Foster The People Shares The Musical Evolvement of The Band, Creation of “Sacred Hearts Club”, and Performing in Thailand for The First Time

Foster The People Shares The Musical Evolvement of The Band, Creation of “Sacred Hearts Club”, and Performing in Thailand for The First Time
© Neil Krug

Globally acclaimed Foster The People was formed in the city of Los Angeles by founder and lead singer Mark Foster back in 2009. Having garnered three Grammy nominations on their 2011 debut album “Torches” and a #1 Billboard Alternative hit “Pumped Up Kicks”, the band has since put out captivating singles, EPs, and two full-length LPs, “Supermodel” in 2014 and “Sacred Hearts Club” last year.

The highly praised “Sacred Hearts Club” has been critiqued as “well crafted from start to finish”, and contains “joyous melodies with thought-provoking content”. In addition to previously released songs “Loyal Like Sid and Nancy”, “SHC” and “Pay The Man”, the 12 track record showcases a unique all-round sound that effortlessly merges underlying dance beats with true Mark Foster lyrical melodies, resulting in another refreshing yet powerful statement from Foster The People.

Following the release of the album, the band has embarked on a world tour starting with North America. The 31 date leg consisted of shows across the country, including the stages of Lollapalooza, Bumbershoot Festival, and The Meadows Music & Arts Festival. 2018 has the band performing in Australia, China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore and more.

We’ve had the pleasure of speaking to keyboardist Isom Innis before their show in Taipei, Taiwan while on tour for “Sacred Hearts Club”. Read on to find out more about the musical evolvement of the band, creation of “Sacred Hearts Club”, and the excitement of performing in Thailand for the first time.

© Neil Krug

Hi Isom! Thanks for taking the time to have a chat with us today!

Oh absolutely!

Let’s get right into it! Following the success of “Pumped Up Kicks”, the first assumption would be the band staying on the music direction of “Torches”, but you’ve instead ran with your creative flow and branched out by experimenting with all sorts of genres. That’s a true artist statement. How would you describe the musical evolvement of the band from “Torches”, up till “Sacred Hearts Club”?

Well “Sacred Hearts Club” is a record rooted in hiphop, electronic music, and psychedelic. It really mixes so many different genres into one, and I think we were pulling from the late 60s, also post-punk from the late 1970s and also the birth of hiphop in the late 80s. We've just really laid a foundation in the songs we made.

Torches’ “Life on the Nickel”, and “Call It What You Want”, and even the lyrics of “Pumped Up Kicks” are heavily influenced on hiphop, so for this record we really picked up on those songs where we left off and explored those genres with more depth. But as far as the way we write records, we always chase our instincts and we always want to musically evolve and never make the same song twice.

That’s why we always get something different each time from a Foster The People record.

Yes absolutely.

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Your albums have taken each several years to complete, and one can assume that a lot goes into the process of putting together the piece from start to finish. Could you share a bit about what went on behind the scenes of “Sacred Hearts Club”?

We worked on the album for the better part of three years, and we didn't characterize the sounds of the songs before going in to record. We went in and really tried to channel, open up and give ourselves the freedom to explore each music idea without trying to pigeonhole it into genres or pigeonhole it into a particular kind of a sound.

This record was born out of experimentation and improvisation in the studio where the production process and writing process really molded together. But after a year and a half of recording, it was really important for us to bring in some outside producers who could help us finish the record. At that point, we were so deep into it that we needed to work with some people we really trust to listen with fresh ears and help us sift through sounds that might've been too dense. They helped us organize and simplify the songs because sometimes it really attaches to you as a writer.

Sometimes you need an outside influence to be able to pull the minimalism and pull the most impactful part of what you've done. We've worked with some incredible producers: Oliver Goldstein, Lars Stalfors, Patrik Berger, and John Hill - in addition to the production that Mark Foster and I did. They really helped push it through and finished the record.

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Were the slight infusions of hip-hop and dance on the new record a challenge to you as a producer at first?

You know for years - Mark and I, we've been producing for artists for about six years now, so its actually something that we've explored on our own quite a bit. As for me, I've always been making hip hop beats and I’ve always been making dance beats. A lot of the foundations for songs like “Loyal Like Sid and Nancy” and “Pay The Man” were actually beats I had made that weren't initially supposed to be Foster The People songs. I showed them to Mark in the studio, and he ended up taking them and running them the opposite way. He really put in his artistic and melodic stamps onto all of them and it really just ran the opposite way.

With those two songs for example that started out as an atonal hip-hop beat intended for a club, he ended up bringing in orchestral music. For “Loyal Like Sid and Nancy”, he added this beautiful orchestral crescendo after this atonal dance beat piece of music and it really shaped the piece of that song.

It was really exciting for us to be experimenting and putting on opposing genres together. Once we captured that sound, it definitely helped us be in more line with the other songs. We were able to take elements of that and just verse it around.

© Neil Krug

“Loyal Like Sid and Nancy” is actually one of my favorite songs off the record!

Well, one, it’s actually one of my favorite songs off the record as well, and two, we've been closing our shows with it. It has been such a rush to play that song live! “Loyal Like Sid and Nancy” is intended to be played on stage. When we were working on this record, we had playing festivals and big shows in mind - it definitely is a track to be experienced live.

It definitely is a tune with one of the more powerful lyrics on the album - you and Mark have both managed to address various controversial issues in a very finespun manner. How did you go about approaching it?

Mark had a mission statement on the record - he would say “using joy as a weapon”. The world is going through a tough time right now, every day you wake up to a new tragedy on the news. It was really important for us to create a record that was “celebratory” - a record that celebrated the differences that make us all human. During the recording process, it was really difficult as it was important for us to make a celebratory record to try and extend people a hand - kind of give them a break from a lot of the chaos that’s going on in the world right now.

From the perspective of a listener, being able to hear music that aimed to unite the people was a really nice change during that rocky period of time.

Yes absolutely. We wanted to put joy and unity into our music. Especially in our country right now, but really all around the world. There’s a lot of divisiveness going on - in politics, gender equality, racism, homophobia. It’s important for us to promote unity.

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Following the North American leg of the “Sacred Hearts Club” tour, how exciting is it to be playing your own headline tour in Asia now?

It is such a blessing - to get to travel to different countries to play music is really beyond our wildest dreams. It'll be the first time we ever come to Thailand and the first time we ever come to Bangkok - it’s the second to last show on this tour. We’re just really excited to soak in the culture here and get to meet our Thai fans. There’s nothing better than playing in a country the first time and getting to share our music with our fans for the first time in a live setting.

Speaking of your performance, are songs from your previous records included on the setlist for “Sacred Hearts Club”?

Yes we’ll be playing music from all three of the albums, from “Torches”, to “Supermodel” and to “Sacred Hearts Club”!

Congratulations on the crazy China run you've just had too! All the feedback from your fans has just been incredible. I do hope you get to go sightseeing this time, I recall back in 2012 when you caught a stomach bug while on tour.

Thank you so much for that! We’re just so excited to get to Thailand. This trip has been a “trip of firsts”. I mean we've never been to China - and we’re only getting to visit a couple of places we've only been once before, like Singapore and the Philippines. It’s just been such a blessing, and so exciting to be back in Asia. We’re really looking forward to the show and to seeing you guys! The last time I was in Singapore I was really sick. The rest of the guys got to check out the infinity pool, some of the markets, and they got to experience some of the nightlife. I was just in my room the whole time trying to recover. I’m excited and feeling pretty good right now - looking forward to explore the cities and get into some adventures!

We’re very excited to have you here in Thailand. Thank you for the interview - see you this weekend!

Absolutely! Thanks for having us - see you then.

Don’t miss out on seeing Foster The People’s debut Thailand show on the 28th of February 2018 at Moonstar Studio 8. Tickets are currently on sale at 2600 THB on Ticket Melon.

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