Behind the Band Name: Panic! At The Disco

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

The emo-baroque pop project, Panic! at the Disco, was formed in 2004 by longtime friends Brendan Urie, Ryan Ross, Spencer Smith, and Brent Wilson. While still in high school, they began playing Blink-182 covers, but soon started recording their own original songs.

The band made their debut with the 2005 release of A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, launching them into the pop-punk spotlight, only visible to fans through a luscious layer of emo bangs.

Soon, everyone with a fresh Splat hair color and fingerless gloves knew the band, Panic! At The Disco. But what does that name mean? What is all the panic about? The music isn’t even disco.

Origin of the Name

Some believe the name came from The Smiths’ song in 1987, titled “Panic.” The chorus contains Morrissey cheerily singing the line burn down the disco.

However, the band’s frontman, Urie, has since explained that the name was borrowed from a more obscure group. A lesser-known, late ’90s, early emo band called Name Taken. The band also had a song called “Panic,” and their version contains the lines: Panic at the disco / Sat back and took it so slow / Are you nervous? / Are you shaking?

Name Taken originally performed under the moniker All That’s Left until they discovered it was already taken, so they were forced to get creative. In the same vein as Panic! at the Disco, Name Taken was formed by childhood friends as they began making and playing music together as early as the eighth grade.

Listen to the song that lent inspiration to the band name below.

Panic! At The Disco Today

Today, Urie has kept Panic! alive as a solo project since members of the band began to slowly drop away. Since 2015, Urie has released three records under the band’s name with the most recent release, Viva Las Vengeance, dropping in August.

Viva Las Vengeance is a look back at who I was 17 years ago and who I am now with the fondness I didn’t have before,” Urie said of the album, looking back on where the band has been. “I didn’t realize I was making an album and there was something about the tape machine that kept me honest.”

In September, Panic! at the Disco kicked off a world tour in support of the new album.

(Photo by Debra L Rothenberg/Getty Images)

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