Substream Approved: Watermedown

photo: Jim Trocchio

“Did you mean watermelon?”

Believe it or not, you’re not the first person to make that joke. Vocalist/guitarist behind emo-punk project Watermedown, Jonny Mays, is used to hilarious quips like that on a regularly basis. While it hasn’t gotten so bad as a Google autocorrect, it’s still a fact of life that Mays has to be inundated with often.

“When I first came up with the name, I was, like, 17 years old and I really didn’t think that hard about it at all,” Mays says. “Yet everyone’s been in this constant presumption thinking, ‘Wow, this is a really funny and witty comment—holy shit, watermelon!

As tired as Mays is with the fact, that doesn’t mean he hasn’t embraced the long-running joke.

“The first T-shirts that I ever pressed for this band was just a black T-shirt that says “watermelon” on them,” the singer jokes. “I hope it gets run into the ground very soon, but I don’t think that’ll happen. Band names are stupid anyway.”

All fruit-based witticisms aside, Mays has had quite a year. In 2015 alone, he signed to Equal Vision Records, toured with the likes of Man Overboard and A Loss For Words, and released Somewhere Sleepless, his critically acclaimed debut EP. However, it didn’t necessarily get that way overnight for Mays, as he first had to lay some groundwork before he could move into the spotlight.

“I ended up joining up with friends in Head North on a label called Quiet Fire Media that they founded,” the frontman states. “I recorded the EP with them up in Buffalo.”

If it weren’t for the help of Wonder Years vocalist Dan Campbell at a show at the College Of New Jersey back in April, things may have turned out very different for Watermedown.

“I played a show with Aaron West, Dan’s side project, and he really liked the set,” Mays remembers. “He ended up sending the album to a bunch of his higher-up people, who really liked it.”

One of the people Campbell sent it to was Wonder Years manager Craig Monahan, who sent it out to even more people. Monahan told Mays that Equal Vision really liked it and expressed interest in signing the artist. The label ended up releasing Watermedown’s debut EP Somewhere Sleepless—an immensely passionate, five-track powerhouse that really packs quite the emotional punch.

To Mays, all of the tracks hold a lot of personal significance, but one in particular that stood out to the artist was opening number “Bragging Rights.”

“It’s one of my favorite songs to play live,” he says. “Also, Jay Zubricky, who produced the album, really made it sound cool and brought in a lot of great ideas.”

What the future holds for Watermedown in the coming months, Mays isn’t sure. Given the bout of success he’s had in the past few months, however, it seems as if he’s happy to just be along for the ride.

“Everything’s fallen together, and it’s all felt really right.” S

A version of this piece was published in Substream #49.