After a few weeks of trying to nail down the guys from iDKHOW for an interview, it almost felt like I was being challenged by their very name itself:
I Don’t Know How But They Found Me.
And find them I did – and we had an incredible conversation about music, Mormons and what’s it’s like writing and recording during the pandemic.
How’s everybody today?
Dallon Weekes: We’re good. We’re just getting together to do a little bit of business. Ryan’s in town from Nashville for little bit and we’re gonna rehearse and write and do all kinds of stuff that bands normally do.
I just caught you guys on Jimmy Kimmel the other night. That was such a great surprise. I believe that was your late night debut, was it not?
Dallon: Yeah, it was. I’ve had the chance to play a few late night shows before but never with this project. I was a little bit nervous to be up front and center with this thing. But luckily, I had my guy Ryan having a great time next to me the whole time. so it ended up being really fun.
Ryan: It was fantastic. That was the first time I ever got to do anything like that. I felt like all this hard work we did finally paid off.
Was there an actual audience?
Dallon: Well, we kept it COVID safe, for sure. Normally, for something like this you’d fly into his studio and especially with the Jimmy Kimmel show, it’s more like a party than anything else. But I feel bad that Ryan didn’t get to experience that. Instead, we kept COVID compliant and we filmed it beforehand in Salt Lake City. We did three passes of the song and handed in the one that we felt was the best.
Is it different performing like that with no crowd to get that vibe off of?
Dallon: It definitely is for me, I kind of need it. Because without an audience, I feel like I get too locked inside my head and that’s why I was a little bit nervous while we were filming because that’s all I was thinking about.
Ryan: You’re focusing on all the little minor details.
Dallon: I think I was focusing on Holy crap, this is going to be on national television. If there were people around, I could focus on them instead, which is what I usually do when we perform. But yeah, it’s still fun to play regardless if anyone’s there.
Ryan: Yeah, I think it was cooler because this was like one of the first times we were able to have backing singers and an extra guitar/keyboard guy on stage. It took some of the pressure off of us. But other than that, I had a great time.
Dallon: I had a great time too, like you said, it was just a matter of getting out of your head and I think having a live audience really helps me to do that.
Why did you guys choose “Leave Me Alone” for that performance?
Dallon: Well, it’s the single that’s on the radio right now. It’s the only one that we had that’s on the radio and the song went to number one on all charts. It seemed like the obvious choice. But if we have more opportunities to play on TV, I imagine we’ll play that one again. But sooner or later, we’ll be switching it up to two more songs from the record.
And you guys stripped “Leave Me Alone” to a piano ballad. It’s your first re-imagined version of that song.
Dallon: We’ve had other versions that I’ve had to play by myself stripped down with a little guitar because of COVID. Most of the promotion for the song has just been via Zoom interviews and Instagram lines and since Ryan’s usually in Nashville, it’s usually just me with a guitar.
But as far as a re-imagined version, the piano one is the first re-imagining of that song and that was born out of doing all those live Instagram things and playing the stripped down version and having a lot of time on my hands too, because touring isn’t a thing. I sat down and just thought up a different version of it more out of boredom than anything else, I think, but it was really fun.
Is there something special about that song that keeps you returning to it?
Dallon: The message behind it was very personal and very cathartic for me to get out of my head. But the fact that the response that it’s had has been pretty special and people are reacting to it, and then it has had success on alternative radio. That makes me feel like there’s something special about it and I feel like we knew that when we were recording it too. But you never really know when you have a hit song on your hands and I don’t think it’s smart to try and manufacture one or try to chase one down and force it to happen. I think either lightning strikes or it doesn’t. We were lucky enough to have a little bit of lightning strike with that song and fortunate that it’s not just some frivolous message about partying or whatever, it’s a song that means something to me.
Will there be more re-imagined songs of other songs in the future?
Dallon: There’s one in particular that I know people will see the original demo for – “From The Gallows”, which is a left hand turn on the record. The best way that I’ve been able to describe it , is as Lawrence welcomes acid. But the original demos for it was a lot more like this old jazz group from the 1930s called The Ink Spots that I really love and they were sort of the inspiration behind the song. So the original demo for that is a lot more like barbershop quartet and jazz piano ballad sort of vibe. So I think we’re gonna release that one eventually, too.
I understand you’ve been in the studio quite a bit. Have you spent a lot of pandemic time in writing and recording?
Dallon: Yeah, Ryan and I have been passing ideas back and forth, not in the studio, per say, mostly just in our homes.
Ryan: Just been using logic files to communicate.
Dallon: Collecting ideas, sharing them via email and stuff and we’ve got more than enough.
Ryan: Just about trying to dissect and try to figure out what’s going to work with more material later on. But, we just released this record.
Dallon: We’re trying to pick through our favorite ideas and decide what’s going to come next and it’s more than two dozen songs, beginnings of ideas and little pieces and parts. So we’re slowly starting to collect those things and see if we can form an album out of them.
Ryan: It’s cool that we’re not in a rush right now, ever since we did have this record come out. But it’d be nice to tour this year. I just don’t know if it’s gonna happen or not.
Dallon: So we’re trying to spend our time as productively as possible.
The new songs that you guys have been working on, do they have a different vibe because of the pandemic?
Dallon: It’s hard to say because it is so early on in the process. I think evolution in songwriting happens pretty naturally, but it’s not something that we’re necessarily focused on. It’s more like write a song and if you’re stoked on it, then we keep going on it, no matter what it sounds like. For example, now, we have some songs that sound like early Hall & Oats records or Weezer, 90s Pinkerton. There’s a lot of feedback and noise and dirty sounding stuff, so it’s kind of hard to say what the finished product will sound like.
