Last week, Panic at the Disco released ...Live in Chicago, a CD/DVD capturing their on- and offstage life on their most recent tour. With the help of a photographer/filmmaker friend, the Las Vegas quartet also put together a book of Polaroids capturing their time on the road. As the band winds down for the holidays, Rock Daily talked with guitarist Ryan Ross about the last year and what fans can expect from Panic's third album (hint: if you liked Pretty.Odd., you're in luck), which Ross hopes to have out next summer.
How did the idea for the DVD and book come together?
Shane [Valdés, the filmmaker/photographer behind the project] is a friend of ours who lives with Brendon [Urie, singer] and we invited him on tour. At first he was filming and taking pictures, then he started getting into Polaroid film and we came up with the idea to do a tour diary of all Polaroid pictures.
It looks like all of the shots are candid.
Most of it was "day in the life" stuff, where we were doing whatever we do — outside eating lunch or goofing around — and he was there as a fly on the wall. There weren't a lot of staged shots, which I think ended up being cool. Shane dated all the pictures with the date and where we were, and we ended up having 400 or 500 pictures. Then we chose 100 or so to put in the book.
How did you pick which ones went in?
We each got to choose about 25. We had a day, and then two days and then it was "if you don't pick now, the deadline isn't going to be met," so we had to go over them all in a night. Timelines aren't always the greatest thing with us [laughs]. We were just happy to do it because we wanted to remember the tour and where we were.
And there's captions written in the book —
That's my handwriting. We came up with the idea to do captions three hours before we were supposed to turn the book in. Me, Shane and Brendan were the only ones there to do it.
Towards the back of the book, there's a shot of you with the caption "Don't call the cops on me, Mick Jagger."
[Laughs]. We were in this park in Canada throwing a frisbee around, and there was a homeless guy there who swore to God I was Mick Jagger. I kept telling him I wasn't, and he kept thinking I was Jagger and wanted to play frisbee with us. Then he heard a siren coming and thought I called the cops — and he ran away! The funny part is that I don't think I look like [Jagger] at all; I think he probably thinks it's still 1965.
Looking back on the last two and a half years since A Fever You Can't Sweat Out came out, how would you define the time that's passed?
Weird. We didn't really stop, ever. I just realized that over the last couple of days that we've never been away from each other since we got signed. I've gotten to see the world and play music with my friends. Sometimes the touring is not so fun but for the most part it's exciting still. This last record cycle was a lot easier to do than the first one because we didn't tour on it for as long.
What's up next?
Everyone's on break for the holidays, and we'll probably get serious about the next album in January.
We've never really stopped writing since Pretty. Odd. came out, and [the sound] is still being influenced by a lot of the same music — we're really into the early rock & roll. You'll be able to know it's the same band from Pretty.Odd. to our next album; it won't be the leap it was from the first album to the second. Hopefully it's just better. [Laughs].
Do you think if you hadn't gotten signed as early as you did and had more time to experiment before releasing the full-length your sound would have been more like Pretty. Odd.?
Yeah, I definitely do. That's the funny thing — if there was a year and half or two years of us being a band like every other band and then getting signed, we would probably have made Pretty. Odd. as our first album instead.
Most bands don't really get signed and tour until they're probably our age right now — 21, 22 — and we were 16, 17, 18. I think we just got into new music [over the last few years] and in those years people find the bands that become their favorite bands for the rest of their lives.
Do you still feel an attachment to the older songs?
I remember how young we were when we did it and our mindsets are so different now. I kind of look at it now and laugh a little — not at it, but just at how much we've changed as people, much less as a band.
How would you define that change?
It's funny when bands say their new album is more mature or grown up, but we really did grow up a little bit. If we weren't doing this, we would have been in college at that time and that's when you move out of your house and get away from your parents and become a person; you're not a kid anymore.