Every once in a while we'll come across a band that just feels like they're on the cusp of greatness. It's a hard thing to accomplish in pop-punk world, a sound limited by the genre's stigma. Apparently no one told the Good Charlotte-approved Waterparks about that, who you might remember from their too-cute-for-words puppy-filled music video for the single, "Crave."
The Houston band is made up of vocalist/guitarist Awsten Knight (that's the correct spelling, he legally changed his name from "Austin,") guitarist/vocalist Geoff Wigington and drummer Otto Wood. We spoke to Knight after their one and only set at SXSW, right after the guy was chased by approximately 12 girls to the merch booth. If that's not a sure sign of future success, we don't know what is.
Let's start at the beginning. How did Waterparks start?
I started demoing for the project myself in late 2011 and put out the first EP in April of 2012. To be able to start playing shows, I was like "We need a band!" I knew Otto from another band I was in a few years before and thought, "He's a good drummer, this works." I met Geoff through the guy who was originally going to play bass. We still don't have a bass player. He said, "I know this guy who should play guitar," and he showed me a picture of Geoff on Facebook. He was wearing a choker and I said, "I don't think we should have him, he's wearing a choker." Then I met him and he was the sweetest so we kept Geoff. We played our first show [on] August 17, 2012 and we've just been going at it since. We did another EP in 2014.
Your debut full-length is going to be released on Equal Vision Records [Say Anything, Set It Off] later this year. How'd you get involved with them?
We didn't have any connections with anyone in the music industry. Labels have this thing that I didn't think they listened to, these "demo submission for local bands" or whatever. We had just gotten a music video back and we were trying to figure out a marketing plan. We just gave it to them, "Here's the unreleased music video, if you like it we'll send you more stuff." We did that to three or four labels. I forgot about it and then Equal Vision hit us back a few days later.
It's really rare that anyone listens to those blind demo submissions. [Goldfinger frontman/5 Seconds of Summer producer] John Feldmann is really good about that. He listens to everything.
That's cool! We went to his house. He was recording the new Good Charlotte record that's about to come out and we got to do gang vocals on four songs. I'm excited to hear it again, they sound so good.
What's the story behind your connection with GC's Benji and Joel Madden?
Our A&R Francesca Caldara at Equal Vision was shopping around our demos. She was looking for who was going to produce Cluster, the EP we put out a while back. She was sending it to different producers. She asked us who we'd like to work with and they were obviously very high on the list. One of the guys she sent it to was the Maddens' in-house engineer [Courtney Ballard whose worked with 5 Seconds of Summer and All Time Low.] Benji and Joel heard it separately and they were both like, "This is tight." At the time they were working on setting up a management company, MDDN.co. They didn't have any bands yet. When they heard us they said, "We need to manage them!" and we were the first people actually on their roster.
Francesca called me while I was at work and was like, "What are you doing tomorrow? How would you like to have lunch with the Madden guys tomorrow around noon in Los Angeles?" I called the guys and was like, "You have to quit your jobs!" It was crazy! We'd been listening to them for so long. I'd get dressed for school in the 4th and 5th grade and "The Anthem" and "Girls & Boys" would be playing on VH1.
Geoff and I went to buy swimsuits and we didn't get to swim. We went out there and were picked up by [the Madden Brothers'] assistants. It was so fancy! An hour later we met them and they were so sweet. And they smell so good.
Your band is similar to Good Charlotte in that you're both rock bands, but you place immense value on pop sensibility. You're wearing a Britney Spears shirt right now. How important is that balance in your songwriting?
I think I listen to more pop [music] than bands. As far as writing goes, it's easy to get hung up on parts. If you have that pop sensibility in your songwriting, the songs will be more appealing to people and it's not forced. Pop is mainly what I listen to. If you have both, you'll have songs that people are going to like, but it's not complete bubblegum, what some people would call "mindless," whatever.
In addition to Good Charlotte, you also got to work with My Chemical Romance's Mikey Way.
I was tracking guitars. I don't mean to sound like [one of those guys] but I typically don't mess up when recording guitar because I practice to a metronome. I've been playing for 10 years. I can just knock it out. Benji came in with Mikey and introduced me. I shook his hand and then just sat back down. My Chemical Romance is Otto's all-time favorite band. We looked at each other and then I proceeded to screw up like four times in a row, on the same thing. Really basic chords, too. We were all geeking out and Benji pulled me to the side and was like, "Would you want him to do any bass on the EP?" That's all it took.
We're trying to start beef with people. Could I plug our beef?
Go for it. Who are you fighting with?
Number one is Bing. I'm coming for ya.
No! There's only one music person, that's DJ Khaled. We think he has a lot of imaginary haters. He says "You guys don't want me to have nice things," and you know what? Fuck it. I don't. We're contributing to his Snapchat madness. So, Bing, DJ Khaled, M. Night Shyamalan, Duracell because a battery exploded in Geoff's pocket yesterday. Fuck Duracell. But Bing is my number one thing. It's my search engine for everything, I keep changing it but it doesn't help. I don't know what to do.