Foster the People's Mark Foster on Weird Dance Songs - Rolling Stone
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Foster the People on 5 Songs That ‘Block Out the Morning Sun’

Mark Foster shares his favorite lesser-known tunes by the Beach Boys, Ministry, Jan Hammer and others

Mark FosterMark Foster

Foster the People's Mark Foster shares his favorite left-of-center dance songs, including tracks by the Beach Boys and Ministry.

Owen Sweeney/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Foster the People have spent the past few months touring heavily while their comeback single “Sit Next to Me” climbs the charts, making it their biggest hit since “Pumped Up Kicks” back in 2011. During downtime from the road, frontman Mark Foster sat down to create a list of songs that, in his words, “block out the morning sun.” “There’s definitely a through-line for all of these songs,” says Foster. “One of which is that most of these nobody will know, except maybe the [Giorgio] Moroder song. The Ministry song doesn’t sound like Ministry. The Beach Boys song doesn’t sound like the Beach Boys. They’re outliers. They’re all kind of weird downtempo disco, or postpunk left-of-center dance.”

Giorgio Moroder, “Knights in White Satin (Part 2)”
“I started to listen to Giorgio Moroder after I saw his name in the credits as the composer for the Midnight Express score. I hadn’t even realized he had scored Scarface yet. I was too young when I watched that movie to pay attention to the music. I first heard ‘Knights in White Satin’ through my friend Jena. She was working on Neon Demon with Nicolas Winding Refn and this was the song he played on set while shooting a lot of the film — his musical muse, you could say. There are very few artists that even attempt to make dark disco. This mood is a tough one to express for some reason.”

The Beach Boys, “Here Comes the Night”
“This era of the Beach Boys suffered an identity crisis of sorts. You would never know it was them upon a first listen. Brian Wilson had been mostly out of the picture, and with Mike Love at the helm they took many different musical turns and explorations. There are some incredible gems to be found in the late Seventies / early Eighties Beach Boys recordings. This is one of my favorites. It’s not hard for me to picture Mike Love and Bruce Johnston wearing polyester bell bottom suits underneath a giant disco ball living their best lives.”

Ministry, “Work for Love”
“This song harkens back to the days when Al Jourgensen was kind of a heartthrob. The early Ministry days sound like a mix of a playful Johnny Depp from 21 Jump Street and the Cure when Robert Smith was in love. it’s amazing to watch where this band started knowing that they would go on to be pioneers of industrial music. Now, I can easily picture their singer Al as a permanent fixture in the basement of a vampire-themed Berlin dungeon. People change.”

The Units, “High Pressure Days”
“One of my favorite things to do when digging for new music is to try and find something hidden in the past that would easily be played on the radio today. Something way ahead of its time. Recordings of Joe Meek, Gang of Four, Suicide, ESG, Kraftwerk, etc. When I first heard this song by the Units, I could hear the early foundation for what would later be a major influence for bands like LCD Soundsystem. If the vocal in this song were mixed a little better, it wouldn’t be hard to picture it being played on SiriusXMU or being Zane Lowe’s ‘Hottest Record.’ This was released in 1980.”

Jerry Goodman and Jan Hammer, “Earth (Still Our Only Home)”
“There are a few different versions of this song recorded. I think even Jeff Beck plays some strange renditions of this live. The album version is my favorite though. Nasty simple groove, super nerdy chord changes, and a ripping prog guitar that comes out of left field. I applaud the bravery. Thank you, Jan Hammer.”

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