I DON’T KNOW HOW BUT THEY FOUND ME

Australian Guitar - - Contents - WORDS BY MATT DO­RIA.

With his new­est project, ex-Panic! At The Disco and Brobecks odd­ball Dal­lon Weekes turns his mind to the DIY dy­namism and colour­ful quirk­i­ness of the ‘80s.

FEW OF ROCK’S MINDS ARE AS SHARP, DRA­MATIC OR WHIM­SI­CAL AS THAT OF DAL­LON WEEKES. WITH HIS NEW­EST PROJECT, I DON’T KNOW HOW BUT THEY FOUND ME (OR IDKHOW), THE EX- PANIC! AT THE DISCO AND BROBECKS ODD­BALL TURNS HIS MIND TO THE DIY DY­NAMISM AND COLOUR­FUL QUIRK­I­NESS OF THE ‘80S.

Shock­ingly lit­tle is known about the mythol­ogy sur­round­ing I Don’t Know How But They Found Me (col­lo­qui­ally iDKHow, be­cause ain’tno­body­got­time­forthat), but we do know this much: they’re an aes­thetic-heavy and es­o­teric two-piece dol­ing slick, enig­matic new-wave in­die-pop with a scorch­ing post-rock edge. Their name is a quote from the ’85 clas­sic Back

ToTheFu­ture, which is fit­ting given the duo’s au­da­cious af­fec­tion for the era. In fact, part of the (semi-)of­fi­cial nar­ra­tive de­clares that iDKHow are ei­ther the modern-day prophets for a “lost band” that cir­cled the un­der­ground bar-band scene in the late ‘80s, or that very band them­selves.

Spear­head­ing this pe­cu­liar new project is vo­cal­ist and multi-in­stru­men­tal­ist Dal­lon Weekes (ex-Panic! At The Disco) and drum­mer Ryan Sea­man (ex-Fall­ing In Re­v­erse), tak­ing the in­can­des­cent sum­mer­i­ness of Weekes’ for­mer out­let, The Brobecks, and pump­ing it with equal mea­sures of char­ac­ter and catas­tro­phe.

And so far, it’s been a re­sound­ing suc­cess. Their first few shows are al­ready ce­mented in modern alt his­tory; they were per­formed in se­cret, be­fore the band had even ac­knowl­edged, let alone an­nounced their ex­is­tence, and yet they’d all reached ca­pac­ity be­fore the band set foot on­stage. Just a few er­rant sin­gles in, their de­but EP – the abysmally short, yet in­tensely dy­namic 1981Ex­tend­edPlay – launched to rap­tur­ous crit­i­cal ac­claim. Their mys­tery, their ec­cen­tric­ity and the fact that their mu­sic is just re­ally, re­ally good all fuse to se­cure iDKHow a long and fruit­ful fu­ture.

With a de­but LP on the hori­zon and a world tour all but in­evitable, we cor­nered Weekes to find out just what makes iDKHow so… Them.

What can you tell us about the lore be­hind I Don’t Know How But They Found Us?

With­out giv­ing too much away, there is a nar­ra­tive that I’m try­ing to build – and that’s mostly be­cause I wanted to recre­ate the feel­ing of dis­cov­ery that I had when I was young. That doesn’t re­ally ex­ist any­more, be­cause ev­ery­where you turn, peo­ple are try­ing to sell you some­thing: “Sub­scribe to this! Fol­low us here! Don’t for­get to click the ‘like’ but­ton!”

When I was a kid, you had to put in some foot­work to find some­thing new. And once you found that, it was more spe­cial to you. It was yours, y’know? I think when you dis­cover some­thing on your own, rather than when you’re sold some­thing, it just means some­thing more. So I wanted to recre­ate that if I could.

There’s a very per­ti­nent el­e­ment of DIY to it as well, isn’t there?

For sure. The rea­son it sounds the way that it does is be­cause a lot of it was recorded at my kitchen ta­ble. I’ve been learn­ing how to record on my own over the past two years or so, but it’s been a process. I don’t know ev­ery­thing about record­ing quite yet, but yeah, a good 70 per­cent of the EP was recorded at home.

And y’know, even­tu­ally I’d take those record­ings to friends’ stu­dios when they had a free hour here or a free 45 min­utes there, and sort of piece it all to­gether with peo­ple who know more about this stuff than I do. I think we’ll evolve in that realm as we get more op­por­tu­ni­ties to make mu­sic in more tra­di­tional ways. I’m look­ing for­ward to that, be­cause I’ve only re­ally got­ten a chance to do it once be­fore.

What are you ex­cited to do with a full al­bum’s worth of ma­te­rial to work with?

