To the trained eye, there’s little difference between the sound of nails on a chalkboard and a person with status ostentatiously claiming to be humble. The cynical will point out the contradiction immediately in relation to those of the humble who appear to thrive on gratification, inflating their own importance with little regard for others. For that reason, it comes as a surprise that Dallon Weekes is who he says he is, acting with humility instead of performatively claiming it.
Weekes, known to the general population for his tenure in Panic! At The Disco and the alt-rock universe for his successful dalliance in The Brobecks, doesn’t claim to be a moral compass in any way, shape or form. Watched closely by a cohort of adoring fans, his goal with the debut album Razzmatazz from current project I Don’t Know How But They Found Me (known affectionately simply as iDKHOW) is simply to put out the music that’s been clawing away at him to be released unto the world and to be able to support his family in doing so.
“I think that this job can be whatever you want it to be,” he articulates. “And historically people have turned it into sex, drugs and rock and roll. It can be that if you want to be. But I have always wanted this to be the thing that takes care of my family.” He caveats that having that intention doesn’t make him any kind of hero for others to model their lives on. “I’ve certainly done wrong things in my life, things that I’m ashamed of and will always be ashamed of until the day that I die.”
It’s not like Weekes hasn’t had the opportunity to become a machine controlled by his ego. In his time with Panic! At The Disco, he went from, in his own words, playing to a few dozen people a night to tens of thousands. “I got thrown into this world of money, and celebrity, and fame…I wouldn’t say that I was really a part of that world, more that I just kind of orbited around it and observed a lot while I was there.” If anything, it taught him about the artifice of it all, rather than leaving him with an incurable condition of arrogance.
Referring to not being the face behind Panic! At The Disco, the award of which goes to Brendon Urie (now leading the band solo with touring members), Weekes continues: “It’s interesting to be in that hemisphere when you’re not considered to be important enough to be there, I guess, by whatever the powers are that be in Hollywood entertainment business circles. If you’re not the guy, you’re not really worth talking to. And that’s what I mean when I say that Hollywood and entertainment, business culture, it all revolves around fame, money, ego and narcissism.”
The advantage, of course, is that it served as a good inspiration for writing. One such observation converted by Weekes into song material is the philosophy of pursuing intentions, good or bad, without considering the consequences that your actions may have for the lives of others. ‘Do It All The Time’, an earlier iDKHOW cut, kickstarted a dive into that subject from the musician.
“It’s interesting to be in that hemisphere when you’re not considered to be important enough to be there, I guess…”
“It’s far too popular of a philosophy to say, ‘I don’t care and I’m just going do whatever I want.’ I cannot stand that philosophy as a way of life, because it fails to consider that ‘do what you want’ might hurt someone else.” He goes on to mention that a lot of the music that he’s written has been about “wanting to take the opposite approach.” ‘Do It All The Time’ in particular “is a critique of that do what thou wilt philosophy.”
Whether it’s a one night stand that the other person doesn’t know is only for one night or something far darker and more sinister, Weekes concludes, like many of us that were raised right or learned the hard way, that he “can’t relate” to it. “I think it’s a really toxic way to think because we, as people, we’ve all got to look out for each other.” In COVID-19, he notes that it’s “especially true”, though it remains accurate if we zoom out of our apocalyptic microcosm – “on a less physical level and in a more existential, spiritual way.” He adds: “So I think that whole, ‘I’m going to do whatever I want’ ideal ignores that. And I think it’s irresponsible.”
Razzmatazz will be received with joy by fans that have been waiting for the record since iDKHOW’s inception, with one keen-eyed enthusiast even compiling a website that details the lore that backends a narrative concept the band have been building on for some time. But those fans have also given something back to Weekes, whether they know it or not. As much as Weekes has shared his life learnings with them, they’ve reciprocated, sometimes even teaching the teacher.
“I owe a lot of perspective and a lot of change in my life to fans,” he points out. “Having the opportunity to interact with them. Especially them being of a younger generation, I think that has opened my eyes to a world of things that I grew up with that were problematic that I wasn’t aware of until I was exposed to them. So I’m grateful for those fans, not just because I get an opportunity to take care of my family doing what I love, but I’m grateful to them because they provided me an opportunity to change and to try to be better, which is always something that I want to do.”
It’s not a common occurrence that someone with a lot to lose from making a mistake will admit to learning and growing out of outdated beliefs. It’s that – and no mention of the word ‘humble’ at all – that demonstrates true humility.