From the suburbs of Summerlin, Panic! at the Disco emerged as a glittering ray of emo-pop with their 2005 debut album A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out. In the years since, the band has shuffled their sound, swapped out several members and relocated to Los Angeles. But recently, frontman Brendon Urie has fallen for Las Vegas, and the band’s new album Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die! is his love letter to our city. Here the 26-year-old tells us why he’s celebrating life and the band’s latest effort with a homecoming at the Cosmopolitan’s Boulevard Pool on October 11.
How is Las Vegas manifested in your new music?
There’s actually a song on the record called “Vegas Lights” that I wrote as an homage to Vegas from a couple of different standpoints. I grew up in a strictly religious Mormon household so when I was younger, there was always a feeling that if I walked outside, something bad was going to happen. “Don’t go near the Strip, it’s not good” or whatever. I was curious then to see the debauchery. Now I’m witnessing it and being a part of some of the debauchery and seediness.
Were you inspired by specific experiences here?
There were a couple of times in the last year or two when [before we got married], my wife and I were going [to Las Vegas] to visit family. We spent a couple of days to ourselves going to restaurants, going to clubs—something I had actually never done before. I dropped the cynicism and I was like, “You know what, this is just fun.” I could have been the bitter hipster in the corner, having a beer alone saying “you guys are stupid for dancing,” but I didn’t feel that way. I felt like I could just jump in and be a part of it.
Is that really Las Vegas on the album cover?
It is! We drove out toward Primm a little bit just to get that whole landscape with the new stuff that’s popped up in the last decade and some of the old stuff that’s been there a few decades. I wanted to have that scene. In the fantastical version of Vegas in my mind, that’s how I saw it.
Is it safe to say that this album is a departure from the more brooding material on past Panic! releases?
It is a celebration in terms of being happy with where I’m at now, but there are songs like “Miss Jackson” that revisit old memories. For me, when I’m able to talk about stuff that I feel guilty about, it instantly clears it up. Putting it into song form is even better because I can revisit it with a melody that I love. If it’s catchy to me, I can sing it over and over without being in pain.
MTV.com once said, “Panic! at the Disco seem to pride themselves in never being the same band twice.” As the frontman, do you accept that?
I totally accept that. Honestly, I accept any criticism. I pride myself on writing records that are very different from one another. I want to make sure that keeps happening because it makes the whole process exciting for me.
What should fans be excited for at this performance?
[The band] has been talking about getting as much production in as we can. We pride ourselves on the live show and making it an event, creating an atmosphere that is its own specific environment. Song after song, we don’t really let up. So, be prepared to sweat it out.
Panic! at the Disco
9 p.m. at Boulevard Pool at the Cosmopolitan, $26.50, 698-7000, CosmpolitanLasVegas.com.