Not only is Foster The People unleashing its brand of indietronica/electro pop across the nation on its 22-city North American tour, but the group has also been doing all kinds of good in every city along the way. Truly aiming to help people in many different communities, as their name suggests, vocalist Mark Foster, drummer Mark Pontius, and bassist Cubbie Fink teamed up with the L.A. based charity the Do-Good Bus to support their own foundation, Foster The Future. The band has inspired its fans and anyone else willing to volunteer to hop on the bus in their city and complete a mystery charity mission. Volunteers won’t know what they’re going to be doing until they get on the bus, which so far has included helping out at homeless shelters and providing a fun trip for kids in need.
In trying to help raise money to get the bus on the road for the over 9,000-mile-long journey, Foster The People even set up incentives for each donation bracket. Five dollars puts your picture on the bus; $15 for photos of the band from each city; $30 for a personal reply on Twitter from the band and much more ranging from an autographed CD to autographed drum sticks. The band even offered up a personalized outgoing voicemail message for a donation of $200. Basically, everyone wins, and winning has never been more fun.
Foster The People’s bassist Cubbie Fink spoke with CMJ about the benefits of the Do-Good Bus and how the tour has been going so far.
How long has the band been interested in adding a charity aspect to the tour and what first inspired you guys to get involved? What does being involved in charity work mean to the band?
Well, it was actually something that we were very interested in doing pretty much from the foundation of the band. I think all of us, outside of music, have been involved in some sort of charitable work growing up. And I think just being able to use the platform of whatever success we might have to kind of parlay that into giving back to people in general was very important. And I think even the name of our band kind of became a mission statement for us. I mean—Foster The People—just to take care of people in whatever way we can. So yeah, it’s something we were all very interested in from the beginning and the fact that it’s coming to fruition so early in our career I think is really cool. It was actually the drummer [Pontius] of the band, his sister started the Do-Good Bus in L.A. and she approached us and asked if we’d be willing to take it out on the road with us for this tour, and we were able to rally and get the money to make it happen. So, yeah, that’s something that’s very exciting.
Were you guys surprised at the initial response from fans to this idea?
Yeah, it was really cool. We weren’t really sure how people were going to react, but I think the first kind of push was getting our fans involved in naming our charitable organization. And so, there was a lot of people that submitted possible names, and we ended up settling on ‘Foster The Future’ and so that’s kind of our non-profit, so to speak. So, we partnered with the Do-Good Bus and then just the whole process of raising the money to get it done was really cool, there was a lot of people really willing to give out of their own pocket to make this thing possible.
And, looking at the donations page to raise money for the Do-Good Bus, there are a lot of incentives for fans to donate. How did you all decide to include the incentives and who came up with what each one would be?
It was kind of a collaboration. We sat down with Rebecca, one of the Co-Founders of the Do-Good Bus, and we just kind of brainstormed what would be cool and what would be doable. So, it’s cool to be able to go to the back of the bus and see just the wall of photos of everybody that donated… It’s cool to be able to give back—not just expect people to give, but also, you know, feel like or have the people that are giving feel like they have ownership in it and that they’re actually receiving cool things out of it. And, obviously, they’re kind of paying it forward because what they’re giving is able to help a lot of people beyond themselves.
The tour started the 13th in Scottsdale, AZ and you guys have stopped in Dallas, Austin, Houston, New Orleans, and Orlando so far. So, how have the Do-Good Bus stops been going on the tour so far in those cities?
I think in Dallas we were putting together food for underprivileged families. And then in Texas, in Austin, we raised money for wildfire relief funds, because they had numerous wildfires just go through and wipe out a lot of communities. I think at ACL [Music Festival] alone we raised close to $20,000 for that and ACL and C3, the promoters of the festival, they matched dollar for dollar what we raised there. So, I think all in all, we raised a little over $40,000 for wildfire relief funds. And then, New Orleans, Son Of A Saint was the name of the organization. It was an organization started by, I think, the son of one of the New Orleans Saints, I think [his father] died and his goal was to make sure that every young person in New Orleans has a male mentor figure in their lives. So, that day they went out and just played games with kids and got people connected to mentor figures and stuff. But, all in all, the response has just been overwhelmingly positive and everybody involved has just been really stoked, and we’ve seen a lot of good come out of it.
What else, musically or otherwise, can we look forward to in the near future from Foster The People?
Well, we’re definitely starting to take on the second album. We actually took a recording studio out with us, out on the road for this tour, so trying to get a start on that. We really don’t want too much time to pass before we release more music. Hopefully sometime next year we’ll be coming out with a second album. And, there’s actually another song that we recorded for the album that didn’t make the album that we actually just started playing at our live shows that we’re pretty excited to release as well, we’re just looking at the time frame of everything and figuring out when the best time to release that would be. But, yeah definitely excited to start writing again and actually start recording some time next year and get more music out there.
Tour Dates For Foster The People:
09/27 – New York, NY – Terminal 5
09/28 – New York, NY – Terminal 5
09/29 – Boston, MA – House Of Blues
10/01 – Toronto, ON – Sound Academy
10/02 – Columbus, OH – The LC Pavillion
10/04 – Indianapolis, IN – The Vogue
10/05 – Chicago, IL – The Riviera Theater
10/09 – Seattle, WA – Showbox SoDo
10/10 – Vancouver, BC – Commodore
10/10 – Vancouver, BC – Commodore
10/12 – Portland, OR – Roseland Theater
10/13 – San Francisco, CA – The Fillmore
10/14 – San Francisco, CA – The Fillmore
10/15 – Los Angeles, CA – The Wiltern
10/16 – Pomona, CA – Fox Pomona Theater
10/18 – Los Angeles, CA – The Wiltern
10/19 – San Diego, CA – Soma
10/20 – Las Vegas, NV – The Boulevard At The Cosmopolitan