Only one month away from their debut album Razzmatazz, former Panic! At The Disco bassist Dallon Weekes talks us through him and former Falling In Reverse drummer Ryan Seaman’s project I Don’t Know How But They Found Me, otherwise known as iDKHOW.
iDKHOW isn’t just a run-of-the-mill side project or supergroup, but instead boasts a storyline curated by the brilliant mind of Dallon Weekes who aimed at creating something that was initially heading towards being an anonymous band, while bringing an elaborate background to the table that dives in and out of the past.
The premise surrounding the band is that they were a previously undiscovered band from the past that never had their “big break,” until an anonymous person began sharing recovered footage of the band in 2017.
On the beginning of iDKHOW, Weekes remarks that they “just wanted to do something that was for ourselves, and nobody else.” Being from two big names in the pop-punk world, he noted that he didn’t want to have an advantage from that, and didn’t want to do anything except “make and record music and play shows for fun.”
“We wanted more to entertain ourselves, more than anybody else,” he continued. “We knew that it would be easy to come out of the gate waving a big banner saying, ‘Hey everybody! Follow us to this new thing that we’re doing.’ Doing something like that just felt really disingenuous, if that make sense?”
Check out ‘Leave Me Alone’ by iDKHOW:
The decision to play anonymously stemmed from wanting to build a band “from the ground up” just like anyone else who was entering the music world would do, which led them to “just deny” that the group even existed in the first few years.
“I think that helped us sort of circumvent that whole problem of trying to force people to care about a side project, ’cause we didn’t think of it that way. We wanted to think of it as its own world, sort of. The best way to that, to step around that, was to just build from the ground up like anybody else would.
“Doing something like that was more of a challenge, and doing it in secret seemed to make the most sense. You definitely can do it that way [with the banner], but you can’t force people to care.”
Often shortened to simply ‘iDKHOW’, I Don’t Know How But They Found Me’s name curiously seems to begin the storyline to the table, yet Weekes notes that it’s “actually unrelated,” and that the he had simply always “wanted to use that phrase for something – like a song title, or name, or whatever,” noting that their whole “modus operandi of operating in secret” seemed to make the name suit nicely.
Check out iDKHOW’s ‘Choke’:
As for the spark that ignited the backstory for iDKHOW, Weekes notes that it came from diving into a YouTube rabbit hole, watching public access television from the late ’70s and early ’80s, specifically taking inspiration from a “star search” program from the New York/New Jersey area called Stairway To Stardom.
“I just became fascinated with it. It was like this weird parade of people. People would go on this public access show, and display their talents: singing, dancing, and comedy. It was so bizarre. I just fell in love with it immediately, and I wanted to be on that show. So, that’s kind of where the idea of being from that time period got it’s genesis from.”
Although a lot of inspiration stems from the 1960s-1980s, Weekes remarked that he doesn’t feel like he lives in the wrong decade, but simply loves diving into nostalgia.
“I definitely feel like we want to exist in a modern landscape, but we’re inspired a lot by things we grew up with – things that you love that, whether intentionally or not, I think those things creep their way in.
“I think our inspiration comes more from the experiences that we had discovering music and artists growing up, not so much from the bands that we love, y’know, because even though things like Sparks and David Bowie, T-Rex, and Oingo Boingo are all influences for us. The aesthetics of how we present this thing come from just what it was like for us growing up in that period discovering new artists, or new for us, I guess.”
Check out Stairway To Stardom:
Now, only a month away from releasing their debut album, Razzmatazz, Weekes revealed that it will dive deeper into the story revolving around iDKHOW, and will take a few twists and turns.
Rather than ditching the already curated storyline, Weekes notes that they’ve “twisted it a little bit, and just decided to pull the curtain back a little more, rather than just throw the whole thing away completely.”
Commenting that “it has been fun” to be able to create music in addition to presenting the album as an art-form with the aesthetics they’ve brought to the table, he stated that they “decided to take a left-hand turn” with Razzmatazz, and that more of the genesis will soon be revealed: “I think that as we start to release videos, and release the record, people will see that narrative change a little bit.”
Taking a turn from releasing a typical album, Weeks said that while “it’s certainly acceptable to make an album full of twelve songs, and go, ‘here’s twelve songs,'” that their current way of going about Razzmatazz has seemed “like a great opportunity to create more art,” that stands as much more than simply a collection of songs.
