"I want you to love what we've done or hate it with a passion," says the band's frontman.
Brendon Urie says Panic! at the Disco's latest album, Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die, has "exceeded all my expectations, to be honest." But you won't find him grousing about those who aren't on board, either.
"What I love is getting polarized opinions," Urie tells Billboard. "I don't want a middle ground like, 'Yeah, all right.' We got a lot of love and a lot of hate. I love that. I want you to love what we've done or hate it with a passion." And Urie promises, he means it. "There's random comments you read, like 'This dude is a joke' or that call me a whiny little bitch or whatever. That kind of stuff is fun to me. I love that stuff. Bring it on, man."
The good seems to be outweighing the bad, however. Too Weird to Live... debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 last October, equalling the career high of 2008's Pretty. Odd. It's launched the singles "Miss Jackson," "This is Gospel" and "Girls/Girls/Boys," and Urie says the reception on the road has been strong. "We're happy to be playing the new stuff and seeing the reaction," he says. "The live shows have been phenomenal. You think people want to hear the old stuff, but it's been the opposite -- people want to hear the new stuff."
Urie says he hopes to get them more new material sooner rather than later, too. "I haven't really stopped writing, which is a great thing to say," he notes. "I love that. On the road I have a little setup with a laptop. I love writing, and we definitely have a lot of new material. I don't think it'll be too long before we put something new out." On top of that, Urie says he also hopes to collaborate with other artists and has, in fact already cut tracks with Travie McCoy and Action Bronson, though he has no clear plan for that music as of yet.
"They're pretty different," Urie acknowledges. "I like surprising myself. I don't want to do the norm, do what I'm always known to do, write how I like to write. I like to see how other people work and be part of their stuff and see what I can do to be part of their worlds. Its a pretty big challenge, and that excites me."
Panic! is on the road until Sept. 6, entirely in the U.S. except for a closing date at the I Heart Joburg Music Festival in Johannesburg, South America. The group is still without the services of founding drummer Spencer Smith, who's been on hiatus since last summer while battling drug and alcohol addictions.
"He's good. He's doing really well," Urie says. "I know in the beginning it seemed really tough and difficult. I always am just so proud of his choice to know that he needs to take some time and get some help. It's not an easy decision. And the fans come to shows with signs and show us they care about (Smith). I tear up sometimes. It's really, really sweet."