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Never Let Us Down
by Sheila Lussier
Copyright ©2003 PopEntertainment.com. All rights
Posted: April 8, 2003.
Pulling up to the legendary Roxy in Hollywood, I found a line wrapped around
the block and down the sidewalk. It was made up of Switchfoot fans that had
waited more than two hours in line for their favorite band to go on. The
bands tour manager brought me inside the venue to the dressing room where I
met four very nice guys. Years of recording indie records,
local stardom and having their
songs featured in movies like A Walk To Remember and TV series like
Dawsons Creek, Party of Five and Felicity hasnt gone to
Now, as they release their first major label disk, The Beautiful Letdown,
the band has a lot they want to say. The group is
made up of singer/songwriter Jon Foreman, his younger brother (and
co-writer) Tim Foreman on bass, drummer Chad Butler and
multi-instrumentalist Jerome Fontamillas. After weeks on the road, the guys
are looking forward to being home in Cardiff, a beach community outside San
Diego, if only for a little while. Theyll be surfing soon. But tonight,
they are rocking the Roxy.
The guys formed
Switchfoot right out of high school, naming
it after a term used in the surfing community. Being Switchfoot is all
about putting a different foot forward, Jon Foreman explains. The band
grew up together, surfing everyday and competing on weekends.
Beyond a love of hanging ten, they also had a deep
passion for music. Their musical
roots are diverse: Tim Foreman aspires to be Paul McCartney, while Butler
leans more towards Stevie Wonder.
While their songs come from a rich place musically, they also lyrically
reflect Jon Foremans desire to have a philosophical dialogue with his
listeners. He feels music
should help the listener ask themselves
questions and to seek answers. These songs are his way of exploring the
and at times challenging the way things are. While trying to be
honest within his songs and in his life, he wrestles with the tension of
how the world is and how it should be. He wants listeners to grapple with intense
issues, because, as he says, freedom and truth and love are worth fighting
for. Moreover, life is worth fighting for.
touring and playing tracks from their new album, The Beautiful Letdown.
A new song, This Is Your Life was a big hit that night with the audience.
The group went on to play other songs such as Meant To Live, which has a
strong guitar feel and a pounding drum giving the song backbone. At the end
of the song Foreman took the microphone and sang soulfully with only his
acoustic guitar as accompaniment. They also played some of their older
songs such as Learning To Breathe and Only
The show allowed
Foreman to show off what a truly remarkable voice he has, and
you could enjoy
his perfect pitch, particularly when he
played unplugged. Jon Foreman is
complicated, but he sort of reminds me of a more grounded Kurt Cobain. Switchfoot succeeded
at getting the crowd got caught up in their music, but they also got me
thinking, which is important with times the way they are today. And I
couldnt stop humming their tunes, either.
How long have you guys
have been playing together?
For seven years.
How do you keep the
show interesting for the band?
Well, every night is an experience. I try to break as many strings as I
. just kidding. Well, to keep it interesting I usually change the set
What about for the
show usually has a lot of energy coming from the crowd and coming back [from
us.] To keep that going it has to be spontaneous. So every night it is
its own animal.
What is the bands
overall message to the people that you are playing for?
The biggest thing is we kind of have a Socratic approach to the interaction
that we have with our fans where we ask more questions
What do you mean by
Socratic dialogue is where the listener is actually the one who is being
forced to think and ask themselves the question. A lot of our songs are
So you let the audience
ask themselves the question?
If youre asking the question about something, youre going to find the
answer much more compelling
Why do you think people would buy a Switchfoot
Because he looks so good.
I think the music is great. We have obviously
put our heart and souls in the album. We are very proud of the production
that we did. The message is what Jon was trying to convey earlier. Its a
very strong album.
I write a lot of the songs, so for me these songs are coming through the
heart. These are our passion.
The Beautiful Letdown,
most of your songs seem to have a very positive message. What do you feel
is your overall message?
The idea of life of being short and wanting to make a full circle. There is
a meaning behind our interaction today. There is a meaning behind tonight
and I want to make sure that we dont leave LA having missed our
opportunity. [We want] to convey that meaning and pursue what stands behind
that meaning, if you know what I mean. I think that's
the reason why these songs are relevant today, especially with the
political implications [of] what is going on over there in the Middle East.
I feel like there are songs like 'Meant To Live'
or 'This Is Your Life'
are talking about the fact that we are we were created to live for more than
[just] the two
dimensional TV screen, a new car or whatever
[Music] that has impacted me
the most are the songs that have touched me on a spiritual level...
like Bob Dylan or Bob Marley. That is what
these songs are intended to do for other people.
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