Childhood Mormonism is the tie that binds all three of the Vegas-bred pop bands that became international stars so far this century.
The Vegas church is where you would have found the child versions of Brandon Flowers (from the Killers), Dan Reynolds (Imagine Dragons) and Brendon Urie (Panic! At The Disco).
I never pester people about their religion, but I couldn’t help but point out the obvious connection to Urie the other day — as Panic prepares to perform this Friday at the Cosmopolitan pool.
“Funny enough,” Urie said, “I know Dan Reynolds from Imagine Dragons. We went to the same church. I’m pretty sure he’s still Mormon. I left the church long ago.”
Urie’s mom taught seminary class, and Reynolds was in Urie’s mom’s youth group.
“He was always a nice kid,” Urie said. “So when I read that (Imagine Dragons became a hit), I was like, ‘Holy (expletive), that’s Dan Reynolds! Good on him for making this awesome music.’ ”
I told Urie it seems amazing Flowers, Reynolds and Urie are all incredibly talented music stars who were Mormon kids in Vegas.
“It is kind of weird,” Urie said, then joked, “It’s something in the Kool-Aid, I guess.”
Urie’s talents are many. I asked him to clarify his instrument IQ.
“I’m a pretty good drummer. I’m pretty good at guitar, bass and piano. I can play accordion; I’m not virtuoso. I’ve played cello before. My sister played it, and I know how to play it, but I’m not the best. Violin is kind of the same thing.
“I played trumpet in middle school, and then I had to get braces, so I had to stop playing trumpet and start playing drums.”
Lately onstage, he has been doing back flips.
“My ankles hate me right now, but it’s been fun,” Urie said.
When did he learn to back flip?
“I think I was 8 years old, and it was one of the years of the Olympic games, and I was just watching these people contort and flip themselves,” Urie said.
“I’ve always been that person: If it gets into my head, I’ve got to do it until I get it perfect — a perfectionist’s attitude. So I just kept doing it and doing it on the couch and on the pillows until I got it. It helped that I grew up with a trampoline.”
Urie’s band has a new album coming out at midnight tonight. He named it “Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die” — a Hunter S. Thompson line in “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” — after Urie rewatched the film.
Panic’s album is getting good notices. My favorite review is by Megan Downing, a Brit writing in The National Student:
“The return of Panic! at the Disco made me instantly regress back to my 15-year-old, American emo-pop phase. Who am I kidding? I’ve always loved and always will love those bands that got me through my teens (including) potentially the most important lyricist of my teens, Brendon Urie of Panic! at the Disco.”
Urie feels he has come a long way as a writer and producer.
“I’m very proud of these songs. They’re a lot more confessional than anything I’ve ever done — a lot more honest, kind of in that hip-hop light of telling the truth. And musically, it’s a party record.”
Is there anything else Urie wants to tell fans?
“The show’s going to be awesome” at Cosmopolitan. “Give them my love. I love them. I’m just really excited to be back and to be able to play a show (in Vegas).”
Doug Elfman’s column appears Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. He also writes for Neon on Fridays. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.