“This is your life. Are you who you want to be?” sings Jon Foreman, lead singer and guitarist of American rock ‘n’ roll band Switchfoot, to a packed house at Vancouver’s Commodore Ballroom.
“That’s a song we’re singing to ourselves,” explains drummer Chad Butler, five hours earlier inside the empty, brightly lit venue.
Hailing from San Diego, California, Switchfoot formed in 1996 and have since released eight studio albums, took home a Grammy Award in 2011, founded a charity concert/surf competition in their home town, and are currently working on a documentary about surfing and making music.
“It’s rare to find someone who can say things in a song that are uncomfortable to talk about in everyday conversation,” explains Butler. “We ask a lot of questions in our music, questions about doubts, fears, struggles, but that kind of honesty resonates with people.”
It’s questions that have given Switchfoot the staying power needed to sustain a long and successful career.
Their latest effort, 2011’s Vice Verses explores the polarity of life and questions how to live between life and death.
“We have a saying in the band: life is short live it well,” says Butler. “There’s that urgency when you consider your own mortality and we’re reminded of it daily. Our days are numbered. Living with that in the back of your mind is a good thing. It challenges us to live everyday to the fullest.”
These days living to the fullest consists of touring, travelling, and surfing as the bands been filming their lives since January for their film, Fading West, due out next year. Fading West documents the bands travels around the world playing music and riding waves. The band will also score the soundtrack.
“We’ve always wanted to score a film,” expresses Butler. “With our own film there is no one telling you how [the soundtrack] should sound, so it’s anything goes. We’re going to take full advantage of that and push the boundaries musically.”
Later this month, the band heads home to San Diego to host and perform at the 8th annual Bro-Am, a surf competition/concert benefiting California based children’s charities. Bro-Am has raised over half a million dollars since its creation in 2005.
“Growing up surfing and playing music kept us out of trouble,” says Butler. “Knowing there are kids in our backyard in a very different situation, very alone and without support, resonates with us. We want to give back and give kids the opportunity to experience the attention and support they deserve, even if only for one day.”
While it’s easy to get caught up in a lifestyle of music, touring, and travelling, Butler insists the band won’t forget how lucky they are to be living out their dreams.
“It’s amazing but at some point the music will stop. The relationships we have is what we’ll hang onto after the band is done.”