Waterparks: “Don’t put me in your hole.”

Waterparks: “Don’t put me in your hole.”

By Ben Tipple

Jul 7, 2016 13:00

Waterparks’ excitement is palpable as we sit down during their first trip to the UK. “I only got my passport five or six days ago,” guitarist Geoff Wigington laughs, with an obvious sense of relief. The Texan trio are celebrating the release of ‘Cluster’, five songs that already see them transcend the pop-punk pigeonhole that has previously defined them. Having first played a gig on the 17th August 2012, vocalist and guitarist Awsten Knight recalls, it is the last twelve months that have rooted the band firmly on the map, not least due to the involvement of Good Charlotte’s Benji and Joel Madden.

“Our label gave us a list of thirty options of people we could work with,” Awsten explains of their relationship with the duo, whose roster also includes Sleeping With Sirens, Big Jesus and pop songstress Jessie J. “We put the Madden brothers at the top. They heard us through that, but then they decided to manage us too. Joel messaged us on Twitter and the head of our label decided to take us out the next day.”

It was instantaneous. Barely had they left their employment commitments and they were already being whisked off. “I quit my job right away,” drummer Otto Wood notes with evident excitement. “I was taking days off to do things for the band anyway, so it was only a matter of time. I burned sick days and would get my ass chewed. You couldn’t really explain it to them. They thought being in a band was a cute hobby.”

This relationship with MDDN – the Madden brothers’ management company – opened doors for Waterparks. With a couple of EPs and a music video under their belt, their newfound link dramatically expanded their reach. Since then, the trio have celebrated international acclaim, noted for their upbeat live performances and their atypical sound.

“I basically want to prove them right,” Awsten admits, speaking of any pressures associated with their high-profile professional relationships. “The stuff they say to us is basically only the shit my mum says to me,” he half-jokes, mimicking high-pitched and loving approval. “It’s not like pressure, but I really want to make them feel like they made the right decision.”

“It’s very motivating,” Otto interjects. “We have a great team behind us. It’s really invaluable that we want to do really well for them. We’ve always had high expectations of ourselves, without trying to take it too seriously.”

It’s this balance of sincerity and frivolity that shines through, both in person and in their music. ‘Cluster’ finds the midpoint between commercial pop-punk and something altogether more boundless. “We take things really seriously, without trying to take things seriously,” Awsten consolidates, “if you know what I mean.” He smiles.

But this initial success is not simply fortuitous. The relationship with MDDN and the subsequent shows with Good Charlotte are a continuation of Waterparks’ work ethic, hidden behind the quick-fire jokes. “We’ve been working so hard for it,” Awsten spells out. “We were outside of local shows anytime there was one. We’d spend days flyering and burning CDs, handwriting the information on them.” By the time they received the call, it was a no brainer. “We were all in,” Geoff affirms, shrugging off any suggestion of fear or nerves. “To have such awesome opportunities line up because of it…,” Otto celebrates. “We’re here in the UK, it’s nuts!”

Keen to build on the momentum their associations have built, Waterparks are busy working on their debut full-length, as well as hitting the road hard. Following some early technical difficulties on their first UK run, the trio are beginning to settle in. “It’s cool, but weird,” Awsten notes of the hype. “It’s a good thing I like to talk. I try not to look at too much of the hype. I feel like it would psych us out. I’d overthink things. I’m just trying to roll with it.”

It’s not external pressure or hype that’s pushing Waterparks forward, but their own desire to break the mould. Their debut album is set to take them in new directions, keen to shake off early categorisation. “There’s definitely some songs on the album where if you hear it and think it’s a pop-punk song, you’re fucking nuts,” Awsten declares, visibly wincing at the genre association. “It’s more eclectic,” Otto agrees. “We tried to span a wide range. That way if we want to visit any spot on the spectrum in-between in the future, it won’t come out of leftfield.”

“It’s like the EP but more,” Awsten continues. “If we did electronics on the EP, there’s more of it on the album. If we sounded aggressive on the EP, it’s way heavier on there. There’s a lot of things we’ve never done before that we’re doing now. I’m excited for people to hear it.”

“We never want to be pigeonholed,” Geoff summarises, before Awsten shouts: “Don’t put me in your hole.” He laughs. “Can that be the headline of this article?” I agree.