Dallon Weekes and Ryan Seaman are I DON’T KNOW HOW BUT THEY FOUND ME (iDKHOW), a two-piece band with a handful of catchy singles and a retro 1980s approach to their music and imagery that is being embraced across the globe as a musical breath of fresh air.
The iDKHOW backstory reads like the band, and their musical output was overlooked in the early 1980s but have recently been unearthed and released now in an era that may finally be ready to accept them. “It began in the days of excess when video killed the radio star, and a new cultural frontier beckoned. A time punctuated by the whirring of videotapes capturing endless hours of Night Flight and Top of the Pops; of mixtapes passed back and forth between sweethearts, lovingly collected and assembled by passionate pop diehards. The world wasn’t ready for iDKHOW back then. They’d better get ready right now.”
With an EP entitled 1981 released late last year, and a single from that record entitled “Choke“ steadily garnering fans, iDKHOW are becoming one of the true viral success stories of 2019. The five songs on the EP are all excellent, and the promise of a full-length in the coming year of new material has music fans swooning in anticipation over Weekes and Seaman’s addictive new musical project.
Just after performing at Riot Fest in Chicago, Dallon Weekes took some time to talk with us about iDKHOW, touching on numerous topics around his approach to music, and his manifesto for keeping things fresh as he and Seaman continue to explore musical possibilities for the years to come. The audio is included here via SoundCloud if you’d like to listen along.
“I Don’t Know But They Found Me” is the latest music video from iDKHOW:
I enjoy your Tumblr page.
Weekes: “Oh thank you.”
I like that little video clip you put on backstage in London where you were just like, “Here’s a toilet. Here’s our isolated space.”
Weekes: “Rock Sound wanted us to do some tour of the venue. We try to do things weird whenever possible. So we just decided to get weird with it and have some fun.”
How active are you guys on social media? Are you posting a lot of stuff?
Weekes: “I’m not as active as I probably should be. I have this weird distaste for most things social media. I’m not very good at it, though. I try to do it whenever the thought occurs to me. Unfortunately, that’s not very often.”
Well judging by your Tumblr page, I think you are very good at it. You should keep at it.
Weekes: “I don’t know if we have a Tumblr page, actually. That might be a fan page.”
Is that a fan page?
Weekes: “I don’t know. It might be because I don’t know that we have one.”
White Reaper at Riot Fest (Chicago, Illinois) on September 15, 2019, by Mike Bax:
That’s where that video went, and it looked like it was totally endorsed by you.
Weekes: “From what I know about Tumblr, they find anything and everything that we’ve ever done, and it ends up on that page. So hats off to fans for making that stuff happen.”
So this show, like the rest of your shows this year, looks like a one-off show. Is that what’s you’re doing for the rest of the year?
Weekes: “I think that’s gonna be the plan for the rest of the year and then get into a studio in January to make a full-length record happen.”
You’re actually gonna do a full-length?
Weekes: “I don’t know if I’m even supposed to talk about that. But I just did. Yeah, that’s been the goal for a long time. We’ve got a record written and ready to go. We are just waiting to get that green light to make it happen.”
How many songs do you have written then? Are you and Ryan totally ready to go, demoed up?
Weekes: “Um, fully written? At least, like, ten. And then we have six or seven more that are half-written, that I want to wait till we’re in the studio to finish because I really like the spontaneity of being in the studio and making a song from top to bottom.”
Released last year, watch the music video for “Choke”:
So there’s a chance you might just write something there, and that’ll go on the album?
Weekes: “Yeah. Which I’ve always really enjoyed. I mean, that’s how the Beatles did it. You know, they’d show up to a studio with nothing and leave at the end of the day with like three new songs. So it’s a really cool way to make songs happen. I think anyway; I really like doing stuff that way.”
We talk a little bit about “Social Climb,” and the video that you made for that? It looked like it was a lot of fun to make?
Weekes: “Videos are really stressful for me. That might be because everything we’ve done so far has been really low (or no) budget and DIY. So we’re undertaking like dozens of jobs each (Ryan and me). And so it’s always really stressful on the day of a shoot. But once it’s all done and wrapped up, there’s always this weird sense of pride to it all. Because you know how much work you’ve put into it.”
Was that a single day shoot or were you in there more than one day?
Weekes: “Yeah. We only had about (I think) eight or nine hours to shoot that thing. Ideally, something like two shoot days would be best, but we had to move and move and move. And the budget for that, we just didn’t have it. So we had to use what we had. So, really proud of how it turned out based on everything that we had to work with.”
What was the deal with that house? Was it just sitting empty?
Weekes: “No, it’s this mansion that’s in the heart of Salt Lake City that was built, I think, in like 1902, 1903. The McCune Mansion. Mostly I think it’s used for like weddings and things of that nature these days. I’ve always wanted to shoot something there. So we finally got the chance to. It’s such a cool looking place.”
Check out the artwork for the band’s EP 1981 Extended Play:
Can you talk a little bit about artistry and how you perceive the creation of art?
Weekes: “Man, I don’t really know how to answer that. I think things for me, they mostly come at like 3:00 a.m. when I’m trying to sleep. And whenever something strikes, you gotta get up and put it on your phone, or write it down, or something. I don’t really have any rhyme or reason to any of it.”
