Interview: Foster the People

Orange juice and muffins may seem strange to serve at 1 in the afternoon for most people, but for three hard-working musicians and four die-hard music bloggers, it was just the thing after a late Friday night of NXNE’ing.

If you haven’t yet heard of Foster the People, then you’re going to, very soon. After their debut album dropped in the spring, gaining spots on the charts and extensive gab by music lovers everywhere, they now continue to log countless travel hours, hitting the stages of summer festivals and venues around the world.

Deciding on how I was going to make my interview proud by writing a piece that would not only highlight this threesome’s ridiculous talent but also dig deeper into why they’re doing what they’re doing, I reflected back to a university course I took: Mass Communications. We learned about Marshall McLuhan’s phrase, “The medium is the message.” The boys of FTP know that music can be such an extremely powerful way to connect with people. As frontman Mark Foster says, “Kids can relate to what I’m singing about. And that really helps solve isolation – knowing that someone else out there understands.” Perhaps I’m taking McLuhan’s words all too literally but there’s something there. Something meaningful. Music can touch people like nothing else can and I have FTP to thank for reminding me of this. Who ever said a BA was useless…

What do you think of Toronto?

Well we were here a couple months ago and I think that was all our first time. And we were really impressed by the city. We were kind of blown away. There’s a lot going on, a lot of culture, a lot of really cool spots to hang out. It’s a beautiful city.

How did you guys get together?

[Mark Foster] been friends with both these guys individually for about 4-5 years a piece in Los Angeles. We were all playing in different bands, and we were all just buddies. We’d jam together once every couple months. I went to an acting school. I was songwriting and composing and we were all busy and I wanted to start a band again and these were the guys that I asked. It was really important for me to start a band around friendships and guys that were well-adjusted musicians rather than 99% of all other musicians who are out of their minds.

Who are your musical influences?

We had a lot of British influences growing up. Blur is one of my favourite bands. Brian Wilson from Beach Boys was probably the biggest influence from a young age. But also others like New Order and The Clash, David Bowie and Aphex Twin.

Being on the road so much, do you ever get on each other’s nerves?

It’s been pretty good so far I think. It’s been pretty chill. I guess what’s cool is that if we do we can go to a pub, sit down and hash it out. And it’s all good.

Do you have any routines or traditions to pump you up before a show?

The only thing we kind of do is right before we go onstage we bless each other. I don’t know how it even started but we just kind of touch each other and say ‘bless’ – we do it pretty much at every show.

What’s your favourite music format – CDs, LPs, Cassette tapes or MP3s?

What about 8-track? (laughs) Could you imagine? That would be sweet. Probably mostly listen to MP3s but it would be great to listen to vinyl a lot more. It’s just hard when you’re on the road. There’s just so much more of an experience when you’re listening to vinyl. It’s like you invest yourself in an album, put the needle on the first track and then it gets to the second half – it’s more of an active experience. Two halves of the story. And you can’t skip over the crappy songs that you normally would and you may say hey I actually kind of like that crappy song.

Favourite song to play live?

Mark Foster: Helena Beat

Mark Pontius: Life On The Nickel

Cubbie Fink: I Would Do Anything For You

Childhood idols who offered inspiration?

Cubbie Fink: Jaco Pastorius. One of the greatest bassists of all time.

Mark Pontius: Probably the most obvious one for me would be Michael Jackson but do you remember Kris Kross? I remember for some reason, so vividly jumping up and down to that song so much. And I have a video of myself doing it. I did at one point even try to wear my jeans backwards and I got in trouble for it.

Mark Foster: I’d say around that time, it was definitely Brian Wilson. I went to a Beach Boys concert when I was maybe 8 years old. When he was still semi-lucid. It was a really good show. And they had lasers too. I just remember those palm tree lasers – really cheesy but we were all like “woah! Technology these days.”


Listen to ‘Houdini’ by Foster the People: 

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Listen to ‘Pumped Up Kicks’ by Foster the People: 

Check out upcoming tour dates and more at: www.fosterthepeople.com

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Must-see shows at NXNE: FRIDAY

Night #2, here we go! I’ll be running around town like a music-frenzied vagabond. Send me a message if you’re doing the same: @torontette

Cults // Lee’s Palace // 12am 

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Superhumanoids // Lee’s Palace // 1am 

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Freedom or Death // Rivoli // 11pm

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Kidstreet // Supermarket // 12am

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The Makeover (Jeremy Glenn + Rod Skimmins) // Supermarket // 2am 

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Diamond Rings // Yonge & Dundas Square // 7:30pm 

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Jacques Greene // The Garrison // 3am 

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Stars // Yonge & Dundas Square // 9:30pm

Ode to Montreal…je t’aime..

Must-see shows at NXNE: THURSDAY

With the best talent at NXNE that I’ve seen in years, it was not easy to pick just a few that stand out on the stage. Here are Torontette’s must-see shows for Thursday June 16!

Washington // Lee’s Palace // 10pm

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Brothertiger // El Mocambo (main floor) // 9pm

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Gauntlet Hair // The Phoenix // 8pm   &   El Mocambo (main floor ) // 1am

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Imaginary Cities // Rivoli // 11pm

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Bravestation // The Boat // 1am

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The Dodos // The Phoenix // 9pm

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Tanika Charles & The Wonderfuls // Wrongbar // 10pm

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And because I love The Safety Dance…

Men Without Hats // The Great Hall // 12am