Switchfoot, the multi-platinum rockers from San Diego, never intended to become famous.
In fact, when the band started in 1996, founding members Jon Foreman, Tim Foreman and Chad Butler, considered music more of a side hobby then anything else. They never intended to make it their career and certainly never imagined themselves with the fame the band presently enjoys.
Switchfoot actually started out as two different groups. Drummer Chad Butler, played in one band (Half Together), and guitarist and bassist, Jon and Tim Foreman, played in another (Etc.). Their bands played many shows together and would routinely open for one another. Eventually those bands broke up, causing Jon, Tim, and Chad to form a new band called Chin Up (named after good friend, Willis Chin). They recorded a rough demo album in Jon's bedroom and started playing local shows at clubs and coffee houses. While this was going on their demo was finding its way into the hands of award winning producer, Charlie Peacock. Even though the demo quality was poor ("It's really painful to listen to because the cymbals were so loud!" says Tim) Charlie Peacock was immediately struck by the deep, insightful lyrics on the CD. He left a message on Jon's answering machine, expressing his interest in the band. A few weeks later Chin Up had a record deal. They immediately began recording over Christmas break and during the recording process the bands name was changed from Chin Up to Switchfoot, as they decided they didn't want a song on their record with the same name as their band. Switchfoot is a surfing term that is used when a surfer changes their foot position on the board and goes the opposite way. It can also mean to gain a new perspective or new insight.
Tim graduated from high school just a few days before their CD The Legend of Chin was released and then Switchfoot filmed their first music video for the song "Chem 6a". The CD was met with solid support and garnered rave reviews. Switchfoot won the San Diego Music and ASCAP Awards for "Best New Artist".
In 1999, with The Legend of Chin selling well, the band headed back into the studio to record their second album New Way To Be Human. It was a difficult album to record, with Switchfoot feeling the high expectations from their fans and record label, not to mention the pressure they placed on themselves to make this album the best that they could. It was difficult to get the album recorded in a timely fashion, as Chad got married during the recording process and Tim was busy taking college classes at UCSD. However, Switchfoot pulled through and once again their album was met with acclaim and solid support.
Switchfoot began to become better known throughout the music community and nabbed the 1999 Dove Award for "Modern Rock Song of the Year" (for New Way To Be Human).
Switchfoot began touring frequently, opening for bands such as Five Iron Frenzy and OC Supertons, which introduced even more people to this talented band from San Diego.
2000 found Switchfoot recording another album, the soon to be gold selling Learning To Breathe CD. Shortly after the CD was released, keyboardist Jerome Fontamillas (formerly of the bands Mortal and Fold Zandura) joined Switchfoot and began touring with them. Learning to Breathe brought the band the San Diego music awards for "Best Pop Album", "Best Adult Alternative Artist", and "Best Pop Artist." It also garnered Switchfoot a Grammy nomination. Slowly, the band was beginning to move to a more mainstream sound and outlook.
Then in 2002, the popular movie A Walk To Remember, starring Mandy Moore, was released. Switchfoot (a favorite band of Mandy Moore's) had several tracks on the gold selling album and lead singer Jon Foreman, performed a duet with Mandy Moore.
The release of this movie brought Switchfoot even more recognition. Around this time, Switchfoot's record label, Re:think collapsed and Switchfoot signed a five album deal with Red Ink and Columbia.
They then released the 2003 monster hit, The Beautiful Letdown, and exploded on the music scene, selling out shows everywhere, setting sell-out records for several venues. The Beautiful Letdown went on to sell over 2,000,000 copies and boasted the smash hits "Dare You To Move" and "Meant To Live".
Throughout 2003 and 2005 Switchfoot also picked up a number of awards for the album, winning the Dove awards for "Rock Recorded Song of the Year" (Ammunition), "Rock Contemporary Album of the Year", "Rock Contemporary Recorded Song of the Year" (Meant To Live), "Artist of the Year", "Short Form Music Video of the Year" (Dare You To Move), "Rock Contemporary Recorded Song of the Year" (Dare You To Move). The band also won the San Diego Awards for "Best Pop Album", "Album of the Year" and "Song of the Year" (Dare You To Move).
