Jon Foreman on new Switchfoot documentary, forthcoming album
Jon Foreman never could have imagined that Switchfoot would last for 17 years, much less be as popular as they are today, having won Grammy Awards, released platinum-selling records and consistently charted high on Christian and mainstream rock charts.
“No way, not at all,” laughs Foreman, the band’s lead singer, guitarist and songwriter. “I’ve been in bands my whole life and I expected to play music my whole life, but to think that we’d still be a band, actually touring, filming and making songs we believe in? This is our ninth album. That’s just mind-blowing for me.”
The aforementioned album is Fading West (due out in January) and the filming he mentions refers to a documentary by the same name which chronicles the band’s 2012 world tour to Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Bali. The 80-minute film will precede their acoustic performance at The Rio Theatre on Nov. 7, and some of the music in the film hints at what the creative process was like for the band.
“With this record, the goal was to try and step out of our comfort zone,” Foreman says. “A lot of times we would only use a traditional rock ’n’ roll instrument—bass, drums, guitar—as a last resort. There’s definitely rock ’n’ roll moments [on the album], but the focus is on taking you on a journey and trying to accompany the film as it travels around the world.”
The music in the film offers some surprises—a fair amount of ambient noise, earthy percussion and organic instrumentation appear throughout—and the film itself may surprise those who are unfamiliar with the band. More than just a straight-ahead rock ’n’ roll documentary, a number of scenes in Fading West capture the band’s love of surfing and philosophical moments as they discuss their faith and how they maintain a balance between being rock stars and good husbands and fathers—all of which have a marked effect on the content of their songs.
“Location is key for creation, and where you are determines what you’re going to create,” says Foreman. “There are certain things that influence your life. Having a child, for example, is the most profound change I have encountered on the planet, and it influences everything. So for me, the songs that I write ever since my daughter was born, they feel much different than what I was writing up until that point.”
One of the original goals for this tour was to create enough material on the road to be able to make a record when they return home to San Diego. Scores of songs were written, although most will not end up on the record, and the same goes for some of the music that ended up in the film.
“Some of it will go on the record, but a lot of that will be unheard,” Foreman says. “We might release some of those songs once they’re more fleshed out, but there’s a ton of material we wrote that is in the movie that is not on the record.”
The purpose of writing these songs, according to Foreman, was to achieve catharsis and engage in personal reflection. For him, anything that comes after that is secondary.
“I think it’s almost the purest form of art,” he says. “You’re writing for the sheer enjoyment of it. Music is definitely something that has a deep hold on me and I want that to be a part of my life whether I’m getting paid for it or not.”
Switchfoot performs at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 7 at The Rio Theatre, 1205 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. Tickets are $31-$37. For more information, call 423.8209. Photo Credit Chris Burkard