Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A Conversation With Switchfoot’s Drummer Chad Butler

By Nancy Correro
Editor, The Times of SWLA


San Diego based band Switchfoot will be coming to L’Auberge Du Lac Casino to perform on August 13 at Party By The Pool, 7 pm.

Chad Butler, the drummer and one of the founding members of Switchfoot, called me from Seattle to talk about their tour, the band’s new album Hello Hurricane, and charities they are involved in.

“We are so excited to be playing the new songs. We’re trying them out. These shows are a chance for us to get out of the studio. This tour is actually before the record, the record comes out in the fall,” said Butler.

Switchfoot is Jon Foreman, lead vocals and guitar, Tim Foreman, bass, Jerome Fontamillas, Keyboards, guitar and vocals, Drew Shirley, guitar, and Chad Butler, Drums. If you aren’t familiar with their sound, think alternative, jam-band pop, with some funky, grungy mixed in.
The band has a strong presence online and they’re using the podcasts on YouTube to get some of their new music out to fans. If you search Switchfoot’s website you’ll discover the podcast link to YouTube,

“You know this has been the biggest break between albums we’ve ever had so from the bands perspective we’re just itching to get this new stuff out there. We’ve been doing little sneak peaks on our website and YouTube page,” said Chad.

When asked whether or not he had a favorite song from the new record Butler was quick to respond.

“Yeah, there’s a song called “Mess Of Me” that is actually going to be the first single and it’s a song that really took a long time to record. We recorded maybe ten different versions of the song and different arrangements. It felt like a labor of love because it’s something we all believed in and it was a song that meant a lot to us on a heart level so it was worth all the blood, sweat, and tears we put into it. And we’ve been playing it live every night on the tour this summer and it’s gone over really well.”

The band has taken a couple of years to be creative and work on Hello Hurricane. The guys built their own studio in their home town of San Diego. To say they were productive is an understatement. According to Butler, the band recorded eighty songs. Yes, you read that correctly. I had to ask twice to be sure I understood him. Butler laughed as he explained their unbelievable productivity.

“You know as an independent band we had all the time in the world and all the freedom and then all of a sudden the horror becomes how do you define yourself? You’ve got all these different songs and different styles and different musical experimentations. It becomes a big mess, and that was the hard part you know?”

Switchfoot realized it was a challenge to then go through all of those songs, and yet it was an excellent opportunity to have plenty of time and plenty of material to create their record.

“About halfway through recording the record, we looked at each other and said what have we done? It was really fun and the dream was realized and hit this creative stride but then how do you make a statement and how do you define who you are and that’s when it came down to what are the songs saying and which ones mean the most to us?”

Jon Foreman, his bassist brother Tim, and drummer Chad Butler were surfing fanatics when they formed the group in 1996.

“Yeah, well I guess growing up in San Diego surfing is sort of second nature,” said Butler.
“Switchfoot” is a surfing term. It’s basically the switching of the feet on the surf board.

Since the band is so enthusiastic about surfing and giving their talent and time to causes, they have combined the two in the Bro-Am Surf Contest and Concert. The fifth-annual Switchfoot Bro-Am surf contest and concert, which was held at Moonlight Beach in Encinitas on Saturday, June 27, 2009, was created to give back to the San Diego community while also benefiting a local children’s charity.

This year’s event benefited San Diego’s StandUp For Kids.

“The whole Bro Am event benefits homeless kids in our hometown, San Diego, and it’s an incredible organization called “StandUp for kids” and it’s now actually nationwide but it was started in San Diego so it’s something that’s close to our hearts and our home.

The surf contest and benefit concert on the beach is all to raise awareness for that organization and we’ve been doing it for five years and it’s our favorite day of the year,” said Chad.

The band also finds time for several other organizations and charities like: Habitat For Humanity, To Write Love On Her Arms, and helping out their idols U2 with AIDS-in-Africa.

“We try to make a difference in local communities—something bigger than just rock n roll. We are really inspired by the people that come to our shows because they have really educated us on what they’re doing.

And people who are getting involved in their own backyards and building a house for Habitat for Humanity and To Write Love On Her Arms—helping kids that are dealing with depression, and suicide and things of that nature—I think those are real causes that don’t get enough support so we are definitely trying to spread the word.”

Since forming in 1996, Switchfoot has been rewarded and recognized for their Christian faith through their music. The band has headlined religious-music festivals, and scored a 2001 Grammy nomination for Best Rock Gospel Album of the Year, plus several Gospel Music Awards (GMA Dove awards) and ASCAP Awards.

Chad Butler is quick to say that they have never labeled themselves as a Christian band. He was very adamant to tell me that while they are Christians, they are so by choice and that their music is a separate entity.

“We’ve always just called ourselves “rock band” and we are Christian by faith and not by genre. I am a believer and as a believer your faith is going to be reflected in your art, and it is exciting when you look out at our audience and see all different kinds of people with all different ethnicities, and religious backgrounds and I think we make music for thinking people and I appreciate the support of anyone who has an open mind and connects with the music.”

Switchfoot has certainly moved beyond the label and boxing in that one might experience if you called yourself strictly a Christian band. It’s not too often that Christian groups are able to have solid crossover success with their material. Except for bands like Jars of Clay, P.O.D., and Creed, the labeling can sometimes box an artist into a particular category.

Not so with Switchfoot. They have had the good fortune to be on some successful Soundtracks. The Spiderman 2 CD, Import version only, contains their song “Meant To Live”. Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian boasts their song “This is Home”. ‘Four of their songs are on A Walk to Remember, the '02 Mandy Moore film.

“Well, it’s definitely an honor when someone from films or the visual art forms find a meaning or a placement for your music. To see your song in someone else’s art it’s an honor you know to have a director call and say hey I really like this song and I think it would fit well with what I’m trying to do in a movie—you know that’s a huge honor,” said Butler.

Recently, the band covered Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love” and if you haven’t seen it, you should go online and check it out. It seems there is no putting this band into any kind of box when you watch the Beyonce cover. Chad laughed at the mention of the Beyonce cover. The band had fun covering the song.

“You know it’s funny, we pick our own songs very seriously, but we don’t take ourselves very seriously and I think if you watch enough of our podcast clips on YouTube you’ll figure that out very quickly. We’ve been covering that song this summer too.”

On the cusp of the release of their new album, Butler is introspective about their music and the up coming record Hello Hurricane.

“We are the same guys with the same goal of making the music we believe in. We’ve been doing this for over ten years now and that’s really what keeps us going. Really, what defines this new album is picking songs that we felt like had a hope. Because you turn on the TV this day and age and hope is hard to come by.”

On August 13 at L’Auberge’s Party By The Pool, Switchfoot will be playing the old favorites and their new, hopeful songs from the up-and-coming record Hello Hurricane, to be released in October.

“For me growing up, I looked to art and music when times were tough and I think there is a theme on this record of facing the storm head-on,” said Chad Butler.

Everyone around Lake Charles and the surrounding area certainly knows what it’s like to look into the eye of a hurricane. Switchfoot’s Hello Hurricane will be a welcoming storm.

For more information on Switchfoot you should check out these online locations:

No comments:

Post a Comment