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Foster the People still riding high from unexpected 2011
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

If Mark Foster has time, there's something he would like to do on the Fourth of July.

The frontman of Grammy-nominated indie-pop group Foster the People would love to drive to Provo to check out the Beach Boys at the Stadium of Fire.

"They were one of my favorite groups when I was 6," Foster said in a phone interview. "My first show when I was 7 was the Beach Boys at the Blossom [Music Center], David Cassidy opened the show, [and] I started crying."

Twenty years later, Foster the People headlined the same Blossom Music Center in Ohio after an incredible 2011, when the trio's debut single "Pumped Up Kicks" unexpectedly lit up the charts all summer.

The song became the most popular song about school violence since Pearl Jam's "Jeremy." With distorted vocals during the verses and a bouncy, catchy chorus you couldn't shake from your head, the unlikely hit was something hipsters and tweens could agree on.

The song changed the trio's lives in an instant, with a perfect example being its venues in Utah. In early 2011, the band performed at tiny Kilby Court. Several months later, it headlined the larger Urban Lounge. Now, the band will headline the much larger Saltair.

But Foster the People wasn't an instant success, according to Mark Foster. He remembered three years of delivering pizza for $6 an hour while spending the day being a barista, to support a fledgling music career. "The older I got, the more freaked out I started getting," he said. "We've had to grind it out at jobs we hated."

Although Foster said he enjoyed his "super punk-rock gig" at Kilby Court, he's even more excited about headlining the group's first major tour, with decisions to make about set design and lighting. "We really want to create an experience where we break the fourth wall," he said. "This is the first tour we get to do that."

Just as exciting as this first tour is for Foster the People, one of the highlights of their year has been their performance alongside the Beach Boys in February during the 2012 Grammy Awards broadcast, dueting on "Wouldn't It Be Nice." To his shock, the iconic band approached Foster to perform with it — "it was a no-brainer," he said. "Of course."

It was his favorite band when he was 6, after all.

If opening act Mayer Hawthorne could do something to celebrate July Fourth, he would love to eat the chili dogs he remembers from his childhood in Michigan. "It's the official food of Detroit," Hawthorne said in a phone interview.

From the time he began aping Michael Jackson — complete with one white, sequined glove — to now, Hawthorne has been a throwback to the time when soul was the king of pop. Audiences unfamiliar with Hawthorne seem unprepared to hear a young white kid crooning something you would expect from Curtis Mayfield or Isaac Hayes.

But retro doesn't define Hawthorne, he maintained. "People think I live in a vintage bubble and only listen to Otis Redding on vinyl," he said. He said his influences come from growing up in the college town of Ann Arbor, where "students from all over the country come in and bring their music."

dburger@sltrib.com

Facebook.com/sltribmusic —

Pumped-up show

Foster the People with Mayer Hawthorne & The County and Kimbra.

When • Thursday, July 5, at 7:30 p.m.

Where • Saltair, 12408 W. Saltair Drive, Magna

Tickets • $28 in advance, $30 day of, at SmithsTix

Music • "Pumped Up Kicks" became lodged in Top 5 charts all last summer.
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