Last year, without the benefit of a new album or a chart-topping single, Panic! at the Disco managed to advance to the Elite 8 of MTV's Musical March Madness tournament, riding a wave of fan support to upset victories by Green Day, Death Cab for Cutie and the Young Veins (a win that must've been particularly sweet, given the, uh, history between the two groups), before running out of gas against eventual runners-up My Chemical Romance.
It was quite a ride, but rather than dwell on their victories, for the past 12 months, Panic! have been stewing over that loss to MCR. They watched as Coheed and Cambria hoisted the championship trophy, unable to suppress the thought that, really, the hardware should've been theirs. And they're ready to prove that fact in 2011.
So not only will Panic! enter this year's MMM tourney with a chip on their shoulder, but they've got a brand-new album, Vices & Virtues, due March 22, in their arsenal, too. And considering both of those facts — not to mention their fervent fanbase — we'd be selling Panic! short if we didn't consider them the favorites this time around.
Not surprisingly, Brendon Urie and Spencer Smith aren't taking their previous tournament success for granted. We found out they've actually been preparing for the 2011 MMM for months, and as we prepare to reveal our full bracket on Monday, we asked them to talk about their plan to win it all this year.
"We're going to have to persevere," Urie said. "We're going to have to start off strong and we're going to have to keep that momentum going."
"We're going to have to have great bench play ... the D's going to have to step up. We have to make plays. Guys have to get out there and somebody has to step up, and they will," Smith added. "We've already started our calisthenics and we're getting pretty agile. And, other than that ... [we've got] confidence."
And that confidence is key. It's what true champions are made of, after all. And though they'll face tough competition from the likes of Linkin Park and Adele, Panic! at the Disco are certainly looking — and sounding — like champions indeed.
"We're drinking Gatorade while we're running. It's good," Urie said. "We're not worried in the slightest bit. That's what it takes to win."
MTV's 2011 Musical March Madness Tournament begins Monday, March 14, when we reveal the full field of 64 bands that will battle for the championship. Winners are determined by fan votes, so if your favorite act made the cut, it'll be up to you to guide them to glory. You can rally the troops on Twitter using the hashtag #MMM ... but get ready, it's gonna be a war.