Band talks 'Pumped Up Kicks' post school shooting
December 21st, 2012
02:43 PM ET

Band talks 'Pumped Up Kicks' post school shooting

In the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, many radio stations have pulled Foster the People’s 2011 hit single “Pumped Up Kicks,” in which frontman Mark Foster sings about a school shooting.

Foster, told CNN he was inspired by teenage mental illness when he wrote the song, with lyrics like, “You'd better run, better run, outrun my gun ... you'd better run, better run, faster than my bullet.”

Read Foster’s full statement after the jump:

I wrote 'Pumped Up Kicks' when I began to read about the growing trend in teenage mental illness. I wanted to understand the psychology behind it because it was foreign to me. It was terrifying how mental illness among youth had skyrocketed in the last decade. I was scared to see where the pattern was headed if we didn't start changing the way we were bringing up the next generation.

I wrote that song three years ago. A lot has changed since then, and a lot has stayed the same.

For the past few years I've been an advocate for stricter gun control regulations and have been passionate about reforming our laws so this country would be safer. So my little brothers could go to school and I wouldn't have to worry about them. So people wouldn't have access to weapons that were capable of large-scale destruction ie: AR-15's with 30 round magazines.

This song was written as a way to create ongoing dialogue for an issue that was being talked about, but when it came to government intervention, was largely being ignored.

Now, this topic is finally at the forefront of major discussion and will hopefully lead to some big changes in policy that will prevent these acts of violence from happening in the future. That being said, I respect people’s decision to press pause. And if that becomes a catalyst for a bigger conversation that could lead to positive change moving forward, then I absolutely support it.

My heart goes out to Newtown and anyone that's ever been affected directly or indirectly by gun violence. The only way we're going to be able to change this, is to raise a loud, booming, unified voice and not let politics get in the way of humanity. We're all neighbors and this is in our back yard. It's only going to stay there if we let it. Peace and love.

In a 2011 interview, Cubbie Fink, who plays bass in the band, told CNN that “the whole youth violence thing hit pretty close to me” because his cousin was present during the Columbine shooting in 1999.

“I actually flew out to be with her the day after it happened … and saw how affected she was by it,” Fink said. “She is as close as a sister so obviously it affected me deeply. So to be able to have a song to talk about this stuff has been good for us.”

soundoff (39 Responses)
  1. Cordie Larimer

    The syndrome is named after the Austrian pediatrician Hans Asperger who, in 1944, studied and described children in his practice who lacked nonverbal communication skills, demonstrated limited empathy with their peers, and were physically clumsy.-.;'

    Check out all of the most up to date piece of writing on our very own blog page

    June 8, 2013 at 12:46 am | Report abuse |
  2. 手機保護殼

    Sullivan's piece seems to miss, whether deliberately or by accident the dual audience of the comments, particularly comments via independent channels like Tweets. The writer of the material being commented on, and their host publication if any, is one audience, but fellow readers are another audience. 手機保護殼

    May 27, 2013 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
  3. T.

    computer career past right?

    May 13, 2013 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  4. michael

    my take on this whole thing with this is that at least these guy's don't write these songs bout death ,suicide how to kill like all this hard core osh pit "music" screamn bout death and kill with weapons like all that crap if you want to call that other stuff "music" i agree mostly all that hard core stuff out there does not help but everyone has to realize if songs are written bout violence these so called " people" out there are already planning these things in their heads hey my 5 year old plays pumped up kicks probably 15-20 times a day and dances to it everyday i just don't explain the meaning of the lyrics to her she thinks they are singing run faster than your brother so until she actually figures what the lyrics are i'm gonna let dance her but off

    May 13, 2013 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  5. KarenWasHere

    Why is this not the fault of the gun companies that design, and make the high capacity guns? No one ever blames them. They blame movies, songs, games, bad parents, bullies, the weather, the climate, but they never blame the one damn thing all these murders have in common. The gun! It would be a lot harder to take out so many if they had a bow and arrow. So the guns with clips are a lot to blame for this. The designers of them are solely to blame. Its like SkyLab and the Terminator. Yes, you can build it, you have found a way, but lets stop and think, WHY build one? Why do we need guns with 100 round clips? WE don't! BLAME the people that make the damn things.

    January 26, 2013 at 12:25 am | Report abuse |
    • James

      I'm sorry, but you're wrong. No matter what, the bad guys will get a way to get a gun (black market), and the shootings will continue. What the civilians need is immediate protection, and that is why guns come in handy. If we have smaller magazines (clips), the bad guys won't. They will still use 30 round magazines and we will be outgunned. I see your point, but see it from another view.

