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Foster The People is an American indie pop band that formed in Los Angeles, California in 2009.  The group is made up of Mark Foster (vocals, keyboards, piano, synthesizers, guitar, programming, percussion), Cubbie Fink (bass, backing vocals) and Mark Pontius (drums, percussion).  The groups music is described as melodic dance-infused pop and rock and spans many different musical genres.

Foster founded the band in 2009 after spending several years in Los Angeles as a struggling musician and working as a commercial jingle writer.  After Foster’s song, “Pumped Up Kicks,” became a viral success in 2010, the group received a record deal from Startime International and gained a fanbase through small club shows and appearances at the music festivals Coachella and South by Southwest.  After releasing their debut album “Torches” in May 2011, “Pumped Up Kicks” became a crossover hit on commercial radio in mid-2011, reaching number one Billboard’s Alternative Songs chart, number three on the Rock Songs chart and number three on the Billboard Hot 100, while also charting on the Adult Top 40 and Mainstream Top 40 charts.  The group received two Grammy Award nominations for “Tourches” and “Pumped Up Kicks.”

After graduating from high school in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio, Mark Foster moved in with his uncle in Sylmar, Los Angeles, California in order to pursue a career in music.  Foster worked various jobs and at night, he attended parties in Hollywood in order to expand his social network.  He said, “I felt like an 18 year old Hunter S. Thompson.  I was just diving into this Hollywood Hills subculture and taking it all in.  I wasn’t shy about taking my guitar out at a party.  I wanted to be the center of attention.”  Foster struggled with drug addiction during his initial years in Los Angeles, saying “It got pretty dark.  My friends thought I was going to die.  I was blind to it.  When I was 19 years old I got to a point where I said, enough is enough.  I saw that time was just passing me by.  I wasn’t being productive.”

Foster tried repeatedly to form a band but was unsuccessful.  After turning 22, he says that he was contacted by Aftermath Entertainment about showcasing his musical talents, but the opportunity ultimately fell through.  For the next few years, Foster waited tables at a cafe while dealing with writers block, but he remained in Los Angeles after landing a job as a commercial jingle writer for Mophonics in 2008.  He said of the profession, “I definitely learned from the commercial standpoint what works,” and he has credited the job for helping revive his confidence in performing.  The music Foster wrote spanned many different genres but he had difficulty reconciling his eclectic compositions.  He explained: “I’d write one song and it’d be a hip-hop song.  I’d write another and it’d be heavily electronic.  Another would be spiritual and another would be a classic piano song.  I was constantly trying to pull these elements together.  It took me six years to do it.”  Foster still wished to be a part of a group.  Looking back at an electronic show he performed at, he said: “It was just me and a laptop.  Really, it was terrible.  I knew I needed a band.”

Foster the people was created when Mark Pontius left his former band “Malbec” in 2009 to join Foster.  He was impressed by the number and diversity of songs that Foster had written saying, “Some were on the guitar and some were on the computer.  But it was this really awesome singer-songwriter thing with a tricked-out beat and I felt we could go wherever we wanted with this.”  The group later added Foster’s longtime friend Cubbie Fink as a bassist.  Mark originally named the band “Foster & the People” but people misheard it as “Foster The People.”  Eventually he took to the nurturing image it evoked of “taking care” of people, so the name stuck.

In 2010, Foster released his surprise hit single, “Pumped Up Kicks,” and due to its insane popularity, the group was able to sign into a record deal with Startime International.  Foster says that he wrote the album, “Torches,” to back up “Pumped Up Kicks” popularity.  “Pumped Up Kicks” proved to be a sleeper hit after receiving significant airplay on modern rock stations.  The song crossed over into contemporary hit radio and became on of 2011’s most popular songs.  The bands debut album, “Torches,” was released on May 23, 2011 and received generally favorable reviews from critics and was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album.  The album peaked at number eight on the Billboard 200 in the US and number one on the ARIA Albums Chart in Australia.  It has been certified platinum in Australia and gold in the US, Philippines and Canada.

I have loved these guys ever since I heard “Pumped Up Kicks” on the radio one day and my interest was peaked.  I bought the album and was blown away.  Every song on the album was as catchy as the next and completely unique from each other.  I couldn’t stop listening to “Torches” then and even today I catch myself humming some of the album’s songs.  I highly recommend the entire album.  It also was recently announced by Mark Foster that he has been working on the band’s next album and that the first single will be dropped sometime in January 2014.  I can’t wait for their next album and I hope to be just as blown away as I was with “Tourches.”

Check out “Torches” biggest hits and videos below.

 

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