GROWING UP THE FAST WAY 


Panic at the Disco guitarist Ryan Ross doesn't know where the hell he is. Somewhere in England, that much is certain. The sky is growing dark outside, even though he just woke up. It's been like this ever since his band signed with Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz's label Decaydence some two years ago: On the road, on the go, forgetting where they laid their heads down the night before.

"Things have been happening very fast," Ross says, still groggy. "We've been pretty much busy from the week we got signed; since then, we've only had a week and a half off."

Wentz signed Panic himself after the experimental pop-punk/emo band posted two songs on his web journal. "We recorded them on my laptop," Ross explains. "Then we put them on Purevolume and sent him a link and said, like, 'Hey, we met you at one of your concerts. Listen to these songs if you can.'" Two days later Wentz contacted them, into what he heard. He then flew to Vegas – Panic's headquarters – and, after watching Ross and company rehearse, offered them a contract.

More astonishing: Panic was barely even a band yet, merely a bunch of soon-to-be high school graduates having only just coalesced into a serious effort to produce music. The two songs (which later made it onto their debut album, A Fever You Can't Sweat Out: "Nails for Breakfast, Tacks for Snacks" and "Time To Dance") were all they had to show for themselves. Hell, they hadn't even played a live show yet. That didn't come until after recording the album.

Because of Panic's still-young sound – that is, if they even had a sound yet – A Fever proved a daunting challenge, and forced them to formulate their identity even as their obligation to record something swept them along. The result was an uneven collection of songs, some forward-sounding, others looking backwards.

So a decision was made to divide the album into two halves: The first a blend of punk bellyaching and futuristic synths, the second a blend of the same bellyaching with vaudevillian instrumentation. In a lot of ways, the effort comes to life like the bastard child of their patron Wentz and Vegas hometown heroes The Killers.

But has the sudden success finally started to sink in? After all, they've been a band almost as long as they've been signed.

"I think that really hit us when we got to the U.K.," Ross says of finally figuring out just how successful his group has become in such a short time.

"The record isn't even out over here, but the audiences know all the words. We've never been here before, but it's like our hometown wherever we go. It's been mind-blowing, for the most part."

Panic at the Disco
with The Academy Is ..., Acceptance, Hellogoodbye

9 pm Friday, Feb. 17
House of Blues

music@orlandoweekly.com

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