Switchfoot shuns Christian rock band moniker

Jon Foreman of Switchfoot

Switch­foot and front­man Jon Fore­man per­form at Red Rocks in Col­orado.


Here’s a piece I wrote a few years  back about Switch­foot and how the band came about its name and why the band shuns labels, includ­ing “Chris­t­ian rock band.”

Find­ing the right band name is para­mount to musi­cians. A good moniker can draw lis­ten­ers who are just curi­ous or if the name hits the wrong chord it can turn off scores of peo­ple.

Just as cru­cial is being labeled — be it a hip-hop, rock, indie or rap band. These labels are why Switch­foot shuns the Chris­t­ian rock tag.

Chris­tian­i­ty is faith, it’s not a genre of music,” said Switch­foot lead gui­tarist Drew Shirley. “We want to be music for all peo­ple. We’ve played, cam­pus­es, bars, clubs. … When you have this label­ing it clos­es the doors to our music instead of peo­ple just lis­ten­ing to it to see if they like it.

Yes, we all have a strong Chris­t­ian faith,” Shirley added. “It influ­ences every­thing we do, and our view of the world. And as musi­cians, we write about what we are deal­ing with — our expe­ri­ences, what we are going through.”

Switch­foot, which got its name from the band mem­bers’ surf­ing back­ground, scored new fans when its song “This is Home” was fea­tured on the “Chron­i­cles of Nar­nia: Prince Caspi­an” sound­track.

“It was such an hon­or to be picked,” Shirley said. “It opened so many doors.”

But the band’s suc­cess has not dimin­ished its grass­roots, “get your fin­gers dirty” work.
When Switch­foot ran out of T‑shirts at a show in Texas, the mem­bers spent time in their hotel rooms mak­ing new schwag.

We are a hands-on band. We like to get things done,” Shirley explained. “Plus we like to meet the peo­ple that we are around and involved with. And we are going to be an inde­pen­dent band in Novem­ber. We’re build­ing our own stu­dio….”

When the band goes into its own stu­dio it will take lessons learned from leg­endary pro­duc­er Tim Palmer, who worked on Switchfoot’s lat­est CD “Oh! Grav­i­ty.” Palmer has worked with U2, Pearl Jam and the Cure, among oth­ers.

It was amaz­ing to work with Tim,” Shirley said. “He worked on our songs like he was a mem­ber of the band. He believed in the music and worked as if it was his own. We learned so much from him.”

And the “biggest” thing he learned from Palmer? “He’s such a hum­ble man,” Shirley said. “That real­ly struck me — how hum­ble he was. I real­ly loved work­ing with him. Some­times when you work with these big-name pro­duc­ers, they can be quite pride­ful.”

Being big U2 fans, there was plen­ty of time to pick Palmer’s brain on Bono and his music and reli­gious con­vic­tions.

It was real­ly inspir­ing to hear these sto­ries about U2,” Shirley said. “We’ve had peo­ple com­pare us to them. They are a deep band with a unique per­spec­tive on the world and their phil­an­thropy work.”

Switch­foot signed on for the Music Builds Tour with Third Day, Jars of Clay and the Robert Ran­dolph & the Fam­i­ly Band because of its asso­ci­a­tion with Habi­tat for Human­i­ty.

This is such a great thing,” Shirley said. “The mon­ey goes back into the com­mu­ni­ties and cities we play in. And you get to see peo­ple build­ing hous­es. Instead of just leav­ing a city after we play, we are help­ing the peo­ple in those cities.”

So if you are still reluc­tant to lis­ten to Switch­foot, try this on — Indie band Switch­foot. And as Shirley said, lis­ten and decide for your­self.

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1 Response to Switchfoot shuns Christian rock band moniker

  1. Terry DeBoer says:

    Switch­foot been quite con­sis­tent about this since the ear­ly days. For a few years, I think, they seemed to shy away from play­ing Chris­t­ian music fes­ti­vals, per­haps sim­ply to do oth­er things. But more recent­ly they have head­lined at a num­ber of faith-based music event, includ­ing at the Uni­ty Fes­ti­val in Michi­gan in 2011. The band is always well received wher­ev­er they play.

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