members.

In 2015, Smith officially left the band after not performing live with the band since his departure in 2013. Shortly thereafter, Weekes reverted to being a touring member once again, leaving Urie as the only member of the official lineup. In April 2015, "Hallelujah" was released as the first single from Panic! at the Disco's fifth studio album, Death of a Bachelor (2016).

History

Formation and early years (2004–2005)

Panic! at the Disco was formed in 2004 in the suburban area of Summerlin, Las Vegas, by childhood friends Ryan Ross, who sang and played guitar, and Spencer Smith, who played drums. They both attended Bishop Gorman High School, and they began playing music together in ninth grade. They invited friend Brent Wilson from nearby Palo Verde High School to join on bass, and Wilson invited classmate Brendon Urie to try out on guitar. Ross initially was the lead vocalist for the group, but after hearing Urie sing back-up during rehearsals, the group decided to make him the lead. Initially, Panic! at the Disco was a Blink-182 cover band.

In the group's early experimental demos, the band created a sound that was different from the many death-metal groups that were performing in Las Vegas at the time. The band signed a recording contract without having performed a live show. "We never went out and played shows before we got signed because the music scene in Las Vegas is so bad. There's not a lot going on," Smith said. "In our practice space, there were something like 30 bands, and every day we'd walk into that room and hear the exact same death-metal bands. So it kind of influenced us to be different. And to get out of Las Vegas." The four left their educations behind to concentrate on music; Ross had a falling out with his father when he dropped out of college, and when Urie dropped out of high school his parents kicked him out of the house. He stayed with friends until he could afford to rent an apartment.

Ross and Urie soon began to commit to their laptops the demos they had been developing, and posted three early demos ("Time to Dance," "Nails for Breakfast, Tacks for Snacks" and "Camisado") on PureVolume. Upon hearing "two to three" songs during band practice, Wentz was impressed and immediately wanted the band to sign to his Fueled by Ramen imprint label Decaydance Records, which made the band the first on the new label. Around December 2004, the group signed to the label. As news broke that Wentz had signed Panic! (who had yet to perform a single live show), fans on the Internet began to bash the group. "Almost right away we knew what was going to happen," Ross explained in a 2006 interview. "We had two songs online and people were already making assumptions on what kind of band we were and what we were going to sound like."

Meanwhile, Wentz began to hype the band wherever possible: from wearing "Pete! at the Disco" T-shirts onstage to mentioning the group in interviews. Wentz gave a quick shout-out to the band during a press junket on the day before the 2005 MTV Video Music Awards: "I've got a couple of bands coming out soon on Decaydance, one being this band called Panic! at the Disco," Wentz said. "Their record is going to be your next favorite record. It's called A Fever You Can't Sweat Out – get it before your little brother does." At the time of the band's signing, all of the band members were still in high school (with the exception of Ross, who was forced to quit UNLV). Urie graduated in May 2005 and Wilson and Smith finished school online as the band left for College Park, Maryland to record their debut record.

A Fever You Can't Sweat Out (2005–2007)

The band relocated to College Park, Maryland, to record its debut album from June to September 2005. Although they only had shells of songs when they arrived, the rest of the album shaped up fast through the marathon session. "We didn't have a day off in the five-and-a-half weeks we were there, 12 or 14 hours a day," Ross said in a 2005 interview.

The album is split into two-halves: the first half is mostly electronic dance punk, while the second half features Vaudevillian piano, strings, and accordion.

The band's debut album, A Fever You Can't Sweat Out, was released September 27, 2005. Sales began relatively slow. It debuted at No. 112 on the Billboard 200 album chart, No. 6 on the Billboard Independent Albums chart, and No. 1 on the Billboard Top Heatseekers chart, with nearly 10,000 albums sold in the first week of release. Within a span of four months, Panic! would see the video for its first single, "I Write Sins Not Tragedies", rocket up the Billboard Hot 100 as sales of Fever passed the 500,000 mark. "Some aspects of the fame are annoying, but at the end of the day it's something we're most grateful for. It's certainly opened the door to a whole new batch of opportunities," Ross said of the band's newfound fame and instant success.

In May 2006, Panic! at the Disco announced that original bassist Brent Wilson had left the band, "posting a statement that was both diplomatic and entirely inscrutable […] yet [failing] to mention any reason why Wilson is leaving Panic," according to MTV News. In June, Wilson asserted to MTV News that he was kicked out of the band via a phone call. "It was done as a phone call and the only person who spoke was Spencer. Apparently Brendon and Ryan were on the speakerphone too, but they didn't say a word. They never even said they were sorry," explained Wilson. Smith wrote a lengthy e-mail back to James Montgomery of MTV News, stating, in part, "We made the decision based on Brent's lack of responsibility and the fact that he wasn't progressing musically with the band," and revealed that Wilson did not write nor play any bass present on Fever: Instead, Urie recorded these parts. Wilson demanded a cut in royalties, and threatened to take his former band to court.

