Breaking up is hard to do, as the old Neil Sedaka song goes. However, when guitarist Ryan Ross and bassist Jon Walker left alt-rock hit machine Panic! At the Disco, the two remaining members - singer Brendon Urie and drummer Spencer Smith - adopted the "let's stay together" approach of Al Green. I spoke with Smith about the revised lineup and their new album, Vices & Virtues.
How has the departure of Ryan and Jon affected your songwriting process?
The biggest change was lyrics. Ryan wrote a lot of those in the past, but each of us would contribute in some way.
So how do you come up with lyrics?
For this album, we had some stuff we wanted to talk about from the split. It would be weird if we didn't talk about it because it was such a major event in our lives. Sometimes it's a book or a movie or something going on in our lives, such as a relationship, that makes its way into a song.
What was the most rewarding part of making Vices & Virtues?
We started by trying to decide what we wanted the band to be. We just felt it out as we made the record, and it eventually came together. I think just knowing that the two of us could make the record and be proud of it is awesome. The fact that people want to listen to it is even better.
How would you describe this album's sound to someone who hasn't heard it?
We started some of the songs a couple of years ago, and others were written over the course of a month, so it's a mix of styles. For a while, we weren't using electronic drums or keyboards, but they're back now. Overall, there's pop-rock at the core of each song.
What's new at your live show?
We always try to have a good time onstage. Lately, we've been doing a couple of different cover songs, like "I Believe in a Thing Called Love" by the Darkness. And we'll be playing songs from the new record, of course.