Men At Work’s “Who Can It Be Now?”—the iconic track with an even more iconic saxophone lick—actually inspired Alternative Press’ digital cover stars Dallon Weekes and Ryan Seaman to give sax solos a try of their own. The result: Razzmatazz’s October single, “Lights Go Down.”
“Who Can It Be Now?” is one Weekes’ five favorite tracks that either dropped or became popular in 1981, the year the vocalist was born. 1981 was also the year that inspired the group’s 2019 1981 Extended Play release. iDKHOW usually opt for throwing things back, with their videos embodying archival-style footage such as in the retro “Choke” visual. AltPress caught up with the singer for a rundown of his favorite ’81 tracks.
Some he mentioned came out in 1980, such as the Blondie and Bruce Springsteen tracks. Still, that doesn’t change the effect they’ve had on Weekes’ career and sound. And it doesn’t change his appreciation for the timeless anthems.
After the Men at Work classic, Weekes says another favorite of his is Sparks’ “Tips For Teens.” It’s a standout cut from the pop-rock brother duo’s ’81 record, Whomp That Sucker. The iDKHOW singer recently spoke with the pair, Ron and Russell Mael, for an exclusive artist-on-artist interview. The three discussed their songwriting, discographies and favorite career eras. Weekes also emphasizes how much the group means to him when listing his favorite 1981 cuts.
“Sparks are an amazing band and a big influence on me,” Weekes says. “But they came out with the song in 1981, and it’s just a cool song about growing up.”
Weekes also notes country superstar Dolly Parton’s “9 To 5” as one of his own top five, as he says he loves its accompanying movie. Blondie’s “The Tide Is High,” a track off Autoamerican, which he still “spins on the regular,” also tops his list. Autoamerican came out in 1980, but we’ll give him a pass on that one.
Finally, Weekes considers Springsteen’s “Hungry Heart,” off his fifth studio album, The River, one of his favorites. With horns and backing vocals laced throughout the track, it’s hard to be surprised by that choice. After all, Weekes sees the early ’80s as a special time for instrumentation.
“In that time period in particular, the production was really interesting,” Weekes says. “There’s a lot of new technology coming out at the time, and it really showed in the records that are coming out in that period.”
Weekes also said one of the trickiest vocal effects from the time period is a “slapback-type echo,” which the band have tried to emulate in their work.
“If you rewind and go back 30-something years ago, the music business operated a lot like the way the fashion industry operates now, where designers and artists just make what they want to make, and they put it out, and then people decide if they like it or not,” he says. “Nowadays, there’s a lot of focus grouping and people coming in, radio experts telling you what you need to add to your song. But back then, it was just the artists creating what they wanted to create and putting it out to the world. I think that was a really, really cool way to try to make art. And I don’t think that that should have ever changed.”
Weekes has always been proud of iDKHOW’s musical influences, especially when it comes to those from the year he was born. And who knows, maybe his next effort will have been recorded in 1982.