I DONT KNOW HOW BUT THEY FOUND ME (iDKHOW)
“PLEASE NOTE: The band’s name is spelled in a unique way… No apostrophe in ‘Dont’ and no comma after ‘How.’”
I found this notice placed midway into the confirmation email for my telephone interview with Dallon Weekes, the frontman and bassist of the ostentatiously named alternative band I DONT KNOW HOW BUT THEY FOUND ME. Shorthand, their name is stylized as “iDKHOW” (“Small ‘i’ - Cap ‘DKHOW,’” the email further stresses). This moniker has always evoked within me a curious feeling. There’s something dire about it. Megalomaniacal, yet nonchalant. A quick Google search reveals that it is a line taken from Back To The Future. But why the lackadaisical punctuation? I Googled a bit more, and it turned out that trusted names like Genius, Songkick, and Wikipedia incorrectly display the band’s name with an apostrophe in the “Dont.” This explained the wariness of the email, but I was still unaware of the reasoning behind it all.
So, days later, I introduced myself to Weekes and opened the discussion by expressing my weird desire to know that very truth. I was gifted with what every journalist craves from an interview. Piqued interest, and the words “No one’s ever asked me that before.”
He went on to answer succinctly: “I used to be in a band where punctuation was a big deal, so I just wanted to take the opposite approach and get rid of it all.”
This quote is best understood in the context of Weekes’ immediately prior musical foray, a multi-year stint with Panic! at the Disco (note the exclamation mark), in which he came to achieve official membership with his contributions on Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die!, the band’s fourth studio album, only to wane back into the title of touring member during the following Death of a Bachelor album cycle. In late 2017, he announced his departure from the project altogether, his heart set on focusing wholly on iDKHOW, the band he and former Falling in Reverse drummer Ryan Seaman had been writing for and performing as in secret since 2016.
“I am keen to move on [from being defined by Panic! at the Disco], but, you know, in a respectful way, because it was part of my life for almost a decade,” Weekes clarifies. “It’s part of my resume and it’s not like I’m ashamed of that or anything, but looking forward and moving ahead is something that I really want to do and look forward to.”
But it is important to remember that understanding iDKHOW’s past is integral to understanding who they are today, as this is not the first time that Weekes and Seaman have collaborated musically. In the late 2000s, they were part of a band called The Brobecks. Fans of the two musicians praise and support The Brobecks’ discography to this day, which Weekes describes as “amazing and incredibly validating” for a band which hasn’t formally existed since nearly a decade ago.
He continues, “At the time when we were doing The Brobecks it was a struggle to gain people’s attention and get an audience. And we did it okay; we reached a certain level as a local band in Salt Lake City. Touring regionally, we did okay, too. But never enough to sell out a 700-cap room, or something like that. We never got to reach that status.”
At live shows, iDKHOW have chosen to play select songs from The Brobecks days. While Weekes subscribes to the mindset that crowd size does not matter (“It feels the same for me whether I’m playing for 20,000 people or 20 people”), he admits that there is something special about hearing the large rooms of people on their most recent tour recognizing and belting along to old Brobecks songs. “To have a room that size singing [those] songs… means a lot.”
One of the most interesting aspects of iDKHOW’s growth was their choice to start their journey in secrecy, dropping information about the concept around their band through posts that call analogue media to mind. “I think [this] was just a result of seeing the current landscape for music and advertising that you ‘have to’ live in, especially if you’re a new band. I mean, everywhere you look right now, you’re constantly being sold something. You know, ‘follow us here, subscribe to that, make sure to comment...’ blah, blah, blah, blah. There’s this weird, in-yourface, nonstop stream of being told what to do all the time.” So Weekes thought back to his own youth to develop the iD- KHOW aesthetic. “The best way to [go against all] that was to sort of emulate the way that I discovered bands when I was young.” These, he explains, were the days of MTV, music stores, and talk shows, and unless you followed up on an artist you heard, there was a chance you would never hear them again. “You had to put in some work to track down a band that you connected with.”
The secrecy around iDKHOW when they first began to enter the scene “definitely [helped] build a foundation of hardcore fans,” Weekes reminisces. “Starting in secret like that really created this sort of exclusivity. We became this little secret that people had that they shared with their friends, and then I think it really set the tone for our fanbase. Not only in terms of how excited they were to be a part of this whole secret, but it also created this group of detectives, almost, [who] find out every little thing that we’re doing. Nowadays, they find things out even before we know, which is insane.” His tone was more impressed than anything.
This anecdote made me think back to a few years before my work in the music industry began, back to when the most I could say about my relationship with musicians was that I was a fan of many. There was once a time when I could intimately relate to the simultaneous solidarity and shame these iDK- HOW fans certainly feel in relation to their own zeal for the band. Solidarity, because they have found collective solace in otherwise niche art, then shame, because, to the general population, this widely uncharted source of fulfillment through connections facilitated by the internet can appear nuanced and strange.
But Weekes makes it clear the immense emphasis that he places on the principle of fandom, augmented by his status as an unapologetic fan of much himself (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Iggy Pop, and his wife and children are a few entities that he lists explicitly within the interview). And to those who foster shame among fans? “I just have such a distaste for all of that,” he admits. “...There [are] way too many people and places I’ve seen, especially around L.A. and Hollywood, that [create] a very ‘us’ and ‘them’ atmosphere when it comes to fans. They sort of forget what it’s like. They get more concerned about being seen a certain way—status and popularity and celebrity and all that stuff.... I think it’s important to not forget that everyone starts out as a fan of something.”
Dallon Weekes has evolved quite dramatically, from a self-proclaimed fanboy to a man who can omit an apostrophe from his band name if that is what he so desires. He is creating his own grammar, and with it, forging a more independent path in an extremely commercialized era of music. So perhaps his words speak the most important truth to remember as we stand peering at the precipice of fame, of fear, of change. As we begin, so forever we continue—at least as fans of something.