Musician Dallon Weekes has had numerous successes in a career that has spanned 17 years. Raised in Clearfield, Weekes founded the power pop band The Brobecks in 2002, after serving an LDS mission. He then became a member of Panic! at the Disco — where he both collaborated and toured for eight years — before rejoining his former Brobecks bandmate Ryan Seaman to create his latest project, I DONT KNOW HOW BUT THEY FOUND ME.
iDKHOW, as they’re known to their fans, are kicking off a 33-stop international tour tonight in Utah. Weekes took some time earlier this week to talk about his musical projects, love of the British Invasion, and must-have tour snacks.
JONAH NAPOLI: To get started, just straight out the gate: I DONT KNOW HOW BUT THEY FOUND ME. Where does that name come from?
DALLON WEEKES: It’s a line from a movie I’ve always loved, “Back To The Future.” I grew up with that movie, and that line in particular always struck me as something special. I always wanted to use it for something, whether it was a song lyric or a title, but when we got this band together and started doing shows, it was all done in secret, like, we wouldn’t tell fans or really anybody what we were doing. For the first year, we would straight up deny our existence, so that phrase seemed to really fit our whole M.O., so I finally got to use it.
JN: Awesome. Specifically, with the formation of the band, previously both you and Ryan [Seaman] were in The Brobecks, another famous Utah band, so when you decided to start this project, why didn’t you decide to revamp or reunite The Brobecks, essentially?
DW: You know, I just felt like putting, I guess, a period on the end of that project and doing something new with no history or baggage behind it. But I think that this project will always be sort of haunted by the ghost of The Brobecks; we’ll play old Brobecks songs every once in a while.
JN: In that same vein, having been in The Brobecks, then joining Panic! at the Disco, and now iDKHOW, how do you feel that you have grown as an artist?
DW: I’ve definitely learned a lot more about how the music industry works as a machine. I’m a little bit less naïve than I was maybe a decade ago. But seeing how that works, I’ve been able to sort of know how to make it work for me, and how to circumvent the things that I don’t like about it. So, it’s helped me be able to create more on my own terms, if that makes sense.
JN: Absolutely. So you’re kicking off this tour, and you’re starting it in Utah.
DW: Oh yeah. Initially we had this tour booked by our team, and every time we do a U.S. tour, we try to make sure that there’s a hometown show somewhere. We got all the dates back and there were no Salt Lake City dates, and since we’re both from here, we were like “Oh, that’s not right,” so we just decided to book a secret show at Kilby Court, initially. That was gonna be the plan for doing a show in Salt Lake, but I guess word got out, and our team was like, “Oh, you guys were serious, you really did want a hometown show. Okay I guess we’d better book it properly.” We kinda forced it into happening, cause we can’t go without playing a hometown show; it didn’t feel right, you know?
JN: How does a hometown show compare? Is there a difference between playing in Utah and playing somewhere else?
DW: Yeah, I think that crowds in Utah are unlike any other around the world that I’ve seen. They’re more enthusiastic about where they are, and not so concerned with the superficial aspects of going to a show to be seen or be cool or any of that stuff; they leave that at the door. They just come in ready to have a good time.
JN: You’ve done tours previously, so kind of a random question: What is your default tour snack food?
DW: Oh, man. A very specific kind of salsa, it’s called La Mexicana, the hot kind, as hot as you can get. It’s on our tour rider, I try to have it everywhere we go, but it doesn’t always happen. That’s probably my only weird, “I gotta have it” thing everywhere we go. That, and tiny cans of Dr. Pepper; the little mini cans. I’ve gotta have those.
JN: I respect that. The title of your EP is “1981.” Is there any significance to that?
DW: Well, I was born in 1981, and sort of grew up seeing the development of the MTV generation. I don’t know if I qualify as being a part of all that, but I saw it happen, and from a really early age I always knew that I wanted to play music, to be a musician, so I paid attention to that stuff as closely as I could. When it came time to do this project, I thought that presenting it — at least for this first EP and for this album that we’re working on — presenting it as a band from that time period, you know, the late ‘70s, early ‘80s, that was sort of forgotten about and never really had a chance to have a moment of cultural significance, I guess. It’s a pretty common story in rock ‘n’ roll. So I thought that telling that story in a sort of fictional way would be just a fun way of coming out of the gate with this new project.
JN: Cool. I’ve actually been to an iDKHOW show, and I have a background in musical theatre. I know years ago, you released a song online of you covering “Skid Row” from “Little Shop of Horrors,” and at that show I went to down in Provo, you covered a song from “Rocky Horror Picture Show.” My question is, where do these inspirations to cover songs from these musicals come from?
DW: It’s just stuff that I grew up with and really felt a connection to. I remember watching “Little Shop of Horrors” on VHS for the first time when I was about seven or eight years old, and just fell in love with it. I had seen and been exposed to musicals and liked and appreciated them when I saw them. They were things like “The Sound of Music” and “West Side Story” — you know, classics, for sure, but nothing that really spoke to me or jumped out and grabbed me until I watched “Little Shop of Horrors.” I didn’t know that musicals could be like this, and it was the same thing with “Rocky Horror Picture Show” when I was a teenager. Those two shows in particular, I felt a really strong connection with, and I still love them to this day. So any time we get a chance to cover something from a musical, it’s always from one of the ones that I hold near and dear to my heart.
JN: What else were you raised on, in terms of music?
DW: Well … nothing really. I mean, my parents, it wasn’t a really big part of their lives, so really the only kind of music I was exposed to was maybe ‘80s and ‘90s Top 40, on Saturdays when we’d all clean the house together. Stuff like The Alan Parsons Project, which I still have an appreciation for today. But the first time that I really found something that was just for me was probably in the fifth grade when we learned about The Beatles. That was the first time when I was like “Oh wait…I like this. This isn’t my parents thing.” Which is kinda weird, because, you know, it is older music. But as I got older and got into playing guitar, it was right around the time when “The Beatles Anthology” was being broadcast on TV every night for, like, a week. I think it was 1995 or ‘96 or something, and I was just glued to the TV set, trying to learn every single thing I could about The Beatles and Brit Rock and the British Invasion and ‘60s music, and it just kinda grew from there.
JN: You’re working on an album. What can people expect from a full album from iDKHOW?
DW: We’re kind of all over the map, stylistically speaking. There’s one new song that might sound like a late-‘70s garage rock song, one that’s a little more disco, and there’s one that sounds like a 1930s barbershop quartet — sort of old time, Ink Spots, jazz group sort of thing. We’re not really paying attention to genre as much as just trying to play music that we like.
JN: Any estimated release time for it?
DW: I wish! Unfortunately, that stuff tends to take longer than you want it to, but it’s a priority for us. We spend all of our free time working on it, assembling ideas for it, and as far as I’m concerned, the sooner the better, but we’ll see.
JN: Anything else you want to add for readers in Utah?
DW: I just want to let everyone know how much I love this place and how much I missed it. I’ve been living in L.A. for the past eight or nine years while I was in Panic! and just really missed being here. It’s a really under-rated and under-appreciated place, and I hope that I can do my part — in whatever way — to turn people’s heads and make them look here towards Happy Valley.