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    Foster the People's keyboardist, the multi-instrumentalist Isom Innis, is upfront with me: "My knowledge of Kentucky is incredibly slim," he says over the phone. But it turns out the Nashville native has had some pretty memorable run-ins with the bluegrass state. Read on for our lightly-edited interview covering Louisville Sluggers, KFC family photos, rock star whiskey faves and just the slightest insight into Jim James' taste in liquor. And be sure to enter our contest for a chance to win a pair of tickets to the Foster the People concert at Iroquois Amphitheater Sept. 10.

     

    How do you pronounce the name of the city?

    Looeyville? Did I get that right? Right, right. Loouhvul. How do you say it?
     

    Personally? Loo-uh-vul.

    Loo-uh-vul. Growing up, I wasn’t sure if that was just the Southern accent coming through.
     

    What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Kentucky?

    For me, it’s the Louisville Slugger, the baseball bat. That was my first love in life, was baseball. That was the first sport I ever played as a kid. Louisville Slugger, I think, actually is my first memory of any kind of brand. Early on, in T-ball and everything, those are the kind of bats you use. 
     

    Have you been to town before?

    We’ve been one time. I believe it was last time we were on tour. We played Louisville, and before the show, we went to the factory and got a tour and took some batting practice.
     

    The Slugger factory? What's it like in there?

    Have you never been in there? Oh, man! Oh, wow! OK, yes! I’m stumping you, I love it. I’m just kidding.

    It’s really cool, actually. There’s a batting cage where there’s a projector of a pitcher, of a major-league pitcher, and he winds back and throws. They have a couple different cages. One, I think, is 90 miles per hour. That’s too fast for me, so I think we were in the 60-mile-per-hour cages.
     

    How about some food questions. Ever heard of a hot brown?

    You know what, they sent me a sample interview with David Blaine. And I just read this actually, and I can’t remember. So no.
     

    So it made a good impressionIt's an open-faced turkey sandwhich with tomatoes, bacon and cheese, smothered in Mornay sauce.

    That sounds a lot more tame than it first sounds. It sounds like a stomach ache.
     

    How about a mint julep?

    Now that I do know. The drink. It’s a cocktail, right? I’m the one person in the band who loves sugary drinks, so I definitely order that from time to time.
     

    So you like bourbon?

    Yes, absolutely.
     

    Do you have a favorite?

    Bulleit. I feel like that’s kind of our standard. You can find it just about everywhere, and it’s consistent. I do it neat. Or sometimes with a couple of rocks. We used to be all about bourbon, but we’ve switched to tequila. We’ve been doing a lot of Mezcal, so. A bourbon hangover is really intense. I’m really into scotch as well — Lagavulin and peatier scotches. But after drinking scotch, bourbon tastes so sweet. So whenever I have it now, it feels like a dessert. 
     

    How about KFC?

    That's the one thing I did growing up, is — isn’t the first KFC in Corbin, Kentucky? We were taking a road trip — my sister, my dad and I — and we passed through Corbin. I think it’s kind of the law there, if you drive by, you have to see (the original KFC). There’s a little monument on the side of the building. We went in there. But I think that’s probably the last time I had KFC, when I was 11 years old. I remember there being a small monument that has a bit of the history painted on the side of it. And I remember my dad, sister and I got a picture in front of it. I can’t remember much, but I have that picture somewhere, on my dad’s fridge in some, you know, in some garage.
     

    Do you know any Louisville musicians?

    No, not Louisville. Our friends, Cage the Elephant, I know are from Bowling Green. But they’re really the only musicians that we know from Kentucky.
     

    Can you name any bands from Louisville? 

    Gosh. Not musicians. Is George Clooney from Louisville? OK, you know what? No, I can’t. Who are some musicians from there?
     

    My Morning Jacket.

    Oh, you know what? Actually, we’re big fans of My Morning Jacket. I can’t believe I didn’t get that. Our drummer, Mark Pontius, he showed us all of Jim James’s new solo record — it’s a really, really cool record, it’s really good. Also, I think (Foster the People's lead vocalist Mark) Foster got — Jim James gave him some absinthe at Hangout Fest in Gulf Shores, Alabama. They were drinking this really strong absinthe. You’ll have to ask him about it.
     

    Are you guys big drinkers?

    We enjoy a good drink.
     

    Have you ever been to Derby?

    No, I’ve never been.
     

    Do you gamble?

    We play poker.
     

    How old is a Derby horse?

    How old? Oh, man. I’m gonna say 7 years old.
     

    They’re all 3 years old. 

    Oh, wow, OK. What is the lifespan?
     

    It's in the twenties.

    So they're young.
     

    How about Derby winners? Secretariat? You know that horse?

    No.
     

    Know what a foal is?

    A foal? No.


    It's a baby horse. How about a gelding?

    I have no idea. A gelding? Is that like a hoof? Is that when they put on the — what do you call it? That they put on the bottom of a horse’s hoof? 
     

    A horse shoe.

    A horse shoe! Is that when they put a horseshoe on?
     

    Nope. It's actually a castrated horse.

    Oh, weird. Weird. Gosh. What? Poor horse.

    Cover Photo: Foster the People // Facebook

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    About Dylon Jones

    Dylon Jones is a poet, essayist and journalist based in Louisville, Kentucky, where he serves as web editor of Louisville Magazine. His narrative journalism has earned him first-place awards in feature writing and profile reporting from the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2015, Sarabande Books awarded him the Flo Gault Poetry Prize. His poems will appear in Tinderbox Poetry Journal and The Collagist this summer.

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