Panic! at the Disco's Brendon Urie Looks to Vegas, Brings Back Exclamation Point (Video)

Working with producer Butch Walker was "cathartic," says the frontman of the band's new album, "Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die."
Alex R. Kirzhner

For Panic! at The Disco’s fourth album, Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die (out Oct. 8), the Las Vegas group looked to its hometown roots for inspiration.

“Vegas is very much a central theme of a lot of the songs on the record,” frontman Brendon Urie tells The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s kind of my homage -- my anthem -- to growing up there. The first record we were angsty and bitter and just mad that we couldn’t do all this stuff so we attacked it in a way. ... Some of the stories were things I hadn’t dealt with for myself that were just plaguing my conscience for a long time. I wanted to have the juxtaposition of quirky party melodies so I could revisit it and not feel so bad. In that way, it was kind of cathartic.”

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But while even the title nods to Terry Gilliam’s film Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Urie currently calls Los Angeles home and it's also where the album was recorded. The move marks an even further distance from the band's former incarnation -- former members Ryan Ross and Jon Walker departed in 2009 -- and the second album under the group’s new lineup. Panic unveiled the players with 2011’s Vices & Virtues, but Urie notes that he led the songwriting charge more strongly this time around. Along with band members drummer Spencer Smith and bassist Dallon Weekes, the studio allowed Urie to find his groove.

“We always push ourselves in every aspect in the studio,” Urie says. “We recorded with Butch Walker and he lets me just bounce off the walls. He gives me an instrument and just points me in the direction and says ‘Go.’ And I just kind of run with it. He’s kind of figured out how to tame me, I guess.”

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The album’s flagship single was the raucous pop anthem “Miss Jackson,” which offered fans the initial sense of the band’s direction. For Urie, the best part of the single may be its darkly stylized music video. “We had maybe two songs before we wrote ‘Miss Jackson’ that really got me excited. And I knew when the record was done that this is the record I wanted to make. This is it. We’re dealing with serious subjects in the songs, but it’s celebrated. And to give something away, yeah I do decapitate a woman in the video so that’s fun.”

The biggest news? The band’s signature exclamation point is back on this release. “I like the exclamation point,” Urie said. “I think it’s great. I’m bringing it back.”

Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die is out now. Panic! At The Disco are scheduled to open for Thirty Seconds To Mars at the Hollywood Bowl on Oct. 12 and will headline a tour of North America in early 2014.

Twitter: @emilyzemler