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An Interview With Panic! At The Disco’s Spencer Smith

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Hi there and welcome back. A very special (and, because of that, a rather late) edition this week as, instead of discussing some reported news over the last week, we’re going to make a little this time.

Panic! At The Disco have made what may be considered somewhat of a comeback. It’s tough to tell if the term applies, because they have been going strong since 2005. That year’s A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out came out of the gate strong and established the band’s name, but the subsequent Pretty. Odd. seemed to have the opposite effect as a result of an opposite sound.

The right cross of a sophomore jinx hit hard enough, but then the left hook followed: Panic! At The Disco lost half of its members when guitarist Ryan Ross and bassist Jon Walker left. Now a duo, frontman Brendon Urie and Spencer Smith were left with the unenviable task of carrying on at half-strength.

With the debut of the band’s new record, Vices & Virtues at #7 on the Billboard charts this week, their regrouping efforts seem to have paid off. Panic! is also heading back on the road where they can re-fortify their position in today’s music world.

On March 25, immediately after giving a preview of things to come on MTV’s “The Seven”, I got to chat with Panic!’s Spencer Smith via telephone. Smith was in New York and was gracious in chatting about the regrouping of the band, the fears they had coming off the last few year’s worth of ordeals, and where they stand now as a rejuvenated unit.

So how are you doing up there today?

Good, good. We’re doing some promo stuff here in New York. Some interviews and stuff like that. We just finished shooting a show for MTV where we did a song live on the air.

Very cool. Getting ready for the tour coming up, then? Are you in the midst of rehearsing for that?

We’re getting ready to do some of that stuff in the next couple weeks. We go over to the UK and Europe for a couple weeks starting May 1 and then we come back to the US starting May 20, and that goes through June. We’re planning some of the tour production and getting ready for the Europe and US tours.

Yeah, I saw on the website that the US run starts in Philadelphia on May 20 with fun., Foxy Shazam and Funeral Party.

Yeah, I think Funeral Party is on the tour when Foxy Shazam is not. Foxy is on the first three weeks, and then they drop off and Funeral Party is going to pick up where they drop off. I think this is the first time we know every band on the tour. I think it will be a cool way to go out because everybody on the tour is already good friends, so we’re looking forward to it.

Excellent. Now, I wanted to clarify something, if I could – of course, Ryan Ross and Jon Walker have left the band. Is Panic! At The Disco officially just a duo right now with just yourself and Brendon? And are there any other plans to expand the lineup again?

Yes, it is. We knew at the time we were doing [Vices & Virtues] that it was going to be just us. I think that relationship you have with other people, especially if you’re going to be writing, is a unique thing. You’ve got to make sure you have the right guys to go in and write a record with. We knew it would be just me and Brendon, but we have also left the option open to work with other people. We’ve been playing live with two friends of ours, Ian [Crawford, formerly of The Cab] and Dallon [Weekes, of The Brobecks] on guitar and bass, and both of those guys are coming from bands we love. So, as we continue to write now and on tour, I think we’re going to try that out and see how that goes, and potentially see how that goes when we get off the tour.

Oh, cool. That’s something else I was going to touch on was the writing of Vices & Virtues. It sounds to me like – and maybe this is because it was just the two of you – it sounds like there’s more focus to this one and that there’s more cohesion than the last one, Pretty. Odd. It has a flow that can really be appreciated in one good listen to the album. How was the writing dynamic with just yourself and Brendon having to put that together?

About Michael Melchor