Because who better to explain 'FANDOM' than the lads in Waterparks?
So now that we've all had a chance to listen to Waterparks' new album 'FANDOM' and properly mull it over and digest it, we thought that this would be an opportune moment to go through the album in more detail. But rather than us explaining the themes and nuances of the songs on the album, we asked Waterparks to talk us through each track on 'FANDOM'. Here we go.
01. ‘Cherry Red’
Awsten Knight: “I had another demo that I was doing of [‘Cherry Red’], and the file got corrupted. And I was like, ‘Fuck’. I couldn’t open it anymore, and dragged in all the pieces of audio, and just made new tracks of audio. I was going to try and rearrange it to the way I had it, but I pressed play and it sounded like ‘Cherry Red’ when it kicks in. I was just in my room like, ‘Oh shit!’ I was like, ‘Well that’s that’.
“That was fucking wild - but that’s the start to the best album in the world. It gives hints to the last song, because that last song goes, ‘So I must be dead’, and this one’s like, ‘You know I’d die for you’ - get it?”
02. ‘Watch What Happens Next’
Awsten: “‘Watch What Happens Next’ is me just being all, ‘Fuck y’all’. Not all of y’all, just like, a lot of y’all. Most of y’all. All of y’all!
“I overthink shit, a lot of shit. I’m in a band. I overthink being in a band a lot. And one of those things that I’ve overthought is how most other genres are able to celebrate their successes, and it’s a very looked-down-on thing in ‘band world’ to talk about most shit besides feelings. It’s really weird, and it doesn’t really make sense. It’s naïve to pretend that that’s the only thing that exists, and also kind of bad because it panders to people that are just stuck in this cycle of being fucking sad all the time. It makes for mopey high school kids - like me!
“It’s about, in the same regard, how bands aren’t allowed to experiment as much with music as other kinds of people. This isn’t me shitting on it - this is me saying we should be allowed to do it. But hip-hop albums that I really love are super fuckin’ artsy, and if a band were to do that it would be like, ‘What the fuck are y’all doing?’ because when a band switches up the tiniest little thing, [fans] are not about it at all. And it’s super dogshit, it’s very weird, and I think it holds the genre back as a whole, so it was a very frustrating thing for me. So I wrote about it, as I tend to do.”
03. 'Dream Boy'
Awsten: “‘Dream Boy’ is about fan expectations. It’s about being built into something, based on an idealised version of you - an unwarranted one, at that - where people look at you as a certain thing. They see you online as, ‘Oh, he’s this and this and this’, and they put what they need you to be into their heads. It’s built into this thing that you cannot live up to, and it’s ultimately going to lead to disappointment - on their end, and my end, because it doesn’t feel good to let people down. But that’s just what happens. Pop banger, dude!”
04. 'Easy To Hate'
Awsten: “That one was a ‘Friendly Reminder’ song actually, but it was just a really good song and everyone said I should keep it, and I was just like, ‘Yo, you’re right’. It’s about a break up. Yeah.”
05. 'High Definition'
Awsten: “You guys are gonna make me cry by the end of this, and I’m gonna be like, ‘I hope you’re happy with this feature and you get your clicks’. Here we go.
“‘High Definition’ was the latest set of lyrics written for the album - it was the last thing. It’s about not being able to get close to people, because of what we do, being gone all the time. Or, you know, starting to have some kind of stature and not trusting the people who hit you up, because people may not have done so much before.
“There’s a song that’s all, ‘Back then hoes didn't want me, now I'm hot hoes all on me’ [Mike Jones’ ‘Back Then’] - but not in like a bragalicious way. It’s an, ‘I’m like really lonely, I hate all of this’, kind of way. It’s like that.”
Awsten: “‘Telephone’ was written when I was super fucking depressed - surprise - and I was at Target. I saw a cute girl at Target, and instead of being like, ‘Sup’ - I would have never done that anyway - I went home and wrote a super obsessive love song, and it was so tight.”
Geoff Wigington: “He called me and was like, ‘Dude, I’ve just seen the prettiest person at Target, I don’t even know what to do - I can’t find them now. I think I’m just gonna go home and write about it’.”
Awsten: “Did that happen?”
Awsten: “Alright. Either way, I also don’t remember what they look like anymore. Because I saw the responses when I said that were like, ‘What does she look like, blah blah blah missed connection’, and I honestly don’t remember. It was like, January 2018. Yeah, so that song’s that.
“There’s another reason that it almost wasn’t on the album - the original version was kind of pop-punk sounding, and I was like, ‘Fuck that’. But the other reason is, I was trying to decide if it takes away from the album - but it doesn’t though. Because with some of the other themes of the album, it counts as the sugar-spike in [‘Fandom’]. Because when you’re dealing with some shit, you have hard ups and downs, and it’s kind of like a manic thing. It’s lodged between ‘High Definition’ which is a very lonely, isolating song, then you’ve got the ‘AAAAAAH!’ (we pretend that ‘Group Chat’ isn’t a thing for a second), and we have ‘Turbulent’. So it’s between those guys. That’s how it’s meant to be. It’s like, low - very high - very low.”
07. ‘Group Chat'
Awsten: “Let’s talk ‘Group Chat’ dude.” [They literally just performed ‘Group Chat’ here. That’s the whole thing].
