Earlier this month, Panic! At The Disco dropped a smooth, crooning new single called "Death Of A Bachelor" that radiated some serious Rat Pack vibes. It made me take stock of Panic! in 2015 -- they're not the eyeliner-clad teens writing longwinded song titles that they used to be. And "they" is kind of misleading, too, as only singer-songwriter Brendon Urie remains from the group's original lineup.
But 2005's Panic! was all of those things and more: A crew of movie-quoting kids from Las Vegas, recent signees of Pete Wentz's then-new endeavor, Decaydance Records, and purveyors of half-dancey, half-vaudeville, radio-ready jams.
The four original Panic! members -- Urie, Ryan Ross, Spencer Smith and Brent Wilson -- recorded their debut album, A Fever You Can't Sweat Out, before they had ever even performed live together, a new Billboard oral history details. That album dropped 10 years ago on September 27, 2005, and, along with a note from Urie himself on the band's website, there's plenty more juicy history where that came from.
Their first concert was at a Mormon church.
"My mom said we could play because there was this youth dance. I grew up Mormon, and there's a dress code -- you have to wear nice clothing," Urie told Billboard. "So I told the guys, 'It'll be really fun, a lot of cute girls, and a lot of people our age, but we have to dress up. We have to wear suits and ties.'" The rest is history.
Their had their first record deal negotiation at a taco shop.
"We went out to our practice space and we didn't have the instruments to play the demos, so we just played acoustically, for [Wentz] and this girl," Urie said. "He was like, 'Cool, that was good.' That was all he said. We went down to Del Taco, and over a meal he explained that he wanted to sign us."
They pretty much never took the suits off.
"Before the Nintendo Fusion Tour, they were in basketball shorts and hats," Wentz said. "Then they showed up the first day of the tour in these paisley suits. I was like, 'What the f--k is happening?'" Their manager, Scott Nagelberg, agreed: "They'd be driving in the van, 90 degrees outside, no AC, suits on."
They skipped graduation to go record the album.
"They didn't go to graduation; they got in a van and drove from Vegas to College Park, Maryland, where they made the record with Matt Squire on a very generous budget of $10,000 -- $11,000 if you include mixing," Nagelberg said.
Some of the song titles were jokes.
"The song 'I Constantly Thank God For Esteban' was from an infomercial for these guitars," Urie said. "It's such a sh---y infomercial -- a lady on there has one of the guitars and she's like, 'I constantly thank God for Esteban!' So we wrote this song with Latin flavor, like, 'F--k yeah, we're using that!'"
They used Backstreet Boys as entrance music on tour, because yes.
"I remember we switched their intro music to 'Everybody (Backstreet's Back)' and thought it was going to be so funny, but people just sang the song and were so into it," Nagelberg said.
They scored a Rolling Stone cover before their mentors, Fall Out Boy.
"They were on the cover of Rolling Stone before us," Wentz said. "As much as it was the band I loved, I was like,' F--k it, now we have to get the Rolling Stone cover." It was a little like the U.S.-Soviet space race. But at the end of the day, we were still friends."
Panic!'s next single, "Victorious," is set to drop on Tuesday. Stay tuned!