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For iDKHOW frontman Dallon Weekes, the message is clear when it comes to the prospect of live shows: “Just to be playing again in general is something exciting”.
The electro-rock duo of Weekes and drummer Ryan Seaman hit the UK this week for shows in Glasgow and London – with main stage appearances at a certain festival called Reading and Leeds thrown into the mix.
Not only are they the first shows iDKHOW, whose full moniker goes by I Don’t Know How But They Found Me, will have played for some time due to Covid-enforced lockdowns, it marks the live debut of their gloriously slick and acclaimed album Razzmatazz, some 10 months after its initial release.
It’s a record that stays true to its glitzy name, showcasing vintage synths for a neon-soaked sound combined with piano-driven set-pieces, foot-stomping pop-rock and shimmering electro.
“It’s a bizarre feeling to put a record out into the world and not know if it’s going to be released in a vacuum when you can’t tour behind it”, Weekes, a former member of Panic! At The Disco told Daily Star.
“The fact there has been a response to it, even in the midst of this pandemic, has been pretty special.”
Since forming in 2018, the pairing have supported The National, The Killers and Billie Eilish, and formed a major fanbase globally, racking up 310,000 Instagram followers.
Now they're ready to treat fans this side of the Atlantic.
"We’re really excited to be playing in the UK", he added. I think one of the first shows we ever played was in Glasgow.
"The fans in the UK are so tuned in to what we’re doing. The response over there has been incredible."
Daily Star’s Rory McKeown caught up with Weekes before travelling across the pond to talk about their upcoming headline shows, playing Reading and Leeds festival, and the reaction to Razzmatazz.
Hi Dallon, how can you sum up the past 12 months for you and the band?
“With the old adage ‘hurry up and wait’. You make plans and they seem to change day by day as things unfolded around the world.
“It seems like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and we’re looking forward to getting out and finally playing these songs to people after releasing this record getting close to a year ago.”
I guess you’re just itching to play it.
“We have been for a while too. It’s a bizarre feeling to put a record out into the world and not know if it’s going to be released in a vacuum when you can’t tour behind it.
“The fact there has been a response to it, even in the midst of this pandemic, has been pretty special.”
You released Razzmatazz last October to a wealth of acclaim. It’s been a huge success with millions of streams and thousands of sales. Looking back, how proud are you of the work and what you’ve achieved with it?
“I’m really proud, especially considering the circumstances because there was this question mark over the whole thing when we
“There was this moment of ‘should we put the record out?’ because there was no tour behind it. We had already waited for so long with these songs. I had to put my foot down and say I can’t wait any longer. Regardless of what happens, let’s put it out and keep our fingers crossed.
"Luckily, keeping our fingers crossed has worked as a business plan so far!”
What was its creation process like?
“A while ago. When we first started it was me in the studio just getting some of these songs in my head with no intention or goal in mind, other than lay it down and see what I can do in my own free time.
"We started playing the stuff in secret for a good year as we were making these recordings. As word got out, our plan of making an entire record fell by the wayside in favour of we needed to get something out there.
"We put out an EP. The EP and this record were always meant to be one thing. We put that EP out and we needed to write a couple more songs to make a complete album. We did have a little bit of time between the EP and the record.
“A lot of the record was written around the same time the EP was. We had been sitting on this material for a long time, which is why I was so eager to get it out when that time came.”
Did you have a vision of how you wanted it to sound?
“There wasn’t an overarching vision for sonics for the record. It came as we got into the process.
"I have a musical neighbourhood that I like to live in. When we get started, I have an ending neighbourhood in mind. I want this record to be able to live in the same cul de sac of Elvis Costello pop or Sparks, things that I love a lot.
“The specifics about the sonics, I try to let that be organic and see where we’re at, where we’re recording and what we have available to us.
“When it came to Razzmatazz, we tried to limit ourselves in a few ways. We went in with a couple of rules but with every intention to break those rules at some point. One of them was to start with no guitars and keep this record as drum and bass orientated for as long as we can. And when we do guitars, they will be more of a supporting instruments.
“The other rule we had was the synthesisers we’d use. We limited them to three. All of them were vintage. It is easy to get lost in synth world and get really cheesy sounds from it too. I think limiting ourselves forced us to get a little bit more creative with what we had available.”
