San Diego rockers, Switchfoot are about to go on an international tour for their latest release, Oh! Gravity and will be heading all across Canada during that time. Tim Foreman (bassist, backing vocals) had a chat with Lindsay Whitfield from Soul Shine about the new songs, his love for Canada (and Tim Horton's!), and about everyone's role in making positive social change a reality.
SS: Is each album more of an experiment than about genre to you?
TF: A lot of bands go for a particular genre, but we go for more of a Sgt. Pepper approach where if it needs a horn section we say 'lets do it'. We've kind of just approached each song like its own thing and enjoyed the freedom in that. Each song to us isn't in the same category.
SS: I know you co-wrote "Oh! Gravity", "Yesterdays" and "Burn out Bright"; would you like to have more of a role in songwriting? What's your process with Jon while composing a song?
TF: With writing the song it's kind of different, at least the way we do it. We don't write usually with production in mind, we just write with an acoustic guitar and vocal melody; very rarely is a song written with a whole lot else in mind. Then, once the song is written you kind of throw it on the operating table as a band and decide how it's going to be produced; like if you want weird electronic noises, and explore all the options you want to take with the song, it gives you a lot of freedom that way I think.
SS: What's your favourite song you co-wrote on Oh! Gravity?
TF:"Yesterdays" really means a lot to me; it's a song Jon and I wrote together about losing someone. It's about a different story for him than it is for me, for me it's kind of about more than one story, a couple of situations I've been going through in the last year, dealing with loss. I think that's something most of us have been through at some point. I think we write about things that we don't understand a lot of times; this song definitely fits into that category, where you're trying to maybe use music to explore that loss and some of those questions that are still there.
SS: Like a diary entry.
TF:Yeah it is. I think music can be very therapeutic, not just for the writer but for the listener. Growing up, I know music got me through a lot of tough times whether it was Bob Dylan or Bob Marley, they kind of made me think about life in a different way.
SS: Do you believe all bands should use their status as a catalyst for social change?
TF:Yeah, I think just as a human being, we're all on this planet and everyone has a spirit influence. As a band that influence may be bigger than someone working at a desk all day, but I think everyone has a spirit influence and I think it's just part of being human to be concerned with people that are right next to you.
SS: Have you always wanted Switchfoot to be involved in social action?
TF:It's never been a big intentional thing, I think maybe it's part of maturing as a band; just realizing that we do have a platform and people are listening to what we have to say, just to make it count. But at the same time you can't take yourself too seriously and think that 5 scrappy kids from San Diego are going to change the world with rock songs (laughs) it would be a very egocentric view. But, of the little input we do have, I want to make it count.
SS: You've had a cowbell ringing contest, and a studio webcam for Oh! Gravity. Do you want to involve fans in the creative aspect of your albums in the future?
TF:We love involving the fans. We've been a band for a long time and a lot of the people that listen to our music have been with us for a long time too. So there's kind of that history we have with each other. It's the same reason why after shows we'll hang outside the venue and talk with kids and talk about life and stuff, because we feel like we're all in this journey together and so to involve the people that are buying our records in the recording process, that's the first time we've been able to do that and it's a lot of fun.
SS: Canada's looking forward to you guys hitting up so many different of our cities; what city are you most looking forward to visiting?
TF: I don't want to pick favourites (laughs). We just felt like on this last record that we didn't play enough shows in Canada and were really kind of frustrated with the way the last tour was booked for that reason because in the 11 years we've been touring, we've always felt we've had this bond with Canada, I don't know what it is÷we just feel like people are nicer up there and then you have Tim Horton's and all sorts of attractive things! (laughs) The Edmonton Mall has a wave pool too÷but I don't know why we chose February, that's the only question mark in my mind. Not just Canada, but we're also doing Europe, like Germany and places like that, all freezing cold places.
SS: What do you hope people will get from your music?
TF: I think everyone gets something different from music and I think that's ok. The kid that maybe hears a song of ours on MTV and just likes it for a fun catchy melody and that's how I like most songs too, but for the kid where music means something more to them that's the goal ultimately, to make songs that make you think differently about the world around you and take you somewhere.
SS: Thanks Tim! I hope you don't freeze too much while you're touring up here!
TF: It's ok, I'm going to go buy a warm coat right now. (laughs)
For more information on the upcoming tour and Switchfoot please visit: www.switchfoot.com and www.myspace.com/switchfoot.
Writer: Lindsay Whitfield