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By Jeremy Hallock
By James Khubiar
By Observer Staff
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Mark Foster is living a modern-day fairy tale — albeit one with a twist, where the glass slipper has fallen out of fashion only to be surpassed by a pair of pumped up kicks and where swarms of hipsters make his dreams come true instead of fairy godmothers. His fairy tale achieves even greater heights as he describes the view he's taking in from his hotel room in Baden-Baden, Germany.
"I'm looking out the window of my hotel room right now and there's a castle," he says over the phone from his overseas tour stop. "It's kind of insane."
Foster, the frontman and namesake for Foster the People, easily one of 2011's hottest new bands, has been touring for seven straight months at this point, playing sold-out shows and jet-setting around the world. But there's one thing missing from Foster's fantasy life: He's got an addiction, he admits, and this is the longest he has ever gone without being able to feed it.
"When I write a song, it's like a drug," he says, complaining that constant touring and promotion have gotten in the way of his writing process. "It's cathartic for me. It helps keep me sane. And not being able to do it ... there's all this stuff inside of me that I want to get out and I haven't been able to get it out."
He has had a few creative outlets, however. For instance, he says, he was able to let out his inner child while filming the music video for "Helena Beat," the second single from his band's 2011 full-length debut, Torches. The video features a post-apocalyptic world where children are in charge. It's an idea that hits close to home for Foster.
"I think my inner child wants to take over the world," he says. "My inner child wants to kick everyone's ass. I think my inner child has a lot to prove."
Considering that Foster landed in Germany fresh off a 16-hour flight from Los Angeles, where he made an appearance at the MTV Video Music Awards to honor Foster the People's nomination for Best New Artist and for their ubiquitous "Pumped Up Kicks" single's Best Rock Video nomination, his inner child should also be pretty proud. Maybe a little tired, given all the touring, but proud nonetheless.
"I never sleep," he says, describing the past few months, which have seen his band perform in Dallas twice, first in July at the Loft and then again in August at the House of Blues. Despite those recent stops through town, though, Foster says crowds can still expect some new songs, an epic light show and a lot of changes when the band returns to play at the House of Blues again this week. Change, after all, is necessary when your live show turnouts grow from fewer than 200 attendees to more than 10,000, as has happened with Foster the People thanks to its appearances in the festival circuit this summer.
"It's, um — " he starts, trying to explain the feeling of playing before such a surging audience. "It's — "
He fails to find the words — a little odd, since he gushes when discussing his VMA experience, where he DJed and met up with big names like Katy Perry and The Black Keys' Patrick Carney. But the real reason he says he had a blast? His date, no big name or story, just a girl he hadn't seen in a while. He says he's more intent on remaining focused with his career than with indulging in his newfound celebrity status and its potential benefits on the dating front.
Still, with that castle looming outside of his hotel window, he admits he can't ignore the fact that he's very much living out a fairy tale at the moment. And, perhaps for a minute, he'll consider indulging in that fantasy, saying he'd like to hike up to that castle if he can find time within his crowded press schedule. Maybe, he says, he'll even try scaling its walls.
"If I set my heart on something," he says, without skipping a beat, when his idea is laughed off as ludicrous, "I get it done."