Switchfoot may have first made waves on rock radio with “Meant To Live,” yet 2003’s The Beautiful Letdown was actually the band’s fourth album. Switchfoot formed in 1996 – meaning that its 20th anniversary is just around the corner – and its three albums prior to Letdown had brought upon plenty of radio airplay, in addition to soundtrack placements and a Grammy nod for Best Rock Gospel Album. The band finally earned a Grammy in 2011 for their Vice Verses album, which came in addition to 11 Dove Awards and 12 San Diego Music Awards earned over the years.
Fast forwarding to 2015, Switchfoot not only stays active with a new album every two to three years, but also with its Switchfoot Bro-Am Foundation. Bro-Am, as based in the band’s native San Diego, gives back through music, surfing and youth development programs. It is also tied in with Bro-Am Studios, a non-profit music school and performance space. While all of that ought to be plenty for a world-touring band, frontman Jon Foreman is also in the midst of releasing a four-EP series called The Wonderlands this year; Jon also put out a full-length album with Nickel Creek’s Sean Watkins in 2009 under the moniker Fiction Family.
In advance of Switchfoot’s August 10th appearance at Terminal 5 with NeedToBreathe, I spoke to Jon about the band’s past, present and future. The biggest take-away from our Q&A was Jon’s clarification that every single rumor ever posted to the Internet about Switchfoot is apparently true.
What do you wish more people knew about Switchfoot?
Switchfoot’s Jon Foreman: Hmm…We love what we do, we take ourselves lightly and the music very seriously. I wish people would dive into the lyrics sometimes, but humming along is always acceptable.
Do you think that there are any misconceptions about Switchfoot out there?
J: No, everything you read on the internet is inherently, unerringly, absolutely true.
Is there a Switchfoot accomplishment you’re most proud of?
J: The 11th annual Bro-Am is my proudest accomplishment. Helping our community and seeing it shine year after year is incredibly rewarding.
Where did the Bro-Am Foundation’s annual surf event idea come from?
J: We wanted to give back to our community, and surfing and rock and roll felt like the best ways to do it. So we threw a party on the beach for homeless kids, live bands and a surf contest to raise money and morale.
Who is the best surfer in Switchfoot?
J: Kelly Slater, he never shows up for gigs, unfortunately.
The Bro-Am name is also used for your studios in Encinitas. Are there any other Bro-Am ventures out there currently or in development?
J: (laughs) No, not yet.
You have been putting out a series of EPs, rather than a full-length album this year. Is this something that Switchfoot may also be doing in the future?
J: Maybe — Switchfoot is currently working on a bunch of tunes. Basically throwing paint at the walls and seeing what sticks.
For someone who hasn’t seen Switchfoot live before, what should they be expecting from your show at Terminal 5 in New York?
J: Left coast rock & roll. I get into it — I break a sweat by song two.
When you have downtime in New York, where do you like to unwind?
J: Central Park.
Finally, any last words for the kids?
J: Be honest in your art. Life is short, live it well.
-by Darren Paltrowitz