It’s incredibly varied in style sonically and really lends its name to the Razzmatazz album title, from the foot-stomping neon opener of Leave Me Alone, the shimmering electro of Kiss Goodnight and piano-driven Nobody Likes the Opening Band. Do you enjoy delving into the different styles sonically?
“I really do. It’s something I’ve really found interesting that other artists do. All my musical heroes seem to put their foot in the door where they can when it comes to genres. I don’t think that’s as important as having a good song. If something is good, it’s good regardless if it’s death metal or it’s bluegrass.”
Are you working on follow up material? Will it be in a different direction?
“We’ve got a lot of material to work with. Probably about an album and a half’s worth of ideas in varying stages of completion. I want to get recording some of this stuff as soon as possible.
“It’s a similar sort of pathway I’m taking where I don’t have a specific set of sonics. Just trying to write good songs and wherever we go to record these things in their final form I want to see what’s available and take the same process and see where it ends up.
“It is exciting and little bit nerve wracking too because there are expectations now that didn’t exist when we had an EP.
"The expectations we had for Razzmatazz, I kind of feel like I want to go back to the way of thinking we had when we started the EP. We had this collection of songs I want to go and record them and see what happens. I might get the process started that way."
I Don’t Know How is a duo. How does the dynamic compare to working in a bigger group?
“When you’re in a bigger group there’s a lot more to deal with. More people to filter your ideas through, especially when you’re writing for someone else.
“When it’s your own project like with I Don’t Know How, it’s less people, less egos to filter your ideas through. It’s more taking what’s in your head and laying it down, and making it sound as close to that as you can, which is a really great therapy.
"It’s healthy for me to be able to do that, have nothing standing between the initial idea and the finished product.”
Do you have any duos you admire?
“Absolutely. Sparks is the first one that comes to mind. I’ve been a huge fan for a long time. They’re one of those criminally underrated bands who have always existed in the public’s peripheral vision. They’re really brilliant.
“As a songwriting duo, Lennon and McCartney for sure. They’re probably the biggest two.”
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This week you’ll be playing Glasgow before hitting London. How much are you looking forward to playing in the UK again?
“Just to be playing again in general is something exciting. There’s a bit of anxiety around it too just because of the circumstances. We just want to make sure everybody is safe when we’re playing the shows.
“We’re really excited to be playing in the UK. I think one of the first shows we ever played was in Glasgow. The fans in the UK are so tuned in to what we’re doing. The response over there has been incredible. To be able to be embraced by that part of the world I think that was probably the first part of the world that caught on to what we were doing.
“For that to happen is incredibly validating for me. I kind of am an anglophile, especially when it comes to music. With rock 'n' roll, America may have done it first but you guys did it best!
“It’s incredibly flattering and validating in a weird way to have such passionate fans in that part of the world.”
You’re also playing at Reading and Leeds, one of the biggest and most historic festivals in the country. Do you have good memories of playing there?
“I’ve been able to play a handful of times. It’s one of those landmark festivals that if you’re a musician you’ve got to play it, it’s on your bucket list. To be able to go back and play on the main stage is really incredible. We’re looking forward to it.
“That anxiety I mentioned before probably gets turned up a notch or two! But it’ll be great.”
You previously supported the likes of Billie Eilish, The National, and The Killers. All huge shows. What did you learn from those experiences?
“Our experience playing with anyone is that I try to take away something. Whether it’s something I like and want to incorporate with what we do or it’s something I didn’t like, and now I know it’s something to avoid with our band.
"Playing with playing massive acts like that there’s always a weird intimidation factor, an elephant in the room. It’s why I wrote that song Nobody Likes The Opening Band. When we started this project we got put back in that position as being an opener and playing in a room full of people that didn’t necessarily come to see you.
"A song like that is an ice breaker when we’re in that position, recognising that ‘you didn’t come to see us but if you give something new a chance you might just like it’.”
What’s next for you, Dallon? What can you see looking ahead?
“I can see making another record pretty soon. While we’re waiting for the world to come back to normal, whenever we can play a show here and there and hit the road for a bit, and do that safely, I definitely want to do that as well.”
iDKHOW tour dates:
Thursday, August 26 – SWG3, Glasgow, UK (support from Will Joseph Cook)
Saturday, August 28 – Reading Festival, UK
Sunday, August 29 – Leeds Festival, UK
Tuesday, August 31 – The Forum, London UK (support from Will Joseph Cook)
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