Switchfoot has achieved a level of success that brothers Jon and Tim Foreman and their high-school friend Chad Butler never anticipated when forming the band in San Diego in 1996. The SoCal natives have sold 5.7 million copies worldwide of their nine studio albums (including their 2003 double-platinum breakthrough The Beautiful Letdown and 2009’s Grammy Award-winning Hello Hurricane), racked up a string of Alternative radio hit singles, performed sold-out world tours, raised over $1 million dollars to aid kids in their community through their own Bro-Am Foundation, and earned themselves a global fan base devoted to Switchfoot’s emotionally intelligent and uplifting brand of alternative rock.
Switchfoot traces its roots to the beaches of San Diego when the Foremans and Butler connected as surfers (Jerome Fontamillas joined in September 2000 and Drew Shirley in 2005). Though they competed in national surf championships on weekends, their real bond came from a common love of music. They decided to form a band, chose the name Switchfoot (a surfing term), put themselves through months of sweaty rehearsals in their garage, and then hit the road. After just 20 gigs, Switchfoot signed with re:Think Records and released three albums, The Legend of Chin (1997), New Way To Be Human (1999), and the gold-certified Learning to Breathe (2000), before signing with Columbia Records, which released their fourth album, The Beautiful Letdown, on its Red/Ink subsidiary, upping the band to Columbia proper after the album sold more than a million copies. (It eventually sold 2.6 million.) The band released two more albums with Sony, 2005’s Nothing Is Sound, which debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard album chart, and 2006’s Oh! Gravity., which climbed to No. 1 on the iTunes Album chart, before going their separate ways with the company.
Itching for creative freedom, Switchfoot financed the building of its own studio where they recorded their seventh album, the hard-hitting Hello Hurricane, and its groove-oriented follow-up Vice Verses, both of which they released on their own lowercase people records via Atlantic Records. (Jon also released several solo EPs and two albums with Fiction Family, his side project with Nickel Creek’s Sean Watkins.)
The band’s recent documentary film Fading West followed their dream tour playing rock shows at their favorite surf destinations: Bali, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. The film also reveals glimpses of Switchfoot at home and in their studio in San Diego. Like Rattle and Hum meets Endless Summer, the movie is part travelogue, part surf film, and part behind-the-scenes look at the making of the band’s latest album Fading West.
Along the way, Switchfoot have been steadfast in their commitment to giving back by supporting various humanitarian causes, such as DATA, the ONE Campaign, Habitat for Humanity, Invisible Children, and To Write Love on Her Arms. The annual Switchfoot Bro-Am is a benefit surf contest and concert in Encinitas CA. Since 2004 the annual event has raised over a million dollars to aid San Diego youth development programs through the Bro-Am Foundation. The 12th annual event is scheduled for July 9th 2016. “We’ve got a really young fan base and some of the kids who come to our shows are homeless,” Tim says. “You’d never know it, but they are. I think we’ve always been drawn to the underdog, and I can’t think of a bigger underdog than a kid who’s fighting for his life at the age of 12.”
Switchfoot is currently working on their 10th studio album, “We weren’t chasing anything in particular when we started the band,” Jon says “We simply had these songs that we loved playing. It’s that joy that fueled us and it’s that joy that has kept us going and brought us to here.”