Panic at the Disco enjoys being ‘Odd’ 

Panic at the Disco guitarist Ryan Ross seems to be damning the very emo movement that spawned his platinum-selling Las Vegas outfit, which plays the Warfield this week.

"I think that whole scene is about to be completely dead," he says. His message to fans of Panic’s early ebony ‘n’ eyeliner look and droning "A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out" ’05 debut: Move on — because he has.

"Since we started this band, we were interested in writing all kinds of songs," says Ross, 21, who’s moved forward with the new album "Pretty. Odd." (Decaydence/Fueled by Ramen).

That’s the problem with most of his peers: "They learn how to write one kind of song, and then they just keep writing that same song."

Ergo, the lyricist opens with the campy disclaimer, "We’re So Starving" — which promises "You don’t have to worry because we’re still the same band" — then spends the rest of the album proving they’re not.

The set spins through styles — pop, folk, psychedelic, even vaudeville — culminating in the "Sgt. Pepper"-ish single, "Nine in the Afternoon," complete with a full orchestra, and sung in frontman Brendon Urie’s quirky vibrato.

What could account for such sudden maturity? Since he was a kid, Ross has had a fascination with other eras, from the Dickensian to the roaring ’20s to the 1960s.

He didn’t set out to comb rock’s archives, but on Panic’s last tour, he studied classic film scores before delving into Bob Dylan, the Beach Boys and Queen.

"And my biggest revelation that will never be beaten is the Beatles," he says. "I couldn’t believe that I’d gone my whole life without knowing all those songs."

At first, Ross was so filled with songwriting fervor, he retired to a cabin in the Nevada wilderness to script "Pretty. Odd." as a concept album. A couple of months later, he gave up. Every member wound up contributing music.

"And that’s why there’s a lot of different stuff on this album. It wasn’t just coming from one direction," Ross says.

The group also has a unified new style. They’ve ditched their black duds for a paisley Byrds look along with the exclamation point in their name.

"What we’ve realized is, for us to be happy for the long haul, we have to keep doing what we want to do, or else we won’t want to play music with each other anymore. People say this album is so different. And yeah, it is. But if we weren’t doing that, you probably wouldn’t hear much from us after this."

IF YOU GO

Panic at the Disco

Where: The Warfield, 982 Market St., San Francisco

When: 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday

Tickets: $35

Contact: (415) 371-5500 or www.ticketmaster.com

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Staff Report

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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