Switchfoot Drummer Excited About "Fading West" Tour
Kris Tryon & Kelly Robinson, Guest Writers
Oct. 23, 2013
Popular group in concert on Lubbock stage Oct. 29th
One of the most popular bands on the planet over the last 17-plus years is no stranger to success. Switchfoot has been together since their formation in 1996 and the San Diego (CA) based "rock"/"Christian"/"alternative" group is going stronger than ever today.
As they embarked on their newest journey across the globe, it was the idea of seeking a challenge in making their ninth studio album that appealed to the five members, who just happen to be the best of friends. Switchfoot is: Jon Foreman (vocals/guitar), Tim Foreman (bass), Chad Butler (drums), Jerome Fontamillas (keyboard/guitar) and Drew Shirley (guitar).
The five headed into their current "Fading West" tour having already sold 5.5 million copies worldwide of their previous eight albums (including their 2003 double-platinum work called The Beautiful Letdown as well as their 2009 Grammy Award-winning Hello Hurricane). That challenge included the idea to produce not only an album of their musical talents, but also a film that basically tells the story of their brotherhood, both as friends that entertain millions, but also as the surfing, fun-loving men that they are.
The "Fading West" tour is a unique combination of both music and film, while also achieving a sense of sharing with their fans as they travel throughout the country. The band premiered Fading West on opening night of the 2013 Summer X-Games in August. The current tour began earlier this fall and it is a unique approach to telling the story of a band of brothers, literally, that have grown together to become husbands and fathers, while nurturing the loves of their lives - music and surfing. On the tour they chose to show the film to their audiences rather than have an opening act, followed by a question/answer session with their fans and the show wraps up with a stripped down performance from the band. The film will be released digitally toward the end of 2013, with the new album seeing its release on January 14, 2014.
For a sneak peak at the Fading West film, please go to the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iJ1ynQ46984.
After Texas stops on the tour in Houston (Oct. 26th), San Antonio (Oct. 27th) and Waco (Oct. 28th), the group will appear in Lubbock at the City Bank Auditorium on Tuesday, October 29th. Switchfoot fans will be genuinely entertained by their sound as well as their story. For ticket information, please go to www.switchfoot.com.
The DusterToday had the amazingly unique opportunity to spend a few minutes with Switchfoot drummer, Chad Butler, and what we discovered was someone who, no doubt, loves what he does and shares that passion with his fellow "brothers." Here are the thoughts of Butler as Switchfoot embarked on their current "Fading West" tour:
Duster: The current "Fading West" tour is a bit of a unique type of tour for your band isn’t it?
Mr. Butler: It's a dream come true for us. It's something we've been talking about for years and for us, all growing up surfing in San Diego, it's a big part of our lives. We wanted to make the film about surfing and making music and how they come together for us and also tell the story of our brotherhood in the band for the last eight records. The goal of setting out on our journey was to find inspiration for a new record ... our ninth record.
With this tour we're launching new music. With the album and the film coming out, both under the name of Fading West, for us it is such an amazing thing that we've been able to make music together for all these years. We're just incredibly thankful to be able to tell our story.
Duster: Does this album/movie collaboration tell the backstory of where your roots are, where you've come from and where you are today?
Mr. Butler: Yeah, we definitely talk about where we've come from as a band in the film ... who we are as a band and as brothers. One thing that I think is unprecedented for us is the decision to be really open and transparent about our family life. I think that's something that we are typically very guarded about. In the course of making the film, bringing a camera crew with us on the road, there were definitely highs and also lows - and in those lows I think we were really challenged with whether or not to put these moments in the film. Ultimately, we decided to keep those scenes in the movie that really lead into that and talk about the struggles of being a husband and father in a rock band, along with also the joys and love of playing music that we believe in and trying to balance both of those. Those are things in the movie that we didn't set out to include at first, but it ended up being one of the strongest heartbeats of the film.
Duster: What is your take on the idea that some believe you guys are a rock band, while others consider you a Christian band?
Mr. Butler: I'm honored to be associated with the name of Christ. I'm a believer and I also think that Christianity is a faith, not a musical genre. For me I feel like it's much deeper than what category your CD is shelved or what category your album is placed on iTunes in. It's obviously something that is part of every aspect of our lives and I think it's more important what happens off stage, you know - how we treat one another and how we treat other people. I feel like, for me, that we've always tried to make honest music that speaks to everyone. We always try to make sure, you know, that we're being honest and real with our music, whether or not that's talking about faith, or doubt or things that we don't understand, the big issues of life and just be real about all of it.
