Awsten Knight, the leader singer of pop punk boyband Waterparks, hasn’t been shy about just how much he hates social media. When we spoke to him back at the start of lockdown, he told us that he was trying to stay offline as much as possible, both to put some kind of barrier between himself and an ever-aggressive fanbase, and to avoid having any input from outside voices on his music. In his own words: “Anyone who’s great, I noticed, I look at anyone I like, and they’re not spending all day on Twitter.”
True to his word, Awsten took a few months off from the internet recently, spending his spare time “ghost hunting” and “friending dogs on Instagram”, returning only to tease new Waterparks track Low Key As Hell. After tweeting literally nothing but the word “ALRIGHT” on his own Twitter, fans went off, replying to Awsten’s tweet over 4000 times within minutes. Over the next few days the band amped up suspense, tweeting “0 RETWEETS AND I DROP LOWKEY AS HELL TODAY”, which – naturally – didn’t work.
On September 17, Awsten went live on Instagram to cut off his trademark green hair while track Lowkey As Hell played in the background – a symbolic shedding of the last of Waterparks’ very neon FANDOM era. Lowkey As Hell, which finally dropped for real today, is a short, deceptively fun pop punk song with references to Waterparks’ recent ascent to mega-fame. It calls back to FANDOM’s Watch What Happens Next, a song about their fans resenting their success: 'I like cool shirts/I like cold rings/I want a big house/but I’m hiding.'
Its lyrics dig deeper than the beat lets on, seeing Awsten at home examining the consequences of the last couple of years of attention with lowkey (highkey) very sad and honest lyrics like: 'I’ll probably die in my apartment I couldn’t afford last year' and 'people like me better when I’m hurt inside'.
When we asked Awsten about the track, he gave us exclusive insight into Lowkey As Hell and where he’s at right now: “Lowkey As Hell is a song about me but I think your parents are gonna be into it. I don’t think British parents care about cussing as much. I say the fuck word twice, but I also made a clean version too so you can listen to it around your little brother. He probably secretly says ‘shit’ when y’all aren’t looking.
"Stream the song because I want a platinum song and would like to get that please. My walls are very bare except for this giraffe painting but it doesn’t like, BOTHER me. Buy the song on iTunes if they still do that maybe? 1500 streams is one sale so if you bought it we could go platinum faster. I need to Google the facts before I [say] these things. Gonna do that now, thanks!”
While it’s still sonically similar to the fun pop they’re known for, Lowkey As Hell marks the start of a new era for Waterparks: one that, maybe, sees them more honest, more vulnerable, and with a healthy amount of distance between their music and the internet. For a band whose fanbase was built on being online, it’s a brave, necessary and exciting move – we’re excited to watch what happens next.