By Talya Stehley
“We invite you to follow along,” says the spoken-word intro to rock duo I Don’t Know How But They Found Me’s 2018 EP, “1981 Extended Play”, and with their long-awaited debut album dropping October 16, now is a great time to start. I Don’t Know How But They Found Me is a band consisting of Dallon Weekes (formerly of Panic! At The Disco and The Brobecks) and Ryan Seaman (formerly of Falling in Reverse), which started putting out music in 2017. But they also have this intriguing gimmick where they present themselves as if they were an 80s band that never quite made its mark.
Most of their music videos are shot in a 4:3 aspect ratio, with some VHS-style grain added for good measure. The YouTube descriptions often contain a little story of where the video in question came from. There’s more to the gimmick than just an aesthetic. One of the first videos posted to their YouTube channel sets up an overarching narrative: a child tasked with cleaning out a cluttered basement finds a box of VHS tapes, most with dates in the mid-80s written on them. The one we see contains the music video for the band’s first single, “Modern Day Cain.” A “video diary” recently posted to the band’s website features a grown-up version of that character discussing the mystery of the band. The music videos are chock-full of easter eggs and hints of some larger overarching story. In many videos, a man dressed in white and wearing a stylized skull mask looms in the background. Many videos reference an entity called “The Tellexx Foundation,” whose exact nature is still unclear. As the August 12 video diary points out, the timeline presented in the video descriptions doesn’t quite make sense, with “Do It All The Time” set twenty years earlier than most of the other videos, despite the guys in the band looking largely the same. What does it all mean? I don’t know. My top theory is that they’re cyborgs, but whatever happens, I, for one, am stoked to finally get a whole album worth of new information.
But you don’t really need to care about any of that to enjoy the music itself. It’s as synthy as you’d expect of something pretending to be from the 80s, and the lyrics are delightfully hostile. Lines like “I wouldn’t hesitate / to smile while you suffocate and die” or “I don’t care what momma says, / you’ll wind me up or you’ll wind up dead” are par for the course for these guys, and it’s the layer of artifice that makes this kind of thing enjoyable. Were the band not a fake band being played by a real band, a lot of their lyrics would be kind of distressing. But that layer of fakeness means it all works, and one can enjoy how delightfully evil they are, perfectly emphasized by that late cold-war sound. Even without the gimmicks, I think they’re straight-up good. Consider their holiday-themed EP, “Christmas Drag”. Those three songs are certainly dark by the standards of Christmas music, but they largely eschew the synthesizers trading hostility for sincerity. It’s far more enjoyable than it has any right to be, which I believe shows that the band can be far more than just its central gimmick.
If any of that sounds like it could be your thing, you can listen to I Don’t Know How But They Found Me’s entire discography in under an hour. And if you like what you hear, you’ll have a whole new album to listen to come October 16.