Yeah, as far as what people label our band as, it doesn't bother me. I just am excited when I look out at the audience every night and see people from all different walks of life singing the same song.
Duster: You guys used some new, unique instruments while making the album - was that intentional or did it just happen to come about?
Mr. Butler: I think that was a product of our environment. We essentially went to some of our favorite places around the world on this journey for the film and playing the world tour around cultures and locations that have inspired us over the course of our career. Returning to South Africa, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, all these places, we knew that we would find inspiration there, hoping to find inspiration for the new album ... for new sounds, for new stories to tell.
That really is how the album, Fading West, came to be. At the end of the year we took all these ideas that had been birthed on the road and took them to San Diego, into our studio and finished recording the songs themselves.
Captured in the film are several songs that are on location, whether it's being inspired by a children's choir made up of orphans in Cape Town or by different instruments we found in Bali, like the gamelan, or some of these local string instruments ... there is just so much in those locations that are very different than our western music. It was absolutely inspiring to us.
Duster: Was there ever any concern that your fans that have been with you for so many years would be upset at the style changes in some of your work for this album?
Mr. Butler: I totally can relate to that. I think that our audiences have always bonded from one song to the next within an album. We've always mixed things up, taken that liberty, since the beginning. We've never stuck to one sound, so we feel like there is an artistic license there that we really appreciate. As far as this record, we set out knowing we were making the film, so there was an intention to lean into the cinematic space, so we worked to create songs to fit a particular mood of the journey. Yeah, taking that all and then watching the film, editing and then placing the music accordingly was a really eye-opening experience for all of us and we learned a lot.
Duster: Are there any scenes in the movie where you first saw it and said 'wow, I can't believe we put that in there.'?
Mr. Butler: There are definitely some sides to the band that are being revealed in the film ... yep, maybe surprising. I think there are a lot of candid moments for sure. After a few weeks of having the camera crew on the road with us, we really started to forget that they were there and you kind of let your guard down. There are a lot of deep, emotional moments, but also some really hilarious moments of us that were captured and I'm glad that we're in a place to feel okay and comfortable with what is showing.
Duster: What can fans expect with this new type of format for the show - do they need to come in with their popcorn and find their seat kind of thing?
Mr. Butler: Absolutely. We booked this tour trying to click on the film. The film is the main event and it's interesting because, as a band, we would typically kick out an opening act on our tour and they would play a short amount of time and then we would play for a longer time. The focus of this tour is the film. It's an 80-minute piece of visual art and I think everybody is going to be able to just sit back, relax and enjoy the show. As soon as the film is over we're going to come out and do a Q&A, an audience Q&A, then we'll play some music. It'll be a different format. People have been asking us for years to do an acoustic tour, so we've leaned into that as well. This show is a little more stripped down and for us it's going to be a little more intimate. We're really looking forward to it being an enjoyable evening for ourselves and for the audience as well.
Duster: What message do you hope that people take away from this film?
Mr. Butler: I think the camaraderie that we have off stage is what has kept our band together. People always ask us 'what's the secret? You guys have been together so long.' Most bands don't last this long and I think the key for us is the knowledge that our relationships off stage are much more important than what happens on stage ... the relationships we have within the five of us. Also, the reality is that we are all husbands and fathers, trying to support each other in that. So, as the band has developed over the years, I think that's what has been keeping us together and is what motivates us to continue Switchfoot. I think that people will find connections and themes in the film because of that honesty.
Duster: Finally, since this film is about your passion for both music and surfing, can you tell us - on a scale of 1-10 how talented are you guys as surfers?
Mr. Butler: The dream growing up together when we were going to high school was that we all wanted to be pro surfers. We had posters of all the (top pros) on our walls. You know the coolest thing about making this movie is that we sort of got to live that dream for a minute. We got to have Tom Curren and Rob Machado in the film. We got to have people around the world take us surfing in some of the best places around the planet. For that little moment we got to taste what that must be like, surfing for a living. I'm more than content, though, with our little moment of surf in the film. I really just deflect to the professionals, though ... we're musicians and we know our place.
We know our place as well - as fans of the band - and The DusterToday would like to thank Mr. Butler for taking the time to visit with us. We look forward to the Switchfoot appearance in Lubbock and we encourage anyone that can possibly attend to do so. You're sure to be entertained as well as inspired by this amazing group of musicians and, more importantly, "brothers."
For ticket information to the October 29th show, please go to www.switchfoot.com.