Shortly after the release of its Sophomore album Pretty Odd in 2008, Panic! At The Disco hit a rough patch of transition. The departure of two members caused a delay in recording a new album, which ultimately shifted the band’s budding creative compass. Fortunately for Panic, singer Brendon Urie recruited bassist Dallon Weekes from the band the Brobecks to fill in as a touring bassist. It was a title that didn’t last long: Weekes was soon asked to join as a full-time member. Now on his second album with Panic, Weekes is lending his standout bass lines, driving synth riffs, melodic backup vocals, and creative songwriting to the band’s most dance-floor-driven album yet. For his part, Weekes delivers always-moving lines with vintage-style tone, contrasting the band’s modern backdrop that blends alternative pop with layers of electronica.
How did you get your tone on this album?
I usually take the high end down quite a bit and keep it mostly in the mid and low range. That comes in handy when you use a lot of fuzz, as I often do. Effect pedals have a tendency to drop your low end, and that’s just unacceptable. So keeping it in the mid to low range, and having pedals that will respond well to that, are what I go for. When you click on the pedal and it starts shaking your brain, that’s when you know you have it dialed in.
“Girls Girls Boys” has a great grooving bass line.
I wrote that on my own, and nobody really wanted to use it for the album. I was actually going to give it to a friend of mine in the band Neon Trees to use. But as we moved on with the writing, I tried to figure out what it was that I liked so much about the song, and I realized it was the bass line. So I took that from it, and we ended up writing a totally different song around it.
How do you approach synth bass versus electric bass?
I’m not a great keyboardist, so whenever I sit down to write a synth line, it’s usually the most basic form of bass line. With the electric bass, I’m much more comfortable playing the things I hear when I’m writing and executing my lines. It’s fun playing synth; it’s newer to me, and it’s something I really enjoy doing.
Did you try anything new this record?
Trying new things has been the theme of my playing with Panic. When I joined the band, I had to play in odd time signatures and in different tunings for the first time ever. Weird time signatures became a lot of fun and really started clicking for me on this record. It opened some creative doors of my own, and now I’m always trying new things in this band.
How would you describe your playing?
It’s all about staying loose. I’ve always wanted to be like Keith Moon—he was just so loose when he played. Sound-wise, players like Robert Sledge of Ben Folds Five, Sam Farrar of Phantom Planet, and Justin Meldal-Johnsen have heavily influenced my playing over the years. My favorite way to play bass is to get to a point where I can turn off my brain and not have to scrutinize everything I’m doing.
Panic! At The Disco, Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die [Fueled By Ramen, 2013]
Basses Fender Precision Bass, Eastwood Classic 4 Hollowbody, Custom Jag-Stang Bass
Rig Aguilar DB 751 head and GS 410 cabinet
Effects Electro- Harmonix Big Muff Pi (Russian), Tech 21 SansAmp Bass Driver Programmable, ZVex Wooly Mammoth Fuzz
Strings GHS Bass Boomers Medium