Tell Me About Foster the People's Torches

Drummer Mark Pontius on life after "Pumped Up Kicks."

SW: I sort of imagine Torches as the record that changed your life. Is that accurate?

Pontius: Yeah, that kind of puts some weight on it, I guess. For sure, we are all in a different place than we were before we released the record. It's been a game of catch-up since we first released "Pumped Up Kicks." We had to catch up with the momentum that that song gave us. Life has definitely changed in a very good way.

Do you have a favorite song on the album?

I think probably "Call It What You Want" is my favorite, both to play live and the recorded version. We recorded that in the UK with Paul Epworth, and that was kind of our first trip together as a band overseas. There's some kind of magic in that. And we were really excited to be in Europe doing the record. It's got that element to it.

Can you tell me about the cover illustration—who drew it, how it came to life?

It was a friend of [singer] Mark Foster's, a guy named Japayork, who's from New York and London, and Foster's known him for five or six years, and I think always in the back of his mind had the idea of wanting him to illustrate a record at some point. We argued about that artwork forever. I think I was the only one who didn't like it. I love his artwork, but I had a different image in my mind for the record cover. But I ended up being happy that I lost the fight, because it ended up that the characters on the front became this whole world that we ended up including in our live show and on our merch and our website.

What's the coolest pop-culture moment you've experienced for one of your songs?

We were in the UK somewhere, and we were at a football game, a soccer game. We had gone as a band—which we try to do, [attend] some kind of cultural event—and a lot of us are football fans. During a timeout this video came up on the screen, and "Pumped Up Kicks" just blasted the whole arena, and none of us expected it to be there. That was a cool moment, to be immersed in someone else's cultural event and have that pop up.

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