That must have felt so morbid.
Yeah, it just felt really dark. It's like, "Wow, we just left you with this unifying song that everybody knows, and there's f--king clowns hanging from the ceiling and spinning around and rose petals being blown into the air. What more do you want?" You want to sing a song in a place where all these people were murdered a year ago? And like I said, the song, the symbol of the song changed -- the public made it what it was, and if the public wants to make it something different, that's okay. But that's my choice of how I want to react to that.
If you were to retire the song, would you ever consider writing a follow-up to “Pumped Up Kicks” and having that replace it at your shows?
Yeah, I've thought about it. But I don't know, I'm not a huge fan of sequels. If I can figure out a way to do it in a way that's authentic and feels fresh and not preachy, I'll do it. I've even thought about releasing that same exact song, with completely different lyrics. Or continuing the story, and talking about where Robert went from there -- because nobody knows how that story ends.
The thing about “Pumped Up Kicks” is that it's a moment in time, and you don't know where it went. So people fill in the blanks, and I think sometimes horror is the most powerful when you let the imagination fill in what happens.
After Sandy Hook happened, some radio stations began to take the song off the air and MTV censored some of the lyrics. What was your reaction to that?
I think in the beginning, when that first started happening, I felt like it was bulls--t and I felt like the song was being treated differently, because it sounded like West Coast sunshine pop.
If you look at the content on television and the shows that are getting nominated for Emmys every year, and movies that are getting nominated for Oscars every year, the content that we desire tends to be pretty dark. The stories that get rewarded are the ones that tend to be really dark and talking about the deepest, darkest parts of humanity that people don't want to discuss. That's the most interesting thing for people to read in a book, that's the most interesting thing for people to make a movie about.