By Kelsey Jacobson
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The band Switchfoot will be performing their new album release, Fading West, on November 9th at the Bemidji Sanford Center.
Switchfoot was a contemporary Christian band, but in 2003 they changed to mainstream, alternative rock with their album, The Beautiful Letdown, which went platinum. “Calling us ‘Christian Rock’ tends to be a box that closes some people out and excludes them,” said Jonathan Foreman one of the founding band members, but the band wanted something more than what pop culture was selling. Switchfoot had two albums that went gold: their 2000 release Learning to Breathe and 2005’s Nothing is Sound.
The band was formed in 1996 by brothers Jonathan and Tim Foreman, lead vocals/guitarist and bassist respectively and drummer Chad Butler. Originally the band was called Chin Up, but after changing their sound they took on a new name, Switchfoot.
With Switchfoot on the rise, Andrew Shirley joined the band, adding another guitar player. Jerome Fontamillas also joined the band with the keyboard and guitar.
They recorded three albums and performed 20 gigs before signing with Columbia Records, expanding their audience. Their songs, “Dare You to Move” and “Meant to Live,” reached top radio hits. Getting signed to a major label took time, and it all started with three guys in a garage playing music.
Later, they created a demo that was picked up by singer-songwriter, Charlie Peacock, who helped them gain popularity.
“We’ve never tried for a specific sound or genre,” said Jonathan,“We have used music to explore our own questions and frustrations.” According to Jonathan, the band looks toward originality in every song. Putting their personal struggles in their music gives them a more sincere, creative projection.
Switchfoot produced 10 albums over the years. They released their latest album, Fading West, in January 2014. This album pushed the band out of their comfort zone. They experimented with layering musical sounds together, creating a more dynamic and full sound. Jonathan says, “It’s about communicating and connecting with people on a different level.”
Their album, Beautiful Let Down, was considered a dark album by many, but the lead singer described it as giving listeners hope to prevail in the world of struggles. “I think adversity is our strength,” said Jonathan. He describes how he isn’t writing and performing to get recognized, but rather because he wants to send a message to those willing to listen.
In 2011, the band received a Grammy Award for Best rock or Rap Gospel Album. They have also received 11 Dove Awards from Gospel Music Association, and 12 San Diego Music Awards. Their first award in 1997 for Best New Artist from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers lead the band into becoming well known. Switchfoot has become well known within the music industry, but fans forget they also support charitable organizations.
Switchfoot has been involved with charities such as Habitat for Humanity, the Better Life Foundation, and Why Hunger. The band also enjoys talking to people after their shows. Jonathan remembers when a kid came up to him after the show told him how his song, “Dare You to Move,” made him get through a tough time when he was depressed, and how it inspired him to have a more positive outlook on life.
“On days when you’re wondering what you’re doing playing a show in some small town in the middle of nowhere,” said Jonathan, “you realize that you’re part of a bigger story than your own.”