Last week, fans were shocked when news broke that Panic! at the Disco were parting ways with guitarist Ryan Ross and bassist Jon Walker, who left the band to “embark on a musical excursion of their own.”
But according to Ross, the split had been in the cards for sometime now. It just took everyone a while to realize it.
“It’s been a little while, a few months since we started thinking that this might be the best thing to do,” Ross told MTV News late Monday (July 13). “Jon and I had been writing a bunch of stuff on the road, and it just got to a point when we were off tour, when we were talking about getting together and working on this stuff, that it became pretty apparent that we all weren’t wanting to go in the same direction. There was a period where we weren’t really talking to each other all that much, and Jon and I were just living at my house and continuing to write. And we kind of realized we needed to get over not speaking and figure out what was actually going on. So we all sat down and pretty much came to the conclusion that the best thing for everyone was to do what we did.”
Ross said the split was largely due to creative differences between him and Panic! frontman Brendon Urie. Seems Urie wanted the band to explore a more polished pop sound (like the demo they posted on their Web site last week), while Ross — and, by extension, Walker — was interested in making retro-inspired rock.
Or, as he put it: “Brendon’s more of a Peter Gabriel fan, and I’m more of a Ray Davies fan.”
“Brendon has always been a fan of pop music, but that’s such a broad term, because I guess I would say I would be too, but in a different way. Jon and I are still very much influenced by the Beatles and Beach Boys stuff and the Kinks and stuff like that,” Ross said. “And so that’s the stuff we were writing at my house … that’s the stuff we’re going to make now. I haven’t heard any of Brendon and [drummer] Spencer [Smith]’s stuff, to be honest.”
And eventually, those differences — coupled with the lack of communication between both camps — came to a head. So late last month, Ross had lunch with Smith, and the two cleared the air, both realizing that perhaps the best thing for all parties involved was to just head their separate ways.
“Spencer and I had lunch and caught up for a while, and then the big question came up, like, ’Well, what do you want to do?’ and I said, ’Well, I think it might be best if we kind of do our own think for a while,’ and he said, ’I’m glad you said that, because I was going to say the same thing,’ ” Ross recalled. “And there was really no argument, which is really the best way that could’ve worked out. … I think really everybody will be happy doing what we’re doing. Me and Jon are really excited about what we’re working on, and those guys are happy too. I guess it got to the point where there might have been too many cooks in the kitchen.”
Ross made it clear that the split was very much an amicable one. He said that while he hasn’t heard any of the new Panic! stuff, he wishes Urie and Smith well and still considers them both to be his friends (they spoke over the Fourth of July weekend). The same cannot be said, however, about his former boss — Decaydance Records honcho/ Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz — who seems to have clearly aligned himself with the Urie/Smith camp following the split.
“I haven’t spoken to him in a while, since this happened. I guess I’ve been meaning to call him back. He called me, but I’ve missed a lot of phone calls this week,” Ross said. “We’re not sure [whether Ross’ and Walker’s new band will be on Wentz’s Decaydance Records]. I’ll have to talk to him, but obviously from what’s happening online, I think he’s … he’s written a lot about them. I don’t know if they’re working together on their stuff. I’m not really sure, but it’s been awhile since we’ve spoken. It’s strange. It’s kind of weird.”
At press time, Wentz hadn’t responded to MTV News’ request for comment.
And though his relationship with Wentz might be finished, Ross still considers the split from Panic! to be a “good, healthy” thing. He said he and Walker are writing and recording songs (with Pretty. Odd. producer Rob Mathes) at a lightning-quick pace, and they’ll soon be revealing the fruits of their labor. The only thing that bothers him, he said, is the way many Panic! fans have treated him since the split. It seems that he’s become the bad guy in the whole scenario, and he doesn’t think that’s fair.
“That was probably the worst part, at least for us, knowing people were going to be upset,” he said. “I hope nobody blames anybody. It seems like, because those guys are sticking with the name, that it looked like it’s mine and Jon’s fault. I think a lot of people blamed us for quitting or ruining the band, and that part didn’t really seem fair, because it wasn’t the case. … Musically, it got to a roadblock, and we were going one way and they were going the other. But fans will be able to hear it soon enough. And then maybe they’ll change their minds.”