Formed in Los Angeles in 2009 by multi-instrumentalist singer/songwriter Mark Foster, indie rock trio Foster the People make melodic and atmospheric, dance-oriented pop. Foster initially began the project alone, but before long he added long-term friend Cubbie Fink on bass and drummer Mark Pontius to complete the lineup. The following year, their single "Pumped Up Kicks" was posted on their website, picking up considerable buzz online and significant airplay on KROQ, alongside packed performances at the Texas musical festival SXSW. This inevitably attracted the attention of major labels, and eventually the band signed to Columbia imprint Startime International. Early in 2011 they released a self-titled EP that featured "Pumped Up Kicks," and with the major-label support, the song became a worldwide hit.
Despite the rapid climb of the single, the bandmembers were afforded time to concentrate on writing their debut full-length, while "Pumped Up Kicks" grew in popularity and was featured on television shows including the likes of Gossip Girl, Homeland, and a host of commercials. Later that summer the band released its debut record, Torches, which was produced mainly by Greg Kurstin (Kelly Clarkson, Ellie Goulding), with Paul Epworth (Adele, Friendly Fires) also contributing to a handful of tracks. They then embarked on tours across North America and Europe to support its release. In 2012 they took home the Billboard Music Awards' Top Rock Song accolade, and were nominated for a host of others honors, including Grammy, BRIT, NME, and Teen Choice awards.
Foster the People began writing material for their sophomore record while on tour, and they laid tracks down on a portable setup before they entered the studio. Their sophomore album, the Paul Epworth-produced Supermodel, was released in March 2014. The album received middling reviews, but performed better than its predecessor, reaching number three on the U.S. album chart. Two singles, "Coming of Age" and "Best Friend," hit the Top Ten of the alternative chart.