Foster the People shot to fame with its single “Pumped Up Kicks,” an upbeat song that has been used on advertisements, movies and TV.
It is only when you get to listen to the song that you are taken aback because the song’s chorus instructs someone to “outrun my gun,” depicting themes of teen violence and the terrible prevalence of shootings in America.
The band has been known to discuss dark themes, set against a kicky electronic beat and pulsating rhythm, and it is this awesome sound and pensive prose that has earned Foster the People a huge fanbase in such a short time.
Super asked bassist Cubbie Fink how it feels to be on tour, dealing with fame and addressing teen violence.
Are you aware about your fanbase here? You have a local chapter running a Twitter and Facebook page dedicated to Foster the People.
I have heard about that and I’ve seen a lot of the comments on Facebook and on Twitter about the fans that we do have there, begging us to come. It’s really great that we actually have the opportunity to get over there and play a show we’ve been wanting to do all year. We’re really excited about it.
Are you guys used to the fame already? What has been the biggest change for you?
I don’t know. I mean, fame is such a weird thing, the biggest difference is just the fact that people recognize us on the streets more than they used to. But I don’t think we’ve changed much, we’re pretty levelheaded guys, we still approach life the same way we used to, we’re just excited to be able to do what we love.
You mentioned in a documentary that you had to gain your “sea legs” immediately when it came to performing. Are you guys used to it now or do you still get nervous?
I wouldn’t say nervous, we get excited, it’s still an adrenaline rush every time we play, but we have played so many shows, we’ve probably played over 300 shows together at this point in the last year and a half, so there’s a certain point where you’re comfortable performing in front of a big crowd.
How was it like playing on Abbey Road?
That was really amazing. It was actually one of the cool things we’ve been able to do; pretty wild to be in the same studio where so many incredible albums were worked on, not to mention all the stuff that The Beatles worked on there.
Do you have a personal favorite from your album?
Probably one of my favorites is “Call It What You Want”; that and “I Would Do Anything For You” are my top two favorites from the album.
What has been the most memorable tour for you so far?
I feel like all the tours we’ve done have been so much fun, it’s tough to say. We just did a big US tour, that was fun because we got to design the look of the stage, and some production elements. To be able to collaborate as a band, come up with a concept and have it realized, how it actually looked on a tour was really cool. It’s tough to pick one as a favorite ’cause all have great moments.
You’ve been trying to be active on Twitter. How’s that going?
(laughs) Not great. I’m probably the worst social media person that exists. I just haven’t really figured out how to embrace Facebook and Twitter. Maybe someday I’ll get better at it.
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
We don’t really have hard and fast rituals. The only thing that we do every show is, right before we go onstage we huddle up as a band and then we just say “Bless” and touch each other’s foreheads or shoulders. It’s just a funny thing that started at the beginning and we’ve done it every show.
Do you guys still Google yourselves?
I don’t know. I haven’t Googled myself in a while, but I remember in the beginning when the band was first starting to get recognized, it was really exciting to just Google the band and see what people were saying about us. It definitely was a really exciting time to start seeing the buzz and what people were talking about. But at this point I’d almost rather stay off of Google. I think it could go to your head if you read too much or care too much what people are saying.
Are there any artists/bands you’d want to collaborate with?
There’s a lot. It’s funny, doing some of the stuff we did with The Beach Boys. There was some talk of—it was very unofficial—but it would be fun to do something with them; it would be amazing to collaborate with The Beach Boys. Also with modern artists like Little Dragon. There’s a lot of artists that we respect that we’d love to collaborate with.
What’s your next album going to be like?
Really tough to say. I think we’re all curious to see what direction it’s gonna go in. There’ll be elements of where we started, but there’ll be a progression, and I think the nice thing about the first album is that it opened doors for us to go in a lot of different directions.
Did you guys do any research about Manila? Anything you wanna do before or after the concert?
I really don’t know if we’re gonna have time. We’re all on different schedules, I’m just there for about a day which is unfortunate, but we’d definitely love to go back and spend a fair amount of time there and explore and really get a feel of the city.
Are you into songwriting as well? Is it something you can see yourself doing?
Yeah, absolutely. It’s something I have been doing a lot lately; we’ve had a bit more free time these past few months than we have in a while, so I’ve started to write a little bit.
Your band’s story seems to be a Cinderella story for the digital age. What advice would you have for aspiring bands?
The biggest thing with any kind of artist is to be true to who you really are, make art that represents you, don’t make art to please other people. If you’re pursuing art in that way, from a pure and genuine motive, you really can’t go wrong.
What are you like on tour? What do you guys do off stage?
Every time we’re near a beach, drummer Mark Pontius and I will try to get on the beach and surf. We actually got to surf in Japan for the first time, which was pretty cool. And we’ll be surfing in Bali—that’s a must. Outside of that, I like to bring a bike on the road, get out and tour the area with my bike; I like being outside. It really depends on where we are; we try to see the cultural hotspots of the city we’re in, taste the local food, things like that.
You mentioned in an interview that a loved one of yours was at Columbine during the shooting, that’s why “Pumped Up Kicks”’ lyrics resonated with you. How have your teenage listeners reacted to the song as well?
Yeah, there has been a lot of discussion that’s been spurred by that song, which is good. A lot of people when they first start figuring out that the song has a darker undertone than what it sounds like initially don’t know how to react, but ultimately it has opened the door to a lot of really good discussions. Teen violence is a very real thing in our country and around the world, and it’s good that the song has got everyone talking about it. I feel that in a certain way it’s given kids a platform to talk about bullying and about the problems they’re going through, as opposed to just acting out in violence without anyone to talk to.
Foster the People performs Saturday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. Visit www.ticketnet.com.ph for tickets.