Ryan: Yeah, I just know. We probably don’t want to do the same thing twice, ever.
Dallon: That’s for sure. I heavily doubt that we’re going to make the same record that we just made. Those changes and evolutions find their way in naturally. But it is on our radar to try and not do the same thing twice consciously.
It certainly is an odd time for entertainment right now in the world and you’ve mentioned that you’d like to be out touring hopefully this year. But what has life been like without touring?
Dallon: Oh, man, psychologically kind of tough, because playing shows, at least for me, is a form of therapy.
Ryan: Yeah, same here.
Dallon: It’s a not only the sense of release that you that you get from being onstage and letting go of any sort of emotions that you might have or revisiting them in a healthy way and then saying goodbye to them after you’re offstage. But the sense of community that comes with playing shows is something that’s always really comforting to know that you’re not alone in the things that you’re writing about, the things that you’re singing about.
Ryan: I think this is probably the longest he and I both have been home collectively, so that takes a toll on the old mental health.
Dallon: The good side of it for me is that my family is here with me and this is the most time I’ve been able to be at home with them the last 10 years. So that’s the silver lining in it all for me. We try to find opportunities where we can get together and write and still pretend to be musicians. (laughter)
iDKHOW is a fairly new band to the world. I’ve read that it was a project that you were working on for years before it was ever launched.
Dallon: I had some songs in my head that I wanted to get out and as we recorded them, Ryan and I were hanging out more and just decided to start playing them live for ourselves in secret, you know.
We had this phrase, this ridiculously long band name that I had wanted to use for something for years and years, whether it was a song lyric or something, but we decided to start playing shows in secret just so we could play and have fun.
We decided to use this band name as an Easter egg for people if they happen to come across us, but we didn’t want to exploit the fans or the bands that we were employed with at the time. It was more about finding ourselves again.
Ryan: Dallon and I were both in the throwbacks together, so we’ve always been in each other’s lives.
Dallon: Even when we were both employed by other bands, anytime I had a song idea, Ryan was always the guy that I would call to come lay down drums, and he would drop everything he was doing and come and kill it. So I don’t know, everything that we’ve done has really been organic and we’ve tried really hard to keep it that way and to keep it as honest as we could and that’s where I think playing secret shows came from at least for that first year. Trying to just do it for ourselves and grow it as honestly as we could.
There’s a lot of fun going on with this band. Is that something you guys were aiming for when you started the project?
Dallon: Oh yeah, it’s the reason why we got into music in the first place. I think that’s true for just about anyone who picks up a guitar or pair of drumsticks or whatever it is. The reason that you start doing this is because it’s fun and if it stops being fun, then you need to change something. So that was another big reason why we started this band too. We needed to remember why we started doing it in the first place.
I know Ryan lives in Nashville now, but you guys started out in Salt Lake City. So you’re either members of the LDS church or you’re surrounded by members of the LDS Church.
Dallon: Yes, Ryan lives in Nashville now, but he’s a Utah boy.
Ryan: Yeah, I grew up here. That’s where I got my musical start.
Dallon: We’re going to talk him into moving back. But I am Mormon and I’m probably not the best example of what that means because I’m not the best member of the church. It is a very misunderstood religion and I try to do my best, but I fall short, like we all do, here and there. But it is something that’s still important to me.
How has Salt Lake City affected your band sound?
Dallon: Oh, man. Well, there’s this really great music scene that exists in Salt Lake City and Provo, in particular, that the vast majority of the country doesn’t know about and it’s helped us, I think, to cultivate our music with a certain set of morals – that is probably the wrong word.
Ryan: People care about music here. People love going to live music and they love to make a community out here. Yeah, that’s what’s brought up a lot of musicians.
Dallon: The music scene here isn’t about partying or perpetuating some kind of lifestyle or trying to chase down being rich and famous – not the people that make music here.
Ryan: They genuine love the art.
Dallon: Yeah, they have to. It’s in them and the music scene here is very communal and it’s one where, even though there might be friendly competitions, among bands here, everyone wants everybody else to make it to be successful in the art that they’re making, and everyone lifts each other up and supports each other. It’s a scene unlike anything else that I’ve seen anywhere.
Ryan: I think it’s probably one of the last places that celebrate this kind of culture, I guess you could say.
Dallon: But it is a state and it is a city that a lot of people tend to underestimate when it comes to the arts. But there’s a lot of really great art and music that comes out of our home state and interestingly enough, it’s easy to see if you look at the radio right now – there’s a good handful of bands that have come from here that are having moments on the radio right now. There’s a lot of really great talent that gets cultivated in the art and music scene that exists here.
The new EP, “Leave Me Alone” is out this month. So what’s on the EP?
Dallon: I don’t remember (Laughter) I think it might just be what we talked about before, some unreleased demos and alternate versions of songs that didn’t make the album. But that jazz demo that I talked about, “From The Gallows”, might be on there.
There might be a cover of Beck’s “Deborah” on there, which is a song of his from his album Midnight Vultures that I fell in love with when I was 17/18 years old and it was a song that we covered for a good while the last time that touring was a thing. It’s been a favorite of mine for a while. So we recorded that on there too.
What’s ahead for you guys in 2021?
Dallon: That’s the question. Nobody really knows. I mean, we’re keeping our fingers crossed that there’s vaccines and at least a couple shows. Safe shows of course, we don’t want to play if it comes at the expense of anybody’s health. But hopefully, at least a show or two if we can get a couple of those in. I’d call it a win.
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