waterparks awsten knight alternative press cover
[Photo by: Ashley Osborn]

Whoever said “a Jack of all trades but a master of none” clearly never met Awsten Knight. The vibrant frontman of Waterparks, hilarious co-host of the Slumber Party podcast and the upfront author of You’d Be Paranoid Too (If Everyone Was Out To Get You)—there’s nothing he can’t do.

Knight constantly has new ideas and new ambitions rattling around in his creative sphere. When he sets his mind on something, there’s nobody who can stand in his way. So what’s next for Knight? 

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Since you’ve been self-isolating, do you think it’s making you more creative? Are you getting more done?

It’s a yes and a no. I think I’m probably handling this OK. I’m more OK with it than other people might be because this is what I do anyway. I just stay home and work on things. I mean, now, granted, I do miss being outside more and going to restaurants or seeing friends. The main thing I really miss is coffee, like good coffee. Because I suck at making it. And that’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve been making my coffee, and it’s fine. But I’m just not that good at it.

I saw you posted that you were making clothes. What’s going on with that?

So I’ve always liked fashion and cool clothes and stuff like that. I mean, granted with some of the shoots that I’ve have done with you guys, they’re pretty fucking wild. But I’ve always wanted to make my own, but I wanted to wait until I understood it better. I’m still learning a lot every day. I wanted to make my own clothing, but I didn’t want to just do it because. I hate when it’s like, “Oh, the singer has a clothing line or a merch line.” You know what I mean? It’s just corny and expected, and that’s one thing that made me not do it sooner because I was like, “I don’t want it to just be part of that.” 

So basically I don’t want it to just be like a Gildan T-shirt with a design on it with a one-color graphic on it. I don’t want to make merch. That’s not what this is. And so it’s been cool to see that people are excited about it. Or, at the very least, curious about it. It took quite a while, but I got 30-something pieces together. And then I was gonna narrow it down like, “OK, what do I want to make?” Or at least, “What do I want to make first?”

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It’s been cool to learn about the process of the production and what has to go into it. That’s one of the things I’ve been working on, like really putting a lot of my focus into. I like seeing everybody be excited about it online. The only thing [is], I want them to understand it because I feel like some people don’t quite get it right. I’ve seen some people be like, “OK, whatever you do, just make it really cheap.” I’m like, “Guys, that’s not what this is like.” It’s not just going to be like a $10 T-shirt. Like I said, it’s not just merch. I’m trying to go into fashion. Well, I’m not trying. I’m going to go into fashion. I want them to know what to expect with it. When they see all of this wild stuff with a bunch of different things on it and accessories and stuff. I want them to understand that it’s not made-to-order, quick stuff.

Right, everything will be designed with specific dimensions and materials.

Right. It’s going to be all very limited. I can’t give too much away, but it’s going to be very interesting stuff. We’ve been working on building the team for it. You know, people who do the best of the best production.

I had a meeting with one of the guys who would be sourcing all of it. There are obviously people involved to be like, “This is very possible because of this.” Or, “This is how we have to make this happen.” That makes me really excited because it seems like everything I want to do is extremely possible.

Do you have a name selected for the line yet?

I do. 

Can you tell us?

I’ll tell you when I can. [Laughs.]

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You better! So you work a lot with the Maddens. And I know that Josh Madden is very involved in fashion, and I’ve worked with him on some projects. Is he involved with this project?

Yes. And I’m sure he is so tired of me asking questions. I’m like, “Hey, what is this texture?” I’ve gotten certain books or sample things and stuff like that. And I’m like, “Hey, what is this texture called, and what does it normally go into?”

So now you’ve got all three of the Madden brothers involved with new projects.

Even Benji and Joel [Madden] are in on this.

That’s awesome. Are you going to launch it through Waterparks? Or are you going to launch it on your own?

That’s the thing. I want everything I do to be able to stand on its own. That’s why I never use the band’s pages to promote anything else. The band have never posted about the hair dye, or the band have never posted about the podcast, or the band have never posted about the book. I don’t want to use the band vessel to push other things because I work really hard on them. So much goes into it. And when it pays off because I’m working so hard on it, I’m lucky people care about it. I’m very lucky. I want it to be because it’s good and not be able to be written off. Like, “It’s just because of the band.” I want it all to be good on its own merit.

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So you don’t want it to be, “He only has this stuff because he used the band to get it.” 

I want it to be because I made it.

Right, because you put that hard work in.

Right, and it’s like, I put that into music. What happens if I put it into this, and what if I put it into this and this? I want to have a bunch of different things that are all as cool as Waterparks. I don’t want any success to be able to be written off because of other platforms.

Do you have a date in your head where you’re like, “This is when I’m launching my brand, and this is when it’s going to be fully available”? Do you have that in your head already?  

Yes and no. The thing is, all of this stuff with businesses being shut down is making things a little slower. It makes things a little murky as far as timelines go. You know I’ve got timelines for things. [Laughs.]. But yeah, it’s just a matter of making sure everybody is OK before we can really get back to work. That’s part of why this quarantine is so tough. You can still be productive, but because of what it is, not as much is going to get done. That blurs the timeline a little bit, but it’s definitely still in progress.