      April 14, 2013 at 12:42 am | Report abuse |
  6. Todd E

    What I don't get is 20- and 30- somethings writing songs about being in high school. These guys are 35 years old and writng about how their girlfriend dumped them to go out with the guy who has more pokemons. They contribute nothing and will be less than a footnote in history.

    January 19, 2013 at 8:36 am | Report abuse |
  7. peace is a must

    and that is it.

    January 17, 2013 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  8. gatecrasher1

    but hey, it's still all right to play songs about puttin' caps in rival gang members heads, selling drugs, and pimpin' hoes?

    January 17, 2013 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  9. California...

    guy is not kosher that's for sure...

    January 17, 2013 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
  10. CaliGirl

    How is it that this band and the powers that be , ALLOWED a song like this to be played on the radio in this day in age. I am LIVID, I really am that this was allowed to happen and that this band has had no REAL consequences or punishment for that song. IN fact, they dont even seem to feel the least bit ashamed for it. Unreal. Whats even more astonishing is that one of the band members has spoken against gun violence. Wait, wait, make a song about how "kids with pumped up kicks better run faster than my bullet" but NOW your against gun violence??? YOU GOT TO BE KIDDING ME, RIGHT???

    Hey, foster, I guess the 6 & 7 year olds couldnt out run Adams bullet.

    January 17, 2013 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Michelle

      First Amendment. Freedom of speech. You don't like it, don't listen to it.

      I agree that your opinion is also covered under this Amendment, but don't even think for one moment that your point (or lack thereof) valid. And art is always left up to individual interpretation.

      I repeat, you don't like it, don't listen. I don't like the song either, so I change the station when it comes on.

      Simple enough.

      January 17, 2013 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
    • asdfg

      omg are you oblivious or what?! The song is not PROMOTING gun violence, it's trying to spread the message that it exists and needs to be taken seriously. Because with the laws the US has now, it's so easy to just be carrying machine guns around and no one seems to think of how dangerous that is. He's not telling anyone to go shoot anyone, they're just trying to depict the mental state of someone who is feeling homicidal.

      February 10, 2013 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Cici

    You got to be KIDDING me. No really, this statement from Foster is such bullcrap. He made it because he wanted to create open dialogue? Really? REALLY??? I MEAN REALLY???? Who would even buy such crap??? He has blood on his hands and he knows it. He knows damn well that people who listen to his music dont know the intentions in his mind, all the hear is the song and he also knows dam well how kids can be easily influenced. Very bad man. You dont put out songs like that, period.

    January 17, 2013 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
    • daerius

      He has blood on his hands? Really? For a damn pop song? Give me a break! The song, which was on the charts LONG before the shooting, is a sardonic look at mental illness among our youth! We, as a country, have more "blood on our hands" because we continuously FAIL at dealing with mental illness, and instead of protecting our children, we find it more important to protect the right to have every type of weapon known to mankind, available to the mass populace. And then we wonder why these things happen? REALLY?! Anyone who doesn't get that this song is a song of opposition to our gun-slinging society, is either not very bright, or deliberately (and retroactively) looking for a scapegoat to make themselves feel better. Mass shootings are NEVER about a song, or a game, or a picture, or any other form of media. These shootings are the result of MENTAL ILLNESS combined with access to weapons designed to kill a large number of people. Until we adequately address both issues, these scenarios will continue. Songs like "Pumped Up Kicks" should be our canary in the coal mine, letting us know that the problem has become so bad that it has now become a part of our popular culture. If we don't like it, the response should NOT be to shoot the messenger. It should be a reevaluation of our society.

      January 20, 2013 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  12. yappy00

    Nicely written statement.

    (Other than the erroneous use of "i.e.")

    January 14, 2013 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Matt

    When the Columbine shootings happened, NPR played "I Don't Like Mondays" as the intro to their coverage. It is about the shooting spree of 16-year-old Brenda Ann Spencer, who fired at children in a school playground at Grover Cleveland Elementary School in San Diego, California on 29 January 1979.

    "All the playing's stopped in the playground now
    She wants to play with her toys a while.
    And school's out early and soon we'll be learning
    And the lesson today is how to die."

    January 11, 2013 at 7:38 am | Report abuse |
  14. you have to play the white album backwards..

    in order to hear it....i've heard it...weird

    January 7, 2013 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
  15. jane

    there is a rumor you can play the white album from the beatles and its says "paul is dead" "paul is dead"

    January 7, 2013 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
  16. Mike

    You mean we don't Blame the artist anymore!! When Ozzy made suicIde solution, everyone was upset. I can't wait to play pumped up kicks backwards

    January 7, 2013 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
  17. Marcela B.

