Switchfoot Andrew Mather

Fading West tour stop in Kansas City; photo courtesy of Andrew Mather

Switchfoot: Forever Part of “Who We Are”

By Sarah Siegand

The year is 2011. Five guys from San Diego take the stage, and the crowd goes nuts. My husband and I are arm in arm, and if I could take my eyes off of what was about to happen, I’m sure I’d see a perm-a-grin on both of our faces. But I can’t take my eyes off the stage, not for a second, and that won’t change until every last note is played and the magic of these moments fades into the cold reality waiting on the other side of these venue doors. Every time I see Switchfoot in concert, something rich is deposited in the deepest part of me, where only God and music dwell.

To say that I’m a Switchfoot “fan” would be to trivialize what this band has meant to my journey. I mean, they wrote an entire album just for my husband and me—wasn’t that nice? (Well… OK maybe not just for us, but every song spoke right to the season we were in, so in our hearts it was for us alone. And it was so good that it won a Grammy. Thanks, guys.)

While some may think loving every song across eight albums and having watched all 55 episodes of Switchfoot TV makes me a crazed fan, others who have done the same (and there’s a whole lot of us who have) will understand this greater affection. Honestly, it’s more like Switchfoot has simply become part of our family—as if Jon, Tim, Chad, Jerome and Drew are my long-lost little brothers, not superstars. They’ve been part of our home’s soundtrack since they were fresh-faced fledglings, growing up right before our eyes.

Some of my affinity for the band probably has to do with the era in which I discovered them. It was the late ’90s, and my husband and I had this little rock band in the “indy” circuit of the Pacific Northwest. Like all of our other band-friends, we had turned our living room into a practice space and spent weekends pulling a trailer, driving anywhere we could play, hoping to sell enough merch to buy a tank of gas, and loving the underdog, non-commercial rockers we were surrounded by.  What mattered most to all of us was the music itself and displaying God’s love however we could. We didn’t have kids or a mortgage. It was an uncomplicated season.

Enter, Switchfoot. My first taste was a VHS video for “New Way to Be Human.” Their chemistry together translated immediately, and I instantly wanted to be part of the story they were telling. Add to that great lyrics, melodic hooks, and passion with every note. From that point on, I was a friend of the foot.

As our own band faded into the “let’s live in reality” of life, we watched Switchfoot begin to skyrocket with the release of their albums Learning to Breathe and The Beautiful Letdown. I even went to see the movie A Walk To Remember in a theatre full of teeny-boppers (ahem, I was 28—don’t  judge me), just to support the guys.

Every album from that point on only got better, partially because of plain ol’ maturity, but also because they strategically added Jerome on keys and Drew on guitar, which brought a rich complexity and texture. As exposure grew (without social media to rely on) so did the venues, tour schedules, and sales figures. And then Switchfoot did something really unconventional. They ditched Sony Records and forged out on their own, recording two consecutive albums in a San Diego studio they built themselves. The result? Hands down, their best stuff yet. You can’t deny the palpable freedom that kind of environment creates, and it’s heard in every song on Hello Hurricane and Vice Verses.

Fading West EPAre you getting the impression that Switchfoot is perfectly positioned to do pretty much whatever they want at this point? Yeah well, that’s kind of the point of their current tour, Fading West. Since they’ve always wanted to score a film, they figured they could just make their own. Switchfoot fans all over the U.S. are flocking to theatres to see this cinematic dream-come-true. Not only does it promise incredible music, as usual, but also a rare look at the personal lives of the band, which is pretty much unheard of when it comes to the boys from SD. (Go ahead, try to Google paparazzi pics of any of their wives or kids, you won’t find much).

Fading West is coming to a theatre near me on Tuesday, Oct. 1, and there is no way in you-know-what I would miss it. I’ve already got the new EP with four amazing songs from what I’m convinced is the greatest band of my lifetime. Not great because they have more talent or chart-topping songs than other deserving “greats.” Switchfoot is great because they are about something—someONE—greater than themselves. Great because they make us question our skepticism and reach for something higher, leaving us more full of hope than when we began. Great because they wisely seize the day over and over again to capitalize on the influence they’ve been entrusted with in an extremely critical mainstream market, always pointing to God’s higher design.

Go forth and conquer, boys… I am with you all the way.

 

Sara SiegandSarah Siegand is the author of Smart Girl, Stupid World and also a Switchfoot fanatic who lives in Nashville, TN. Find more of her work at www.smartgirlstupidworld.com.

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