Mark Foster

‘I hear it and I want to quit’

Words: Florian Obkircher
Photography: Getty Images

The Beatles took Mark Foster down the rabbit hole, but the Foster the People frontman is a creature of many influences

Mark Foster was 18 when he moved to Los Angeles to launch a music career. It was a long time coming. For years, he worked in bars and wrote commercial jingles. Then, in 2010, he and his band Foster the People put their song Pumped Up Kicks online. 

He says now that they weren’t expecting anything much, but that breezy indie pop tune broke through. Spotify’s most-streamed song of 2011, it reached No 3 in the US charts and has since sold over five million copies. Torches, their debut album of the same year, earned two Grammy nominations. The just-out follow-up, Supermodel, adds multilayered synths and space rock to the indie pop mix. Foster, now 29, let The Red Bulletin in on the songs that shaped him.

The Beach Boys - God Only Knows

“The first time I heard this song, on the radio when I was a kid, it was unlike anything I’d ever heard. Especially the vocal harmonies. Looking back, it was a significant moment for me. When I was seven years old, the Beach Boys were my first concert. So to be on stage with my favourite band at the Grammys in 2012 was the greatest moment of my life.”

The Beatles - A Day in the Life

“It’s just one of the greatest songs ever, so simple but so profound. The experimental bridge in that song, when it takes that big orchestral left turn, is incredible. Hearing all these elements coming together, it takes you on a journey. Which is funny, as the song is actually about a trip. I love that, when the lyrics and the story match the music.”

Jeff Buckley - Grace

“I remember the first time I heard this song. I was 19, I kept pressing the replay button, the lyrics started to pop out on me and I started to weep, because to me the song is about him predicting his own death. I sang along to it so often, I feel it really stretched my voice. I would even say Jeff Buckley taught me how to sing.”

Radiohead - Paranoid Android

“The video for this was on MTV when I was a kid and I’d never seen anything like it. I was so intrigued by this band; they just had a feeling to them no other band had. This song is like a classical piece split into three parts. It’s one of those songs that when I hear it, it makes me just want to quit. Radiohead touched the foot of God with this song.”

The Beatles - I Am the Walrus

“I love to listen to this on headphones. It’s the only way to hear all the different textures and the bending, psychedelic effect on the bass guitar – an amazing sound I’ve been chasing around forever. Listening to I Am The Walrus really makes you feel like you’re a giant egg man on LSD bumbling down the street John Lennon was singing about.”

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05/2014 The Red Bulletin

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