I’m just ex­cited to get all of this stuff out of my head! That’s al­ways my favourite thing when it comes to cre­at­ing mu­sic, and cre­at­ing the art that sur­rounds it – I’ve al­ways got a vi­sion, and I can’t re­ally stop think­ing about it un­til I’ve got it in some sort of phys­i­cal form. That al­ways al­lows me to sort of let the stuff go and empty my head out a lit­tle bit more.

I al­ways look for­ward to cre­at­ing stuff for that rea­son more than any­thing else – just so I can be more present when I’m with friends or fam­ily, hav­ing con­ver­sa­tions at Thanks­giv­ing din­ner or some­thing, where I can be ac­tu­ally in that mo­ment in­stead of think­ing about this tune that’s been stuck in my head for the past six months.

Is it all ana­log synths that you’re play­ing on

1981Ex­tend­edPlay, or do you just have some in­sanely authen­tic sam­ples on deck?

It’s a lit­tle bit of both. I went in with a cou­ple of rules for my­self – rules that I knew I would break even­tu­ally – like no gui­tar, for one, or that any syn­the­sis­ers we use would be strictly ana­logue and vin­tage. The foun­da­tion of ev­ery­thing in iDKHow is built on those cer­tain things de­signed to re­strict us, be­cause with tech­nol­ogy the way it is right now, it’s so easy to make these elab­o­rate, per­fect sound­ing record­ings.

30 years ago, you were lim­ited by the things you had in your stu­dio – you were lim­ited by the tech­nol­ogy that was avail­able to you in your neigh­bour­hood or in your city – so lim­it­ing our­selves with our equip­ment was a good start. And y’know, we did end up break­ing those rules for the sake of money or con­ve­nience or what­ever; I can’t say I’m that die-hard about the art I’m mak­ing, be­cause I am still a fam­ily man – I can’t go spend­ing $1,000 on a vin­tage synth just to get this one quirky lit­tle sound.

Was that re­stric­tion for the au­then­tic­ity or the chal­lenge, or do you think it served the mu­sic bet­ter than if you were just us­ing sam­ples?

Well I think when you do things DIY – when you don’t have a bud­get, and when you don’t have a PR ma­chine and a la­bel and all of that stuff be­hind you – it forces you to be more cre­ative with what you do have. And that was al­ways my ex­pe­ri­ence grow­ing up – the equip­ment that we had was very lim­ited and very cheap pawn shop stuff – eight-track tape recorders and things like that – so we had to get cre­ative to make the kind of stuff that we wanted to make. I wanted to get back to that a lit­tle bit.

It’s very easy nowa­days to make these per­fect-sound­ing record­ings where it’s so easy to go over the top with things like au­to­tune; y’know, you can take every lit­tle mis­take and flaw out of your song, and that takes some of the soul away from it too. Some of my favourite mu­sic has lit­tle clicks, or pops, or mis­takes, or wrong notes that ended up putting some­thing in the song that makes it spe­cial. Mis­takes can make some­thing feel more real, I think.

What are you jam­ming on in the way of stringed in­stru­ments?

Mostly Fender P-Basses. That’s al­ways my go-to, bass-wise. I’ve got an Aguilar bass rig that I use as well, and a bunch of fuzz and de­lay ped­als, and other toys that most bass purists would prob­a­bly give me a hard time for. I don’t care though. I have too much fun to care about that sort of stuff!

So you’ve got a pretty size­able toy box.

I do try to keep it pretty lim­ited, just for the sake of space and stor­age. We don’t have the big­gest tour­ing bud­get yet, but as things grow and we’re able to add more toys to the equa­tion, I’m look­ing for­ward to that.

Do you see the stage show ex­pand­ing as the bud­get does?

That’s al­ways been part of the goal for me; I’d like to start with some­one on the gui­tar and keys, and maybe add a horn sec­tion. I’d like to be able to get to that point if things go well, and I re­ally hope they do, be­cause it would be a lot of fun to play with a full live band. Be­cause with Ryan and I – just the two of us, play­ing with bass and drums and back­ing tracks – it is fun and it’s easy to do, but it lim­its us in a few ways cre­atively, be­cause we’re not play­ing with other live mu­si­cians for the en­tirety of a song.

That’s why at some point in our set, we’ll turn the tracks off and we’ll just do bass and drums and im­prov a lit­tle bit. We do a few cov­ers – usu­ally a bit of Cheap Trick and “Love Cats” by The Cure or some­thing – and we end up do­ing this ten, 15-minute lit­tle sec­tion that usu­ally be­comes my favourite part of the set.

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