Interview: Switchfoot

Written by Mallory Delchamp

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California band, Switchfoot, has been quite busy in recent months. Just last year they released their documentary, Fading West which detailed their life on the road and their search for inspiration for their latest album. In January they released their ninth studio album of the same name. For years, Switchfoot has been very successful as an alternative rock band but they have also merged into the Christian music scene thanks to the various religious undertones in many of their hits including “Meant to Live” and “Dare You to Move.” As an unabashed Switchfoot fan, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to have a phone interview with Switchfoot guitarist, Drew Shirley, to discuss Fading West, the band’s charity involvement, and their plans for 2014. Here’s what Drew had to say:

Photo Credit: Chris Burkard
Photo Credit: Chris Burkard

Pop-Break: So, Switchfoot has been together as a band for seventeen years, that’s a pretty big accomplishment when you consider the fact that many groups only last a couple of years. How do you maintain the energy and drive to keep making music?

Drew Shirley: For an artist you have to find new ways to seek inspiration. That’s why we decided to make Fading West, it kicked us out of our typical album making routine. Fading West was our way to search for inspiration.

PB: If Switchfoot hadn’t worked out, what other career paths would you possibly have followed?

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DS: I was a drama nerd in high school so probably something in commercials, theatre, or public speaking. So, it would probably mean I would be working at Starbucks.

PB: You released the full version of Fading West in January, how does this record differ from the rest of your catalog? Which song on this record do you think captures the essence of where the band is in your career now?

DS: This is our ninth studio album and we’ve been together for almost seventeen years. This album is unlike anything we have ever made. We are at a place in our career where we have experience and can write about that experience. There are songs on this record that [lead singer] John Foreman has been working on for fifteen years or so, so this record is very different. “Love Alone is Worth the Fight,” definitely. The song is basically about how if you’re going to be a lover you have to be a fighter as well and if you’re going to love other people and understand what love is you have to be willing to fight for it.

PB: Not only did you guys release a new album this year but you also recently released your documentary. What inspired you to make this film and how was the creative process?

DS: The film was basically a search for inspiration. We turned the camera on and just let what happened, happen. We decided the best thing to do is to be honest. People respond to music and films that are honest and that’s what we wanted to create. And the film not only helped us find inspiration but it also helped us find ourselves.

Photo Credit: Chris Burkard
Photo Credit: Chris Burkard

PB: Many fans are of course familiar with your music but you guys are also heavily involved in charity work. Could you tell me more about your Bro-Am Foundation?

DS: Bro-Am is a surf contest and concert in San Diego. It’s all for charity. It’s the tenth annual Bro-Am this year, which is a huge deal for us. The whole community comes out , we probably have about 10,000 people on the beach. It’s similar to a music festival. We are all just out there raising money for homeless youth in San Diego. We give the money to charities that help homeless teens and teens dealing with abuse.

PB: What are your plans for the remainder of 2014?

DS: Well, we just released our new album and documentary so it’s all about getting out there to the people now. We are touring until the end of April, we will be performing at festivals all summer, and then we head out on a U.S. Bus tour in the fall. Of course, we are working on new music and new music equals new and exciting shows. [At the time the interview was conducted.] We are actually on a tour bus now and we will be in New York on Saturday for a show at Terminal 5. We are all excited about that. New York City is always a magical place to perform.

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