Many people first learned about California indie rock outfit Foster the People through their 2010 hit ‘Pumped Up Kicks’, a deceptively upbeat song with lyrics about a young student who daydreams about shooting his classmates.
Looking back now, it’s kind of bizarre the song was ever so popular – to be fair, it has been reflected on with a critical eye. Some have gone as far as suggesting the song glamorises gun violence, while others have acknowledged it just feels somewhat odd to hear such violent imagery against otherwise relatively inoffensive guitar-pop.
“All the other kids with the pumped up kicks,” sings Foster in the song’s chorus. “You’d better run, better run, outrun my gun.”
Now, in a new interview with Billboard, the band’s Mark Foster has revealed he’s considering retiring the song for good.
“The thing that made that song special was the public, and the fact that people thought it was special, and it resonated and it created a conversation. And I’m proud of the conversation that it created. But now I’ve been very seriously thinking of retiring the song forever.”
Foster goes on to explain that the reason behind potentially hanging up the tune is due to the fact that shootings have continued to occur.
“I feel like there are so many people that have been touched, either personally or by proxy, by a mass shooting in this country — and that song has become almost a trigger of something painful they might have experienced. And that’s not why I make music.
“At some points I do make music to bring awareness to something, but I make music to connect with people, and I feel like the awareness that that song brought and the conversation that that song brought, that’s been fulfilled. We’re still talking about it 10 years later. It still gets brought up.”
Foster spoke about how the song had also been appropriated by actual shooters, citing one shooter who had talked about ‘Pumped Up Kicks’ in his journals, and another who’d made the song their anthem.
“I can’t ask other people not to play it live, but the public made the song what it is,” added Foster.
“If the song has become another symbol for something, I can’t control that. But I can control my involvement in it.”