    I want to remind everyone that Foster the People didn't release the single on purpose, a web site started to play it and it became popular. Foster the People embraced the acceptance, and then it was played by radios all over. I agree that the song should not be played anymore, but I would like to see less violence in video games too and of course less assault guns in the homes of people.

    December 27, 2012 at 12:59 am | Report abuse |
  18. Susan

    While the words in the song did not cause a shooting they are totally insensitive at this time. People who can not see that are immature at best. Even the band understands why this songs lyrics are not something to be posting on things like Facebook and Twitter. Lyrics like run, run from a shooter do not belong on the radio the day after a mass shooting. Sometimes is it nice to think of bigger things not how passionate someone is about a bands song lyrics.

    December 26, 2012 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • micheleodea

      You are kidding, people. Don't post the lyrics? Don't play the song? Do you really think anyone whose child has just been murdered in CT is listening to the radio or reading random strangers' Facebook pages? Some live around the corner from the murderer's home. Facebook lyrics are the problem to their grief? Wholly eff...

      January 15, 2013 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Mark

    Pumped Up Kicks just came on my pandora station as I was reading this article. I always thought the song was about children playing coybows and indians or something, pretending to shoot each other with their fingers.

    December 26, 2012 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
  20. Ruby

    oh my god I love you Mark Foster 😀

    December 26, 2012 at 12:30 am | Report abuse |
  21. Ruby

    and PUK is not a terrible song you guys are probably just a bunch of Nicki Minaj or lil Wayne fans smfh

    December 26, 2012 at 12:29 am | Report abuse |
  22. Richard

    I'm surprised that God-awful light-weight pop song didn't cause a shooting. It's horrible.

    December 24, 2012 at 3:27 am | Report abuse |
  23. failed.

    December 23, 2012 at 5:45 am | Report abuse |
  24. Sokman

    That kid's mom wasn't "innocent". She neglected to get him proper care for his conditions, & she made guns accessable to a mentally unstable person who shouldnt have had them anywhere near him.

    December 22, 2012 at 7:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      He had asperger's, that's far far far away from being mentally unstable.

      December 22, 2012 at 8:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • TriumphTheInsultComicDog

      Asperger's may have nothing to do with it but he was still obviously mentally unstable. A mentally stable person doesn't kill 27 others and then themself. Hell they don't kill anyone usually. His mother may not have gotten him the help he needed. However, from what i've read, she was going to get help for him and he didn't want it. That may have been part of his motive. Perhaps over time we will have answers but we may never know as well. At the very least his mother is guilty of poor judgement (if not neglect) for not getting him help quickly enough and for leaving the weapons where he could get to them. A crime worthy of a death of a death penalty? Not even close in my opinion. But that's what he gave her and all the other victims. Crimes that he alone is ultimately responsible for. Not his mother and certainly not anyone in the gun lobby.

      December 23, 2012 at 2:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Robert

      No one will ever know the real answer. Perhaps she told him "we are going to get you help" , and he snapped.

      December 23, 2012 at 5:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Reason

      In the eyes of the law, the mother is innocent. That's all that matter when you go buy the gun.
      You may disagree with her handling of her kid, or her love of guns, but nothing illegal.
      She's just like countless others, and you should know that this is probably going to happen again.

      December 23, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • micheleodea

      There is only so much help a parent can get for their adult children. That's part of our problem. THAT SAID, she also allowed him unfettered access to her weapons. Did she "deserve" the death penalty? Maybe not. Nobody deserves to die in a car accident either but that's exactly what can happen if you drive like a maniac. And those children sure as hades did not deserve what they got, nor did their parents, and she was in total control of her guns, the killed/ grieving had/have none.

      January 15, 2013 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • BriBri

      Not everyone who has aspergers is like that though, with or without help, something else could have been going on as well. Generalizing a whole group of people for one persons actions is not a good thing to do.

      January 4, 2014 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
  25. Sokman

    Much classier in handling their song being pulled than Kesha. Interesting how he attributed the song to teen mental illness, not gun control. I give him credit for being an advocate of gun control & not jumping on the bandwagon with the crazies that want to totally disarm innocent civilians.

    December 22, 2012 at 12:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Reason

      That kid's mom was an innocent civilian .... and yet she was killed by her own guns.
      Then again logic has no place in your reasoning.

      December 22, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      You forgot one thing though. Pumped up kicks is a terrible song.

      December 22, 2012 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
  26. girlvillain

    Reblogged this on And now they call us monsters.

    December 21, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |

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