Los Angeles’ Foster the People has only one single, “Pumped Up Kicks,” under its belt, and already frontman Mark Foster has noticed an unusual assortment of fans cropping up: “At our shows, there are a lot of hipster kids dancing, people who dress cool. Then there are adults — like moms with their daughters; moms who are way more into it than their daughters,” he says. “We played a show in Minneapolis and there was a 60-year-old woman just going crazy.”
It’s an impressive reception for a baby band just stepping out with its debut full-length, “Torches,” due May 24 on StarTime Intl/Columbia. The release follows the success of “Pumped Up Kicks,” which is No. 4 on Billboard’s Alternative Songs chart, No. 9 on the Rock Songs tally and rises 96-88 in its second week on the Billboard Hot 100. The song has sold 222,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
Video: Foster the People, “Pumped Up Kicks”
” ‘Pumped Up Kicks’ is one of those songs that blends something really familiar with something that’s very modern,” Foster says of the broad appeal of the song, which boasts a laid-back, lo-fi ’60s vibe, a slick bassline and an undeniably catchy chorus. “It’s a song where you could lay on the couch and listen to it or you can get up and dance around the room to it.”
Columbia VP of alternative and rock promotion Mike DePippa adds that the song is selling more than 15,000 copies per week. “It’s a true case of airplay equals sales. There are not many alternative acts selling more tracks per week, and the ones that are have multiformat charted singles,” he says. “One of the reasons it has done so well is that while it’s left-of-center for what traditionally has worked at many alternative radio stations, it’s not too cool for the room.”
Foster the People — the trio of Foster, drummer Mark Pontius and bassist Cubbie Fink — first played together in 2009 and started attracting attention after “Pumped Up Kicks” was posted online as a free download. Buzz about the band built up enough in time for the group’s 2010 South by Southwest debut, which piqued interest at StarTime and Columbia.
To whet fans’ appetites, Foster the People released a self-titled EP earlier this year. ” ‘Pumped Up Kicks’ is just the tip of the iceberg for Foster the People,” StarTime/Columbia product manager Ian Quay says. “We quickly established this band is more than a song by releasing [the EP]. Fans were hungry to hear more.” He adds that the label will further hold fans over until street date by releasing remixes.
In between spring dates in the United Kingdom and the United States, Foster the People will return to its hometown for a performance on ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” on May 23. The group will also make such festival stops as Lollapalooza, Glastonbury and Australia’s Splendour in the Grass.
And is the group ready for whatever its all-ages crowds may hold? “We make music for everybody. We’re not trying to be super-niche,” Foster says. “It’s Foster the People, not Foster the Younger-Looking People.”