Beige is over, long live colors! Leading the charge into the multihued future is Houston trio Waterparks. They're a hyped-up thrill ride of a time, shamelessly emotional and keenly tuned into their rapidly growing fanbase—most of whom, like Waterparks' guitarist and lead singer Awsten Knight, have a love affair with Manic Panic dye and skinny jeans. The pop-punk renaissance is alive and well with this band.
Photos by Hayden Manders
I met the band earlier this month at Manic Panic's Color Asylum salon in New York City. Considering Knight' affinity for hair dye, it seemed only right for him to work a little magic on my own hair. So, magic was worked. "It's important to us we find a very powerful color scheme to build an era around," Knight says. Currently, the new album, Entertainment, is focused on purple. The last album, 2016's Double Dare, was blue and yellow. Why purple? "It just felt right," Knight says. Knight, you see, has synesthesia. Sounds, for him, evoke a certain color. The Weeknd's stuff, he says, is usually dark teal or blue for no particular reason other than it's what Knight experiences. Reading into Waterparks' use of color almost takes away from the color their music inspires. Take it at face value and let the music speak for itself because there's more music on the way than imaginable.
One album a year is ambitious for even the seasoned artist, but Waterparks aren't phased. "We have the material," Geoff Wigington, Waterparks's guitarist, says. "Why wait?" Knight piggybacks off him, cursing out EPs in favor of full-blown LPs, saying, "I just wanna be like, 'Fuck you. Here's an album' and then six months later, 'Fuck you. Here's another album.'" That, of course, is limited to their label's jurisdiction but, for the most part, all systems for the trio's future are a go. Entertainment's ready, now they just wait. "I've thought about leaking it," Knight says with a wink.
Photos by Hayden Manders
With a fanbase as rabid as theirs, it's surprising the album hasn't leaked. Regardless, Entertainment goes hard. Songs like "TANTRUM" bring the aggression, one that's bursting with saturated hues that can, at times, feel overwhelming to a listener not used to Waterparks' untouchable energy. They shine in their love songs; "Rare" plays like your favorite teenage dream.
It's that sense of youthfulness that makes Waterparks so captivating. They aren't tied down to the formulaic Top 40. They're making music that's at once nostalgic to this generation of 20-somethings and still contemporary. Perhaps we never really grow out of our teenage angst, and why should we? The dreaminess those years lent themselves to, where everything was being felt and experienced for the first time, is worth holding on to. It's the antidote to adult-onset jadedness. The monotony of growing up doesn't mean your life has to become monochrome. There's always room for a little color, in your hair or otherwise. It keeps that energy alive. With Waterparks, it seems possible. Just add color.
Entertainment drops January 26 via Equal Vision Records.