To celebrate the release of I Don’t Know How But They Found Me‘s EP ‘1981 Extended Play’ we had a frank conversation with frontman Dallon Weekes about songwriting, finding confidence in your own voice and the eclectic influences that fostered the bands’ debut EP.
‘1981 Extended Play’ is everything you could possibly want from an album. The entire record is a celebration of unadulterated joy. It is a masterfully crafted body of work that recalls the golden age of music without revelling in nostalgia. It is fun, tongue-in-cheek and so unbelievably catchy. Check out what Dallon had to say about it.
Watch: I DON’T KNOW HOW BUT THEY FOUND ME – Do It All The Time
Don’t Bore Us: How did your life as a songwriter begin?
Dallon Weekes: My life as a songwriter began when I was around fourteen or fifteen. I saw a guitar in a pawn shop and much to my parents’ dismay I spent all my birthday money and bought it. It was a waste of money and a waste of life as far as they were concerned. I had just discovered the Beatles around that same time and I fell in love with the music and the songwriting. I wanted to be in The Beatles. I grew the hair out, everything that was the 60s and British I just fell in love with. That was my introduction to songwriting.
Don’t Bore Us: That’s beautiful. Could you talk me through the writing process of this new EP? Where you find your inspiration and if there were any pivotal events that shaped the creative process?
Dallon: A lot of the inspiration for this EP was sparked by living in L.A. for nine years. I love Los Angeles but it’s not really my kind of town. There are a lot of toxic aspects to the entertainment and business culture that exist in L.A. and Hollywood. It was all very alien to me, I didn’t really feel like I belonged there. That alienation and the feeling of being alone whilst you’re in a crowd of people was a big inspiration for a lot of my writing for I Don’t Know How.
Musically speaking the album was influenced by bands like Sparks, Elvis Costello, The Cure, Joe Jackson, David Bowie, Mark Bowen and stuff like that. Oingo Boingo.
Don’t Bore Us: I’ve never heard of Oingo Boingo, but I’ll make sure to check them out.
Dallon: You’ve never heard of Oingo Boingo? Do yourself a favour. As soon as you hang up from this conversation you’re going to do yourself a favour and look up Oingo Boingo. You’re gonna love it. If you don’t love it I owe you a sandwich.
Watch: Oingo Boingo – Dead Man’s Party
Don’t Bore Us: I’m going to love it. So, I Don’t Know How But They Found Me have cultivated a very distinct aesthetic within your videos, album packaging and even personal style. Where does this visual inspiration come from?
Dallon: Growing up in the 80’s really. I’m not trying to be like a revivalist with any of this stuff that I’m doing. I’m just excited to create what it was like to discover new things back then — before the internet. I think when you discovered things back then they meant something more to you. You had to put in the effort to find them, or you stumbled across them. There was this new thing that you found and you had to tell all your friends about. There was a lot more mystery back then. If you wanted to find out about this new thing you’ve discovered you had to go find a copy of Rolling Stone or some kind of publication in print or history book or something. I’m trying to recreate that feeling.
Don’t Bore Us: Do you have a sense of what songs are going to resonate with people once you’ve written them?
Dallon Weekes: I Never have any idea what people are going to like. I was told once by a very, very, successful producer that my philosophies of songwriting are completely wrong. He might be 100% right because he’s a very successful guy, but I can’t bring myself to do it any other way.
I always strive to write the kind of music I would want to listen to. He told me that was a terrible, terrible idea. Even if he is right, I can’t bring myself to do it any other way – I can’t understand why I wouldn’t want to do it that way? I think the best way to do it is the way that you want to. If people like it, great! If they don’t, at least they got to try it out the way they wanted to.
Don’t Bore Us: Do you remember how you felt when you started writing and fronting I Don’t Know How?
Dallon: I was really self-conscious and overprotective. For the past nine years, all of my creative efforts went to Panic! At The Disco. Sometimes my songs would get used and sometimes they wouldn’t. Eventually, the dynamics changed, a rebrand happened and there just wasn’t any room for me in the creative realm of that band.
I became introverted and overprotective with my own ideas, I didn’t share them with anymore because I thought they were no good. So I started making this music for myself and nobody else. The more that I brought people in to help with these recordings, that self-confidence came back.
I think that anyone that is a performer has to have a little bit of ego. Just to think that what you’re doing is good enough that other people are going to want to see it too. I think that is where your ego has to begin and it has to live on stage and nowhere else.
Watch: I DON’T KNOW HOW BUT THEY FOUND ME – Nobody Likes The Opening Band
Geordie: How has your experience in the music industry affected the way you approached this new project?
Dallon: I hate to sound cynical because I’m incredibly lucky – everything that has happened to me throughout the course of my career has been a result of incredible luck.
In this business, the biggest factor is luck and the second factor is hard work and after that comes talent. If you have those first two things, the third one is just a bonus too. They are all relative if you work really hard you increase your chances of luck striking. Everyone needs a bit of luck and something great can happen for them.
I’m certainly been very lucky, lucky to be here talking to you, I don’t want to sound too cynical about that, that makes me feel lucky.
Don’t Bore Us: I think it’s healthy to be a little bit cynical, we should constantly be questioning things.
Dallon: It keeps you safer I think.
Don’t Bore Us: Exactly. So Ryan Seaman and yourself previously worked together on The Brobecks. How did this decision to start a new project come about, after all those years?
Dallon: I’ve known Ryan for over a decade. I’d call him, he’d come in at the drop of a hat and end up hanging out all day talking about music and our employment situations. We were talking about how fun it would be to do something on our own and in secret on the side. It was just for us, for fun, nothing else but to reignite that spark of why we started playing music in the first place — because music is supposed to be fun. It was an organic progression, it fell together very naturally.
Don’t Bore Us: What do you hope people take away from I Don’t Know How But They Found Me?
Dallon: I hope that people take away that there doesn’t need to be rules in creating music or art. There doesn’t have to be a formula, you can do whatever you want.
Watch: I DON’T KNOW HOW BUT THEY FOUND ME – Modern Day Cain
Don’t Bore Us: Over the years you have obviously personally accumulated a dedicated fan base, how has that reaction to this new project been for you?
Dallon: Certainly overwhelming, it took us off guard as we started to roll this thing out. We planned to slowly introduce what we were doing with this band, but people caught started paying attention quicker than we anticipated. We found ourselves playing catch up with fans and we still are. It’s a really great problem to have, but we are working overtime trying to create content for everyone to consume
Don’t Bore Us: What is your proudest achievement?
Dallon: My family, if we are talking personally. If we’re talking professionally, this new band is definitely my proudest achievement. It’s been an experiment in doing all of the wrong things, all of the things you’re not supposed to do, to oppose the standards. It’s been incredibly validating to see it work.
Don’t Bore Us: Finally, what can we expect from the future of I Don’t Know How But They Found Me?
Dallon: More music, hopefully very soon but definitely more shows. We’re doing a tour with Waterparks here in November. When the new year comes I’m sure we will be doing even more. In the meantime, we will be writing new stuff and hopefully be releasing a full-length album as soon as possible. We’re going to be doing this tour with waterparks here in November and when the new year comes, I’m sure we will be doing even more, in the meantime we will be writing new stuff, and hopefully get a full-length album out as soon as possible.
Listen to ‘1981 Extended Play’ now: