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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