Foster The People, playing the Popped! Music Festival on Saturday, September 24th have released a video for “Helena Beat,” the second single from their debut album Torches. With the band’s current single “Pumped Up Kicks” rocking the charts and shaping up to be the song of the summer, the song has been criticized for it’s lyrics about a troubled kid who turns to gun violence. “I tend to undercut a fun melody with a deeper message,” said the band’s lead singer and song writer Mark Foster in an interview with WXPN/XPN2′s Eric Schuman. We reached out to Mark in early May to ask him to reflect on the story of the song – he e-mailed us back and said:
“Pumped Up Kicks” is told from the perspective of the main character Robert. The lyrics are scattered in the verses, painting pictures of the thought process and every day life of an American teen losing his mind. The phrase “pumped up kicks” represents the cool kids but it’s really just a metaphor for any “fill-in-the-blank adversary” They wear the trendy shoes. He’s probably got his dads tattered old cowboy boots. It’s a story that is happening more and more often. Bullying is a tragedy that gives birth to tragedy.
“Helena Beat” may continue the controversy surrounding the band in that it contains some images and a storyline that some viewers may disturbing. Foster had this to say to MTV about it:
It’s like a short film, really. It’s post-apocalyptic, ‘Lord of the Flies’ meets ‘Mad Max,’ so, it’s a bunch of kids, and they kidnap us and take us into this warehouse, and there’s a really crazy twist at the end. But it’s super-visual, and it’s a mixture of really, like, bizarre circumstances — it’s dark, but it’s also pretty tongue-in-cheek and fun.