SKILLET w/, Red Gazelle & RedHook Big Top, Luna Park, Sydney Thursday 15th November, 2018 …
I Don’t Know How But They Found Me (iDKHow)–the name almost says it all. You don’t know how but the new EP, 1981 Extended Play, manages to be both full of whimsy and wonder, and some awesomely rocking audio delights.
Such treats have been curated by former Panic! At The Disco bassist Dallon Weekes and ex-Falling In Reverse drummer Ryan Seaman, and the nonchalant, happy-go-lucky vibes they emit are described a very particular way by Weekes. “I guess the most succinct way is to just call it hipster nonsense.”
There’s no real rhyme or reason to the EP, it is merely a summation of Weeke’s favourite things. “Obscure, older, rock music that most people aren’t familiar with,” he says with an unusually captivating monotony, “But that’s not coming from a place of ‘I’m so happy I have these secret little influences,’ I wish this stuff I loved was the most popular and biggest stuff in the world–it’s one small reason I’m doing this.
“I hope this introduces kids to some of my favourite stuff, my influences, that maybe they wouldn’t have discovered otherwise.”
It’s certainly an accessible sound–easy-listening and enjoyable–like a stripped-back rendition of Muse, but with more wit and humour. So when Week’s speaks of his influences and how they’ve helped shape this unique sound, it’s hard to pinpoint who those musicians may be without him explicitly saying. “I listen to a lot, but I think the influences that put the root forward for this latest stuff I’ve been working on are bands like Sparks, Elvis Costello, Joe Jackson, David Bowie, Oingo Boingo, The Cure… stuff like that.”
An eclectic befuddlement of influences to be sure, and yet, because of Weeke’s previous associations with P!ATD, there are elements to 1981 Extended Play that some might say ring closely to that band’s earlier material. “People are fond of lowest common denominator comparison,” says, Weekes, “The quickest route between two points is a straight line.
We started this band in secret, playing shows without telling anyone what we were doing just to see if this music could gain attention on its own and if we could gain credibility for the music and not bands we were playing for at the time.
[ Dallon Weekes ]
“I used to be in Panic! At The Disco for eight, nine years, and I wrote a lot of music and a lot of lyrics for that band–there are definitely some similarities that exist for that reason, there’s bound to be some incidental similarities but I think they begin and end there, personally.”
Weekes takes it all in his stride and the sound that he’s cultivated in this particular release showcases so much wonderful character, colour and story, it’s difficult to get your head around why there are only six tracks available. Chuckling, Weekes says, “Well, it’s because we’ve been trying to play catch up with fans who caught on with what we’re doing.
“We started this band in secret, playing shows without telling anyone what we were doing just to see if this music could gain attention on its own and if we could gain credibility for the music and not bands we were playing for at the time.
“As fans started to catch on, we would deny it because we had our own timeline we wanted to go by–that’s why our whole “deny everything” ethos started to come about. It snowballed a little beyond our schedule.”
The secrecy has paid off as far as Australian fans are concerned, iDKHow emerging as if from nowhere. The quickest way to appease those eager fans, Weekes says, was to release this six-track EP—but that’s not to say he’s short on material or ideas for a larger work in the very near future. “We do have a lot of material we’re sitting on but we’re constantly coming up with more and more.
“We want to put out something that’s the best of what we have–it might take us a minute longer to do than we had initially hoped for, but that’s only because we have the incredibly lucky problem of trying to play catch up with these fans that are hungry for stuff.”
Regardless, there’s a lot to unpack in 1981 Extended Play that is sure to keep everyone going. And that phrase, too, “hipster nonsense”, an exciting and apt description of the EP and a humorous nod toward the nature of future material. “There’s one song–I don’t know if you’re familiar with The Ink Spots? 1930s jazz barber shop quartet style group, one of my favourites–I have a song in their style. And I have another that’s like late-70s Motown/Michael Jackson. I’m all over the place.
“I’m always trying to pen the kind of music I would want to listen to–which I’ve been told by people more successful than me that’s the wrong philosophy to have, but I just can’t seem to help myself!”