With Waterparks’ fifth studio album on the way, the hype is only continuing to build. This time around, chief songwriter and frontman Awsten Knight is looking outwards – turning to collaboration to expand upon the band’s already versatile and experimental sound. So far, fans have had a taste of two energetic and evocative singles, “FUNERAL GREY” and “SELF-SABOTAGE,” the latter of which has now been given the remix treatment from close friends and role models Benji and Joel Madden of Good Charlotte.
Instead of dropping in a standard vocal feature for the new version of the fan-favorite track, Knight opted to have Good Charlotte make the song their own with unlimited freedom. “SELF-SABOTAGE” feat. Good Charlotte contains crushing guitar parts, a joint chorus between the Madden brothers, and a brand new second verse that hilariously references the story of an infamous on-stage critique of Good Charlotte from Pearl Jam vocalist Eddie Vedder.
“Working with Awsten on this did not disappoint. He’s always got such creative ideas and he knew exactly what he wanted from us, which really made it fun to show up and really participate in someone else’s creative process,” Joel Madden says, reflecting on the collaborative venture. “I can’t think of another band quite like Waterparks, and I’ve never met anyone like Awsten – true individuals following their creative instincts and living in a creative madness that always seems like so much fun and freedom.”
In an exclusive interview with AP, Awsten Knight detailed the collaborative process for “SELF-SABOTAGE,” working with Good Charlotte and blackbear and what we can expect from Waterparks’ forthcoming LP.
With “SELF-SABOTAGE,” you had the chance to road test the new song before it dropped on tour this past summer. What was the response like for the song, and how did it inform your process for making the remix?
Getting to play things live is really cool, especially before they are out because there have actually been a few instances where the things I do live now aren’t on the original recordings. It bleeds over. I was able to go in and sing things differently with new inflections, and that’s one of the coolest things about playing this song. The response has been really good and it seems like everyone already knows the “What the fuck is wrong with me?” part.
How did Benji and Joel Madden from Good Charlotte bring the original song to the next level?
This is my favorite kind of feature where it feels more like a collaboration for the entire song and not just a little section or phoned-in feature. Benji added guitars to the entire song, him and Joel did their verse and when we were in the studio I was like, “You guys should just straight up do your own chorus.”
Back in 2015, Waterparks played their first show outside of Texas with Good Charlotte for the latter’s comeback performance in Los Angeles. How full circle does this feel considering that only seven years later, you’re not only musical collaborators but close friends?
It’s wild, man. Back then, we were like, “Oh my God we get to leave Texas and play a show with Good Charlotte, and it’s just us and them.” This is just another moment of that, but more elevated. Instead of getting to do one intimate show together, this is a full-on collab for the whole world to hear and experience at the same time. I’ve been listening to Good Charlotte forever and now they are role models for how to be a good band and be good people. Getting to do this with them is truly such a fulfilling moment.
Can you elaborate on the second verse of the remix where Joel imitates Pearl Jam?
I lost my mind, it was so funny. [Laughs.] We pulled up a [Pearl Jam] song, I listened to it and I was just like, “What is he saying?” We had Joel [do the Eddie Vedder] voice for the “What the fuck is wrong with me” part. It makes it so much better [that it’s him] and I was honestly crying. They were like, “Do we keep this?” and I was like, “Do not change that!” Here’s my thing with lyrics: It’s not just a matter of saying poetic metaphors over and over – my favorite verses are when there is a balance between the beautiful poetic shit, things I haven’t thought about it, and something that can make me laugh. I want to experience different emotions and sometimes injecting humor into things makes it so much more enjoyable and authentic.
Waterparks’ new era seems to be rooted in collaboration. What prompted that change?
Before, it just came from not having help for so many years being local and doing everything ourselves. It almost became like a “proving it to ourselves kind of thing,” to do it without any help. Doing Greatest Hits (2020) showed that collaboration can only expand what you are already doing. I was like, “Now let’s see what it’s like with more ingredients.” Plus, when Benji, Joel, and even blackbear are on a song, sometimes it makes me look at what I’ve done and say, “I could sing that better.” You can’t be shown up on your own song, so it makes me push more and work a little harder.
Speaking of blackbear, you have been teasing your new song with him “Fuck About It” recently. What can we expect from this track?
I had already him in mind for it, but when I showed him [the song] he was like, “This is fucking tight, let’s do it.” I have been a fan of him for so long and getting to hear someone you listen to go and demolish your song, it’s so sick. I remember being on a plane back from Belgium and he was like, “Dude this is the best verse I’ve done in so long, my wife is freaking out and she doesn’t even hype me up like that.” [Laughs.]
The fifth Waterparks album is on the way. What does that milestone mean to you?
This album is important because there are a lot of things that are talked about, whether that’s moods or vibes, that haven’t been felt in the Waterparks universe in a long time. I want this one to be a little bit shorter, to the point, and have it be specific and methodical. There are a lot of things sonically as well that we have never been able to accomplish before that this one more than accomplishes – it fucking smashes them out of the park. I think people are going to look back and say, “This is the classic Waterparks.”