Thursday, November 30, 2006

In:terview: Switchfoot

This interview is straight from Christianity Today, an amazing publication that gives artist music reviews and interviews. This interview, among a plethora of others, really sums up the guys from Switchfoot. Enjoy!

Audience of Oneby Collin HansenPosted 11/27/06
You might say things have changed in the nearly four years since Christian Music Today last spoke with Switchfoot. That was in January 2003—before The Beautiful Letdown, which would go double-platinum, was released. Mainstream success came as the San Diego band continued to earn Christian acclaim. Switchfoot frontman Jon Foreman won six Dove Awards at the 2004 GMA Music Awards. Christian Music Today chose the band's next release, Nothing Is Sound, as the top Christian album of 2005. Christianity Today associate editor Collin Hansen talked with Foreman about success, Christian criticism, the gospel, and Switchfoot's December 26 release, Oh Gravity!

>>What do you think will surprise Switchfoot fans about Oh! Gravity?
Jon Foreman: When you're around the music, it's like watching a kid grow up. If you're around the kid every day, you don't really see changes. But everyone outside of the family notices dramatic differences. It's been really interesting to see other people's reactions to the songs where, for us, I think it's been a real honest effort to try and get the energy live onto a CD. It's almost been this dichotomy in our band where we record music one way and then play it live a completely different way. In the recording, you tend to be going for perfection. And a lot of times perfection can stifle the song itself. With this record, we made a conscious effort to leave mistakes in, to leave the first take in if it felt better.
I can only speak from the inside, but we felt freedom making this record. We were really thankful to be in a spot where we couldn't care less what the outside world thought. That's a really liberating place to be as a musician.
>>When did you get to that point?
Foreman: We had a few things that happened over the past year that were frustrating for us as a band—copy protection on Nothing Is Sound that was incompatible with iTunes, spyware on our listeners' CDs without their knowledge. It put a lot of things between us and the people who bought our music. Nothing Is Sound was the best record we had ever made, and we were really excited about getting it out there. We still really believed in our songs, but to have all of those things kind of working against us in our attempts to get the music out there was a really troubling time for us as a band.
So we went into the studio halfway through last year in between tours to work on an EP without plans for what to do with it. It really felt like a newfound freedom in the studio that we hadn't felt in a long time.
>>It's been a while since publicists have allowed Christian Music Today to talk to you guys. What was the biggest change since moving over to Sony/Columbia a few years ago?
Foreman: It was initially a realization of something that we'd wanted to be from the beginning. When we were signed to re:think Records, the goal was to get the music out to everybody. When Sparrow bought re:think Records, it was evident that our music wasn't going to be in the hands of everybody. As a Christian, I have a lot to say within the walls of the church. But also, as a Christian, I've got a lot to say just about life in general.
I've always been a little bit leery of putting "Christian" as a tagline for anything. If you're going to attach the name of Christ onto something, then you'd better have thought about it for a long time and really feel like that particular product, whether it's a CD or a church or whatever, is worthy of that name. So to be able to be on Columbia and on Sparrow felt like the realization of the two sides of what we had to say. It's a dream come true to be able to have songs that are outside of the box. Because it can be really troubling when your music gets labeled as one thing or another. All the goals that you're trying to achieve suddenly become boiled down into this really simplistic box.
>>Has your support remained strong among the Christian community?
Foreman: We've been really fortunate. People within Christendom still know who we are, and they still trust us and remember us for the most part. There's always going to be people who don't understand what you're doing. The bigger you get, and the more what you're doing is known, the more it's misunderstood.
At first I used to hate to think that somebody wouldn't know what we're doing. I would be the first one to want to talk to them and explain it. And then I realized our music isn't for everyone. To think that everyone is going to understand it and that we're going to be everyone's favorite band is a little unrealistic. Then you think, Well, I just want to be making music that I'm proud of, that I feel like is exactly what I'm put here on earth to do. And that becomes your goal. And it's a much more realistic goal, because you're responsible to One instead of to millions.