In 2006, the band supported The Academy Is... on the band's worldwide tour "Ambitious Ones and Smoking Guns" from January to May. Beginning in June, the group headlined its first unnamed national tour, that would last until August. During the group's performance at the 2006 Reading Festival in August, the band was greeted by excessive bottling, one of which hit Urie in the face that knocked him unconscious. Despite this, the band continued with its set after Urie recovered. The band's second headlining tour, dubbed the Nothing Rhymes with Circus Tour, began in November. In roughly one year, Panic! at the Disco went from being the opening act on a five-band bill to the headliners on a massive arena tour.

The Nothing Rhymes with Circus Tour feature the band's first highly theatrical live shows, which featured every song with dance numbers, skits and tricks performed by a six-member troupe, as the band donned intricate costumes, loosely re-enacting moments from the songs. Kelefa Sanneh of The New York Times noted the sudden success and circus-inspired tour of the young band in a concert review: "There’s something charming about watching a band trying to navigate sudden success, aided by a contortionist, a ribbon dancer and all the rest of it." MTV News favorably likened its theme and wardrobe to "Janet Jackson's audience-dividing, hypersexual The Velvet Rope Tour." The group, fresh off the major success of A Fever You Can't Sweat Out, took a break after non-stop touring, and the group members began formulating ideas for their next album together during the winter of 2006.

Pretty. Odd. and ...Live in Chicago (2007–2009)

After a short period of development regarding the ideas of the album, on March 6, 2007 the band arrived at a cabin in the rural mountains of Mount Charleston, Nevada and began the writing process for the new album. After recording the new tracks and performing them live over the summer, the band returned to its native Las Vegas as well as the group's old rehearsal studio, where the band members wrote their debut record. The band grew uninterested in the songs previously written and by August scrapped the entire new album (which Ross later revealed was "three-quarters" done)

In January 2008, the band unveiled a new logo and dropped the exclamation point from the group's name, becoming Panic at the Disco. Released on March 21, 2008, Pretty. Odd. was described by the band as "more organic and mellower" than A Fever You Can't Sweat Out, as well as unintentionally and coincidentally similar to music of the Beatles, in both songwriting and scope. The record debuted at number two on the US Billboard 200 chart, with first-day sales of 54,000, and first-week sales of 139,000 copies in the United States. Those figures marked the band's biggest sales week to that date, beating a previous record held by A Fever You Can't Sweat Out (which sold 45,000 during the winter of 2006). The record also debuted at "Current Alternative Albums" chart and No. 2 on the "Digital Albums" chart, the latter of which accounted for 26 percent of the disc's overall sales. The album charted high in various other countries and was eventually certified gold in the United Kingdom, however, Pretty. Odd. received relatively disappointing sales in the face of its predecessor. Pretty. Odd. was, however, critically acclaimed in contrast to Fever: Barry Walters of Spin called Panic's debut album "embarrassing" while regarding the new record as "[daring] to be optimistically beautiful at a time when sadness and ugliness might have won them easier credibility."

The band announced plans to headline the 2008 Honda Civic Tour in January 2008, which took up the majority of early touring for the album. Motion City Soundtrack, the Hush Sound and Phantom Planet opened for the tour, which performed across North America from April 10 to July 14, 2008 . Throughout October and November 2008, the band toured with Dashboard Confessional and the Cab on the Rock Band Live Tour promoting the video game Rock Band 2.

As expected and predicted by several music publications, the band adopted a very different style for the touring in support of Pretty. Odd., in contrast to the dark, circus-themed elements of the band's previous stage shows. Each show contained "woodsy set pieces, projections of flora and fauna, and mic stands wrapped in lights and flowers," and each band member dressed in a vest. An accompanying DVD contains photos from the tour, each music video from the album as well as behind-the-scenes footage of the videos and the tour, the short film Panic! at the Disco In: American Valley, and the documentary feature based on the tour, All In A Day's.

Pretty. Odd. touring was also defined by a larger effort to remain environmentally conscious. On the tour, the band worked with two non-profit eco organizations: Reverb, which facilitates environmentally friendly touring; and Global Inheritance, which seeks to inspire more eco-activism. In a 2008 interview, Ross revealed that the band traveling on a biodiesel bus, to re-using plastics, and recycling more backstage. The band went as far as to print tour booklets on recycled paper, with soy ink, and organize an "eco-contest," in which profits from the tour went straight to environmental organizations.

Lineup change and Vices & Virtues (2009–2012)

In spring 2009, the band began recording material for its third studio album.

The news asserted that both tour plans with blink-182 in August 2009 and new album production "will continue as previously announced." 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, becoming, once again, Panic! at the Disco. "New Perspective" was released on July 28, 2009. Former guitarist of pop rock band The Cab, Ian Crawford and Dallon Weekes, frontman of indie rock band The Brobecks, filled in for Ross and Walker on tour during the blink-182 Summer Tour in August 2009.

