Yes, from its title — Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die! (taken from Hunter S. Thompson’s apocalyptic ode to excess, “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”) — to its thematic inspiration — Panic’s Sin City roots — their new album is a decidedly dark, slightly depraved thing. And, as frontman Brendon Urie explained to MTV News, the band is delighting in all that decadence.
“The songs I was writing came from me seeing Vegas in a new light; I mean, when we left Vegas, we were 17, 18 and we were pretty bitter because we couldn’t do all the things everyone else could. We couldn’t play gigs, we weren’t allowed in the bars, so we were pissed off,” he said. “But in the past couple years I’ve visited Vegas quite a bit, and I started doing things I never thought I would do, like going out to clubs, and for some reason that really struck a chord with me. People go there to lose themselves in the moment, and drop their guard, and it hit me in a way. Like, ‘Wow, I want to do that. I want to make music like that, that moves people, that’s a party, that makes you feel good.‘”
And yet, as is the case with most things in Las Vegas, there’s a dark undercurrent running beneath those good times, and Too Rare To Die! definitely delves into those depths — “There’s some glitz, some glamour, but there’s also the dingy, old Vegas side to the music,” Urie explained. Take, for example, first single “Miss Jackson,” which takes titular inspiration from Janet Jackson’s classic jam “Nasty,” and lyrical cues from some rather nasty developments in Urie’s personal life.
“‘Miss Jackson’ is about something that actually happened to me when I was younger. I hadn’t really talked about it, and I felt that if I didn’t, I would keep thinking about it, it would drive me crazy,” Urie said. “When I was younger, I would mess around; I’d sleep with one girl one night, sleep with her friend the next night, and not care about how they felt, or how I made them feel. And then it happened to me and I realized ‘Wow, that’s what that feels like? I feel really sh—y.’
“I knew I had to change, because I didn’t want to feel that way again, or make other people feel that way,” he continued. “So I wrote the song. It’s based off someone who is real, though I don’t think they would know it. They might suspect it, and if they figure it out, I’d love to talk to them about it.”
And though there’s been upheaval in his personal life, Urie said that Panic has remained rock solid throughout that turmoil. So even though he’s the only member featured in new promo art, and his bandmates Spencer Smith and Dallon Weekes only make fleeting cameos in the “Miss Jackson” video, there is no drama to be found. Panic! is as strong as ever, and with Too Rare To Die! they’re finally old enough to celebrate that fact.
“I love being the center of attention, I’m shameless about it. And being the lead singer, everyone thought it made sense, for me to be front and center,” Urie said. “It felt right, since I was so close to these songs, but everything is great [within the band]. We’ve been working on the songs, writing for a year and a half, and this is the exciting part, when you get out of the studio and get ready to show everything to people.”