Music News & Reviews

IN SEARCH OF TRUTH

COURTESY PHOTO

As a busy touring band, the members of Switchfoot work on new songs wherever they can—be it in a dressing room, on a bus or plane.

“There’s a song on ‘Hello Hurricane,’ the most recent record, called ‘Free,’ that Jon and I worked on in a Las Vegas elevator,” said Tim Foreman, Jon’s brother. “We got in the elevator, and by the time we got to our floor — the eighth or 10th floor, whatever it was—we had the song fairly written.”

It comes as no surprise, then, that Foreman would conduct an interview about the band’s Avila Beach gig Friday from a recording studio.

“We’re getting ready to start tracking some new songs and finishing up a few ideas that we wrote at the tail end of the last record,” said Foreman, the band’s bass player. “We think it’ll probably be out in June or July, and it’s going to be called ‘Vice Verses.’ ”

While the busy schedSwitchfoot ules might threaten to

burn out the band, it also has helped the San Diegobased rockers sell millions of records — something that doesn’t happen that often these days.

“People ask me what the cure is for the drowning record industry, and I don’t have the answer more than the next guy,” Foreman said by phone from San Diego. “But I think the reason people connect with our music is that these are honest songs. They’re songs written from an honest place, whether they’re the truth or a search for the truth. These songs are a way to explore questions that we still have — things we don’t understand — and I think that’s common ground that we can all admit to.”

The band formed in 1996, originally as Chin Up, with Jon Foreman as the front man, his brother on bass, and drummer Chad Butler. The group changed its name to Switchfoot, a term surfers use to describe switching the lead foot on a board, added members and gained popularity among Christian music fans.

While the band had success playing to Christian music festivals, it gradually garnered mainstream fans, thanks in part to several songs that appeared on the soundtrack to the Mandy Moore film “A Walk to Remember.”

Still, songs such as “Loser,” “Learning to Breathe” and “Meant to Live” have always had a spiritual edge, even if they didn’t feature overtly spiritual lyrics. While the band has never backed off on its beliefs, Foreman said it also doesn’t want to exclude listeners with different beliefs. So the songs are written with universal appeal.

“It’s just us with a guitar at 2 or 3 in the morning, trying to figure out the purpose of being on this planet, and I think that’s something we can all relate to,” he said.

As the band climbed into the Billboard top 10 mainstream rock chart, the members continued to pursue their passion of surfing — even if the expanding tours made it difficult to find surf in places like Nebraska and Kansas.

“Occasionally, if we get a day off, we’ll rent a boat and just tow our surfboards behind the boat,” Foreman said. “And we’ll bring our skateboards, too. We don’t need a lot to get entertained. But if you’re landlocked for too long, you start forgetting who you really are. There’s something about the ocean that brings everything home.”

So if you’re looking for waves this weekend, keep an eye out for the Switchfoot boys, who’ve been known to surf the south side of Pismo Pier.

“It’s a little colder than I like it,” Foreman said. “But there are some fun waves there, for sure.”

Reach Patrick S. Pemberton at 781-7903.

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