AltPress #288

If you still haven’t, you have until July 2 to buy issue 288 of Alternative Press, on which you can find an interview of the unheard music from My Chemical Romance, All Time Low + Mark Hoppus, or Panic! At The Disco. You can read P!ATD’s right below. Also, AP is giving a poster of Jordan Witzigreuter, The Ready Set. Jump the bridge! (wat?)

Panic! At The Disco – Cricket And Clover (2007)

After Panic! At The Disco hit the emo lottery on 2005, the Las Vegas quartet were dead set on mixing thing up in a big way for their next album. Just how big?

For starters, they weren’t sure they wanted to use real instruments. “Spencer [Smith, drums] told me he wanted to build a hybrid drum kit out of glass, egg crates and wood cartons,” remembers Rob Mathes, who was set to coproduce the project. Mathes was also immediately taken with Ryan Ross’ musical obsessions at the time. “Ryan was listening to Bernard Herrmann’s Hitchcock film soundtracks, Danny Elfman, all the kinds of crazy stuff,” he remembers. “What I loved about them was all their creative guitar stuff and all the unique textures their music had. But Ryan would listen to the arrangements and string parts I wrote and say, ‘No, turn up the contrebassoon. Turn up the the weird shit you wrote; to hell with our guitars!'”

“I don’t think we made a conscious effort to make a different-sounding record,” explains Ross in a separate interview. “But we played what must have been nearly 400 shows on that first record, and we were probably pretty sick of those songs. We thought we had gotten a lot better as musicians over the years and wanted to prove it.”

The band decamped to a cabin in the Nevada mountains in 2007 with an experimental mindset as they began writing songs for their second release, a Disney-styled fairytale concept album titled Cricket And Clover. As the group’s primary lyricist and songwriter, Ross not only penned the album’s story-a doomed love affair between the two titled characters-but also highly unconventional, free-flowing musical arrangements to accompany his psychedelic lyrics. “The song structures were bizarre,” says Mathes. “There were no choruses, just parts that didn’t repeat. I told them, ‘The only problem with this thing is it’s all ambiguity.’ I’m all experimentation but it was to a fault.”

When it came time to record the album, the band butted heads with Kevin Augunas, Crickets And Clover‘s co-producer.” There was a lot of pressure when we went in with Keven,” remembers Ross. “I have nothing bad to say about him; though; I think he was getting hounded by our label and management to have us finish an album. There was no deadline, but he was forcing us to have songs ready to go. If it were up to us, I think we would have written forever and it would never been finished.

After the band decided a reboot wes necessary around summer 2007, Mathes asked to hear something new in a week. The song he got back was “Nine In The Afternoon”, and the two parties set to work on a new batch of material, which eventually became 2008’s Pretty. Odd. Some of the album’s songs (notably “Behind The Sea”) carried over elements from the cabin sessions, but to date, only one song from Cricket has been released: “Nearly Witches (Ever Since We Met…)” on Panic!’s 2011 album, Vices & Virtues. “There’s no stockpile of masterpiece outtakes,” says Mathes with a ti,ge of regret. “We did use some amount of the idead for Pretty. Odd., but there’s no holy grail of reel-to-reel tapes sitting in someone’s basement. I wish there were.’

“I don’t have anything,” says Ross. “All those computers of mine are long gone. I don’t even have any of the lyrics books. I went digging through my stuff trying to find something, but it’s not here. If anybody’s got it, I’d love to hear it.”

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