Or, more specifically, a band on the road, promoting their second album and trying to convince the naysayers that they're more than just a flash in the pan. Which is why, in their current headlining slot on the Honda Civic Tour, they've ditched the 10-ring circus that accompanied them on their last jaunt, replacing all that ephemera with a stripped-down, focused set that showcases the music and not, say, the contortionist mimes.
So how's business been? Well, it sort of depends on how you look at things. Because while that second album, Pretty. Odd., has garnered positive reviews, it's yet to really catch on with consumers (it debuted at #2 on the Billboard albums chart back in March but has currently sold less than 250,000 copies). And while most multiplatinum bands might be all doomy and gloomy about those numbers, Panic are content to focus on more tangible (and, some might argue, accurate) ways of measuring success.
"It's really strange. Even on the last album, it didn't come out of the gates and have success, but there were weeks where we'd sell 50,000 records, and the album had been out for almost a year," guitarist Ryan Ross said. "And that kind of stuff doesn't seem to happen anymore, so it's really hard to judge how the album is doing based on record sales, you know? We look at that, and we don't really know what that even means. All we can go off is being on this tour and seeing that people are getting into the new stuff, and that's the only way we can tell firsthand if things are going well or not."
"It's a really weird time for music and it's hard to tell where you stand, and all the things that used to tell you about your band have kind of gone away. So how you perceive yourself has changed," drummer Spencer Smith added. "Luckily for us, rock bands have always been about playing live, [which is] good for us, because we're a real band who plays our own instruments, so we love being able to do it. And luckily that's always going to be there, because you can't download the concert ticket."
And while Odd.'s reception has forced Panic to rethink the concept of success, the record has also put them in some rather unfamiliar territory: They've become (sorta) elder statesmen in the Fueled by Ramen/ Decaydance/ Pete Wentz universe that has dominated the rock scene for nearly three years now. And as such, they've begun to enjoy the perks of life as a big-time rock act ... on a decidedly Fueled by Ramen/ Decaydance/ Pete Wentz budget, that is.
"We've got some flowers onstage now — they're fake though," Smith laughed. "They have to be, because a month into the tour, they probably would've gotten shredded up."
"We had an idea to get a tour plant to take care of, in that whole spirit, but we have yet to do that," bassist Jon Walker added. "You know, maybe a fern or something. A ficus."