A fresh, buoyant outpouring of theatrical, emotional pop/rock glitz, iDKHOW’s debut album ‘Razzmatazz’ is a dramatic invitation to indulge and dream to the heart’s content.
Stream: “Leave Me Alone” – iDKHOW
The term “Razzmatazz” conjures up a frenzy of ideas and emotions.
A synonym for razzle-dazzle, the word evokes excitement and energy, glitter and glamour, and sparks galore. It’s an invitation to get lost in wonder; to embrace one’s fantasies and frolic to the heart’s content. As such, it should be no surprise that Salt Lake City duo iDKHOW would give their debut album this expressive name. A fresh, buoyant outpouring of theatrical, emotional pop/rock glitz, Razzmatazz is a dramatic invitation to indulge.
Big shot, so what?
Do you wanna pretend?
You took the money
But the money couldn’t buy a friend
Now I want you to leave me alone
They say the devil that you know
Is better than the devil that you don’t
Oh, you’re a big shot here, but nobody else knows
Now I want you to leave me alone
Blind spot, take your best shot
Go fly a kite until you’re
tangled in the hanging tree
Released October 23, 2020 via Fearless Records, Razzmatazz is a sweeping, seductive delight. It’s a soaring, finessed introduction to the band that formally named themselves “I DONT KNOW HOW BUT THEY FOUND ME” – but you can call them iDKHOW for short.
“The band name is a line from one of my favorite movies as a kid. I wanted something that was long and ridiculous and would fit into the whole modus operandi of keeping our band a secret for the first year or so of our existence,” lead vocalist and bassist Dallon Weekes recently told Atwood Magazine. A key member of Panic! At The Disco from 2009 to 2018, Weekes has worked hard to separate iDKHOW from Panic! in an effort to maintain his new project’s independence and integrity. Together, Weekes and drummer Ryan Seaman make up the core of iDKHOW, which first debuted in 2017 and built a steady following the next year, culminating in their 1981 Extended Play EP and the three-track holiday special Christmas Drag single in 2019. Quite a long time in the making, Razzmatazz is a fun, creative full-length album that effortless radiates charm and cheer, pain and love, the whole nine yards – all without taking itself too seriously.
Twist the knife
Like it’s something to do
I’m a voluntary victim
Watch your colonial tongue
I’ll watch you tighten the noose
I’m burning in your mad IQ
How, otherwise, could we square away a song like “Nobody Likes the Opening Band,” fit in-between the bristling rock and pop drama of “New Invention” and “Mad IQs,” each a tight, finely-produced outpouring of high-octane music? Weekes’ decades-long career has given him the kind of polish and panache one would reasonably expect from a seasoned sonic architect, yet throughout iDKHOW’s debut there is an obvious thirst for reinvention and defying expectations; iDKHOW purposefully avoid putting themselves into any one box by staying open to possibilities and peppering their record with eccentricities and fresh standards. There’s a surprise around every corner – from the strut-your-stuff aura of “Sugar Pills” to the tender balladry of “Door,” to the immersive space within “From the Gallows” and the explosive throttling of “Clusterhug.”
No, Razzmatazz doesn’t take itself too seriously; but that, in itself, is an art form: Because behind the carefully placed, seemingly laissez-faire bells and whistles, we know Weekes and Seaman spent countless hours fine-tuning each of these twelve songs, tirelessly tracking themselves in order to produce an effort of the highest caliber. Fans of early Maroon 5, Fun., Arctic Monkeys, and yes, Panic! At The Disco will surely find favor in Razzmatazz‘s depths, as will fans of classic rock legends like Queen or Meat Loaf. What this band have going for them is their uncanny ability to embrace a wealth of familiar sounds – namely those of the pop and rock canon – and to make them entirely and unapologetically their own.
iDKHOW are here to have a good time, and they wish you the same. Whether you find yourself dancing the night away with the love of your life to the sweet sounds of “Kiss Goodnight,” or reveling to the unencumbered emotional eruption within title track “Razzmatazz,” know that iDKHOW are right there with you, enveloped in those same present moments and fleeting dreams.
An impressively enticing listen, Razzmatazz is the climactic culmination of that fresh start Weekes no doubt set out for when forming I DONT KNOW HOW BUT THEY FOUND ME and bidding adieu to the band with whom he had spent the past decade. It’s a thrill through and through, and a must-listen for those looking to spark their energy levels in the year 2020. Experience the full record via our below stream, and peek inside iDKHOW’s Razzmatazz with Atwood Magazine as Dallon Weekes goes track-by-track through the music and lyrics of his new band’s debut album!
Razzmatazz is out now via Fearless Records.
Stream: ‘Razzmatazz’ – iDKHOW
:: Inside Razzmatazz ::
LEAVE ME ALONE
This song felt like an opening statement. Especially when considering the state of the world, the theme of wanting to quarantine yourself from toxic people and situations seemed like an appropriate way to begin. Although “Leave me alone” is the title, I feel like lyrically, the centerpiece for the song is “…the devil that you know is better than the devil that you don’t”, which is an old cliché, but one that isn’t necessarily true. The truthful bit is that we do often fear the unknown, and we stay in bad situations because they are familiar to us. Luckily, I’ve found that the unknown can also be incredibly rewarding and much healthier.
This is where we are officially inducted into the Tellexx corporation, and get a hint at what it is they aim to do. It’s where the fictional narrative behind iDKHOW begins to turn.
