After Double Dare, Entertainment et Fandom, to carry on with the tradition, Waterparks’ new album title had to start with a “G”. They went with Greatest Hits, but don’t expect a compilation of their best songs, the guys are not that predictable. Awsten Knight has more than one trick up his sleeve and never fails to surprise us. With only one album, Awsten, Geoff and Otto succeeded in doing something new, refreshing and really special. Let’s speak about it with the master himself, Awsten Knight.
Hey, Awsten! Thanks for being with us today to speak about your last baby, Greatest Hits. How did you work on this one? I heard that you wrote a lot of songs… You seemed to be really inspired lately.
You know, usually when we make an album, it’s like that but especially for that one. We have around ten songs on the album but I think they were maybe 21 demos. We were gone so much. It wasn’t a lot of time but obviously the f**king world shut down and we were like “Ok, I’m gonna do what I would do if I had time off: make stuff”. Just a little throwback for a second, for Entertainment, we weren’t supposed to have any time off between tours. We were on the road for something like 5 months at that point. We couldn’t do that and then go straight into the studio. I don’t have these songs done. Ok, I’m sorry for Canada… If anybody from Canada sees this, my bad. We pulled out of that Canadian tour, the only Canadian tour we’ve ever been lined up for. I was so sick. We just needed the time. But in that two weeks break leading to another tour, I made Blonde, Not Warriors, Lucky People… Actually, it was just so necessary to have that time. So, fast forward again, the world shut down and I was like “I’m gonna treat this like I have two weeks to make an album” and I just made so many songs.
Do you try new things, maybe in terms of production? I know you love to use technology in your songs…
That’s definitely always the case, even between demos. If there’s one I’m like “Hmm this one is a little bit down in the middle, I need that one to sound a little more like a vacuum cleaner is going the whole time but getting punched”, I need to satisfy these kinds of things otherwise my brain will put me into the dark zone. (Laugh)
When you are making an album, what are you looking for? Are you looking more to challenge yourself or to create a certain reaction from the audience?
If I made another version of a previous album that wouldn’t satisfy me. I have to move forward or I won’t move at all. This is the only way to stay in it, to move forward. I’m always challenging myself. That’s the only way to create.
What I do like about your songs is all the little details in it. Everything is well thought out. It can be lyrics connecting songs between them or even a little sound in the background. I heard a kinda similar sound in the last Entertainment song and in the first one of Greatest Hits, am I paranoid or is it something you did on purpose?
Actually, I wanted both of them to be like cycles but at different times. Fandom represents the cycle I was stuck in 2018/2019. Greatest Hits is the cycle just after all of that is over. The way Greatest Hits starts, I was on my phone, recording the rain sound. I didn’t do it in the meaning of something, it’s just a certain mood. So, there is rain and also… The day when Fandom came out, we were in New York. I was stuck in traffic and I decided to put my phone out the window to record traffic sounds. I was able to put both of those and sample them at the same time. Then, there’s the first line “Last night I had the strangest dream of all” and here we were actually talking about Fandom. Time slows down there, it stretches out. In the last song, it seems that the clock is ticking at the end, it’s going slower and slower. It feels like when you are falling asleep and the time seems to kinda slow down. This cycle represents one night we are stucking in. The ticking at the beginning of Greatest Hits gives us the context that it takes place just after, in real life.
I was kinda surprised when I heard the name of the album for the first time. I was thinking “It can’t be a normal Greatest Hits album”, that’s too easy for Waterparks. Why did you choose that name for a new album?
Normally, an album is just a snapshot of where you are at that time. But for Greatest Hits, there was so much time and there’re so many things I wanted to do. I wanted to design multiple areas. And with Greatest Hits we defined different kinds of eras in one album. I was able to put together all these different moods for the first time. Normally, eras are separate in several albums but we did it in one. That’s why there are multiple logos and covers for the same album.
Since you wrote a lot of songs for this album and you like to run wild with them, are there any of them that ended up coming out completely differently from what you had pictured at the beginning?
Not completely different, no. I always have an initial idea of what I want. I define the mood, if I want a special sound or anything else. I’m not a big producer. I do the demos and then I’m like “Let’s build this up« . But we always do songs with a great idea of what it’s supposed to be. For example, you can picture how you want a house to look but you might not know exactly how to do it. It’s what producing is kinda like. You can really be close to finding how to do it but it’s really hard to do it on your own.
Speaking about creating and producing, what was your most challenging song on Greatest Hits?
Normally, songs are easy to write because you just feel them so much. Songs, when you f**king kill them, flow. They will just come out. A lot of my favorite songs actually were subconscious. I felt them. I sang a song to a very small group of people when the demos were done and some of them had the same thought about this one. One of my friends told me “This song is really cool. You should add a chorus”. And I was “what are you talking about? There’s a chorus.” He insisted “No, there’s not.” So, I’m gonna say “Like It” because after that I was stuck for one day with this idea to add a new chorus.
Do you plan on playing more shows in Europe and mostly, in France?
We have European dates booked. Next year, we’re coming to Germany, Netherlands, Germany, Germany, Poland… God, we have a lot of “Germany” going on! I have to add some Paris in there.
I can’t finish this interview without asking: according to you, which is the greatest hit of all time?
Wow… I’d say, most songs by The Beach Boys. And Mr. Brightside, probably. Plans, by Death Cab. Shawn Mendes has some great hits too. And Waterparks’ Greatest Hits, of course!