Christian Artists To Know: Fiction Family

Fiction Family
Genre: Rock
Sub-genres: Folk-rock, British Invasion, Adult Contemporary, Americana
Location: Cardiff By The Sea, California
Label: ATO Records
Christian label: no
Category: The Light whats this?

Switchfoot, the alternative rockers from San Diego, California are maybe the most successful Christian music acts to cross over from the Contemporary Christian Music scene to the mainstream alternative rock scene.  Switchfoot’s major label debut The Beautiful Letdown went double platinum, selling 2.6M copies.  They released two more highly acclaimed cd’s with Columbia Records and then announced in 2007 that they were severing their ties with Columbia to “go indie.”

The Grammy award winning Nickel Creek is the first bluegrass band to achieve broad mainstream pop success, when both “This Side”" and “Why I Should Die” reached the Top 20 on The Billboard 200.  Time magazine named Nickel Creek one of “The Five Music Innovators of the New Millennium”

Why do we care?

Jon Foreman of Switchfoot and Sean Watkins of Nickel Creek decided to start writing and playing together a few years ago at a show featuring Wilco, R.E.M. Nickel Creek and Switchfoot.   Over the next three years they wrote and recorded their self-titled debut Fiction Family, which was released on January 20, 2009.

Strong melodies, multi-instrumentation and plaintive vocals create distinctive a Pop, Americana sound with stong undertones of the best British pop.  As Foreman describes it, “[Fiction Family has] a lot of Jayhawks mixed into it. There’s definitely a little Beatles influence”.  The duo modernizes the sound with liberal use of sound and musical effects.  The debut has a creative freedom to it that results in a loose, joyful sound (read Bored at the Grammys), that makes listening to Fiction Family very much like listening to the Beatle’s Revolver or Rubber Soul.

“The songs themselves would sort of dictate where things would go,” says Watkins. “No one was saying it needs to be this way or that way. It was just about what was fun and what was good for the song. It’s definitely the purest way of making music that I’ve come across.”

According to Fiction Family’s website:

“Simply put, this kind of record could not have existed ten, five, even three years ago. It’s the reassuring sound of two professional musicians tapping into the creativity that flows when limits and expectations-the old engines of a record business we’re in the midst of reinventing-are removed from the artistic process. Talk about a silver lining.”

Watkins and Foreman, fellow San Diegans who have known each other since high school, are vocalists and multi-instrumentalists.  They often took turns singing lead vocals and they both play several instruments on each song, including guitar, bass, keyboards, percussion, baritone ukulele, piano, organ, mandolin, steel guitar, 12-string guitar. Fiddle player Sara Watkins is featured on a few songs as well.

Here is Fiction Family performing “Mostly Prove Me Wrong”:


I was very excited by the prospect of member’s of two of the most successful Christian music acts of the last 10 years collaborating on a project.  The result exceeded my expectations.  The joy of free creation is palpable in the music and the song’s melodies soar on the layers of instruments. Fiction Family’s debut feels more like an experimental side project than an ongoing collaboration.  Let’s hope they continue to make this wonderful music.

You can find Fiction Family’s music digitally on Fiction Family

You can also buy their CDs on Amazon: Fiction Family(2009)


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