I feel like you’re in an arty band. You are not just putting music out and servicing it. You’re doing stuff around it.
Weekes: “I mean I don’t ever want to treat it like a commodity or a product. Because I’ve seen that and I can’t stand it. And I don’t think that you can force it, and I don’t think that you can chase a hit song. I think it either happens, or it doesn’t. It’s like trying to catch lightning in a bottle. Not to be cliche, but like that’s what it is. I don’t think you can force that to happen.”
You literally will wake up and have an idea and be like, “holy shit. I’ve got to write that down! We should do that!”
Weekes: “Well, I appreciate you saying that because art, and its creation, is something that I value a lot. And I don’t want to ever make it exploitative or phony.”
Life is all about the “Social Climb,” isn’t it?
Are there any other bands that you’re inspired by they’re doing things a little off the beaten path?
Weekes: “Absolutely. And some of them are playing here. You’ve got The Flaming Lips; they play later today. They have been a huge inspiration to me. I believe Guided By Voices is playing on Sunday, and I’m really excited to see them but a huge fan for years and years and years I’ve never seen them live. So looking forward to that too.”
So you’re in town for the weekend?
Weekes: “I had to stay. Once I saw the lineup, I’m like, ‘I’m here for three days. Absolutely.’”
You chose to stay!
Weekes: “I absolutely did. Yeah.”
You did an extensive amount of touring earlier this year. How did all those dates go? Did you and Ryan learn anything while you were performing?
Weekes: “Yeah we definitely did. We learned a lot by being in different situations. Some of the tours we were opening for someone else. And so you’re playing for a majority crowd that’s not yours, and you have to win them over. So you learn a lot from that experience and bring it into your regular show. Like what works and what doesn’t for strangers. That’s sort of how ‘Opening Band’ was born actually. Experiences like that.”
Released last fall, check out the music video for “Do It All The Time:“
You always have the best clothes. In everything that I’ve seen, you are wearing something that’s sort of retro, but modern.
Weekes: “Well you know, I just realized this about 20 minutes ago, but today I’m dressed exactly like Kiefer Sutherland’s character from Stand By Me. And that was totally subconscious. And then about 20 minutes ago I looked at myself. I’m like, ‘dang it!’“
You need a pack of smokes. Get a pack of smokes, and roll it up in your sleeve.
Weekes: “A pack of smokes and a switchblade and that’ll be 100 percent accurate.”
Ace! Do you have somebody tailor your clothes, or do you just find that stuff?
Weekes: “Oh no. I just find it. Either in a thrift store or online. But you know never exceeding a certain price threshold. Because I’m a father, I try to be responsible with money. So you know, I try to keep it reasonable.”
Regardless of how boring this answer may be. What’s an average day for Dallon Weekes like?
Weekes: “An average day? Well, getting my kids to school. Try to find some time to write and work on music in between. Mowing the lawn and the everyday dad stuff that you’ve got to do when you’re a homeowner, and you have kids. And that’s the majority of my day. We’re trying to build a space in my basement for me to work. Because right now, I’ve got this makeshift workspace on my kitchen table. That’s where a lot of what we’ve recorded so far has come to life. So I’m hoping to be a little more legit this year. So we’re working on it. We’ve got a lot of work still to do, though.”
How about the lyric video for “Bleed Magic?“
Do you and Ryan ever challenge each other when you’re writing? Like; today we’re going to write a song in one day. Or we’re going to do drums only, and that’s gonna be…
Weekes: “Well, absolutely. In the last three or four days, we’ve been in a studio in Provo, Utah, doing some Christmas songs. And we went in there intentionally underprepared so that we would have some room in the studio to be creative and figure out parts. One of the songs, in particular, is a cover of Slade’s ‘Merry Christmas Everybody.’ We’re doing it in a very sort of the opposite way of them, how it’s very loud and boisterous. We’re doing more of a jazz trio version of it. But it’s got a big band vocal, and it really came together that day in the studio. It’s got a string section, and it’s going to be really great. I’m really excited about it.”
Could you talk a little bit about maybe a gateway concert that you saw when you were younger that inspired you to become a musician?
Weekes: “Well I think I always wanted to be a musician. One of my earliest memories was seeing a guitar in a pawn shop window when I was like three or four. And I didn’t even really know what it was I just knew that I wanted one of those. And I would always ask my parents for one growing up, and you know we can never really afford something like that. So I think when I was 15 I had saved up a bunch of money and went and bought a crappy guitar at a pawn shop. But I think the first concert I went to was Counting Crows in 1995 or 1996. And then I saw concerts like Pearl Jam and things like that.
But one of the first very inspiring concert situations that I ever had was at this venue called Kilby Court in Salt Lake City. It’s this really run down venue. At least at the time, it was rundown, and at the end of this alleyway. And I didn’t know what to expect, but I had this amazing cathartic experience seeing a band that I’d never heard of called The Elected. And to this day I’m a really huge fan of theirs. Seeing them in that setting was really inspiring to me. And it was probably one of those ‘I need to do this forever’ moments.”