KROQ: When was the first time you heard “Pumped Up Kicks” on the radio? And how did it feel.
Foster: Two months ago, on the way to the rehearsal, we heard “Pumped Up Kicks” playing on the KROQ. It was cool because the DJ talked about it afterwards, saying “This is my favorite song on KROQ right now.” It was wild. (He grins wide.)
KROQ: The beat in “Pumped Up Kicks” is almost misleadingly uplifting – while the lyrics are surprisingly morbid. Is that a typical song-writing trait of yours?
Mark Foster. I wrote the music first. So that is probably why the music and the lyrics have their own identity. But there’s definite irony. I like to undercut the music with something that is ironically opposite. With music, you can communicate different layers of a story depending on where the music and the melody go. You put a certain melody under a certain word; you can make that word mean a million different things.
KROQ: But the lyrics about a kid with a 6-shooter gun walking into school is surprisingly dark territory……especially for a pop song. Is this an issue you feel close to?
[pullquote quote="To me the epidemic isn't gun violence; the epidemic is lack of family." credit="Foster"]FOSTER: I kind of wrote the song to bring awareness to the issue. That sort of thing keeps happening more and more in our country; it’s kind of turning into an epidemic. To me the epidemic isn’t gun violence; the epidemic is lack of family, lack of love, and isolation – kids who don’t have anywhere to go or anyone to talk to and that’s what makes them snap.
When a 13 or 14-year-old kid brings a gun to school and does something, sure, you blame them for making that choice….. But at the end of the day, he or she is still just a kid and there’s a lot of other things that led up that moment that should have changed.