In 2004 the band released their highly anticipated, eight years in the making DVD, Switchfootage. Switchfootage featured a short film, behind the scenes footage, and exclusive interviews. Switchfoot followed up this DVD with their first Live Concert DVD, Live In San Diego. The DVD was recorded in their home town and was a huge success, achieving platinum status and winning the Dove Award for "Long Form Music Video of the Year".
The Beautiful Letdown peaked at #16 on the Billboard and Top Internet Album Charts and #1 on the Top Christian Album Charts. 2003 also found Switchfoot making appearances on several popular Late Night Talk Shows, such as Jay Leno and David Letterman and several appearances on MTV.
With the release of The Beautiful Letdown, Switchfoot began to express a desire to not be "stuck in a box" and attempted to rid themselves of the "Christian Rock Band" label. "We are Christian by faith, not genre," insisted bassist Tim Foreman. "As a band," he explained, "we've always tried to take a Socratic dialogue approach where we ask a lot of questions. I think a lot of people are quick to throw out answers and no one is even asking a question."
Not everyone approved of the band's stand on this issue and many feared the band was "selling out." However, Switchfoot was largely successful with this crossover move, managing not to alienate their Christian fans and winning over secular fans at the same time.
"As a musician I guess the only thing I would ask from a listener is to put the CD in, close your eyes and forget about all the peripherals," says Jon Foreman. "I guess that's a dream that may not happen in my lifetime, but I listen to music from all sorts of people and I think there is an open-minded individual who will be able to listen to music of all types."
In 2003, guitarist Drew Shirely (formerly of the band All Together Separate) began touring with the band. Switchfoot's touring schedule had them on the road constantly and the guys realized if anything was going to happen toward making a new record, it would have to happen on the road. They began writing and recording songs on the road, sometimes tracking a song during the day then playing it in front of a live crowd that night.
"The fans, more then anyone, shaped what songs were going to be on this record" Jon Foreman explains. Switchfoot used this opportunity to try out new stuff live and get the public opinion on it. "Pretty much by the second chorus, you can tell how the song is going. If you see people looking at you with this weird questioning look in their eye, then it's time to go back to the drawing board!" laughs Jon.
Hype for the Switchfoot 's new album was high and in 2005 Switchfoot released the short DVD "Feet Don't Fail Me Now" featuring crazy footage of the guys and a sneak peek at what their new record would look like.
In 2005, the guys launched lowercasepeople.com, a website and magazine for music, arts, words and social justice. Lowercase people was inspired by the bands trip to several South African villages, (also the inspiration for the song "The Shadow Proves the Sunshine"). Seeing things like orphanages filled with infants who all lost their parents to AIDS, palling around with orphans in the streets, and getting involved with a children's choir called "Kuyasa Kids" moved them to start this ambitious organization. Switchfoot also produced a CD by the Kuyasa Kids (available at the magazine's and the band's website www.Switchfoot.com) so that the kids can be empowered by making money for their communities. Lowercase people also boasts a successful clothing line (available at the lcp and the band websites).
Even with such a busy summer, in September of 2005, Switchfoot released their 5th album, Nothing Is Sound and it soared up the charts (Debuting at #3 on Billboard) and flew off the shelves. Nothing Is Sound was also #1 on the Top Christian and Top Internet Album Charts.
The CD's first release, "Stars" (the song "Happy Is A Yuppie Word" was originally slated to be the first release, but it was changed when the label decided the song was too "dark"), received massive radio play and hit #16 on the US modern rock charts. Their music video was also immensely popular, featuring the guys playing underwater. "We sunk a drum set!" says Jon "That was surreal."
Unfortunately, the album was met with some controversy and, after the initial sale surge (where it went Gold within 3 months of it's release), this began to damage the sales of the album. It was discovered that some CD's were copy protected, and included rootkit, preventing fans from putting the CD's on their iPods and in some case, installing viruses on computers. A disappointed and sympathetic Tim Foreman posted on the Sony boards, speaking out against the copy protection and providing fans with detailed instructions of how to get around it. His post was quickly deleted by Sony. Sadly, the album was permanently marred by the copy protection, and even after Sony issued a recall, many were still reluctant to purchase the album.
