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Hard work, love of music pay off for Switchfoot
By Scott Iwasaki
Deseret Morning News

Last winter, drummer Chad Butler and the other members of Switchfoot were invited to the Nashville summit for DATA, which stands for Debt, AIDS, Trade for Africa, a charity organization organized by U2 frontman Bono.

"It was a life-changing experience for us," Butler said by phone from San Diego. "Here was this guy (Bono) who had everything he's ever wanted and was taking his time to help people who probably had never heard of him or his band. He was spending more time with this cause than with his own family. I really respected that."

Butler said one of the reasons he got into music was because of the influence it has had on his life. "Music is a powerful medium. It can touch so many people's lives and inspire them. I know it inspired me when I was growing up."

Butler isn't picky about the artists he favors. His parents had a lot of Motown in the house, and he likes Stevie Wonder. He added that he has recently branched out to reggae pioneer Bob Marley and the cutting-edge sounds of the Police.

"As for Switchfoot (which includes vocalist/guitarist Jon Foreman, bassist Tim Foreman and keyboardist Jerome Fontamilla), well, we all have different influences," Butler said. "But it boils down to good songwriters. And that's what we're trying to be.

"Music got me through a lot of tough times growing up. And that's what we decided as a band to try to do. We wanted to do music that would help people."

Switchfoot hails from the San Diego punk scene where the band members got together because they wanted to do something different. "We wanted to do a different style of music. We believed in what we were doing, and since we have a strong work ethic, it paid off."
The band recorded four albums, but the latest, "The Beautiful Letdown," is the first for a major record label, Columbia Records. "We basically had the album done before Columbia got involved," said Butler. "But once we signed to them, they told us to continue what we were doing. They liked the music, and that's why they signed us. So there wasn't any label intervention with the album. We had total creative control."

Still, Butler says there were things that took some getting used to. "We are touring more than ever. So it's a good thing we're all best friends. We're a tight-knit band and get along great."
It also helps that none of the band members are driven by money or hit singles. "We were lucky to have formed in San Diego," Butler said. "We were separate from the music scenes in Los Angeles and New York. So we were not competing in those areas. We're a little more organic than a majority of those bands and had more of an open-mindedness when it came to the music scene in general. And it has helped us keep clear heads."