In His Own Words, Jon Foreman Explains Switchfoot’s HELLO HURRICANE

10 Nov

Today is the day we Switchfoot fans have been awaiting—the release of the band’s latest album Hello Hurricane.  The album contains a nice mix of songs, including “Mess of Me,” which has been released to radio.  While I prefer songs like “Red Eyes” and “Needle and Haystack Life,” because I’m a moody girl, each song is appealing—some are loud, while others are more introspective.  Hello Hurricane is a full album with the energy, sound, and depth synonymous with Switchfoot—I’d expect nothing  but the best from this band and as always, they delivered.

Instead of continuing with my rambling thoughts, I decided to post a few of lead singer Jon Foreman’s explanations of his songs and this album.  Enjoy!  And let me know—what’s your favorite song on Hello Hurricane?

For more information on Switchfoot, head over to switchfoot.com and connect with the gang!

Hello Hurricane: The Songs

by Jon Foreman

The storms of this life shatter our plans. They tear through our world and destroy our hopes and dreams. They ruin sunny days, flatten the structures we depend on, and shock our world views. Hello Hurricane is an attempt to sing into the storm. Hello Hurricane is a declaration: you can’t silence my love. My plans will fail, the storms of this life will come, and chaos will disrupt even my best intentions, but my love will not be destroyed. Beneath the sound and the fury there is a deeper order still- deeper than life itself. An order that cannot be shaken by the storms of this life. There is a love stronger than the chaos, running underneath us- beckoning us to go below the skin-deep externals, beyond the wind, even into the eye of the storm. Hello Hurricane, you’re not enough- you can’t silence my love.

I’ve seen storms in my life. I’ve even seen them pass through on stage. I’ve witnessed chaos and dissonance overtake a song. But after the rain, some of these unsettling musical experiences become my favorite moments: the ones that can’t be planned, rehearsed, or repeated. I’ve had a few of these unexpected elations up in a tiny LA club called Hotel Cafe playing cover tunes with a few of my friends/musical heroes.

The organizer of the evenings was none other than friend/hero Tom Morello, the Night Watchman himself who would invite his friends (Slash, Ben Harper, Serj Tankian, Perry Farrell, etc.) to join him in the musical festivities. The nights would usually end with a memorable grand finale of cover songs with everyone onstage playing songs that were only partly rehearsed. Most the time the results were spectacular- other times we would have to stop the evening to figure out logistics like who was going to play what and determine what key we were going to be playing in. It was during one of these pauses that Tom said a quote about music that I’ll never forget. He said music is like sausage. “Sometimes you want to enjoy it without knowing the details of what goes into it.”

There may be some who want this type of experience: to enjoy the music of Hello Hurricane without knowing the back-story. Maybe the blood, sweat, and tears make you a little squeamish. I completely understand this sentiment. There were stormy, (though necessary) moments during the recording process that were neither graceful nor pretty. This was not an easy record to make; we were fighting to get somewhere we had never been. Looking back at the ground we covered I’m certain that every moment (even the more difficult ones) were meaningful to the final push. But it certainly was a push… so if you want the shiny new music detached from the labor pains, turn back now! For everyone else, here are a few of the stories behind each song. I’m so honored to have been a part of this record- to share these experiences with Tim, Chad, Drew, Jerome and everyone else who helped in the struggle for excellence. In many ways, these songs are like children to me and I’m honored to be able to introduce you to them first-hand.

“Mess of Me”

I am my own affliction

I am my own disease

there ain’t no drug that they can sell

there ain’t no drug to make me well

there ain’t no drug

there ain’t no drug

it’s not enough

the sickness is myself

I’ve made a mess of me

I want to get back the rest of me

I’ve made a mess of me

I want to spend the rest of my life alive

we lock our souls in cages

inside these  prison cells

it’s hard to free the ones you love

when you can’t forgive yourself

I’ve made a mess of me

I want to reverse this tragedy

I’ve made a mess of me

I want to spend the rest of my life alive

“He not busy being born is busy dying.” – Bob Dylan

“You were born a white man in mid-twentieth century industrial America.  You came into the world armed to the teeth with an arsenal of weapons. The weapons of privilege, racial privilege, sexual privilege, economic privilege. You wanna be a pacifist, it’s not just giving up guns and knives and clubs and fists and angry words, but giving up the weapons of privilege, and going into the world completely disarmed. Try that.” – Ammon Hennessy

Lyrically the song is yearning for abundant life to spring from past mistakes. The song attempts to explore the darkest parts of the human animal and transcend them, rising above these gloomy moments to find true life. If you’re Freud, you call these darker urges the death drive. If you’re St. Paul, you talk about doing the things you don’t want to do. Whatever you call them, these dark places destroy us if we leave them unchecked. I feel that tension everyday, between the right and the wrong, between life and death. And yet there is no easy path to freedom from self. It’s a narrow road and few find it. We’ve all thought about the quick fix: that special something/someone that could take the pain away. Yet the problems in my life are much bigger than any temporary solution. We die a little everyday- physically, spiritually; we are in sorry shape. Ain’t no drug to make me well. Ain’t no drug that can relieve me from the monster of myself. Ain’t no one to blame. But my decision is made. I want to follow this through… I want to spend the rest of my life alive.