“Just releasing a series of songs and saying, ‘here you go’, just felt like a wasted opportunity. Thinking of the way that [David] Bowie did [The Rise And Fall Of] Ziggy Stardust [And The Spiders From Mars] and how The Beatles did Sgt. Pepper [‘s Lonely Hearts Club Band], I remember pouring over that artwork when I was 15 and the story of the fictional band that they created. It was so fun! I wanted to do something similar, I guess. Just creating a space for people’s imaginations to kind of wander around.”
Check out ‘Do It All The Time’ by iDKHOW:
Sadly, with everything going on in the world, the album did experience a bit of a delay, but Weekes remarked that “it was already delayed even before [the pandemic] came around,” and that he’s beyond keen to see it out there in the world.
“This thing has been written for what feels like forever. Just to be able to finally start that process of getting this music out has been a huge relief. There’s been pressure from not only fans, but pressure that I’ve put on myself.
“I just want to get this stuff out of my head and onto a record, and into the world so I can stop thinking about it constantly, all the time, day and night, and losing sleep. It’s good to finally have something out, and to have more on the way.”
As for when it’s out there, Weekes hopes that the love for him and Seaman’s work through iDKHOW is taken in with as much love as it already has received, seeing as their already released songs have received millions of listens.
“I’m hoping that it continues,” he stated. “I don’t think that what we’ve done on Razzmatazz is too much of a departure from what people know about us already, because the EP  that we put out was always meant to be part of this record, we just never had the opportunity to fully realise this album until recently.
“So, sonically, it’s not too much of a departure, but in-between those releases, there’s certainly been an evolution in the sound, and I think people will hear that as they listen to the record.”
Check out iDKHOW’s ‘Social Climb’:
Although many fans from both Panic! At The Disco and Falling In Reverse have followed iDKHOW based solely on Weekes and Seaman’s pasts, the correlations from previous bands are “purely coincidental,” marking Razzmatazz as an entirely new frontier.
“There might be some similarities, but they’re definitely not intentional, because we did want to take every step to make sure that this world and that world were as separate as possible – respectfully, of course. We just wanted this to be able to stand on it’s own two feet, whether for better or for worse.”
As for drawing inspiration for the new album, Weekes revealed that much of the inspiration doesn’t derive from the previous bands both him and Seaman were a part of, but he just viewed his part in Panic! At The Disco as simply a job, revealing that he wasn’t actually into the emo scene.
“We’re both really lucky to be able to have jobs in those worlds for as long as we did. Any musician, I think, would be grateful to have a job with a band that’s actively gigging and playing and touring in front of people, and to have people that care about them. But, that’s how I always viewed it, as a job.
“I was never really a fan of emo music or pop-punk stuff. I never listened to that stuff growing up. It was not something that I ever identified with. I don’t want to take away from anyone who likes that kind of music, because it’s just my own opinion. Everyone has their own things that they like, and that’s wonderful.
“But, when it came to the early ’00s music that was happening, I was listening to more of The Strokes and The Killers, and Louis XIV, and Ima Robot, and Franz Ferdinand, and stuff like that. Regardless of what you like, to be able to be employed as a musician in any capacity, it’s a really wonderful thing. I was always really grateful for it.”
Check out ‘Bleed Magic’ by iDKHOW:
Additionally, for the new album, Weekes has found inspiration in quite a few new artists, including New Zealand’s own Kane Strang, Whitmer Thomas, Wallows, and Fur.
“There’s plenty of new artists that I’ve gotten into that have influenced me, and made me want to try harder, which I suppose is what inspirations do. There’s a kid from New Zealand named Kane Strang who I think is a wonderful artist, a guy named Whitmer Thomas who I discovered recently – he’s more of a comedian, but he put out a record that’s really, really wonderful. Or, bands like Wallows I think are really great, and there’s another band from the U.K. called Fur that I came across in the last year or two, that I’m a really big fan of.”
Although the pandemic still is holding us back from seeing a proper album send off with a tour in tow, Weekes noted that he’s keen to get back on the road as soon as possible, and wants to make Australia a staple stop in the tour.
“I love Australia, and I want to be able to come back as soon as possible. As soon as the rest of the world decides to let us back in, we’ll be out of here and come visit,” remarking that for now “we’re trying to stay safe, and keep a family safe here at home, and quarantining, and doing all the stuff you’re supposed to do.”