The band re-entered the studio during early 2010 and spent much of the year recording the group's third studio album. During this time, touring bassist Dallon Weekes joined the band's official lineup along with Urie and Smith, making the band a three-piece. Although Weekes did not perform on the upcoming album, he was responsible for the conceptualization of the cover art of the album and was also featured on the album cover, masked and standing in the background behind Smith and Urie. On January 18, 2011, the band revealed that an album titled 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. Vices & Virtues was officially released March 22, 2011 to relatively positive critical reviews.

The band began touring in support of the album, christened the Vices & Virtues Tour, in earnest beginning in February 2011. The tour has sported the same electric, over-the-top theatricality the band was known for during the Fever era. "I really miss wearing costumes and makeup," Urie told Spin. "I love throwing a big production. I've recently been reading about Tesla coils and I'm trying to figure out how I can get one that sits on the stage and shoots sparks without hurting anybody." The group was scheduled to play the Australian Soundwave Revolution festival in September/October but the festival was cancelled and in its place is the Counter-Revolution mini-festival the band will play.

On May 12, 2011, the band collaborated with indie pop band Fun. and the two groups embarked on an American tour, releasing a single together titled "C'mon". Panic! at the Disco contributed a new song "Mercenary" to the soundtrack for the video game Batman: Arkham City.

Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die! (2012–2015)

After the Vices & Virtues tour cycle, Urie, Smith, and Weekes beganwriting and preparing for a fourth album. During the recording of the album, touring guitarist Ian Crawford, who joined the band in 2009 after the departure of Ryan Ross and Jon Walker, left the band citing his desire to make "real, genuine" music. On July 15, 2013, the album was announced as Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die!, with a scheduled release date of October 8, 2013. The first single, "Miss Jackson", was released on July 15, 2013, along with its music video to promote the album. Panic! at the Disco opened for Fall Out Boy on the Save Rock And Roll Arena Tour with Kenneth Harris replacing Crawford.

Shortly before the band began its first tour in support of the album, Smith wrote an open letter to fans regarding his abuse of alcohol and prescription medications since the recording of Pretty. Odd. Although Smith joined the band for the first handful of dates, he left the tour to "continue fighting addiction". Urie posted on the band's official website on August 7, 2013 that "It's become evident that Spencer still needs more time to take care of himself. I can't expect him to be fighting addiction one minute and be fully immersed in a national tour the next. With that said, the tour will continue without Spencer while he is away getting the help he needs." Since Spencer's leave of absence, Dan Pawlovich of the band Valencia has filled in on tour.

In an interview with Pure Fresh on September 23, 2014, Urie stated that he had already thought about ideas on the fifth studio album; however, he was not sure if it would be a Panic! at the Disco album, or a solo album. Urie has also stated there are no current plans for Smith to return to the band.

Departure of Spencer Smith and Death of a Bachelor (2015–present)

On April 2, 2015, Smith announced that he had officially left the band. That same month, Urie revealed in an interview with Kerrang! that he was working on new material for the band's fifth studio album.

On April 20, 2015, Urie released "Hallelujah" as a single without any previous formal announcements. It debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 40, the band's second highest ever after "I Write Sins Not Tragedies". The band performed at the KROQ Weenie Roast on May 16, 2015. On September 1, 2015, another song from the fifth studio album, "Death of a Bachelor", premiered on an Apple Music broadcast hosted by Pete Wentz. The second single, "Victorious" was released at the end of the month. On October 22, 2015, through the band's official Facebook page, Urie announced the new album as Death of a Bachelor with a scheduled release date of January 15, 2016. It is the first album written and composed by Urie with a team of writers, as the status of Weekes changed from an official member to that of a touring member once again. Weekes' status was rumored during the promotion of Death of a Bachelor that he was no longer an official member, until it was confirmed by Weekes himself on October 24, 2015, via Twitter that he was "not contributing creatively anymore". The third single "Emperor's New Clothes" was released on the same day, along with the official music video. "LA Devotee" was released November 26 as a promotional single. On December 31, 2015, the band released "Don't Threaten Me with a Good Time".

The band co-headlined the Weezer & Panic! at the Disco Summer Tour 2016 with Weezer from June to August 2016. The band released a cover of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" in August 2016, on the Suicide Squad soundtrack album.

On September 22, 2016, the band released the music video for "LA Devotee". With the release came the announcement of the Death of a Bachelor Tour in 2017. MisterWives and Saint Motel were announced as the opening acts. In a December 2016 interview, Urie says that he hopes to make a music video for every song on the album Death of a Bachelor.

Musical style

Panic! at the Disco is known for having a wide range of styles as each of their albums are different from each other. They have been described as emo, emo pop, pop punk, baroque pop, pop rock, alternative rock, pop, synth-pop, electropop, and dance-pop.

They have also been described as vaudeville meets pop punk.

Panic! at the Disco went on record many times saying that the group's 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." Pretty. Odd. has been described as being like "[Panic dropping the entire Beatles catalog into a blender, adding some modern alternative ice and the horn section from Sonia Dada, then churning out a new-millennium Liverpool smoothie." In his review of the band's 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."


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