Due to their solid presence in the American music industry for nearly two decades, the band Switchfoot has become a household name, associated with all things alternative rock. They currently show no signs of slowing down any time soon. Recently, the Technique checked in with Switchfoot bass player Tim Foreman about the band, their most recent album and accompanying film and where they expect this roller coaster will take them next.
Your band started 17 years ago. How has everything changed since then in terms of the way you make your music and the dynamic of the group since 1996?
Hopefully, we’ve grown up and matured a little bit in the last 17 years. I think when we first started out, we were writing about things that were important to us. I was 17 at the time we started this band, so those themes were more closely associated with college classes and girls and trying to figure out what life is about…I think that approach to our music is still the same today in that we’re writing about what matters to us and wrestling with the bigger topics, but hopefully our world has grown a little bit since 17. We’ve changed too—we’re now husbands and fathers, and I think that every time we leave home, there’s an added weight to it in that we want to make it count; therefore, I think that the songs we tend to gravitate towards are the ones that feel important to us, that we still want to be singing ten years from now.
What about today? Are there any artists that you’re particularly a fan of?
I think there’s so much great music being made right now. I think because of the world we live in with technology there’s probably more music being made right now than ever before; just by the sheer numbers of that, there’s actually a lot of really good music there as well…the new Grouplove record I just heard is really good. A lot of great young bands are popping up which give me a lot of excitement about the future of music. Youngblood Hawke came out with a great record last year and there’s a lot of inspiring stuff, for sure.
How did traveling the globe and surfing the oceans influence the direction of Fading West?
We’ve always dreamed about colliding surfing and music in a more intentional way as we travel and it’s such an amazing experience to be able to do that…to be in a country for more than just a day or two and get a chance to surf and explore it and really dive into the culture while we’re there. The places we went to were Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Indonesia and, of course, the U.S., and all of those places are so different from each other—kind of a songwriter’s dream to put your roots down for a week or two and really be inspired by your surroundings.
How would you describe the new album in three words?
Let me think about this for a second…soaring, melodic, hopeful.
How will the movie play a part in your upcoming tour?
We’re actually playing the entire film as our opening act on this tour. Tonight’s the first night so we’ll let you know how it goes [laughs]. You know, I’d never heard of anyone really doing that before, so there’s no model for it. We’re kind of blazing our own path on this tour. I’ve got really high hopes for it, though. The film itself really takes you on an emotional journey…there’s so much that transpired during the last couple of years that we could’ve never imagined: amazing things, terrible things, and it’s all captured and really shows the brotherhood that we have as a band, all of the highs and lows. So I think starting the evening with that kind of a journey will really set us up for quite a ride. At that point, there’s any number of directions we could take it: from really intimate acoustic songs, to more wide-open brand new songs as well.
“Even though we’ve been a band as long as we have, we’re still learning so much.”
Where do you see yourself going from here after 17 years?
Even though we’ve been a band as long as we have, we’re still learning so much. If anything, I feel like the longer that we do this, the more we feel like we still have to learn and that’s always an encouraging place to be. I feel like we’re just getting started and there’s still so much I want to accomplish in music and personally, too. We’re always just taking it one day at a time, and we’re certainly thankful to have been around this long. It’s certainly longer than most bands ever last and probably longer than we ever thought about lasting, so it’s still fresh and exciting to us. I think this project will take us to new places that other projects haven’t and that’s exciting as well.
So, if you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing?
Well, I always thought that at some point I might end up being a high school math teacher. And, you know, that could still happen, so I’m not ruling it out yet.
Lastly, Switchfoot is also known for its philanthropic endeavors. Which cause is nearest and dearest to your heart?
I think the cause we have been most proud of to be a part of over the years—and there’s so many great causes and organizations out there—but the one that feels closest to home is this event that we have every year called the Switchfoot Bro-am, which is an event to raise money and awareness for homeless kids in the area of San Diego.
People fly in from all over the world for this one-day concert and surf contest on the beach in our hometown. We have had many of the world’s top pro-surfers come to compete, and amazing bands—from OK Go to the Foo Fighters to the Goo Goo Dolls to Jason Mraz. They just show up and perform and it’s because everyone is excited about doing something for the kids. It makes me really excited to see just how many people have rallied behind the cause and the support that the community gives to it.
I’d have to say it is my favorite day of the year.