Sunday 29 January 2012

[Me] support Panic! At The Disco - Interview & Review

Panic! At The Disco
The much anticipated return of Panic! At The Disco has meant that this tour is the hottest ticket in town; the entire tour selling out and with good reason too. Not only are Brendon Urie and Spencer Smith back, delivering their unique blend of baroque pop-punk, but they are joined by Australian quartet [ME] who are ones to watch in 2012.

Making MSN’s list of top ten bands to watch out for in 2012, as well as playing the “HMV Next Big Thing” showcase next month, [ME] have already started their UK domination, touring with the likes of Evanescence and Kasabian, to name but a few. Est.1987 caught up with Luke [vocals] and Spike [drums] ahead of the Panic! show.

Lead singer Luke on stage at Leeds
Hey guys! So, it was the first night of the tour last night with Panic! in Newcastle – how did it go?
LUKE- Great! The crowd response was unreal and it was really vibing; we had a good time, but unfortunately we had a few technical issues in the guitar department…
SPIKE- Picture a guitar amp blowing up…literally one minute before going on stage!
L- So, yeah that was quite stressful for me and then Damian, our guitarist, his stuff was playing up during the show itself. But, apart from that it was a really good way to start the tour.

You played this venue- O2 Academy in Leeds on tour with Evanescence – is it nice being back here?
L- We’re very glad to be back. This venue sounds unreal and we had a ball last time we were here. I mean Leeds in general, we are big fans of the city.
S- It’s a very friendly city.
L- Yeah, a friendly city. Good cafes and restaurants and last time we were here we went out and had a really big night; it was a great, fun night. It was probably one of my highlights of the last tour, Leeds.

You guys are originally from Melbourne- do you live in the UK now?
L- We’re a Melbourne band but we’re from all over Australia.
S- I’m the only one from Melbourne. But yeah, we live over here, we’ve just moved back. We went back for about three weeks doing Christmas and New Year’s, see the family, see the pets, say goodbye for a while and pack everything up. But England is where the music scene is as far as where we are concerned and the music that we make.

Your name [Me], where did it come from? – I know you’re described as “ungoogleable”?
S- Yeah, someone told us that.
L- You just have to type in “Me” and “band” and we come up. But, it is a bit of a strange name. We were after a short name and we were going through loads of suggestions and then someone just suggested “Me”. It was just so absurd, so bizarre and we had a bit of a chuckle; “no, we couldn’t possibly do that” and then we were like “yeah, let’s do it!”.

In terms of influences, I hear The Beatles, Queen, Zeppelin- a lot of British rock bands?
S- Classic rock, yeah!
L- We’re big fans of a lot of music that has come out of Britain.
S- A lot of classical music as well and composers too.
L- Very varied stuff, across the band as well there’s lots of stuff that us guys are into that bring different elements to the band and that’s why you hear such an eclectic mix.
S- Newer bands as well; Radiohead and Mars Volta.
L- We’re big fans of vocal harmony bands, so Queen and The Beatles, The Beach Boys and groups like that which vocally are very sort of theatrical with their harmonies we get into. We get into our orchestrations and strings and horns and big choirs.

You recorded the album over here in the UK- when can we expect it? I heard there was a grand piano and string orchestra when you were recording it?
L- Mid-year, so probably some time in the summer. We recorded it from July to October last year down in Kent with the producer Simon Barnecott and he’s done a bunch of pretty rad bands that we’re all into and that’s why we wanted to work with him. He’s done Arctic Monkeys and Kasabian and Editors and stuff like that. We had a lot of fun out there. We had some of the stringed stuff down already by an Australian composer friend of ours and then we had a session down in the studio in Kent.
S- And somehow we managed to fit a grand piano through a very small doorway!
L- We’ve pulled out all the bells and whistles for this album but I reckon the next one there could be even more.

Your artwork and videos are very detailed and intricate – was this important to you as a band to maintain a visual side?
[Me] "Naked" single cover
L- I’ve always been a big fan of bands that put a lot of work into their branding; Radiohead, the stuff that they do really goes with their music. It’s the same with Pink Floyd. So I would like to be able to get to a level where it’s like that; not only the music speaks, but the imagery and design. Panic! At The Disco definitely have something like that, they’ve got that sort of cabaret vibe going.
S- Our genre of music goes really well with visuals.

What do you guys have planned for this year? A headline tour?
S- Definitely a headline tour planned for later this year and some shows in Germany and France.
L- We’ll definitely be back up here a couple of times. We’re releasing and EP/mini-album in March and then the album, so it’s going to be a very big year.

Are you going to base yourselves over here as opposed to going and playing in Australia?
L- Yeah, we’re over here for quite a while. We’re not overly interested in going back.
S- I don’t even have a room or clothes over there now!
L- We’ve all packed up in Australia and we’re trying to become British citizens.
S- We just don’t have the accents!
Thanks guys.

And here’s what happened when [Me] and Panic! took to the stage…

[Me]'s bassist Michael Godde
Est.1987 has heard only praise about [Me] and after chatting to the guys earlier we were looking forward to seeing their live show for the first time, and it would be fair to say we weren’t disappointed. An epic entrance and an epic opening; “Your Favourite Colour” kicks off the set. With the catchiness of The Beatles, mixed with the rock of Led Zeppelin as well as some classical tones thrown in for good measure, [Me] are entertaining and crowd grabbing. With a firm fan base already over here, after this tour it is set to grow. “Westward Backwards” really captures singer Luke’s impressive vocal range and the band’s live essence, and includes an impressive drum breakdown. [Me] are theatrical, but with the technicality and stage presence to back it up. Single “Like A Fox” and “Working Life” round-up a great start, for what is set to be a truly great evening.

If you have got tickets for the Panic! tour, then you are in for a treat and if you haven’t, console yourselves with the free [Me] download available HERE. The Australian quartet were the perfect prelude to Panic! and are a band that we are excited to see on a headline tour.  

Panic! on stage at Leeds
Leeds O2 Academy is an incredible venue in terms of sound but also aesthetic and Panic! are a band that fit perfectly within this arena. The cyclorama was laden heavy with worn theatre drapes and the stage awash with organ pipes and old instruments. Panic! don’t put on a “concert”, they put on a “show”. Opener “Ready To Go” speaks out to and spurs on the zealous crowd; they’re here and they mean business and expect nothing less from their fans.  Mainly playing songs from their debut album, such as the cabaret-esque “But It’s Better If You Do” and tracks from their most recent album “Vice and Virtues”, the duo, joined by a bassist and guitarist, prove that they’re a band that still deserves to be one of the best at doing what they do. Since Panic! joined the scene, bands have come and fallen by the wayside, so what do Panic! do that is just so special?
Brendon Urie on stage at Leeds

Lead singer Brendon Urie quotes Foxy Shazam; “when times get tough, if you can’t handle the rain, then you don’t deserve the rainbow”. Panic! have faced their adversaries and the fact that they’re here today is a testament to them and their music. Their set mixes their more electronic songs such as “Time to Dance” alongside the more lyrical ballad based “Always”. Panic! anthems and crowd favourites “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” and “The Ballad of Mona Lisa” are pitted against more unusual songs, proving that Brendon really can turn his voice to any melody.

Panic! At The Disco

Panic! were here tonight to have fun and play around with songs; “Hurricane” turned into Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus” for example. The Mario theme tune made an appearance and Brendon wowed the audience with an impressive cover of The Darkness' “I Believe In A Thing Called Love”. Closing the show with Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” and Panic!’s own “Nearly Witches”, Brendon and the boys prove that they are one of the best live bands around and with a new album being written this year Panic! definitely still have it!