By Nadia Noir
For Foster the People, their musical “Coming of Age” happened right in between the time of their début release Torches three years ago and before the release of their upcoming sophomore album, Supermodel. Instead of just popping one out like some bands are wont to do, the band told Kevin & Bean this morning that they took their time and learned some things about the world and themselves.
“The weirdest thing about the second record for me was just the thought that people were actually going to hear the music,” said frontman Mark Foster. Torches was written in the studio without live performance in mind. Over the years, the band had to adapt that very electronic sound to something that would translate well on the live stage. “What melodies do we need to keep and what do we lose?” was a question that they postulated. The result was Supermodel, where the live performance won’t need “like ten synth parts going at once.”
Foster the People learned to simplify (and about simplicity) in more ways than one in the interim between Torches. After getting some writing done on the road, it took the band a good year to dive into Supermodel. They recorded the album in the studio of a Malibu beach house with producer Paul Epworth. It was an isolated artistic life with “summer camp” vibes where they just rolled out of bed and walked down to the studio; Cubbie Fink and Mark Pontius admitted to being a little distracted and “catching some surf” while up there.
Leading up to the album, Foster had his own private recreation time, taking a three-month sabbatical in vastly different environs like Morocco, India, Israel, and Africa. He came back culture-shocked to the westernized mentality of Los Angeles, but his trip “fueled a lot of the concepts” that ended up going in Supermodel including the way other people live outside of Western culture and how they communicate.
“It’s so cliché for a musician to come back and say India changed my life,” admitted Foster. “I went to villages where they really had nothing, but down the street they had a temple made of solid gold. That was just like the eye-opening thing… these people dedicate their lives to what they believe and there’s a reverence to the way that they live their lives. They live for the greater of the community as opposed for us living for the greater of self.”
This was one of the reasons that Foster also took a sabbatical from social media. In America, we take for granted the necessity of the existence of social media, but as Foster so aptly stated, social media has existed for “five years” whereas we survived as humans for thousands of years without it.
Using it as a way to relieve boredom and to connect with people, Foster says that with social media we tend to use it as a way to “validate our thoughts and existence,” a way to curate an identity that people want to see. He stepped back from social media for seven or eight months to draw an emotional boundary and found that once he stopped using social media, life “just got more peaceful.”
“The static noise that I hadn’t been aware of, kind of just all around my in-and-outs of my life kind just stopped. And I was just sitting in a room. Alone.” This translated deeply into the making of Supermodel.
“This record is really about culture and the evolution of culture,” explained Foster. “And I feel like specifically, the generation that we’re living in now, just with social media and the inundation of technology and how that’s affecting our day-to-day life and I find that to be a fascinating topic.”
For the introspective Foster, that feeling of community and that feeling of peace that washed out the static noise around him, can be found at Coachella–where the band will be performing this April.
“We’ve played festivals all over the world and it’s still probably our favorite,” said Foster the People.
“I feel like there’s very few things that are more beautiful than magic hour at Coachella,” continued Foster. “When the sun is setting at Coachella, not only does it seem like it lasts forever, but there’s a certain look to the kind of the golden haze at that festival that’s like really energizing.”
Supermodel will be released on March 14 via Columbia Records.