|Brendon Urie||–||lead vocals, guitar, piano|
|Dallon Weekes||–||bass guitar, synth, backing vocals|
Panic! at the Disco (formerly stylized as Panic at the Disco) is an American rock band from Las Vegas, Nevada, formed in 2004. Since its inception, the band’s line-up has included Brendon Urie (lead vocals, guitar, piano) and Spencer Smith (drums). Former touring bassist Dallon Weekes officially joined the band in 2012.
The band formed and recorded their first demos while they were all still in high school. Shortly after, the band recorded and released its debut studio album, A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out (2005). Made known by the top ten lead single “I Write Sins Not Tragedies”, the album eventually was certified double platinum. The group then recorded its second album, Pretty. Odd., released in 2008. Marked as a drastic change in tone from their debut, it undersold commercial expectations and received a mixed response from fans and critics.
Formation and early years (2004–05)
Panic! at the Disco was formed in 2004 in the suburban area of Summerlin, Las Vegas, by childhood friends Ryan Ross, who sang and played guitar, and Spencer Smith, who played drums. They both attended Bishop Gorman High School, and they began playing music together in ninth grade. They invited friend Brent Wilson from nearby Palo Verde High School to join on bass, and Wilson invited classmate Brendon Urie to try out on guitar. The quartet soon began rehearsing in Smith’s grandmother’s living room. Urie grew up in a Mormon family in Las Vegas and early on skipped rehearsals to go to church. Ross initially was the lead vocalist for the group, but after hearing Urie sing back-up during rehearsals, the group decided to make him the lead. Initially, Panic! at the Disco was just a blink-182 cover band.
The monotonous nature of local Las Vegas bands influenced the members of the band to be different and creative, and they soon began laying down experimental demos. The band had not even performed a single live show when they were signed. “We never went out and played shows before we got signed because the music scene in Las Vegas is so bad. There’s not a lot going on,” Smith said. “In our practice space, there were something like 30 bands, and every day we’d walk into that room and hear the exact same death-metal bands. So it kind of influenced us to be different. And to get out of Las Vegas.” Urie began working at Tropical Smoothie Cafe in Summerlin to afford rent for the band’s new practice space. The four left their educations behind to concentrate on music; Ross had a falling out with his father when he dropped out of college, and when Brendon Urie dropped out of high school his parents kicked him out of the house. He stayed with friends until he could afford to rent an apartment.
Ross and Urie soon began to commit to their laptops the demos they had been developing, and posted three early demos (“Time to Dance,” “Nails for Breakfast, Tacks for Snacks” and “Camisado”) on PureVolume. On a whim, they sent a link to Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz via a LiveJournal account. Wentz, who was in Los Angeles at the time with the rest of Fall Out Boy working on their major-label debut, From Under the Cork Tree, drove down to Las Vegas to meet with the young, unsigned band. Upon hearing “two to three” songs during band practice, Wentz was impressed and immediately wanted the band to sign to his Fueled by Ramen imprint label Decaydance Records, which made them the first on the new label. Around December 2004, the group signed to the label. As news broke that Wentz had signed Panic! (who had yet to perform a single live show), fans on the Internet began to bash the group. “Almost right away we knew what was going to happen,” Ross explained in a 2006 interview. “We had two songs online and people were already making assumptions on what kind of band we were and what we were going to sound like.”
Meanwhile, Wentz began to hype the band wherever possible: from wearing “Pete! at the Disco” T-shirts onstage to mentioning them in interviews. Wentz gave a quick shout-out to the band during a press junket on the day before the 2005 MTV Video Music Awards: “I’ve got a couple of bands coming out soon on Decaydance, one being this band called Panic! at the Disco,” Wentz said. “Their record is going to be your next favorite record. It’s called A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out — get it before your little brother does.” At the time of their signing, all of the band members were still in high school (with the exception of Ross, who was forced to quit UNLV). Urie graduated in May 2005 and Wilson and Smith finished school online as the band left for College Park, Maryland to record their debut record.