Awsten: “I was like, ‘I’m done with break up songs dude, I’m over it’. Then I got re-mad at some new shit. Then I was like, ‘You know what though, if we’re gonna do this, it’s gotta be crazy different from everything else, sonically and lyrically’, so instead of approaching it like, ‘Eh’, it was like, ‘Fuck you nerd, I’m way tighter than all of this shit’. Oh my god, and then sonically it was just so dark and shiny and fast, and I was like, ‘This is the best’. [‘Turbulent’] was the turning point for ‘Fandom’ - that was the first thing made after being like, ‘You know what, that one is not going to work, we’re gonna start over’. That was the first thing, and then I was like, ‘Oh, this is what we’re supposed to be doing, alright’.”
09. 'Never Bloom Again'
Awsten: “That song has been in the process of being written since 2015. I’ve got real old versions of that. But the thing is, it just kept evolving - I kept doing new verses, and changing things in the hook and stuff like that. And there was a version of it that was ready around the time of ‘Entertainment’ - it wasn’t quite the same, but the reason it wasn’t on there was because I was like, ‘If it’s only 10 songs, there shouldn’t be two acoustic. That might be overkill’.”
10. 'I Miss Having Sex But At Least I Don't Wanna Die Anymore'
Awsten: “‘I Miss Having Sex But At Least I Don’t Wanna Die Anymore’ is about missing having sex… but not wanting to die anymore. In the verses, I was just trying to talk directly to the fans - the first one that’s like, ‘Stop asking me that, don’t ask me that, I don’t wanna do that, I don’t wanna do that either’. It’s always somebody’s birthday. Always. But that song leaves nothing to be imagined… If somebody is like, ‘What’s that line mean?’, I’d be like, ‘Can you read?’. When I say all the lyrics in this album are a lot more blunt, this one is the perfect example of that.”
11. 'War Crimes'
Awsten: “Oh. Bud-dy. Oh my lord. What a crazy song. Initially there was another version - or when I first started doing it, it was like a girly base and I was like, ‘Shut up Awsten! We’ve got way tighter shit to say’. It’s me venting about the past year and a half, but it’s like an overview of that time, and is just me bitching about all of it, because bitching is great.
“I mean, we’ve toured a lot, so we’ve experienced a lot with other bands. We’ve experienced a lot just with other people in general and how they are, and how they treat you when things suck - or when things are tight. Or how they treat me because I’m the singer, and he’s just the drummer!”
Awsten: “Oh man, that’s like the pettiest breakup song, but it’s so great. I sing so quick in that song, it’s really fun. I wanted that one to come out before [the album] because I worry when songs are towards the back of the album that they’re just not gonna be heard as much, and it’s just a little more sonically… I don’t wanna say low-key - but other songs slam, or I’m like screaming and shit. I wanted to make sure it got its highlight.
“And plus, shout out to those Marilyn Manson-sounding vocals in the chorus - because I didn’t want it to stay the same dynamically, but when we tried to make it go up it just sounded dumb. I was like, ‘Do you know what we have to do? We have to go gloomier. Just sink that bottom half with some real dark shit, some real minor stuff in there’. We made it sound just like Marilyn Manson and it was crazy, and I was like ‘there it is! Bop!’.”
Awsten: “‘Worst’ was written in March 2019. That’s a lie.
“‘Worst’ started the way most demos do - on the laptop. But then I got upset! And I went and walked to Starbucks and put it on YouTube one morning after seeing some stuff online, and left it unlisted for a minute because I knew our old label would be like ‘waaa’ about it. So I left it up for a minute on unlisted so if people had the link they could find it, but then I deleted the tweet. So I just let it circulate, and dude that shit had like 30,000 views, which back then was like, a lot - because that was back before ‘Entertainment’. Then they made me put it on private, because they found that and Felony Steve: rest in peace Felony Steve (he’ll be back). But then people kept re-uploading it, and one of them has like 400,000 something views right now, which is crazy. So I was just like, ‘I think I can do that song way fucking better’, and sonically it’s completely different now. Yeah, that song is fuckin’ tight. It’s one of the more genre-unique songs on the album.”
14. ‘Zone Out’
Awsten: “‘Zone Out’ came before ‘Dream Boy’ - it was stuck in my head for a long time, and finally I just recorded that chip-tune version of it, for me. But it was kind of ad-libby and shit. So once I got more of the lyrics together I did that. I was just listening to it on repeat because I was like, ‘This is so beautiful’, but then I was like, ‘You know what, this song should be like a full-on pop banger’, and then ‘Dream Boy’ happened. But it’s meant to be like a reflection at the end of the album, kind of like, after all this shit. And it’s kind of more shaky sounding, low… a little more sarcastic at that point.”
15. ‘I Felt Younger When We Met'
Awsten: “What a fuckin’ hit. Yeah, that song, there was a version of it for ‘Friendly Reminder’, but it was just super light and it just didn’t do its job. I was like, ‘It’s just not impacting the way it needs to, so it needs to be rewritten’, and now it’s the fucking most insane intro on the entire album - oh my god. When we first got that at the studio, I was in the car with it and I was just like, ‘Woah’, turned it up way to loud, and just started it over when it got to the verse. So crazy.
“That song lyrically links back in to ‘Cherry Red’ - because it’s all meant to be very cohesive, even with the album art and stuff like that. Like the clock hands on the orange - that’s supposed to be the visual, and the ticking at the end represents that it’s about to start over again. Because it’s cyclical! Because guess what, dude? One of the fucking themes, part of the concepts of ‘Fandom’ is grief, and grief is a fucking loopy thing, it’s not a straight path - sometimes you gotta start over again. And you know what? The album did that: sonically, visually, conceptually. It’s a concept album, give us a five.”