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[Photo by: Jawn Rocha]

Awsten Knight, Geoff Wigington and Otto Wood have had the last five years to become accustomed to shrieking fans, internet trolls and seeing their faces plastered on the fronts of makeshift T-shirts. You could say Waterparks are no strangers to fandoms (pun intended). Since their inception, the group have allowed their fans to play a massive role in their musical creation, album cycles and social media presence.

But it wasn’t until 2016 when anyone finally lifted their heads from the void of their cellphones to pay attention to Waterparks. Before the three-piece had fans hanging on to their every move and tweet, they paid their dues tenfold to make it to where they are today. On occasion, fans might act like “little nightmare people,” according to Knight, but at the end of the day, he’s grateful for what they’ve given him and his band above all else. Knight spoke to Alternative Press to celebrate the people who made it all possible—the fans.

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I want to take you back down memory lane a little. In 2012, Waterparks put out their debut EP. But in 2011 or 2012, you sent an email to the Alternative Press advertising team.

Actually, I found tweets as well. I’ve gone back looking at our older stuff, and [in] one of the ones I think we were a band for like a month maybe, and I tweeted at you guys like, “Hey, I’m trying to get this fucking magazine. Guys, it’d be really cool if you told them this.” At the time, I think it had four likes on it. And I’ve gone back and looked at it, and everyone’s like, “Oh, my gosh. Oh, they got the cover!” I remember that very well. There’s such a difference between now and then. I know how easy it would be to go back to that, to lose things. 

At the time, you always think you’re ready for the biggest of the big. But then after another year or two, you’re like, “Oh, God, I was not ready at all.” But you think, “I’m ready now.” I bet if you look, you will find more emails and more tweets. It’s crazy to go from that to actually having the cover. There’s so much to say about it. I went to AP’s SXSW thing when I was 15, and I remember being like, “Fuck, it would be so cool to be in that magazine.”

I’m so happy that we didn’t have it back then because I wouldn’t have known how to handle it. Basically being such a close spectator to how things work online and what makes people mad, I wouldn’t have known a lot of shit. I feel like I probably would’ve said some dumb shit back then that people would be mad about now.

When you first got signed, what were some of the biggest lessons and challenges that you faced? What have Benji and Joel Madden instilled in you and taught you?

Oh, my God, that’s hard. I’ve learned everything from them. If they weren’t our managers, that would fucking suck so bad. They’re just so good because they were put through the fucking wringer as artists themselves. They just operate how they would have wanted to be treated. They are so good for the alternative music world. Right now, when people are freaking out and being like, “Oh, my God, what are we gonna do? We can’t tour. We can’t do this,” they’ve set up paid online streaming shows. And that’s helping bands so much. We’ll probably do one of those at some point because it’s just a fun way to be able to connect. As much as touring is draining, I do miss playing for people. They have taught me that you don’t have to keep bad people around. You don’t have to tolerate them because it’s the business. There are enough cool people where you can operate with people who have the best intentions for you. 

They actually give a shit about alternative music. They actually care about the culture, and that’s how I view AltPress. If more people were like Benjj and Joel and AP, this side of culture, this alternative subsidiary or whatever you want to call it would be so much more prominent. Because in other kinds of lanes, people put other people on. Producers love bringing in new people to be their predecessors. Rappers do it fucking constantly. All kinds of entertainment or art or culture, people put other people on. And for some reason in alternative music, it’s just so much more rare.

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Last time we talked right around the beginning of lockdown, you were getting ready to release this live performance DVD.

It’s an actual DVD, dude. It’s crazy. I’ve been going through these edits with Jawn [Rocha] most days. The standards we’re holding him to are so unfair. [Laughs.] I watched a lot of other people’s stuff at the beginning of this process, and I went, “Cool, how do we do ours better?” I am making him fucking jump through flaming hoops. It’s incredible. I’m just saying to you right now, with all the humility that I can, there has not been a band DVD like this.

What are you naming the DVD?

Originally we were gonna film it in London, but then I saw the Birmingham venue, and I was just like, “Oh!” And it was maybe five days before we were going to film, and I was like, “Guys, we gotta switch it up. Instead of eight days from now, we’re filming it five days from now. Reschedule all of the shooters.”

I was gonna call it Two Nights In London because we were playing two nights in London, and that just sounds so fucking cool and expensive. But now it’s gonna be called Live In The U.K. And I’m so fucking stoked for it. It just sounds so big. I’m so drawn to big-sounding things.

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When are you anticipating to release the DVD?

I guess at the end of summer. Originally we were like, “It’d be really cool to have it out by the end of June.” But I was like, “Would it be the project that it is if I wasn’t pushing it like this?” It would be very standard. A lot of people have the extent of their effects as going black and white and then adding speed ramps or slow motion and shit. And I was like,“If we’re not going to push boundaries, we’re not going to do it.” There’s just not a point. So this shit just looks crazy. It’s nuts. The effects are something that haven’t been done on a live DVD.

Aside from the live DVD, how are Waterparks adapting to this new reality of live music, especially if we don’t have shows in 2020?

We’re taking our time doing some stuff. I’ve been connecting with Geoff and Otto more because the only way to be friends with Otto is to be on his baseball team or play video games with him. So I bought a PS4, and I only have this older Call Of Duty game where we go and we kill zombies. I think this time is good because we were technically supposed to be on tour right now. But we were a week from announcing it, and then all this happened. So it’s actually a good thing that we didn’t get to say it because then people would have to be let down. It’s not the worst time. It gives you time to decompress and figure things out. 

I think as of now, it’s gonna be a lot of ticketed livestreaming because there is still a market for people to be entertained. I think as long as people put value on that kind of thing and people aren’t necessarily doing it for free every other day, it’ll have value. And that’ll be a way that people are able to maintain as artists through this time. I think it’s just a matter of people being creative. I think creatives will do their thing. They will figure out how to hopefully maintain through the next year until shows are back. Because that really is how people make money.

Read the full Waterparks interview in Issue 384, available here.