Alternative pop duo I DONT KNOW HOW BUT THEY FOUND ME (iDKHOW) haven’t made things easy. Frontman Dallon Weekes and drummer Ryan Seaman chose a long name and started in secret — denying they were a band at first. Despite the self-imposed setbacks, the duo have successfully released a debut extended play (EP) called “1981 Extended Play” and played Riot Fest Friday Sept. 13.
Neither are new to the music scene — Seaman drummed for punk band Falling in Reverse for six years and Weekes played bass for Panic! at the Disco for eight. After their time in the spotlight, the two wanted to take a new approach.
Weekes chatted with The Phoenix after his band’s set at Riot Fest about overturning the rules of starting a band, ’80s influence and debunking the notion that iDKHOW is a revival project.
Mary Grace Ritter: So, how was it, how was performing?
Dallon Weekes: It was a whole lot of fun and I hope that it sounded good. Sometimes it’s hard to tell at a festival, you know, you don’t have a whole lot of time to get out and soundcheck and check stuff out, but either way it was fun. So a win is a win, you know.
MG: Very true, very true. So, from the outside looking in on iDKHOW it seems like it just kind of popped up out of nowhere, but as you’ve said it’s been something that you’ve worked on in the past and now you’re back at it. So can you just walk me through what happened?
DW: Yeah, well we started this band in secret, really. The first year or so of us doing this band we would completely deny that we even existed at all. We would just book a show somewhere, not tell anyone and go play just for the sake of having fun or just for the sake of being creative. We wanted our own creative outlet. And we also wanted to see if the music we were making could, you know, stand on its own two feet so to speak. So yeah, for the first year we would just book shows anonymously and go play for a bunch of people that didn’t who we were, didn’t care and try to see if we could get their attention. And it seemed to work out, so no complaints.
MG: What inspired you to bring the project back?
DW: Well it is a new thing, some people tend to think that it’s an older project just because I’ve always really loved the phrase “I don’t know how but they found me.” And for years and years and years, going back to like 2009, I wanted to use it for something like a song or an album title or lyrics or something, but never really had an appropriate thing to use it for until we started playing shows. And secrecy was our whole M.O. so it really seemed to fit what we were doing. So I finally got to use the phrase for something, but, yeah, the project itself is only about almost two years old now.
MG: And then before that you were working in Panic! [at the Disco].
MG: How have your past projects prepared you for what you’re doing now?
DW: Well I think you learn a little bit from any job you’ve had. Even experiences that are non-musical I’ve taken with me because this new project, in a way, there is a business side to it. So you take past job experience with you — you know things that you like and things that you’ve seen work. You want to take that stuff with you. And then the other things that you didn’t like or didn’t enjoy, you learn from those experiences too or you learn from them by seeing them not work then you know what not to do as well, you know. You take a little bit of experience with you after any job, I think.
MG: Your music is interesting because it’s got nostalgic aspects to it, but you still have this very new mix of sounds.
DW: Well, yeah we’re not really interested in being revivalists but a lot of my musical inspirations are acts like T. Rex and David Bowie and Sparks and, you know, stuff like that from 30, 40 years ago. I like some modern stuff, too, but when it comes to my writing influences, I think those older ones take a little step forward you. So yeah, definitely influenced by that sort of stuff.
MG: How have fans’ responses been to what you’re doing?
DW: Man, it’s been insane. Like I said, the first year we would completely even deny that we existed. So fans, once they started to get an idea that we were doing something, they would come to shows, take pictures, send us videos and [say], “What is this all about?” and we’d just go, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. That’s not us.” So eventually we had to fess up, you know, that this was a real thing. Ever since that moment, it’s sort of felt like we’ve been playing catch-up with our fans. They seem to know what we’re doing sometimes even before we do, which is insane. Not a bad problem to have though.
MG: What do you think makes you guys stand out in the music industry today? Or in the scene?
DW: I think it’s the fact that we’re sort of taking all of the conventions and rules that you’re supposed to follow when you’re in a band, and doing the exact opposite. Starting in secret, not advertising your band, not trying to sell it to anybody and really starting it for no other reason than just to have fun, which is really what music is supposed to be about. I think if it’s not fun, then you need to change something.
MG: What’s been some of the most fun experiences you’ve had so far?
DW: It’s all been great. Playing shows like [Riot Fest] is a really great reminder of why we do this stuff. Seeing faces [of] people who maybe aren’t familiar with us [and] trying to win them over. Seeing our fans come out more and more to these shows is really special.
MG: I’m really interested in this idea you brought up about breaking the rules, or these unwritten rules, of being in a band. Was that intentional when you were starting?
DW: Yeah, it was definitely a conscious decision because we — Ryan and I — had both been employed in lots of bands prior to this one and we saw the way that those brands and … those businesses work. And taking the opposite approach just felt like something we needed to do, you know, no rules or the opposite of whatever the rules are supposed to be. And it’s felt great, so we’re going to continue to do that.
MG: I noticed today you played an unreleased song.
DW: We did.
MG: Do you guys have plans for an upcoming album?
DW: Yeah I think we’re supposed to record it in January. I don’t know if that’s the official word yet and I don’t even know if I’m supposed to say that or not, but we definitely want to get it recorded as soon as possible because the thing is written and ready to go we just gotta get it on tape I guess is what you say, I don’t know what you say anymore, not tape.
iDKHOW is available to stream on all platforms.