Interview: Madeline Matthews of Waterfronts

Waterfronts is a five-piece pop-punk band from Portland, Oregon, fronted by singer Madeline Matthews. Waterfronts is more than just another typical pop-punk band, though, as Matthews has a serious passion for what she does, wearing her heart on her sleeve in her work. Although the band has seen a few lineup changes over the years, they have persevered to a stable point where an EP and tour is in the works. Matthews talked with Clear Noise about being a female vocalist in the pop-punk scene, bands that have inspired her, and how the band’s music-writing has improved.

Nick Stephens: So give me a little background about the band. How did the five of you come together to create Waterfronts?

Madeline Matthews: I started the band way back in the spring of 2016, and we played our first show as a three piece last January. Since then, we’ve had a few different lineups to get to where we are now, mostly using Craigslist and friends-of-friends to find players.

NS: I noticed a strong early Fall Out Boy vibe from your songs so far, did they have any inspiration on your sound? What bands have influenced you?

MM: Ahh, I’m so glad you think so. Fall Out Boy is my favorite band, so I’m always really excited when people make the comparison. As for other influences, I draw a lot from Taking Back Sunday, The Wonder Years, Say Anything, and Paramore, especially lyrically. As much as I love some of the modern rock and pop-punk acts coming out these days, I always find myself going back to those bands when I need inspiration.

Photo by: Aaron Zeisemer

NS: Typically in this genre, you don’t see a ton of female vocalists, which I’m sure you know. I think it’s great to see more diversity instead of the same recycled stuff. What gives you the drive to kind of go against the grain a bit?

MM: The drive definitely comes from passion for what I do. I honestly can’t imagine a version of myself in which I’m not constantly singing or playing music. It’s not always easy to be different, but I put a lot of faith in that passion, and it makes it a little less difficult to take chances and feel myself stick out in the genre.

NS: You guys have some music released already, but it looks like you have some even better stuff in the works. How would you say your band’s songwriting has improved from when you started and where you are now?

MM: When we first started, I wrote all the songs on guitar and vocals, and then brought them to the band, when everyone filled their parts in. We each still have final say over our respective instruments, but now we start with an idea and build it as a band. It’s nice to get everyone’s opinions in; we all cover one another’s blind spots.

Our drummer Evan is really good with song structure, and our rhythm guitarist Chris is awesome with effects and tones. Our lead guitarist, Kevin, is great at writing parts that work with lyrics. Our bass player Drey’s strength is hearing how all the parts work as a whole, and I like to write lyrics. Our songs are definitely way better since we’ve started writing together.

NS: Where do you get your inspiration for your lyrics? Is there any set theme you’re trying to express?

MM: I get inspiration from everything. My phone is filled with notes that I take when I’m at home, at work, at practice, going for a walk, going to sleep, etc. Just because inspiration is everywhere.

Photo by: Aaron Zeisemer

It’s definitely taken practice to prime myself to see it, but some of my best lyrics have come from the simplest, most mundane observations that inspired me to write something down. Right now, I’m not really writing to any set theme. I think I’m mostly just narrating my life, but the theme of coping with depression and anxiety is recurrent in most of my writing. Sometimes in a hopeless way, sometimes in a hopeful way.

NS: What’s in store for the future of Waterfronts? Any tours or albums?

Oh, we have a lot coming! For starters, our new EP is coming out this spring, and we will be touring in support of it. I’m not sure exactly where yet, but we’re getting pretty excited. We’re hoping to do a lot of writing new music, if not releasing a lot of it this year, and really stepping up our game overall. One way or another, it’s going to be a really great year for us.

Waterfronts released a new song this week titled “Headaches”, which you can listen to here.


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