>>The Beautiful Letdown had such widespread critical acclaim and strong sales. Reaction to Nothing Is Sound was mixed. How do you explain the difference?
Foreman: You can tell a really good joke, but if people don't get it, you can't explain it. I feel much more like an archeologist than an inventor. I'm not the guy who tinkers in my workshop all day long in an attempt to achieve a goal. I have no preconceived notion when I write a song. All I do is dig. And you discover a city that's been there all along. Those are the good days, you know, where songs just come to you. I can't look at the dig that happened for Nothing Is Sound and be self-critical.
I feel like there were a lot of things that needed to find the surface that maybe were uncomfortable for people. But I feel like those were—up until Oh! Gravity—the best songs that we'd ever written. I'm comfortable with other people not appreciating it. There are certain types of food that aren't for everyone. As a chef you can't be limited to making hamburgers because you know everyone's going to be satisfied with that.
"American Dream" on Oh! Gravity reprises some of your critiques of consumerism, which are also featured in fan favorites like "Company Car." Is Christendom implicated in these warnings? >>How do you ward off the corrupting influence money can have along with success?
Foreman: I'm implicating everyone, myself included. To think that you're not susceptible to the lure of cold, hard cash and the advantages it buys us in this life is to be ridiculously foolish. I think that we've all fallen to our knees to many of the things that our nation has to offer. For me the grounding, the centering of my soul is something that comes in various forms, whether it's in meditation or reading or even travel to foreign countries. There are a lot of ways that you can kind of loosen your grip on the American steering wheel, and those are the things that I find to be really healthy.
I'm reminded every night of what I've written. And I noticed with Nothing Is Sound, singing a depressing song night after night can wear you out. Depressing songs need to be written, but joyful songs also need to be sung.
>>You're going on record with your fans, almost like you're asking them to hold you accountable.
Foreman: That's something I've noticed from the very beginning. You're taking a stand with every verse. That's a really humbling thing to do, because I know for a fact the wickedness that I am. I know for a fact the sinner that I am. To sing these songs is an honor and a challenge.
How has your faith changed in these tumultuous years of success?
Foreman: Oh, man, in a million ways. The closer you get to the monster, the tighter you grip the sword. There's a lot of things we've faced over the past few years that we didn't want to, and then a lot of things that we kind of ran at that we thought we could beat. We are all interdependent upon each other. Independence does just not exist within the human species. We need each other. There's no way you can face your demons alone.
>>In Jeffery Sheler's book Believers: A Journey into Evangelical America, he travels to Creation Fest and watches you perform. He describes you as feeling constrained to be ambiguous. Why do you think he would get that impression?
Foreman: I feel like people want us to be flying their flag. People will use our words to prove them right. We are not trying to fly the flag of Christendom, and we never have attempted to lift that flag. At the end of my life, I would love to have somebody say, "He was a humble Christian." I think that would be the biggest compliment.
I've seen very few people get up on stage in rock and roll who yell and stamp their feet for the name of Christ and do it in a way that I feel like is the gospel. So when people come to us with books and microphones and cameras and they want us to cheer the cheer and chant the chant, it's something that I don't feel comfortable doing. In all honesty, I don't feel like that's the gospel. And to do so is to betray the very thing that means the most to me.
If people are going to misconstrue that as being an unbeliever, then I have to be comfortable with that outcome, because I can't be responsible for other people's opinions. Again, you can't live your life for a million people. The whole audience of One is a really liberating concept.
>>So how do you see the gospel?
Foreman: I see the gospel as the antithesis of what happens on stage. We have it all wrong in a lot of respects where we interview the people who are up on stage when I truly believe that what happens off stage is more important. How we treat each other behind closed doors matters a whole more as far as infinity's concerned than whether you hit the right note on stage and you had the strobe just perfect and your guitar was in tune.
We are continually striving for excellence, and I feel like music in and of itself is a worthy endeavor. That's something we will continue to do with every piece of us. But the way we treat our families is infinitely more important. Life is too short to always be the center of your world.

Taken from


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