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Your resume grows every time I talk to you. [Laughs.] You’re in Waterparks. You have a podcast. You released a book. And now you’re releasing this clothing line. When we talked last for your solo cover, you didn’t put your book out yet, but you were really nervous about it. How are you feeling now that it’s out?

It’s still weird. It’s not any less weird for me. When you talk about some very personal things and then everyone reads [it], it feels like everybody heard about something bad that happened to you, and they’re all not fully acknowledging it. It’s still a little strange. But I mean, it was definitely a success, which is good. I think I probably said this back then, [but] just because someone’s band is doing cool stuff doesn’t mean another project of theirs will work. And so there’s always that fear, especially going into something like that for the first time, that no one’s going to give a shit.

Do you think you’ll put another book out?

I think I would. It wouldn’t be for a very long time because there are other things I want to do first. And that process is so time consuming. It’s not even just the writing. The writing was the easiest part by far. I think the hardest part is everything after, like all the logistics and technical and business things and all that. But anyway, what I’m getting at is I probably wouldn’t do it for a while. And if I did do another, I feel like it would probably be fiction.

I was wondering if you might do something fiction next.

I don’t know if I’d want to do the same kind of thing. I mean, granted, there’s a lot more I could write about. But I just feel like for me, it might feel redundant.

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Do you ever think you might be able to write something that’s fictional and then create a concept album around it? Similar to what My Chemical Romance did?

I’ve thought about that because it seems like a very good way to make something that’s a very emotionally driven thing. But it’s hard. Like whenever I’m writing songs, it’s hard for me to not be a little selfish with it. I feel like that’s how I’m able to make it be very honest. And my worry would be if I wrote a story about something else that wasn’t actually a thing, I don’t know if I’d be able to make it as real.

I don’t know if I’d be able to make an album about somebody else. And then at the same time, especially if it’s not something that’s happening and I’m not experiencing it or seeing it from a very close point, I don’t know if I’d be able to make it as good as it should be.

You’ve also got your Slumber Party podcast with Travis Riddle starting back up this week.

Yes. Every Wednesday, we’re gonna drop a new episode. The audio comes out on all the streaming [platforms], and the video is on Patreon. It’s actually cheap as hell. It’s like $5 a month or something, and you get like four episodes a month. By the way, it’s way funnier with the video.

We rented a place that’s way too fucking nice for what we’re doing. It’s like a place in Beverly Hills. Everything’s marble. There’s a big fireplace. I was like, “OK, I want it to look like Iron Man.” It looks awesome. There are guests every other episode. It’s really cool.

Any special guests you can reveal?

Yeah, dude. I made Joel do an episode.

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No shit. Did he think you guys were crazy after the whole thing? 

He was so chill. But I don’t know if I’ve ever been that embarrassed ever because the dynamic was so rough. Travis was just reading it like it was fine because whenever we have a guest star, we always get some fan fiction that relates to them, too. And it’s like, “Awsten, go ahead. Keep reading.” And I was like, “Ah, no!” I was so red. I’m so red in it. It was definitely the roughest episode we’ve ever recorded, for sure.

You’ve had such a busy year already. Waterparks just released the “Dream Boy” remix with MC4D. How did that come through, and why did you pick “Dream Boy“?

I wanted that song to be a remix on its own. I literally even considered calling it “Dream Boy Remix.” The whole song is a chorus. It’s like a remix. And that’s how I approached writing it.

So these guys, they just did that on spec and sent it in. They were like, “Do you guys like this?” I was like, “Holy shit.” Good remixes are when you can’t necessarily tell it’s a remix. MC4D are a very new group, and they just did it and sent it in. I think they were gonna put it out on SoundCloud. But I was like, “No, wait! Let’s release this shit. It’s so good. I want people to hear it.”

It was really cool to hear. I think everyone really loved it. So Waterparks are also working on the release of your concert film. Do you think there will be any delays on that with everything that’s going on?

It’s hard to say because with that, we’re relying on less people. It’s not like we hired an outside company to go somewhere to work on it. My best friend and dude who does all of our shows, Jawn [Rocha], he’s doing all the editing. He’s actually working on that back in Houston. He’s been sending me drafts. We’re going back and forth. And then for the audio, I’m trying to figure out when I’m going to get to go in and mix and master and all that with Zakk [Cervini]. I hope we get to do it soon.

Is there anything unexpected that fans are going to be like…

Yes! From the very beginning, I was like, “This will not be a standard DVD.” I was like, “Guys, I don’t want to just put out videos of us playing live songs.” That’s so boring to me. I was like, “This needs to look fucking crazy. I want this shit to look as IMAX as possible.”

I want this to have as many post-effects. I’ve got so many ideas. I want certain things to have certain color schemes. I want to bring in different video samples that we’re doing, like other things that we’ve filmed. There’s so much going into it. It’s still going to be the concert experience. But I want it to feel like art, you know what I mean? And not just like something someone could film on YouTube. It’s going to be cool as fuck.