Panic! At the Disco Stay Calm About Drummer Crisis, Embrace Creativity
By Jon Wiederhorn
It was 110 degrees outside in Bakersfield, California; and Panic! At the Disco front man Brendon Urie was especially grateful that the air conditioning on his band's bus was working.
"It's probably going to feel just as hot under the lights at the show tonight. But it's gonna be awesome," he said just a few hours before his band was scheduled to take the stage on the Tour to Save Rock and Roll, which also featured Panic!'s old friends Fall Out Boy.
While the title of the tour is tongue-in-cheek, Urie does think rock music has became stale over the last half-decade. However, he's convinced that it's starting to rise from its dormancy, and Panic! At the Disco want to be at the forefront of the reawakening.
"Rock 'n' roll is definitely changing and evolving," he told Yahoo! Music. "A lot of genres are blending, and I think that's really exciting. We're just doing our part to keep things fresh."
That aspiration reflects strongly in Panic! At the Disco's recent output; from their wild, surreal videos for "Miss Jackson" and "This is Gospel" to the multifaceted music on their fourth album, Too Weird to Live, To Rare to Die!, which comes out October 8. And the band remains as striking as ever live, both visually and sonically. They continue to combine sheer charisma and a keen sense of fashion with melodies that range from quirky guitar- and keyboard-driven pop to sweeping, dramatic rock anthems.
Equally impressive, Panic! At the Disco are maintaining their momentum without co-founder and drummer Spencer Smith, who is taking time away from the band to kick a longstanding addiction to prescription drugs and alcohol.
Currently, the band's drum tech, Dan Pawlovich (from the band Valencia) is taking Smith's place. "He learned the set straight away," Urie said. "He had been watching us play and filling in. He's doing a good job."
It's a good thing Pawlovich is comfortable and competent behind the kit, because right now it's unclear just how long Smith will be gone. "We haven't talked about specific dates for when Spencer can rejoin us," Urie said. "We're fully focused on him getting better, and when he's ready to come back, he will. I don't know if that will be an immediate turnaround. I doubt it, but we're staying positive."
In a July 30 post on the band's website, Smith wrote, "Last fall, after months of trying to quit and only making it two or three weeks, I entered treatment. I was extremely lucky to have the support of my family, band mates, friends, and my girlfriend. I've met too many people who have lost everything and burned every bridge they have due to their addiction. I can honestly say that without the love and support of those closest to me, I wouldn't be here, sober, and able to write this today."
Spencer played several shows with Panic! At the Disco after exiting rehab, but he dropped off the tour because it was too tempting to slip back into old habits when he was on the road. "A lot of times, alcohol goes with being on tour," Urie told Yahoo. "When you're out on the road, most people in the crew and the band fall into that world of drinking to pass the time because there's a lot of downtime and not much else to do. I don't think it has ever held me back at all, but for someone like Spencer, it’s hard to be on the road when something like this is plaguing you."