There are few bands that can make me feel inspired in a dingy dive bar than the heart filled, angst ridden music of WATERMEDOWN. Better known as Jonny Mays, who is originally from McLean, formed this project in early 2012 following the breakup of his former pop punk band. Feeling uninspired, Mays sought out to create something that was unlike anything anybody was creating at the time. With a squeaky voice and a loud scream, Mays relentlessly worked to bring his feelings to life. With an acoustic guitar and collection of pedals, Mays started to bring his music out to the public in any way he could. Even if it meant playing on shows with aspiring pop punk bands hoping to be the next big thing. But when Mays graces the stage, all eyes and ears are drawn to him for his honestly and raw emotion that captivates the soul. We spoke with Mays regarding his unique musical delivery and his love of imperfections, his recent move to Richmond and the impact he hopes it will make on his music career, as well as his upcoming first full-length album, which is to be recorded this Saturday.

Your songs, which are a combination of singing, shouting, and spoken word, seem to have a very powerful impact on your audiences. Why did you choose to share your music in this way?

They are particular vocal styles that I tend to gravitate to, and I wanted to service them all in one project. So I just decided to do all three.

What are some of your influences that drove you toward that musical direction?

So, so many. Probably for the more recent stuff that I’ve been doing, which includes the three vocal styles, is this really good band called MANSIONS, which is incredible. That’s my main influence right now. Other than them, just countless bands that I have acquired and seen over the past three years. Every time I see a band and like it a lot, I’ll be observing, and after watching it I will just turn to my inner self and try to emulate what I like about that.

Can you tell me where the inspiration for your name comes from?

It was a long time ago. I had just broken up with my really horrible, awful pop punk band, and I wanted to do something different. I was with my older brother who was the founder with me of the band, and we were sitting in my attic listening to really mellow music. Out of nowhere I thought of something, and I was just like, “Dude, WATERMEDOWN! That sounds cool.” I never had an idea or a background behind it for the first year, but then progressively, I acquired an idea of it meaning just take me as I am. Don’t try to make me something else. Just listen, and if you don’t like it…sorry. This is what I want to do.

I understand that WATERMEDOWN used to be a band, but now it’s just you. Can you tell me why the other guys aren’t involved anymore?

It’s kind of complicated. More so the whole factor was that as a whole, unfortunately all of us live in different places and went to different colleges, and it just got to the point where we couldn’t play shows together and I got so invested that I didn’t want to stop this. I would record all the recordings myself, and then we would practice and jam them out and then make a live set. I thought I could always continue what I have been doing to a more convenient extent. I can just play solo shows and tour that way so it’s only revolving around my schedule.

You recently released a test press of songs called Perfect Is Pointless. What was the inspiration for that title and the album art?

The name Perfect Is Pointless is actually a lyric in a previous song that I completely scrapped. When I was on my last tour with my friend Daniel Thompson and a band called MY HEART MY ANCHOR, we were in Connecticut. and we were outside of this show that we went to go see because we had an off date. There was a band [playing the show] called MAJOR LEAGUE, and the lovely lead singer of the band talked to us for a very prolonged amount of time. He described to us the recording process for his latest record, which was produced by Will Yip, and he kind of repeated a line that Will said. He said, “If the record is not perfect, then it is perfect. The way he records, allegedly, is with nothing processed or anything. Basically, I like the idea of if something is not perfect, then it is good.

Then the album artwork kind of transcends throughout the lyrics because the main message repeats that there is this sort of storm, which is collectively building, and it’s obviously a metaphor. It’s kind of talking about me because the whole album is in first person. In the background of the album artwork there is the sunshine beaming out of the storm. My very good friend Shannon Lee painted that for me, and she is incredible.

Are there any common themes that tend to reoccur in your music?

Absolutely. I usually tend to write a lot about dark things. Everything that I write is usually from my perspective of things I see. It isn’t something made up, but it’s something that I’ll feel at the time when I write those songs. Most of the time, those feelings don’t leave me even after channeling them through songs. A lot of the time I’ll repeat a lot of lyrics from newer and older releases. All of my songs are intertwined, in a sense.

With your recent relocation to Richmond, do you have any plans to be more involved with the local music scene there?

That is definitely one of my main goals the second that I get down there. I have never really been affiliated with the Richmond scene, but I’ve always looked into it as an outsider and been like, “Wow! That’s a really amazing looking scene. I wish I could be a part of that.” The only chance I’ve had playing in Richmond was at an open mic night held by a wonderful person named Jim Dabb, and one of me and my friend’s laundry day, we had an off day and we did that open mic. It was great, and we had a fantastic time. I would definitely like to get into the larger communities down there like the DIY scene especially.

I saw on your Instagram that this Saturday you will begin recording your first full-length. Can you tell me more about that?

Me and the drummer did a 10-day tour together back in May, and the entire time we connected and bonded and shared ideas to the point where we are now. We have practiced together, even overnight, and we have written an album together, like 10 songs completely that I have just never been more proud of than anything that I have ever done. This is going to be the first release where I haven’t been the entire mind behind it, and I am really excited about it. This is going to be good. We hope to have it released by the end of the year, and I plan on pushing it to a record label that I believe in.


Do you have any upcoming shows or anything else you would like to announce at this time?

I have two shows left before I begin moving down [to Richmond], but once I get settled there I will start focusing more on music.

For more updates on WATERMEDOWN, be sure to “like” his Facebook page, follow him on Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr, subscribe to his YouTube channel, and check out his music on Bandcamp.

Joe Fitzpatrick

Joe Fitzpatrick

As editor-in-chief, Joe is very passionate about promoting music and culture in Virginia and DC. A resident of Fairfax, Joe enjoys going to shows, checking out local breweries, and trying new foods with his girlfriend Alex.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *