If you happened to catch [artist id="2008947"]Panic! at the Disco[/artist] during the tail end of their "sans exclamation point" period — a window that remained open from early 2008, with the release of their Pretty. Odd. album, to album to November '08, when they wrapped the Rock Band Live trek — well, then you witnessed history. It was not only the beginning of the end of Panic! as a four-man team, but also a run of shows that the current incarnation of the band (Brendon Urie and Spencer Smith) swears will never be duplicated.
And, believe us, it's probably for the best.
"I think that at the end of touring for Pretty. Odd., the stuff that was kind of happening with the relationships off the stage was starting to affect [the shows]," Smith told MTV News. "If you're not on the best terms with somebody, and the first time you see them that day is before you go onstage ... we were losing a bit of the fun that we were having before."
Those backstage tensions finally boiled over in July 2009, when guitarist Ryan Ross and bassist Jon Walker announced they were leaving Panic! to "embark on a musical excursion of their own." That excursion eventually produced a new band — the Young Veins — and, to date, one album, 2010's Take a Vacation! It also left Urie and Smith in the lurch — until they announced they had added two new touring members to the fold (Ian Crawford and Dallon Weekes) and hit the road for a run of shows opening for Blink-182. And, suddenly, things changed.
"I think that, although we weren't as practiced with the new guys playing live — we hadn't played the songs nearly as many times — we kind of got that feeling again of being really excited and having a lot of fun," Smith explained.
That excitement was apparent earlier this week, when Panic! returned to the stage in New York for their first Stateside show in support of the upcoming Vices & Virtues album. That show was, in a lot of ways, an exercise in catharsis for the band — a common theme on Vices. Much like putting their band back together, Panic! were forced to sift through the ashes on their new album. Not only did that mean revisiting old ideas, but rebuilding something from the ground up.
"It seems to be a process with us. When we think the record is done, then we find out that we've been writing and writing and writing. We just kick off old songs and keep putting new ones on. So, at a certain point, we have to say, 'We're done. This is it. We have to stop the process. The record is good,' " Urie said. "But I'm glad that we kept going, because some of my favorite songs are newer ones that were written later on. But a few of the ideas — like [first single] 'The Ballad of Mona Lisa,' specifically — was from an idea I had probably four years ago, before we even started touring on Pretty. Odd., and it was just sitting in my laptop collecting figurative dust on my hard drive, not really doing much. ... That ended up being a really good intro to the whole process."
Are you looking forward to new Panic! music? Let us know in the comments!