RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
Let's hear now from a new band, a band that's playing to sell-out shows and getting prime slots at big-name music festivals - this, even though the band hadn't released an album until now.
Foster the People is best known for the breezy-sounding single "Pumped Up Kicks," which fans are calling the anthem of the summer.
(Soundbite of song, "Pumped Up Kicks")
FOSTER THE PEOPLE (Rock Band): (Singing) All the other kids with the pumped up kicks. You'd better run, better run, outrun my gun. All the other kids with the pumped up kicks, you'd better run, better run, faster than my bullet. All the...
MONTAGNE: Foster the People is an L.A. band, though it's led by a musician who grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. Mark Foster credits that ultimate California band, The Beach Boys, with first piquing his interest in music and making him want to move West.
That was 21 years ago when he was six years old, and his father gave him a gift that would change his life.
Mr. MARK FOSTER (Singer-Songwriter): He gave me this plastic bag, and I opened it up, and it was a tape of "I Get Around," and maybe like "Fun, Fun, Fun" or something was on the other side. And I put it in the cassette player, and I remember just doing somersaults around the living room, like, screaming out whatever lyrics I knew.
(Soundbite of song, "I Get Around")
THE BEACH BOYS (Rock Band): (Singing) Round, round, get around, I get around. Yeah. Get around, round, round, I get around.
MONTAGNE: Mark Foster proceeded to spend his childhood banging on drums in his parents' basement. Then, after high school, his father gave him some unusual fatherly advice.
Mr. FOSTER: I didn't know what I wanted to do and never really thought that pursuing music was a reality as a career. And I remember having a conversation with my dad, and he was like, you know, why don't you move out to L.A. or New York and pursue music? And I think my eyes just got as big as saucers, like, what? Like, you can do that?
(Soundbite of music, "Pumped Up Kicks")
MONTAGNE: It was just a year and a half ago that Foster the People played its first show for a couple of dozen friends in a tiny Santa Monica Lounge. When the band released the song "Pumped Up Kicks" through its website, the song went viral after getting raves from an influential German music blogger.
It's the perfect summer party song, until you actually pay attention to the lyrics.
Mr. FOSTER: The song's about, you know, it's kind of like an outcast youth, doesn't wear the right clothes, doesn't say the right things. And he just doesn't fit in. And it's really about the mental process of him going crazy. And so it's a dark song with a really breezy melody.
MONTAGNE: The fans who've been crowding into the band's shows, happily singing along, don't seem to know what they're singing about. They also don't seem to care.
Foster the People's first album, "Torches," comes out this week.
(Soundbite of song, "Houdini")
FOSTER THE PEOPLE: (Singing) Raise up to your ability. You never knew what I could find. What could come when we realize, don't no one want to compromise. Raise up to your ability...
MONTAGNE: And this is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
MARY LOUISE KELLY, host:
And I'm Mary Louise Kelly.