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Switchfoot mixes it up while on the road
Dave Friedman

Constantly touring as their best-selling album draws in more fans every day, San Diego rockers Switchfoot delivers each night onstage while introducing brand new songs into their sets to keep things interesting.

The band still plays songs from its award-winning early albums, including fan favorites “Learning To Breathe,” “Loser” and “New Way To Be Human.” And Switchfoot is sure to play its MTV and radio smash hits — “Meant To Live” and “Dare You To Move” — from 2003’s platinum-plus breakthrough, “The Beautiful Letdown.”

But the real surprise for fans on the band’s current tour, which includes an Oct. 29 stop at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City, will be the new songs Switchfoot is breaking out for the first time. The songs “Circles,” “Stars” and “Happy Is A Yuppie Word” may appear on the next Switchfoot album, bassist Tim Foreman said in an Oct. 11 interview from Seattle.

Another new song is called “Without Politicians.”

“It’s kind of a timely song with the coming election,” Foreman said. “It’s a song about the masks that we wear and that at the end of the day we’re all politicians. We’re all campaigning for something. We’re part of the problem and the hope is that we’re working toward the solution.”

For their part, Switchfoot are supporting Debt, AIDS, Trade for Africa (DATA.org), a charity founded by U2 frontman Bono. One of the organization’s primary goals is to convince the U.S. government to direct tax money toward fighting the AIDS epidemic in Africa by providing sufficient medication.

“We’re still coming to grips with the fact that as this album grows, our platform is growing much larger and people are actually listening to what we have to say — which is a big responsibility,” Foreman said. “We don’t have any disillusions that we’re four punk kids from San Diego changing the world. But at the same time, you know, we do know that people are listening and we want to make our words count.”

Born Aug. 15, 1978, Foreman grew up in San Diego with his brother, Jon, who is two years older. Their mother is an artist and art teacher, while their father is a pastor.
Both parents are multi-instrumentalists who got their children into music.

Growing up listening to the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash and James Taylor, Tim Foreman said he was always drawn to good songwriting.

“Obviously melody is important, but I also like a song that I feel like I’ve been on a journey after listening to it and I feel like it took me somewhere,” Foreman said. “The first album that did that for me was (U2’s) ‘Joshua Tree.’ I was maybe 10 years old and I just remember listening to that album over and over again. Every song was a different landscape.”

Foreman and his brother, who is now the singer-guitarist for Switchfoot, initially played in a Led Zeppelin cover band. They started Switchfoot in 1996 and enjoyed the supportive nature of the San Diego music scene. The band also included drummer Chad Butler. (Keyboardist-guitarist Jerome Fontamillas joined in 2000.)

Releasing their debut album, “Legend Of Chin,” on the Christian label re:Think Records in 1997, Switchfoot were named ASCAP’s Best New Artist at the San Diego Music Awards. In 1999, the band released its “New Way To Be Human” LP; the title track won Dove Awards for Modern Rock Song of the Year and Most Played Song of the Year.

MTV2 played the track “You Already Take Me There” from 2000’s “Learning To Breathe” LP, nominated for a Grammy Award in 2001. A year later, Switchfoot contributed five songs to the gold “A Walk To Remember” soundtrack, including Jon Foreman’s duet with the film’s star, Mandy Moore.

Continuing to earn awards, the band placed more than 40 songs on national TV shows, including “Felicity,” “Dawson’s Creek” and “Regis and Kelly.”

After recording “The Beautiful Mistake,” the band signed with Columbia. Lead single “Meant To Live” is about yearning for what’s true and beautiful in a world where love and hate coexist. Meanwhile, second single “Dare You To Move” has inspired fans to bridge the gap between who they are and who they want to be.

“We all like to read books that challenge us by (various) philosophers,” said Tim Foreman, who studied computer science at the University of California at San Diego. “We say our fans are more thinking people. Because of that, we’ve got a connection with them on a lyrical level. And if someone comes up to us and stops us on the street, it’s usually more of a conversation and less of a crazy fan experience that other bands deal with.

“For us, (the new album) was the continuation of our constant diary,” he added. “Our songs are kind of like diaries. We write about life as we experience it. So this was just the next phase in the journey.”

Foreman, who is married and lives in San Diego, said the band has well over 40 songs written for its next album, tentatively due out next summer. All four band members work on lyrical and musical content.

“Right now, we’re just in the phase of trying to demo as many songs as we can,” said Foreman, who enjoys surfing. “Then, once we have them documented, we’ll choose the ones that turn out the best. You plant a lot of seeds and you water the crops and you see which ones grow the tallest.

“The goal with our songs is always honesty,” he added. “This album is even more honest than the last. There’s some songs that are really very vulnerable and there’s some heavier moments than we’ve ever had before. It definitely sounds like a Switchfoot album, but there’s some good rock tracks.”

In concert, Switchfoot gives everything they have to entertain their fans. One of the band’s inspired performances is captured on “Live In San Diego,” a DVD released earlier this year that includes interviews and a concert complete with early recordings.

“We really believe in the music,” Foreman said. “The songs that we write we’re really passionate about. So we’re really excited that these songs are being heard and that the songs are getting attention. I think the byproduct of that is our faces being plastered everywhere and us getting attention. That’s weird, you know? That was never the goal.

“The goal was to give the songs their fair share, their fair due,” he added. “It’s an adjustment and it’s strange. But I think, for the most part, everyone’s pretty respectful. ... If people took one thing away from our music, it would be that life is short and we only have one chance at this. So let’s live like we’re fully alive.”