AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The guys in Foster the People know something about contrasts.
The Los Angeles trio made its first trip to South By Southwest four years ago, playing for basically no one. This year the group is one of the marquee acts at the annual conference and music festival and on Friday night will headline the yearly free concert series that can draw more than 10,000 people.
"This is kind of where we got discovered, and that was our first trip as a band — leaving the state, getting a van," singer Mark Foster said of the 2010 trip. "It was like our first tour, driving to Austin. We played shows at 9 in the morning."
"For three people," bass player Cubbie Fink said.
"We played shows on the outskirts of the city at like a weird garage, like a graveyard for mechanical errors," Foster said.
The gig is another perk the band has earned thanks to the hit "Pumped Up Kicks," an earworm of a song that was inescapable for much of 2011 into 2012. Foster attended Damon Albarn's show at Stubb's on Wednesday night and said he still vividly remembers thinking the 2,000 capacity venue was huge.
"It's really odd," he said Thursday. "It's like being a little kid and, like, you remember things being so much bigger than they actually were. But it really only was a couple of years ago. It wasn't that long ago, but things have changed."
The band draws its headlining show at Butler Park on the eve of releasing its second album, "Supermodel," next week. The LP has a dream-pop feel and will come as something of a surprise to fans. There's no sign the band, which also includes drummer Mark Pontius, is chasing another hit.
"Kicks" let the band tour the world and helped underwrite a trip Foster took to North Africa and the Middle East that was influential for the framework of the new album.
"It's been cool to take our music into these places and share something that we love and create an environment that's communal," Fink said. "Music is a very communal thing, and it's been cool to see how different cultures have resonated with our music. It's been an amazing process."
Follow AP Music Writer Chris Talbott: http://twitter.com/Chris_Talbott.