Aside from being their band name, I DONT KNOW HOW BUT THEY FOUND ME (iDKHOW) might also have been what bandmates Dallon Weekes and Ryan Seaman whispered to each other when their band hit the Top 20 of the Alternative Radio charts earlier this year. They also recently signed with Fearless Records and accumulated over 28 million streams of their songs and counting.
Initially, however, iDKHOW didn’t want to be found.
The duo, Weekes (bass/vocals) and Seaman (drums), would book shows and not tell fans what they were doing or what bands they had previously played in, hoping they could turn heads on the merit of their music alone.
Both Weekes and Seaman did indeed hail from other very popular bands. You may have heard of a little group named Panic! at the Disco, of which Weekes was the long-time bassist and songwriter, and Falling in Reverse, of which Seaman was the longest tenured drummer.
“Both of us came from other bands that had some success on their own, and we weren’t really interested in exploiting that fact or the fans of those bands,” Weekes said. “We wanted to build credibility on our own and see if the music we were making could speak for itself.”
Weekes recalls that after a couple months of playing these secret shows, word started getting out, so instead of just fessing up to it, Weekes and Seaman adopted the policy of “deny everything.”
“Fans would ask us about iDKHOW or show us pictures of a performance that we did, and we would say, ‘Oh that’s not us, that could be anybody. I don’t know what you’re talking about,’” Weekes said. “It was fun, but we knew we couldn’t do it forever. We managed to keep it secret for about a year.”
Once discovered by mainstream audiences, naturally they would have to explain their unique name. It turns out that “I don’t know how, but they found me,” is a line uttered by Doc Brown in Back to the Future right before he tells Marty to “run for it,” in the beginning of the film.
“I loved that movie growing up,” Weekes said. “I’ve just always loved that phrase, and it really seemed to fit our whole M.O. of secrecy. We adopted that, and it just kind of stuck.”
With their unique name obviously comes a unique sound. It has a decidedly ’80s feel to it (their EP is called 1981 Extended Play) but it’s also a mix of ’60s garage, ’70s glam, ’80s new-wave, and something reminiscent of the early days of Britpop. But Weekes isn’t interested in being a revivalist, though he admits to being inspired by the art and music that came out of the ’80s.
“That’s when I grew up,” Weekes said. “I was born in 1981, so I don’t know if I qualify as being part of it, but I got to see the whole MTV generation happen around me. I was inspired by what it was like to discover a band in that era.”
As mentioned earlier, prior to founding iDKHOW, Weekes spent eight years touring the world with Panic! at the Disco playing bass, singing backup, and co-writing such hits as “This is Gospel” and “Girls/Girls/Boys.” He is credited on nearly all of the songs that comprise the platinum-certified album Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die!. But Weekes could see that his time with Panic! was coming to an end a long way off.
“They had been working on making Panic! a solo project for [frontman] Brendon Urie for a long time, and it was just that sort of thing that was inevitable,” Weekes said. “I think both Ryan and I were in positions at the time that the bands we were working for didn’t need any creative input anymore. They had moved on to hiring out the professionals and hitmakers. So iDKHOW started as a way for me to continue writing and performing music. Both of us needed a creative outlet.”
From the time Weekes was 3 years old growing up in Salt Lake City, Utah, he had that creative spark in him. Though it wasn’t until he was 15 that he picked up his first guitar, spending all his savings on a cheap acoustic guitar from a pawn shop, “much to the dismay of [his] parents.”
Assumingly, Weekes’ parents aren’t dismayed any longer, as their son is now touring the world yet again. Despite playing hundreds (perhaps thousands) of venues over the years, Weekes’ favorite place to perform is still in his hometown of Salt Lake City.
“There’s just something about the crowds there,” Weekes said, “they’re so unconcerned with the superficial aspects of going to a concert like taking Instagram photos or being seen. They’re there to have a good time and forget themselves for a little bit. It’s really unlike playing anywhere else in the world.”
As of now, iDKHOW only has a six-song EP called 1981 Extended Play, while a full-length album is still in the process of being written. But Weekes promises fans that they have been hard at work writing a collection of new material, and once they officially get the green light, it won’t take long to finish it up and record it.
Until the new record drops, if you go to one of their electric live shows, you’ll hear not only the songs from their EP, but also some covers and a few songs from Weekes’ other former band, the Brobecks, which Weekes says has a cult following of its own.
For now, though, fans are just happy to have found iDKHOW.
For more, visit idkhow.com.
Nine Random Questions with Dallon Weekes
What would you say are some of your influences?
Musically speaking? Probably like Sparks, David Bowie, T-Rex, and Oingo Boingo. Even bands like the Ink Spots from the 1930s and ’40s. It’s really all over the place, and this band is an amalgamation of all my favorite stuff.
If being a musician hadn’t worked out for you, what other job would you have wanted to do? Or is there a job you would still like to try at some point?
My Plan B was to be a comic book artist. I’d always had a penchant for drawing and art. It’s something I still do, but I don’t have as much time for it these days. I did a little something a while ago for a comic book series called Umbrella Academy. I was told my art was going to get used as a poster or a variant cover or something like that. I don’t know if that ever ended up even happening, but it doesn’t really matter because I just love to do it so much. Making art for art’s sake is its own reward … or something like that.
How do you keep your energy up night after night? Do you have any pre-show rituals?
Well, I got to stretch out. The older I get, the longer I have to do that. I don’t want to pull a hammy. That, vocal warm-ups, and Ryan and I always make sure to get in a high-five.
How do you like to relax after a show? Do you have a favorite beverage to help you unwind?
Well, my favorite beverage is Dr. Pepper, but usually that’s a morning and afternoon thing, otherwise I’ll be up all night. My favorite way to relax is probably just get in my bunk and just watch The Office and fall asleep.
Nice! So, you’re a big Office fan?
Oh, yeah! Our DVR on our tour bus isn’t working, so I bought the whole series on DVD at a Walmart in the middle of nowhere and just have that on all the time.
How many times have you watched it all the way through?
Oh, man. At least three or four.
What is the song writing process like for you? Do you write in spurts or try to do it all in one fell swoop?
I don’t really have a process. It sort of comes when it comes, and I try not to force ideas. The downside of that is that it could be 3 a.m. when an idea hits, and you have to get up and get it recorded, otherwise I’ll be thinking about it all night long and get no sleep at all. Sometimes it’s music first; sometimes it’s a lyric or a song title. There’s no real process to it.
You’ve obviously played with many bands over the years. Were there any that were a dream for you to play with?
This band. It’s a lot more work than any band I’ve worked with but it’s a lot more rewarding, and everyone on our team treats each other with respect and acts like grown adults. I couldn’t ask for anything more, honestly.
So, we always ask this question, but do you have any guilty pleasures? Like a Netflix show you love bingeing over and over or a food—anything.
The best answer I have for that is that all my pleasures are innocent until proven guilty.