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Chances are you’ve been singing along to a hit song by alt-rockers Switchfoot at some point in the last year. As the band get set to release a follow-up to their breakthrough 2003 album, The Record talks exclusively to drummer Chad Butler about songwriting, surfing, South Africa and staying true to what you believe in.

“‘Switchfoot’ is a surfing term. It means literally to switch your perspective or your feet on the board,” says drummer Chad Butler. “We all grew up surfing in San Diego and the name is a way to remember where we’re from. It reminds us of home.”

‘Home’ is not something this band has seen much of ever since 2003’s The Beautiful Letdown got them their big break, selling 2.5 million copies and catapulting them into the spotlight. Playing close to 400 shows over the last two years, the band’s lifestyle has been less sun and sand and more tarmac and tour buses, so much so that the new album Nothing Is Sound was created on the road itself. Explains Chad, “We would work on the songs backstage in the dressing room and then go right out to play the show and try them out in front of the crowd. I think it’s a great way to get a sense of whether the song is connecting. Right away you see the look in people’s eyes, if they’re singing along by the chorus, you know that it’s working. There were definitely nights when the songs went great and we all looked at each other and said ‘Okay that song has to be on the new record.’”

Switchfoot’s breakthrough hit Meant To Live (from the last album) perfectly captured the band’s spirit, combining solid rock chops with substantial lyrical themes. On Nothing Is Sound, the case is no different with the band drawing inspiration from their lives, fan feedback, and even from the greats. Explains Chad, “[The song] Happy Is A Yuppie Word comes from a Bob Dylan quote in an interview in Rolling Stone magazine. He was asked whether was he happy and he said, ‘Happiness’, ‘unhappiness’ these are yuppie words ~ I’m blessed.’ To me it’s sort of a central theme of the record.” Another theme, seen in a growing amount of today’s art, is loneliness. The band addresses it on a song called Lonely Nation. Says Chad, “For me it is, I think, more about our generation rather than just the United States. We’re very connected by technology but yet we find ourselves at the end of the day still lonely. It’s something that all of us feel.”

You can read the rest of our exclusive with Switchfoot in the December 2005 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.


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