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Panic at the Disco: Still 'Odd,' Sans Guyliner

The rock band Panic at the Disco is learning what it means to grow up in the public eye. Most of the material on the group's first CD, the double-platinum A Fever You Can't Sweat Out, was written while the band's members were still in high school. Now Panic at the Disco is back with Pretty. Odd and a more mature sound. But will the band's of teenage fans grow with them?

At 18 and 19 years old, there must have been a great amount of pressure to duplicate the success of Panic at the Disco's debut CD, but the band seems good-humored about it.

"I think I had more pressure to get good grades in high school," guitarist Ryan Ross says. "Songwriting is just fun for us. I don't know, maybe we're just a little bit cocky or something, but I think we were ready to do more songs. I think most of the pressure we had came from ourselves, just trying to outdo the first one."

Pretty. Odd features lush orchestrations and production, but in an interview with host Andrea Seabrook, the band performs stripped-down versions of its songs in NPR's Studio 4A, including "Nine in the Afternoon," "That Green Gentleman (Things Have Changed)" and "Northern Downpour."

A Band Reworked

In many ways, Panic at the Disco feels like it's starting from square one. Much has changed since A Fever You Can't Sweat Out: Bassist Jon Walker joined the band, and they've all ditched the "guyliner" (that's eyeliner worn by guys), as well as the onstage carnival act with dancers and elaborate costumes. Now, Panic at the Disco seems more prepared as a band.

Along with those changes is the band's new sound, which is clearly reminiscent of The Beatles' oddball pop masterpiece Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

"We definitely are all fans of [The Beatles]. If you are going to be influenced by any band, what better band to be influenced by than The Beatles?" says vocalist, guitarist and pianist Brendon Urie.

Ross quickly adds, "It's like Christians who want to be like Jesus. We're just trying to follow in someone's footsteps. Might as well be The Beatles."

But in addition to all these changes, the band also says it's growing up.

"Everything that happened in the past couple years for us has been a dream come true," drummer Spencer Smith says. "We just felt it wouldn't be true to ourselves if we were still acting pissed off at the world, because we were having a great time and excited about writing. We wanted to make that come through."

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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