Foster the People: Slowly Fostering an audience

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Foster the People are such a grassroots success that papers have been calling their song, “Pumped Up Kicks” the song of the summer since spring of last year. Originally released on the band’s own website, the song’s gradually increasing popularity led to a major label deal with Columbia Records and their recently released full length, “Torches.” The album hit No. 1 on  the Billboard charts in the Rock Albums and Alternative Albums categories. Of the band’s steady success singer Mark Foster jokes, “it’s going to be the song of every summer.”

I’d like to ask you about your influences — but I feel like I have to be cautious, because the lyrics of your song, “Call It What You Want” seem like such a critique of criticism, with the line about “You say, ‘What’s your style and who do you listen to?’ Who cares?”

You’re really perceptive if you got what that song was about. … I played a song for a girl one time, and she was like, “You remind me of Prince meets John Mayer meets Incubus.” And I was just  like, “Are you kidding me? It’s like none of those things!” It happens all the time, people compare stuff. We’ve got a lot of comparisons to MGMT, Peter Bjorn and John, Phoenix and whatever. And that doesn’t really frustrate me. I think it just comes with the territory, especially when you’re a new band.

At risk of you writing a song criticizing my observations, I got from “Torches” a 1980s sensibility, but it feels more like ’80s pop than the new-wave ’80s that other indie bands have embraced.

I grew up listening to all sorts of music. I’ve been working on the sound for Foster the People for seven years. … And really in the last year and a half to two years is when it started to click. I never set out to try to capture one moment in history, musically. It’s kind of everything all at once.


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