Switchfoot: The San Diego rock team release a potentially classic album

Thursday 1st February 2001

San Diego's pop rockers SWITCHFOOT were quizzed by Tony Cummings.


Tony: How does it feel being the first American act signed to Delirious?'s record company?

Chad Butler: We feel really honoured to be associated with Delirious?. They have a reputation for creating brilliant music that speaks to people outside the Church as well as within. We share that vision to be salt and light in our culture. They have been able to open doors for our music in the UK. Hopefully people there will be more apt to listen to Switchfoot in the context of what Delirious? is doing. The truth is we are just hoping that we don't have to pay full price for the next Delirious? CD.

Tony: 'Learning To Breathe' seems a much more accessible album than your previous recordings. How would you say the band have changed stylistically?

Jon Foreman: We wanted to rely upon good songs and good parts and lean a little less upon the bells and whistles. We spent a lot more time together as the three of us sweating it out before we hit record - rehearsing songs, rearranging them again and again. On our last project ('New Way'), Charlie really raised the bar as far as our understanding of excellence is concerned. We wanted to raise it one more time well before we ever got to Nashville... this time for ourselves.

Tony: You worked with two producers on the album. What were the differences in working with Jacquire King and Charlie Peacock?

Tim Foreman: We first discovered Jacquire King through his stellar work as a recording engineer/mixing engineer on the newest Tom Waits album. His tremendous engineering abilities are also showcased on albums for Third Eye Blind, Smashmouth and Citizen Cane. His ability as a producer impressed us as well, with his work on the latest Chuck Prophet album. If you listen to what he's previously worked on, you'll notice that he comes from a more organic rock tradition and is incredible at recording great sounds on an album. That is precisely why we liked him and gave him the songs we did. We gave him the more raw, stripped down rock songs that needed to sound huge and have a lot of attitude. Charlie Peacock, on the other hand, we have worked with throughout our musical career as a band. He is a creative wizard and a pop genius of sorts. We gave him the pop songs and the songs that lent themselves to more experimentation, not so rocking. The interesting thing was that a lot of his songs turned out really rocking with tons of attitude, while still maintaining a bit of Charlie flare. Each time you think you have Charlie figured out, he'll show you a side of himself that you haven't yet seen. With both producers, we were allowed much more independence than on previous efforts and sitting in the producer's seat was a great experience for us. Because of this, we really feel like out of all three albums so far, this is the closest we've come to making exactly the album we set out to make.

Tony: You clearly seem to have a soft spot for the UK. What is it about Britain that attracts you?

Chad: Having been raised in England until the age of 11 I have always had a liking for tea and scones; but the thing that keeps us coming back to the UK is the music fans. There is a major difference between an American audience and the Brits. The British crowds seem to come straight off the field of the World Cup final, waving flags and singing anthems, all that before the concert even begins. Needless to say opening for Delirious? in front of a sold out crowd of crazed Brits was an exhilarating culture shock. We loved every minute of it.

Tony: What's your favourite song on 'Learning To Breathe' and why?

Jon: "I Dare You To Move" is my favourite song on the album. I write all my songs from a very personal place and this song was first written especially for me: daring me to step outside of my apathy, cynicism, frustrations and all my excuses. But now, this song has a new meaning. My friend was injured in a fall from the top of a cliff. He's recovering now, learning how to talk, walk and live all over again. His boldness and strength amaze me. The song is his now.

Tony: Okay, do the big sell. Tell us in 50 words or less why people should make the effort to hear 'Learning To Breathe'.

Tim: Everything about 'Learning To Breathe' is refreshing. It is about new beginnings, infancy and revolution. It is a rally cry to our generation to get up, to allow God's love through us to bring change. These are our strongest melodies, delivering a cohesive message of hope. Now, we dare you to move.

Tony: When Cross Rhythms last spoke to you guys you were at pains to emphasise you were a bunch of beach bums. Do you still get time to surf?

Chad: These days most of our time is spent making music, so surfing has become a more rare event. The last time that Delirious? toured in the US we took them surfing in San Diego. Being such an athletic band they all picked it up pretty quickly, especially Martin, he jumped right up on his first wave.

Tony: You say on the sleeve of your album that "love is the movement... this is the revolution." But isn't it true that it is immensely difficult to demonstrate love to those around us, let alone all the people we have passing contact with?

Jon: No one ever said that a revolution is easy. Indeed many have given their lives to demonstrate true love. But most of what our days consist of are not heroic, amazing feats but mundane, seemingly insignificant choices. But our choice remains: "Take up your cross and follow me." That's a daily commitment to love the unlovely just as we, in all of our ugliness, have been loved. CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
About Tony Cummings
Tony CummingsTony Cummings is the music editor for Cross Rhythms website and attends Grace Church in Stoke-on-Trent.


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