Bands We Like: Foster The People

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By Zachary Swickey

By now, most people have already caught wind of indie-popsters on the rise Foster the People. The LA-based band has been storming the pop charts with their hit “Pumped Up Kicks,” from their breakout debut album, Torches, which was just released in May. The group is currently on a mostly sold-out club tour, but who are the guys behind the catchy pop sound?

Foster the People formed just two short years ago when vocalist/guitarist and unofficial band leader Mark Foster ventured West out of Ohio in pursuit of a music career. He worked the typical menial jobs – pizza delivery, telemarketing – but thanks to his knack for networking and artistic flare, Foster eventually began rubbing elbows with the young talent in Hollywood.

Before long, Foster got the big break he was looking for (or so he thought) when he received a phone call from the A&R team of Dr. Dre’s Aftermath Records. According to an interview with the LA Times, the publicist for Dre could not verify any of Foster’s story, but the singer claims to have walked away from a deal as he did not want to become the “white crossover soul artist” that the label had envisioned him as. Foster prefers bands like Blur and wanted to make “glitched-out electronic music” rather than be told what to perform.

Foster soon landed a gig scoring commercials, and it gave him the confidence to start performing again after suffering a wicked streak of writer’s block. Wanting to start a full band, he called up his old friends Mark Pontius and Cubbie Fink to take on drums and bass, respectively. Most fans are curious as to how the group got their unique name. Well, Foster had originally planned on calling the band Foster & the People, but fans frequently misheard the name as Foster the People. Foster eventually cozied up to the misspoken name because it evoked the image of “taking care” of the people.

The newly formed Foster the People clicked right away. Before long, Foster showed the band “Pumped Up Kicks,” on which he recorded every instrument. The track would become the template for the band’s contagious synth pop sound. Buzz began to generate around the band and they landed much-coveted slots at this year’s Coachella and SXSW music festivals, winning the hearts of many new fans.

Fast-forward to present day and “Pumped Up Kicks” is a certified hit, and the radical, post-apocalyptic video for their second single “Helena Beat” was just released. Their debut album, Torches, is still climbing the charts and they should be proud of the breakthrough debut. It’s a solid, polished effort from start to finish that will beg you to sing and dance along (but let’s not forget the handclaps). Sure, you can make the MGMT comparisons but that would be robbing the band of the credit they deserve. (For the record, falsetto singing over synth beats was not patented by MGMT).

Foster the People seem to have already found their sound, which takes some bands years to figure out. We can’t wait to hear where their next album will take them, as they already seem to be ahead of the game.

What do you think of Foster the People? Let us know in the comments.