Waterparks – who just released their third album, ‘Fandom’, might just be the first millennial punk boyband.
Inspired by the big hitters of noughties pop-punk, they sing about anxiety over glitching electronics, they’re hardwired to the internet and they’re the poster children for short attention spans and capital letter excitement. “I really don’t want to sound dramatic or manic but I feel things in extremes almost exclusively,” starts vocalist/guitarist Awsten Knight. “I’m all about shiny stuff. I get the appeal of saying gritty stuff or sounding grungy but I just like colour.”
Starting off as a straight-up pop-punk band, Waterparks were shunned by the scene – so decided to be better than it. “We’ve been called a boyband since we started because we were brighter and we’re not ugly dudes, so we started embracing it,” says the frontman of the self-professed God’s Favourite Boyband.
Still, some labels stick. “I’ve given up on telling people who we are or what we’re like,” explains Knight. “I mean, they still call Panic! At The Disco pop punk, so I don’t think we’re ever getting away from it – even though there are zero pop punk songs on this new album. There’s nothing about being angry at my hometown, there’s nothing misogynistic. I want to be more than a pop punk band.”
You can hear that all over ‘Fandom’. Opener ‘Cherry Red’ is a sugary slice of atmospheric rock, ‘Dream Boy’ takes on ’80s pop while ‘[Reboot]’ is a full-on flurry of modern day emo. “It’s by far the coolest thing we’ve ever done,” beams Knight.
“The world’s big. There’s more to be depressed over than my breakup”
– Awsten Knight
But this is the band’s second stab at making album number three. Back in March, they deleted an entire album called ‘Friendly Reminder’, which dealt with the emotional fallout from Awsten’s breakup. “It wasn’t quite right,” he says. “The world’s so big, there’s so much more to be depressed over than that breakup!”
A few of the tracks made it, reworked and re-energised. There’s no gender-directed anger, and – in fact – there are no gender pronouns at all. “I know everyone that likes us is pretty sensitive to all of that so I try to be as well. Dude is gender neutral though. I call my mom dude,” Knight declares. Then he sings: “He’s a dude, she’s a dude, we’re all dudes. Hey!”
The only people Waterparks laugh at is themselves. They’re sensitive, self-aware and compassionate. Reluctant role models, they’ve got absolutely no time for hate. “People, whether they mean to or not, have a lot of expectations and built up visions of me,” offers Knight. “There’s an unspoken obligation to live up to all of that. And when you don’t, people get super fucking mad at you.”
“Socially, this culture is having some growing pains,” offers Knight. “We’re definitely at the forefront of this very vocal, hyper aware new age of fandom. It’s a lot of trial and error. People are super aware of what you might do wrong but it’s better than the contrary where no one’s aware of anything and everyone’s just doing bad shit all the time.”
“I still kind of feel like that loser dude from high school”
– Awsten Knight
Waterparks are happy charging down this new path. “I’m not saying we have a massive platform, I mean maybe we do and I just don’t feel it because I still kind of feel like that loser dude from high school, but I really just try to make good decisions,” says Awsten.
Make a good decision yourself and check out Waterparks – boybands aren’t just for pop fans, you know.