Ready To Reinvent Love
By Shana Naomi Krochmal
Panic at the Disco's sophomore album, Pretty. Odd., was an ambitious and serious play for grown-up music cred from a group of flamboyant young guys previously known for accidentally conquering MySpace and MTV on their way to platinum-selling status. The band spent this spring and summer on the road with the Honda Civic Tour, a rocking and energetic series of shows now captured on CD and DVD in 'Live in Chicago.
Drummer Spencer Smith, 21, rarely talks on stage, and lends his dry, sardonic voice only occasionally to group interviews. But speaking by phone from his Las Vegas home, he had plenty to say to Out about politics, getting life advice from Snoop Dogg, and just what Pete Wentz meant when he called his pet prodigies 'totally gay.'
Out: We spoke in January at the Honda Civic Tour launch. How did you end up being the designated gay spokesperson for Panic at the Disco?
Spencer Smith: [Laughs] Well, from my deep respect and love for the gay community.
Well, of course.
And I feel that it is bullshit that it got re-voted against in California to not be able to get married. Bullshit!
Your friends in Fall Out Boy were very vocal about that fight, but Panic hasn't talked much publicly about politics.
No, no we have not.
Do you see the band taking it on more?
It's a weird thing. Being in somewhat of the public eye, we always are aware that [anything we say] can make it into every blog. When it comes to things that are non-music related that we're still passionate about, now we are a little more comfortable just coming out and saying exactly how we feel. And this is one topic that I'm just sort of -- I just completely disagree with any of the laws that keep everybody from being equal. I'd rather use the fact that I'm doing this interview to at least say what I think than take some weird vague view on things.
This was the first election you were able to vote in, right?
It was. I was 17 the last time, so I just missed it. This time it was the first for me and [singer] Brendon [Urie].
It was exciting to see Nevada go Democrat.
I know, I couldn't believe it. Here and some of the other Southwest states -- obviously not Arizona, but New Mexico and Colorado. We were in Atlanta playing a show and by the time we came off stage, they'd already figured out that there was no chance of it turning around. It was a great night.
It seems like the crowds at your concerts have changed over the last couple years. There are still a lot of girls and gay guys, but there are also a lot of stoned college dudes.
We have observed it. We think it's awesome. It's something we kind of hoped for -- not specifically stoner college guys, but trying to get a more broad audience. We definitely have noticed people in the audience who only know our first album [2005's A Fever You Can't Sweat Out], which is totally expected. But there's also people that know every word to every song off the new record, and aren't as familiar with the old stuff.