Foster The People’s sophomore album will have “surprises around every corner” according to frontman Mark Foster — though the project is in the very earliest stages of planning right now.
“I think it’s going to take a lot of left turns,” Foster tells Billboard.com. “It’s going to be really celebratory — a lot like our first record (2011’s ‘Torches’) is, but in a different way. I think there’s going to be more grit, and I think it’s gonna be extremely percussive. I’ve been listening to a lot of the Clash lately, and a lot of ’60s, the Kinks. I think those bands are going to influence the next record heavily.”
Foster says he’s “starting writing on the road” with a portable studio. “I’ve got a lot of ideas,” he notes. “I’ve just been writing down lyrical ideas, writing a lot of poetry and stuff like that.” He also has “200 gigs of drums” that the group, including its two adjunct touring musicians, recorded earlier this spring with engineer Darrell Thorp (Radiohead, Beck). “We set up a studio for a few days with, like, six different drum kits and a bunch of percussion instruments from around the world,” Foster says. “We just played tons of different rhythms, things at different bpm — fast, slow, medium-paced and stuff that’s really tribal, stuff that’s really militant, stuff that’s really funky, old Motown grooves, and we tracked all of it and ran it through different synthesizers and filters and weird stuff. So now I can just kind of pull different grooves and different things I’m attracted to and start writing over it. Whether or not we use these grooves or if they’re going to be just the spark that lights the fire, I’m not really sure.”
Foster says the bulk of the songwriting will likely come after Foster The People finishes its world tour with late summer dates in the Middle East. He plans to stick around the region and travel into Morocco, India, Turkey, Tunisia and other countries for inspiration. “We’ve never really gotten to travel and songwrite at the same time,” Foster says. “I’m just going to stay on that side of the world and travel around in some weird cultures…and just vibe out. I think it’s gonna open up a whole different perspective on the way I look at the world. And to be around different instruments and in a completely uncomfortable environment…I think uncomfortability sometimes produces the best art, so I’m really excited.”
“Torches,” meanwhile, remains in play thanks to its just-released fourth single, “Houdini,” which Foster calls his “favorite song on the record…I think ‘Houdini’ squashes ‘Pumped Up Kicks.’ ” The song, he adds, was “kind of a fluke,” started while he was showing his then-girlfriend his office at Mophonics, where he wrote advertising jingles before the group took off. “It was like take your girlfriend to work day — ‘This is how I write a song,'” Foster remembers. “I just pulled out at this really simple drum beat and a vocal sample and just put like 10 minutes into it. Then we left and I went back four days later and pulled up that random idea and went over to the piano and the chords just came out and I finished it. I’m single now, but (the girlfriend) was a good muse.”