It’s time to settle down, folks, for a quick psychology lesson with Awsten Knight. The Waterparks frontman is currently dissecting the notion that the world at large has got him all figured out. His theory? It has a little something to do with the human brain, and a lot to do with his frequent social media use.
“On average, people have 50,000 thoughts a day – it’s something crazy like that,” Awsten explains to Kerrang! on a summery morning in Los Angeles, his voice full of warmth despite our chat being the singer’s first conversation of the day. “I put up, like, three of my thoughts a day on Twitter, but there’s no way you can know somebody from those pieces of information. If I was like, ‘I hate shrimp,’ then you would know that I don’t like shrimp, but that’s not a way to know somebody. Even if I tweeted 50,000 times, that would be just one day of information.”
Indeed, from his unpredictable caps-lock declarations (a recent example: ‘ASK UR GIRL WHAT MY BUTT TASTES LIKE BITCH’) to the fact that he’s brought along an actual goat to our photoshoot (shoutout partygoats.com), the 27-year-old has fast become one of rock’s most fascinating young stars. But Awsten’s growing profile – both online and otherwise – has had a ripple effect on his day-to-day life in Waterparks. And, despite his lyrical honesty throughout the Texan trio’s vibrant discography, he’s learning that not everyone, well… gets him.
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Since Waterparks’ formation in 2011, this has been a recurring theme for Awsten – and not just because of his internet habits. In music videos, the frontman has dressed up as a human-sized puppy alongside guitarist Geoff Wigington and drummer Otto Wood (Crave), performed synchronised dance routines as part of a fake boyband (Stupid For You) and even sat petting an alligator in this year’s Watch What Happens Next clip, which saw Awsten make his directorial debut.
Their back catalogue, too, is similarly animated: 2016 debut Double Dare marked them as pop-punk’s brightest newbies, while 2018’s Entertainment and this year’s Fandom boast Awsten’s sky-high aspirations for the band, as well as his remarkable songwriting range beyond the often-limiting genre. At the heart of it all, though, is simply a man who loves embracing the colourful side of life. And it’s a natural disposition that has been called into question on a far-too-frequent basis, from more than one angle. First, via Waterparks’ fiercely loyal fan base – a small portion of whom have accused of him of “changing” too much.
“I’m not trying to call anyone out, but there are literally accounts that are like, ‘This is something Awsten would say,’” he explains with an exhale. “It’s all dumb shit that I would never say. It’s like, ‘Why do y’all have a fantasy of my personality?’”
Worse still are misinformed outsiders who believe it to all be a ruse: that Awsten has conjured an exaggerated form of his personality in a bid to increase his following – the suspicion being that he’s essentially playing a character.
“I’ve dealt with that a lot,” Awsten sighs. “The first time I ever experienced it was on a podcast, and I couldn’t quite articulate why it made me so angry. They were like, ‘Everything that you do: is it a kind of act?’ And I was like, ‘What the fuck?’ I tweet jokes, and I like colour, is that that weird? There are constantly people that are like, ‘But what’s the real thing?’ It’s like being accused of being disingenuous about who you are. Having your authenticity questioned gets tiring. You feel like you have to constantly say, ‘I’m not a fake piece of shit.’ I’m just here.”