Foster the People Explain ‘Pumped up Kicks’


Story by Cat Badra

Foster the People’s Mark Foster says ‘Pumped up Kicks’ is a Dark Tale

Indie rock trio Foster the People hit the jackpot this year with their electro-lite, dance-pop anthem, “Pumped up Kicks,” off 2011’s, Torches. But as carefree as the number may sound, singer and multi-instrumentalist Mark Foster insists it carries a deeper, dimmer message: The tale of a child hurt by bullying, who has disturbing violent daydreams.

Speaking with the Vancouver Sun, Foster said he feels like the “cat’s out of the bag” on the real meaning behind the psychedelic song. “The funny thing is that a lot of people equate Pumped Up Kicks with a school shooting, but it’s not,” he said, perhaps referring to Pearl Jam’s legendary video for “Jeremy,” which displays such an incident. “I don’t say anything about a school in the song. That has more to do with people’s affiliation with kids and guns and applying it towards a school thing.”

Foster added that, ironically, he was “terrified” when the song started to creep to the No. 1 spot on the alternative rock chart. “I couldn’t believe it: ‘Man, out of all the songs that I’ve written that are so hopeful towards humanity and compassionate towards people; this is the song that’s going to put us on the map,’” he said. “At the same time, it has raised a good platform for people to talk about these sorts of issues. And it’s an important thing to talk about. That’s why I wrote the song.”

With “Pumped up Kicks,” Foster the People have created their own monster. Even grandfather alternative rock acts such as the Kooks and Weezer have covered it. “Weezer was the best,” Foster said. “For me it was a full-circle moment. I had met Rivers Cuomo at a party when I first moved to L.A. and I had my acoustic guitar with me and he taught me how to play Say It Ain’t So. Nine years later to have Weezer cover a song that I wrote, there was something pretty poetic about that.”


Anne Erickson
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Posted by Anne Erickson | Alternative, Music, Rock News

1 Comment

  1. Ed
    16 Nov 2011, 8:16 am

    No, it’s not about a school shooting. Its just gives people the WRONG solution to bullying. Way to give kids a way to not just get bullied but to end up some lifer’s prison bitch. If they think bullying is bad, they’re going reminisce about the days when they were JUST bullied after the solution this song sells. Talk about irony.

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