Chris Mountford caught up with best selling Christian rockers SWITCHFOOT
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Chris: A lot of the songs I like from Switchfoot are those songs that really hold these tensions. When you're writing these songs does it happen over a long period of time because some of the subjects are really deep?
Tim: Jon talks about some of the better songs that he's written as like discovering something that was already there. Sometimes songs mature over a long period of time but often the best songs come with the least amount of mangling from our human hands. It's more like you unearth something that was already in existence and already true and already beautiful.
Chris: Let's talk a bit about the producers of the album, Mike Elizondo and Neal Avron. What kind of contribution did they make in terms of shaping the new record?
Drew: We worked daily with Neal Avron and at this point in our career it's almost like we have five producers in the band. Neal helped us to stay on track and make sure we had time for everything. He would be sitting there with a notepad throwing ideas out there. We have our own studio and we're able to go in any direction we want to go but we have to find that unified place. Musically, Neal had a great way of bringing out the best in us, there was a mutual respect. If there was a part we were working on he'd allow it to develop, maybe he'd give a couple of pointers but he'd always step back and wait. He saw the process through. When we got to the mix stage it was awesome because he was there for all the times we were trying to get there.
Chris: I'd like to talk about some of the songs on the album. 'The War Inside' has an almost hip-hop type groove.
Tim: That's a song that I think is going to surprise a lot of people - it's much more rhythmic. Not just the drums or the bass but Jon's vocals are also very rhythmic. That's one of the characteristics of this album. He was writing in a very rhythmic pocket vocally which inspired the direction musically.
Chris: Was that experimentation or a new influence?
Tim: We set out to make a really rhythmic, soulful record in that sense. A record that has a little swagger to it.
Drew: We put a lot of focus on the drums and bass intentionally and saved the guitars. We developed the rhythm first and then we'd see where the guitars could add depth, dimension and character to the track.
Chris: Are you pleased with the results?
Drew: I really am, there's some things on there you'd never expect to hear us play as a band. I think it goes back to us covering [the Beastie Boys'] 'Sabotage'. We covered a few songs and we were experimenting and we were surprised how well it worked. It may or may not have been the actual inspiration, but we caught something there that we felt was something we could do honestly which is really the point. The best song is an honest song. You're not pretending to be someone else or pretending to play in a certain way, you're just playing it as honestly as you can.
Chris: How do you find performing the more rhythmic material live?
Tim: When you're making a record - your eighth record - you're thinking about what songs you're going to be knocking off your setlist and what songs you need on your setlist that you might not have. This is a fun record for us to play live as it's not so much replacing songs that we've done in the past as it is building new places for us to go as a band. It's not a simple swapping of songs. I like to think of it as a builder adding rooms to a house. They still need to feel like they belong to the original house but give you somewhere new to go, a new place to explore.
Chris: I want to talk a bit about the lyrics on the song "Vice Verses". It asks, "Where is God in the earthquake and in the genocide?" These are easier questions to ask than answer.