When Foster the People released “Sacred Hearts Club” in July, the word they used most to describe it was “joyous.”
The band is now bringing that joy to Rochester this Friday at the Dome Arena, where they will be supported by local favorites The Demos.
“The first time playing a new place is always really exciting,” said Isom Innis, the group’s longtime touring keyboardist who was inducted as an official member this year. “You don’t know what to expect, you don’t have any expectations.”
Venues change, but Foster the People’s commitment to artistic purity has always stayed stable.
“Artists push boundaries, artists push the status quo, artists refuse to be characterized,” Innis explained. “I look at my favorite artists and I look at John Lennon, The Beatles, The Beach Boys. They look at the world through a lens. They’re able to capture words and feelings that you couldn’t necessarily articulate.”
Innis added: “I think I’m forever going to be searching for what that actually means. I think being an artist is chasing your passion. For a musician, it’s staying true to the purity of art. Like, the purity of art is what is most inspiring to us. I think there’s a huge difference between an artist and an entertainer.”
Consumerist culture constantly bludgeons people with products and the reasons we need them. Algorithms find our preferences and we know when we’re being sold to, but living in a continuous advertisement feels more indecent when it begins to overlap with art.
Foster the People is based in Los Angeles, a city redolent of disingenuity and soulless claims to fame, which the band discusses at length in the 2014 album “Supermodel.” But you don’t have to live in LA to see the effects of money on music.
“We’re living in an era right now where the mainstream are focused on entertainers, and an artist is someone […] that can speak into your life, that can show you and that can lead you through cultural movements,” said Innis. “I think consumerism affects everyone everyday. The music industry, they want to push you into being product avatars. We’re not interested in any of that bullshit.”
Although Foster the People know how to communicate a message, they won’t tell you how to feel. That “Sacred Hearts Club” comes froms today’s all-encompassing political climate is no secret. The result is an eclectic album, one that feels like peering into a box of the musicians’ favorite things. The album’s intent is clear, but what it means to you is entirely your decision.
“The meaning of ‘Sacred Hearts Club’ to us is, it’s a group of people that celebrate life, that aren’t afraid to exist outside of societal norms, and it was important for us — in the face of all the divisiveness that’s going on across the country — we wanted to take an opportunity to make music that […] celebrates life, […] to say that love is bigger than politics,” Innis said.
He expanded on what that means for the average listener.
“I’m more interested in people’s own interpretations of the songs than what our interpretations are […] hopefully, the songs bring people joy.”
Although he won’t decide what “Sacred Hearts Club” should be to you, Innis will tell you why you should come out on Friday.
“Juggling, Insane Clown Posse tribute. We’re gonna have a puppet show.”
Innis’ voice suggested that he had not yet abandoned the task of defining an artist. And it’s understandable. For those that make it, art is a life fabric, and its ineffable quality makes it all the more appealing. He shortly circled back.
“To chase your instincts, and keeping that in the forefront of whatever art you’re creating, that’s the most important thing. For us, that’s the only thing that gets us off. There’s so much music, there’s so much […] noise in the world right now. When you have an artist that saying something that cuts through — it’s a really special thing. The value of art is infinite.”
And that’s something we can all agree on.