“A long strange trip” hardly seems an adequate description for the circuitous roller coaster that has defined the history of Panic! at the Disco, the second biggest band to emerge from the monochromatic Las Vegas music scene.
Childhood friends Brendon Urie (lead vocals/guitar/piano), Spencer Smith (drums), Brent Wilson (bass) and Ryan Ross (guitar/vocals) started P!ATD in 2004 as a blink-182 cover band while still in high school. After posting a trio of original demos on PureVolume, Ross and Urie sent a link to Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz, who quickly inked the band to his Decaydence imprint.
P!ATD spent three months writing and recording their debut, 2005’s A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out. Fever sold respectably, placing almost halfway up Billboard’s album chart and at No. 1 on the Heatseekers list, but within months the single “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” topped the charts and the album sold 500,000 copies, ultimately earning double platinum status.
In 2009, Ross and Walker left to form the retro Rock-inspired The Young Veins while Urie and Smith polished P!ATD’s Pop sound with 2011’s Vices & Virtues. After adding bassist Dallon Weekes, the trio cranked out the anthemic Electro/Hip Hop Indie Pop/Rock blast of Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die!, a reference to the band’s hometown in Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. With Too Weird’s interesting directional shift, Panic! at the Disco seems as elusive and unpredictable as their name’s disappearing/reappearing exclamation point.