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ACL Fest: Foster the People

Michelle Cerulli

Mark Foster, the leading man of Los Angeles indie pop band Foster the People, recently took a few minutes to talk about what it's been like for the band's popularity to ignite seemingly overnight and the sets he's excited to catch at this year's Austin City Limits Music Festival. The band, which includes Cubbie Fink and Mark Pontius, is responsible for the electrically catchy radio wonder "Pumped Up Kicks" and continues its world tour through the fall.

American-Statesman: What has it been like to have success come so quickly?

Mark Foster: Well, it's about time (laughs). I've been working on it for almost 10 years, right out of high school. I'm 27 now. I've just been working odd jobs and playing in different bands. It feels very good. What we've got with Foster the People is really natural. It started around friendship, and that's still a big part of it. It's always been really easy to play in this band with these guys. Man, it is crazy. Things happen fast. Seven months ago, we couldn't sell out a 300-capacity venue in Los Angeles. That's a big jump in seven months.

What ACL sets are you excited to catch? (Foster pulls up ACL schedule.)

Holy (expletive), Stevie Wonder's playing? That's insane. That would be incredible. We've actually been playing with a lot of the bands. Definitely Daniel Lanois' Black Dub. I just saw Coldplay for first time a couple days ago. It was one of best shows I've ever seen. They have so many good songs already, to hear them live – for four guys onstage to make such a big sound. Chris Martin is a lovely guy. He's a good frontman and sounded great. It comes down to their songs. They played an hour-and-a-half set with great song after great song. There was no filler.

What kind of experience do you want fans to have listening to your record?

We like to make joyful music. We see people on Twitter and who send us emails that say, "Hey, I was going through a rough time, and your record got me through this. It made me feel better about my day or life or boring job or work." I love to hear stuff like that. One guy emailed me that his wife left him with their kid, that she ran out, and it was a tough few months but that listening to the record kept him sane. Those are the reasons why we make music.

What have the highlights of your world tour been?

A few days ago, we were in Australia at (music festival) Splendour in the Grass. Fifteen thousand plus people showed up, and they were singing the whole time and really loud the whole time. It's the first time on-stage with so many people where I felt completely like I had the crowd in the palm of my hand, that they were with me every step of the way, that we connected. It's the first time I've felt that in front of that many people.

What's next for you all?

I just started writing a short film, so making movies. I can't tell you (what it's about), but it's going to be weird. It's a Stanley Kubrick-inspired dark comedy, very visual, like the movie "Delicatessen."

Will it include your music?

I'll definitely score it, but it won't be Foster the People music. It will be an original score.

Who are your musical inspirations?

For me, as a writer, Brian Wilson is the biggest one. Blur's Damon Albarn. On the production side of things, from Clash to Bowie to Yello to Hall & Oates. I've been listening to a lot of Little Dragon lately. I'm not really influenced by new bands, but they're doing something really different.

Foster the People is scheduled to play at 5:30 p.m. Friday on the Zilker Stage.