Our Producer Tim Pagnotta, played me the beginnings of a chorus that he had been toying with. I loved it so much upon hearing it, that I asked him if we could use it, and build on it. It really reminded me of Talking Heads ‘Girlfriend Is Better’, so I feel like i was chasing that vibe down a little bit as we wrote the rest of it. I don’t want to say what it’s about. You decide.
I wrote this song on the way to an early iDKHOW show, when we were still playing in secret. It was the first time in a while that I had thought about being in that position. Playing to a room full of complete strangers and hopefully doing something that is worthy of commanding their attention for thirty minutes. So I wanted to sarcastically address the elephant in the room. It ended up being a really special moment. Despite the sarcastic title, the theme behind the song is to encourage folks to give new things a chance. This is usually our first song whenever we are an opener. If we play a headline show, we always talk to the opening bands beforehand to make sure they know it’s not meant to disparage anyone. Quite the opposite.
This was one of the later songs we recorded during the few weeks we had to make Razzmatazz. I was pretty stressed out because I wanted to make sure that everything was just right before we had to wrap up recording and go home, so I wasn’t sleeping and I was this giant ball of stress that was constantly overthinking every aspect and lyric of every song we had done. So I tried to channel all that out lyrically. It references some other songs we’ve done. namely ‘Leave Me Alone’ and ‘Choke’, but the lines about having bad dreams were born from that period. After we recorded it, I slept like a baby.
This is a transitional track that appears at the end of ‘New Invention’. I made this track with SLC musician Daniel Fischer (Fischloops). He is a master manipulator of samples and beats. I’ve been an admirer of his work for over a decade, and I really wanted to collaborate with him on some transitional ideas for the record. He also helped produce the music behind ‘Indoctrination’.
FROM THE GALLOWS
This is a favorite for me. Lyrically, the inspiration for it came from the 1976 sci-fi film ‘Logans Run’. Musically, it was inspired by The Ink Spots. They were a fantastic jazz combo from the 1930’s. They had this really great songwriting formula. This song is my attempt at using that formula. The original demo sounded a lot more like them. Very minimalistic, and mostly rooted in piano and barbershop harmonies. We ended up dissecting it, and putting back together for the record so it fit better, sonically. I love how it turned out. Lawrence Welk on acid.
Clusterhug was originally a demo I made for Panic years ago, but it ended up being too weird for them. It doesn’t really follow the standard verse/chorus conventions of pop music which I think is why I was always really enamored with it. I brought it into our ‘Razz’ sessions because I felt like it never really got a proper chance to be heard. I’m glad that everyone on the team got behind it. Clusterhug is just a good song title, too.
I wrote this song with a really talented musician from Provo, Utah named Stu Maxfield. He is one of those people who can pick up any instrument and have it mastered within a matter of minutes. It’s about the placebo effect and wanting things to work despite knowing that they most likely won’t. My favorite part of the track is the ‘noise solo’ in the middle. It’s this wonderful moment of absolute chaos that I had edited together out of this myriad of different samples, synths, feedback, and random sounds that I had been collecting for a long time. I feel like this song carries a lot of our 90s influences on its shoulders. Blur, Elastica, or any of that wonderful 90s Britpop, really.
The second song I’ve written about the night I met my wife. The first being an old Brobecks number called ‘Love At First Sight’. While I feel like I’ve improved somewhat in the song titling department, the sentiment here is the same. It was one of the most impactful nights of my life. Fifteen years later, I’m still writing about the first time we met. It was one of those pivotal moments that change the course of your life. I may write about it some more in the future, who knows?
LIGHTS GO DOWN
One of our earliest recordings. I wrote this with a friend, Jason Hill of Louis XIV. I’ve been such a huge fan of his band and his work for a long time, so t be able to write a song together was pretty special. The bass on this track was recorded using his vintage Fender Mustang that has over the years, been beaten entirely to hell, but for some reason it has this very unique tone to it that I haven’t been able to replicate with anything else. Early on, we were strongly advised by a potential manager to not include the sax solo in this song. We declined to take that advice.
NEED YOU HERE
The silver lining in all this quarantine business is that I’ve gotten to spend it entirely with my family. In ten years, I haven’t been able to be home with them for this long without being interrupted by touring. This song is about those moments on the road when I miss them. Which is a common occurrence. I hope to be able to bring them along with me one day, should shows ever be a thing again. This song took me a while to compose because I could never seem to get past my daughters spoken word bit. I recorded it when she was very little. By the time we got to officially record it, she had grown so much. I wanted to include her again singing the bridge melody to show how quickly time can pass for a parent. I hope I’ll be able to get through playing it live one day.
I took a page out of the ‘Guided By Voices’ playbook for this song, and left it as a single statement that comes in under two minutes. It’s brief, but I felt like it carries more impact that way. Rather than forcing it to repeat, I wanted it ton leave early, and hopefully make people want to listen and examine it again.
The experimental electronic work of Raymond Scott was the inspiration behind this final transitional track. It’s meant to wrap up the fictional narrative behind Tellex.
The title track, and the last to be written and recorded. It felt like a nice closing argument for the album’s sounds and themes. I had been stuck on the piano line for months and didn’t know where to go with it, but once I took it into the studio, it seemed to start writing itself. Ultimately it’s about optimism in the face of isolation, and disillusionment with the dark aspects of Hollywood entertainment business culture. I just wanted to pull back the curtain on it all.
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? © 2020
:: Stream iDKHOW ::