Interview: Switchfoot

Sep 22 2011

As they prepare to tour the world with their brand new album, Switchfoot lead singer Jon Foreman talks exclusively to Louder Than The Music all about 'Vice Verses', success and what keeps them going.

Tell us a little bit about your new album Vice Verses and what the inspiration behind it was?

We recorded 80+ songs for the last record. For Vice Verses we wanted to cut to the chase... The songs came to us differently - instead of chasing them down they came to us intact. We demo-ed a bunch if songs until we were absolutely sure... Then we spent all of our time on those 14 tunes. And instead of chasing producers and engineers down we knew exactly who we wanted from the start.

Vice Verses is a record about the polarity of the human struggle - the birth and death, the valleys and the peaks, the hope and despair of the post-modern experience. It's a record about the layers of meaning and purpose inherent in every breath. Every blessing comes with a set of curses, we've got vices and vice verses. It's trying to push the boundaries of where we've been.

Which is your favourite track on the album and why?

Changes all the time... That question is like asking me to pick my favorite kid! I suppose the title track is certainly one of the most meaningful, searching for meaning and purpose.

What's your song writing process?

The best ones chase me down until I can't help but press record. The others don't seem to talk until we use force.

If you could work with any song writer, who would it be and why?

Bob Dylan - 'cause I believe him more than most.
Aretha Franklin cause I'm jealous.

Who are your musical influences?

Other than Bob and Aretha? Johnny Cash and Elliot Smith.

You've found popularity in both mainstream and Christian circles on either side of the Atlantic. How have you succeeded in this when many other bands have struggled?

I don't see much use in dividing people up by religion or ethnicity or locale. I have friends from all over who look and believe differently than I do. For me, I believe someone when they love me well. I feel that music is a chance to tell the truth even when it hurts. I'm not sure what other people mean by success but to me success is doing what we believe in night after night, song after song. Truly I feel so blessed to do what I do.

In your opinion, what makes the perfect song?

Honesty. And leather trousers.

What advice would you give to any aspiring bands out there?

Love it. Music is an incredible gift. Be thankful every time you get to play - Who bought a ticket? Who bought a record? Beware, the numbers count for nothing. Do not let the commonly accepted versions of success rob you of your joy.

You're stuck on an island, it's hot, you only have enough battery life left to listen to one song on your mp3 player. What track is it?

Right now? Maybe 'Water get no enemy' - Fela Kuti.

What does the next year hold for Switchfoot?

A new Switchfoot record called ViceVerses, a ViceVerse world tour (and new fiction family record to boot).

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