It’s hard to believe that Foster the People put out the runaway hit “Pumped Up Kicks” almost ten years ago. The controversial song sparked a wealth of backlash, with ongoing criticism that it makes light of school shootings. After a decade of debating and a rise in gun violence, it looks like the band is considering finally putting the single to rest.
Frontman Mark Foster spoke at length with Billboard about the track, which was written from the standpoint of a mentally ill teenager and actually meant to condemn violence. “I wrote that song in eight hours, and for me it wasn’t necessarily more special than any other song,” he explained. “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 went on to discuss the growing number of mass shootings since the track’s initial release, and how “that song has become almost a trigger of something painful [fans] might have experience.” He continued,
“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.”
According to the frontman, the band has already left “Pumped Up Kicks” off certain setlists for a while. For instance, they skipped it at Las Vegas’ Life is Beautiful Festival in 2018, as it took place close to the one-year anniversary of the Route 91 Harvest shooting. Said Foster,
“I was like, ‘I don’t want to play the song here, it’s just too much, it’s too dark.’ And so we ended the show with ‘Hey Jude’, and we did this collaboration with Cirque du Soleil and they came out and did this whole big thing and it was really beautiful — it was one of the most beautiful moments of my career. And after we were done, I said goodbye and we walked off stage and there was a large group in the crowd of people chanting, ‘Pumped Up Kicks.'”
Despite the grey territory, Foster maintained he’s proud of the song, noting that it “created so much conversation about something that’s worth talking about, and I think that every artist dreams of making something that holds its value — and that I really feel like I made the earth pause for a second and bend down to hear what I was saying.”
Read the full interview over at Billboard. Foster might be considering putting the tune to rest, but he’s not done promoting other controversial concepts. Back in August the indie rocker took to Twitter to claim sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein’s deceased body was a double.