Despite these trials, the band won the GMA award for "Short Form Music Video of the Year" (Stars) and Jon Foreman won the "ASCAP Impact Award" awarded "to celebrate the success and influence of his songs in mainstream rock music", and the Nothing Is Sound Fall Tour was a gigantic success (selling out all but one date). The NIS Fall Tour also caused the guys to launch the "Daily Foot" a photo journal of life on the road.
In 2006, Switchfoot released the name of their new record, Oh! Gravity and planned for it's release. The CD was originally slated to be released in November but the date was pushed back to December 26th. The album debuted at #18 on the Billboard charts and was a critical hit and won the San Diego Music Award for "Album of the Year". The guys released the first single from the album, the title track "Oh! Gravity." The song and video performed well on the charts, and the band followed up the release with the next single, "Awakening."
The video for "Awakening" was created without any help from the record label and Switchfoot paid for it out of their own pocket. Though fans didn't know it at the time, this move signaled the future departure of Switchfoot from Sony.
In the summer of 2007, Jon Foreman began working on a side project originally called 'The Real SeanJon' with his friend Sean Watkins from Nickle Creek. They later changed the title to Fiction Family. He also began working on a solo project and in late July, Switchfoot began work on the follow up to Oh! Gravity. He also announced his intention to start a solo project and release four seasonal EPs, title Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer.
On August 10th, 2007, the band officially announced, via their myspace page, that "after several years of trying to make things work over at Columbia we have officially severed our ties with Sony to pursue making music independently."
Switchfoot then started their own label, lowercase people records. "Our goal was to remove the corporate barrier between our audience and our songs," Jon wrote on the band's official YouTube page. "Musically, we wanted to go places we've never been before. We wanted to put out a more diverse collection of musical projects with more artistic control. Since music plays such a crucial role of connecting people with important issues around the world, we wanted to be a part of a label that gives directly to social justice causes, one that is more eco friendly. Lowercase People Records is our attempt to do all of this and more. Lowercase People is our attempt to better serve this community that has supported us through the years without a middle man in the way. As a band, this is the dream of a lifetime: to have no boundaries in our songs or in the ways that they are presented. So here's what you can expect... Over the course of the next few months we are going to release several diverse projects culminating in a new Switchfoot release that will redefine who we are in a new independent era."
Shortly thereafter, the band began construction on a the lowercase people records recording studio, that is being built in San Diego.
In the Fall of 2007, the band hit the road on their Appetite for Construction tour, where a dollar from each ticket went to the charity organization Habitat for Humanity. The tour raised over $100,000 dollars and also featured the very first release off of lowercase people records, a song called Rebuild. Rebuild was written by Jon Foreman and Matt Thiessen of Relient K. It was offered as a free download, with options to donate either time or money to Habitat For Humanity.
In the Spring of 2008, Switchfoot joined with To Write Love On Her Arms, a non-profit organization which aims to present hope and find help for young people struggling with problems such as depression, drug addiction, self-injury, and suicide, in a special Up In Arms tour. Jon also released his Spring EP.
In late 2008, Switchfoot released a best of collection called "The Best Yet." For those who "may not understand the EP format" Jon released a CD called "Limbs & Branches" featuring the fans favorite songs off of the EPS and two new songs.
In January, Jon's side project with Sean Watkins called Fiction Family was released, followed by a tour to support the album.
The guys began working on their new album in earnest in 2009 and they soon announced that they had not recorded one album but FOUR! The first album will be called Hello Hurricane and will be released in Fall 2009. The next release, Vice Verses will be put out in 2010.
Future plans for Switchfoot include tour and releasing their four new albums.
Listen to Switchfoot Here
|The Legend of Chin||1997||Re:Think Records|
|New Way to Be Human||1999||Re:Think Records|
|Learning to Breathe||2000||Re:Think Records|
|The Beautiful Letdown||2003||Columbia/Sony BMG|
|Nothing Is Sound||2005||Columbia/Sony BMG|
|Oh! Gravity.||2006||Columbia/Sony BMG|
|The Best Yet||2008||Columbia/Sony BMG|
|Hello Hurricane||2009||lowercase people records|
|iTunes Session||2010||Atlantic Recordings|
|Eastern Hymns For Western Shores EP||2010||Independent|
|Vice Verses||2011||Atlantic Records|