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A blog for Seattle music lovers of all stripes, from hip-hop and indie rock to jazz and world music.

April 16, 2014 at 1:20 PM

Alt-rock’s Switchfoot still savors surfing | Concert preview

Grammy-winning rock band Switchfoot, which plays the Showbox Friday, began life on the sun-drenched beaches of San Diego, where brothers Jon and Tim Foreman and friend Chad Butler shared a passion for surfing.

They decided to name their band for a surfing term that describes a change in stance and direction, providing a metaphor for the alternative-rock group’s inevitable musical evolution.

“Surfing has always been our reset button,” Jon Foreman says, describing the freedom, exhilaration and sense of renewal that surfing brings.

So it came as no surprise when the Foremans, Butler and fellow band members Jerome Fontamillas and Drew Shirley set off on an extended surfing adventure last year in search of inspiration for the band’s ninth album, traveling to Jeffreys Bay and Crayfish Factory in South Africa, Bronte Beach in Australia, Raglan in New Zealand and Uluwatu in Bali.

Released last year, the documentary film “Fading West” features stunning footage of the band surfing in far-flung locales, as well as relaxing at home, performing on stage and working at its San Diego studio. The film is interspersed with conversations about a musical bond that has endured for years, as well as a deep Christian faith (the band’s seventh studio album, “Hello Hurricane,” received a Grammy in 2011 for best rock gospel album).

“Looking back, it was a lot more of an endeavor than we thought when we set out to make the film,” Foreman said by phone from a tour stop in Washington, D.C. “We were trying to make something that was compelling and also honest. But we’re a bunch of surfers from San Diego who’ve never made a movie. It was a lot to take on.”

The film includes footage of the Kuyasa Kids, a South African choir made up of children orphaned by HIV/AIDS. The choir is featured on the inspirational song “The World You Want.” The soundtrack features songs from the subsequent album of the same name, released in January.

The album opens with the soaring, hook-filled ballad “Love Alone Is Worth the Fight,” one of two powerful alternative-rock singles that propelled the album to a No. 6 debut on the Billboard 200 album chart in January.

In the 17 years since the band’s formation, Foreman hasn’t lost his fascination with beaches.

“The point where the ocean meets the land is always compelling,” he said. “If you’re thinking about the metaphor of chaos and order, it’s where these two things collide. The best music is right on the edge of disorder. As a surfer and a musician, these are places where I go to feel inspired.”

8:30 p.m. Friday, April 18, at The Showbox, 1426 First Ave., Seattle; $25-$28 (888-929-7849 or www.showboxonline.com).

Gene Stout: gene@genestout.com

 

Comments | More in Rock/Pop | Topics: Showbox, Switchfoot

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