By John Benson
Today, social-media avenues such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Tumblr allow bands to get signed off the Internet almost daily.
However, a decade ago it was a fairly uncommon occurrence, which was why Panic! At The Disco received so much attention when it was signed to a label belonging to Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz without having ever played a concert.
When Panic! At The Disco singer-visionary Brendon Urie thinks back to the band’s meager beginnings, even he’s dumbfounded.
“It’s definitely surreal, I never thought it would happen the way it did,” said Urie, calling from Los Angeles. “We planned on ditching out on college and just touring as a band for 20 years. We never thought it would take off. We just loved music and wanted to be in a band and to just keep doing it. Everything that happened was just unbelievable.
“I can’t help but be grateful for everything that’s happened, and I love that I’m able to keep doing this and the amount of fans I’m able to meet all over the world. It’s just crazy, it really is.”
What’s even more amazing is to consider from the start Panic! At The Disco and Fall Out Boy were naturally connected, and yet 10 years later both groups are seemingly the last ones standing from that mid-’00s emo/pop-punk scene.
In fact, both groups recently returned to prominence touring last year, with Fall Out Boy celebrating its hit album “Save Rock and Roll,” while Panic! At The Disco supported its latest effort, “Too Weird To Live, Too Rare to Die!”
“It’s so cool because Pete personally had a vision for us, he believed in us and our vision for our band,” Urie said. “The fact that it’s come this far and we’re still friends in bands that tour together, that’s kind of crazy. Also, I think there’s a little bit of competition there that’s awesome. It’s not even jealousy, it’s just more excitement to see who can do what next.”
Before Panic! At The Disco gets to what’s next, the now threesome is touring “Too Weird To Live, Too Rare to Die!” with a summer run that includes a show tonight at Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica in Cleveland and a Friday show at Stage AE in Pittsburgh.
The album includes the top 10 alternative hit “Miss Jackson” and successful follow-up single “This is Gospel.”
While the act has been known for its glittery synth-based, drum-heavy sound, Panic! At The Disco embraced a rap aesthetic that can be heard all over “Too Weird To Live, Too Rare to Die!”
“I’m not even sure if some of the stuff sounds like hip-hop but for me hip-hop is just generally so exciting,” Urie said. “I’m such a big fan of hip-hop. When I was a kid I remember listening to Tribe Called Quest and Dr. Dre. Those records for me were just what I grew up on. Today’s hip-hop is really inspiring also. ”