Five Questions With Mark Foster of Foster The People

Los Angeles-based band Foster The People lands at the Loft on July 3. Lead singer Mark Foster lets us in on where his life would be right now if he hadn’t pursued music and why hipsters aren’t so hip.

FrontRow: You said your father gave you the idea to move out to LA or NY to pursue your music. If that conversation hadn’t happened, do you think you would have found music as a career?

MF: No, I don’t know. I don’t know if I would have. Before [my dad and I] had that conversation [about moving to Los Angeles] I didn’t really think that was possible. It just never crossed my mind as something possible to do. When he said that it was so empowering and it opened up my eyes to the possibility of doing that and following your passion you know. And after a year in LA I had this moment where I was like ok you know what I can do this. I have to go all in. I can’t have a backup plan and I need to commit to doing this whether I’m homeless or I’m successful. And I knew if I had that type of attitude I’d be successful. I gave myself 10 years.

FR: It’s been said many times that your fans don’t always understand what they’re singing along to with your songs, and that they might not even care. Does it matter to you that they understand the meaning behind your music or are you satisfied with them solely enjoying the sound?

MF: No, no either way. I think people listen to music in two different ways. Some people don’t listen to lyrics at all, and that’s fine, people can pick and choose. You know, I’m not going to change the way people listen to music. It’s just how you are.

FR: On that note, “Pumped Up Kicks” could not have more hype on its hands. When a single song gets that big, would you prefer to keep all the hype on that one song or would you rather distribute it equally out to your other songs?

MF: [Laughs] You know, I’d rather it spread around, and I think it is. But there’s always that one song that’s the gatekeeper to other music. There are a lot of bands in history that I can name that have that one song that breaks them open and lets people listen to their other stuff. That’s what “Pumped Up Kicks” is for us.

FR: You just said in Rolling Stone online article that “Pumped Up Kicks” is “a ‘f**k you’ song to the hipsters in a way– but it’s a song the hipsters are going to want to dance to.” Define what you think a hipster is and why you say that song is basically flipping them off?

MF: No, I mean to me there’s a lot of cool things about the hipster culture, but the negative things really bother me. And the negative things are just pretention. You know I feel like hipsters, like deep down, when you look past the clothes, the fashion sense, whatever, deep down they’re just critics. They’re critics of everything: critics of fashion, critics of art, and critics of movies. And it’s pretentious. And when it comes to music I think a big part of that culture feels like they are the voice for everybody else. And a lot of times they’re full of sh*t.

FR: You started off as a solo artist, and now you are in a band. Would you ever go back to doing your own thing?

MF: Yeah sure I mean ya know. I can speak for myself and I’m sure I can speak for the other guys, we’re going to be in music for the rest of our lives and I’m sure it’s not always going to be this project so…definitely. But I guess the hardest thing about being in a band is that you know you‘re basically automatically family and sometimes you don’t have the benefit of growing up together and knowing about the quirks and what drives people crazy or what their needs are. And then you’re in a situation where you see each other 24 hours a day 7 days a week and you have to work that stuff out. I can’t imagine doing this with some of the bands I used to play. It would have just been awful. But we’re all really good communicators and good friends and we’ve got a good chemistry together so it works.