Interview // I DON’T KNOW HOW BUT THEY FOUND ME
“Don’t waste time on people that don’t care about you. Unfortunately, I had to learn that the hard way”, Dallon Weekes opens up about his past and reveals what the future holds for iDKHOW.
“Are they gone?”, a wary security guard asks me, sticking his head through the gate door to London’s Electric Ballroom. The place seems rather quiet, even for Camden on a Thursday afternoon, yet I follow his gaze. Not quite sure what or who I should be looking for, I stare back at him in bewilderment. Explaining to me that he’s been keeping an eye on a group of iDKHOW enthusiasts who sneaked into the backstage area this morning, he only adds: “They will be back”, and quickly lets me in.
However, as I sit down with vocalist and bassist Dallon Weekes, the concept of fame seems distant to him. “I don’t think I’ve found it [fame] yet. I mean, maybe if you asked my mom, I’ve found it, but it still feels like we’re on the uphill climb. I’m less concerned with fame than I am about making a good body of work. That’s what I want to do. I want to be able to make good art and just be able to take care of family doing that. That’s my dream”, he ponders.
Despite his modest demeanour, there is no denying that I Don’t Know How But They Found Me have taken the music world by storm. In the span of just over two years, they have experienced a meteoric rise, going from playing secret shows to landing slots at Main Stage of Reading and Leeds Festivals. Quite an outstanding achievement for a band out of time, if you ask me.
I’m less concerned with fame than I am about making a good body of work
Inspired by a quote from the classic movie ‘Back To The Future’, the name of the band is as unique as their musical style. Embodying the rock ‘n’ roll glam of late 70s and the spirit of 80s new wave, their fascination with bygone eras has permeated every aspect of iDKHOW’s aesthetics, from their sonic arrangements and music videos, to their fashion taste. Blurring the lines between the past and present, and incorporating futuristic elements into their music, they’ve effortlessly created their own dimension of time. After all, the band’s bio reads: “Uncovered tapes and recordings from an act long forgotten.”
As mysterious as it may sound, Dallon goes into details by saying: “That was a really interesting time, I think. It was the time when technology was changing and more people were having access to making music careers on their own terms, and so a lot of the rules and things that you’d had to abide by before didn’t exist anymore. That’s why music became vastly more interesting during that time period. It was sort of the genesis of it all, I think.”
Considering the possibility of creating music at that time, he emphasises: “I don’t know… Maybe I could because when I started to write and record music in high school that technology still wasn’t there. I remember I had to steal a tape recorder from my school library, and we put it at the end of the room and set our instruments up in a way that we could try to record on a cassette tape. You had innovative ways of making music happen on no budget and no recording studios, no technology, anything. Very, very DIY so yeah, I think I could imagine making music at that time.”
Although the idea of iDKHOW was planted in Dallon’s mind circa 2009, it took years before the project came into fruition. He and drummer Ryan Seaman had known each other for a long time, but it wasn’t until their debut single Modern Day Cain was released in the summer of 2017 that the secrecy that initially surrounded the band was broken. In the same year Ryan departed from Falling In Reverse and Dallon from Panic! At The Disco, giving iDKHOW a fresh start. Now when asked about his and the band’s future goals, Dallon confesses: “To be able to get this band to where we can have a tour bus so I can bring my family. That would be my ultimate dream.”
Having experienced both the good and bad side of working in the music industry, the theme of the pursuit of fame and money runs deep in iDKHOW’s catalogue. Currently working on their debut album, Dallon expresses: “The main themes are similar to what’s been on the EP. The EP is sort of an introduction to what the album is going to be, but it’s a lot about the more toxic aspects of Los Angeles and entertainment business culture, and that sort of attitude a lot of people seem to carry of you know, step-on-your-neck to get money and fame, and all that crap.”
Revealing more about the album, he adds in: “There’s one song that we’ve been playing that we haven’t released yet called Lights Go Down. You’re not really supposed to do that, but we’ve been waiting for so long to actually record the thing that we’re getting really you know, anxious to play new stuff. That’s one that we’re giving away right now for people that come check out the live show.”
Don’t waste time on people that don’t care about you
There is something to be said for staying true to yourself and your vision. In the digital age when quantity overshadows quality and virtual reality clouds the real world, originality very often gets buried under the mainstream noise. But with authenticity, integrity, and pure passion for music lying at its core, iDKHOW’s ethos seems to be standing strong.
Allowing himself for a deeper reflection, Dallon opens up and shares: “Don’t waste time on people that don’t care about you. Unfortunately, I had to learn that the hard way of the course of a lot of years but if I could go back in time and give myself that advice I would.” Following in a similar vein and discussing advice for new bands, he considers: “I would say ‘Treat it like a job until it is your job’. Don’t treat it like a 9 to 5 job, it’s a 24h job every single day. Every free moment you have, work on it. And if you enjoy it, I guess it won’t seem like work.”
With the process of digitalisation affecting every sphere of our lives, the music scene itself has gone through many changes over the years. Reflecting on that matter, Dallon further explains: “The biggest difference is that people don’t really buy music anymore, that’s sort of a big challenge if music is your business. It’s finding ways of getting people’s attention when anyone with a laptop can make a record now or make music. There’s so much stuff out there so finding the good stuff is the challenge now. It’s seems like the landscape now is more based on a good song than it is a good record, it’s sort of how it used to operate back in the 50s and 60s. Singles seem to be the thing now.”
Delving more into the subject, there is no doubt that the internet can bring an unpleasant experience sometimes. “I really don’t like how internet culture in general can be so ready to be offended by something. Now, I don’t necessarily think that being offended by something is bad because that can generate change and that’s a good aspect about it. But sometimes people can go overboard with it and make it into a toxic environment that way. That’s the negative side of it”, Dallon speaks his mind before shedding light on the brighter sides of modern technology. “My favourtie app is called Radiooooo and it’s more just about finding music, very obscure and forgotten music from different parts of the world. Social app… probably Instagram. I really enjoy it because I find a lot of really great part in artist that way too. I sort of discovered this whole culture of musicians and artists that make cassette tape loops and make this really interesting ambient sounding music by looping tapes and cutting and pacing things by hand. I’m a very big fan of that and I discovered that through Instagram.”
The bad things in your life just kind of vanish for a little bit and you get to live in the moment and that’s what I love the most about music
With the time creeping up on us, we round up the conversation by moving towards more light-hearted topics, and we talk about that night’s show and the duo’s Reading and Leeds performances. Although iDKHOW doesn’t necessarily have any pre-show rituals, as Dallon points out: “I like to get a good stretch in, I gotta warm up the old voice, get around the high fives in with Ryan and with the crew. That’s just about it”, I must admit that the combination of hummus, carrots, and beer in his fridge particularly strikes me as an interesting choice. But pausing for some reflection, he concludes by stating: “Music is very escapist for me. It’s a way to make everything kind of go away for a moment whether it’s just a song or a concert that’s why I love going to concerts, that’s why I love playing them too because all of the bad things in the world that you think about, the bad things in your life they all just kind of vanish for a little bit and you get to live in the moment and that’s what I love the most about music.”