This tune has lived several lives all revolving around the guitar hook. It started out as a song called “I Saw Satan (Fall Like Lightning)” I wrote it a couple years back when I was stealing heavily from scripture.

We dragged it into the studio with Charlie Peacock for a week of recording at Big Fish Studios and came out with a really great bridge. Then we wrote a new chorus, called the song “There Ain’t No Drug” and built the verse lyrics around the new chorus. We made the bridge the chorus after that. (And at this point I was about as lost as you, dear reader. These are the limitations of having no limitations!) So we stepped away from this song. We knew it was a great one; we were just too inside it. When we came back to it we realized that we were really close… we just needed the final push- so we re-tracked everything at Mike’s place. Tim was the champion of this tune: lifting it from one phase to the next, never giving up on the riff. I’m really proud of Tim for pushing through till the final version that ended up on the record.

“Hello Hurricane”

I’ve been watching the skies

they’ve been turning blood red

not a doubt in my mind anymore

there’s a storm up ahead

hello hurricane

you’re not enough

hello hurricane

you can’t silence my love

I’ve got doors and windows

boarded up

all your dead end fury is

not enough

you can’t silence my love

every thing I have I count as loss

everything I have is stripped away

before I started building

I counted up these costs

there’s nothing left for you to take away

hello hurricane

you can’t silence my love

I’m a fighter fighting for control

I’m a fighter fighting for my soul

everything inside of me surrenders

you can’t silence my love

hello hurricane

you can’t silence my love

“Love does not alter the beloved, it alters itself.” -Soren Kierkegaard

“The capitalist culture of consumption… does not provide meaningful sustenance for large numbers of people.” -Cornel West

This is a subject matter that I speak of with holy reverence. Having grown up on the East Coast I know firsthand of the houses lost, of the dreams turned into nightmares. I take my shoes off and recognize that this is a matter that is dear to our nation, especially of late- with every passing hurricane season. Last year, with Habitat for Humanity we helped to build a house for a woman who lost everything in Hurricane Katrina. The hurricane had taken her city, her house, and her leg. As she relocated to Baton Rouge and learned how to walk as an amputee, her mantra was this: “I walked out of my house and my life in New Orleans on my own legs; I’m going to walk into this one the same way.”

This is the spirit that I wanted to capture with this song, and moreover with this record. The storms of life might take my house, my loved ones, or even my life- but they cannot silence my love.

Yes, the reactionary impulses of hate, fear, and despair really are defenseless against the storms of this life. And yet, this selfless love really might be stronger than death. Perhaps, the kingdom of the heavens really is at hand; ready to give, ready to love. And with this love as my song I will overcome. In surrender to divine love I will find my strength. “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love another.”

“Red Eyes”

what are you waiting for,

the day is gone?

I said I’m waiting for dawn

what are you aiming for

out here alone?

I said I’m aiming for home

holding on, holding on

with red eyes

What are you looking for?

with red eyes

red eyes

all of my days are spent

within this skin

within this cage that I’m in

nowhere feels safe to me

nowhere feels home

even in crowds I’m alone

holding on, holding on

every now and then I see you dreaming

every now and then I see you cry

every now and then I see you reaching,

reaching for the other side

what are you waiting for?

“Let us not be satisfied with just giving money. Money is not enough… The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.” -Mother Theresa

“Our churches have done little more than reproduce and radiate this brokenness of our culture… Many congregations do nothing but outsource justice.” -John Perkins

So here we are at the end of the world. And the beginning. Here we are at the dawn of the next generation. Y2K has passed us by. MLK, Kennedy, Elvis, Lennon, Cobain, MJ… they have all left the living. They have left us searching, wondering, hoping… I read the headlines, I watch the news. Iraq, Rwanda, Iran, Darfur, Tibet, Columbine, OKC… Towers falling, mothers, brothers, sisters, fathers… passing from life to death. We’re killing one another, destroying each other. Sometimes the state of the world can bring a man to his knees. It could make you cry. I get angry. I get overwhelmed. I give up… almost. Sometimes, I find myself staring into a blood red dawn, still awake from the night before. Still wondering why this new day has so much of the old darkness, the old sorrows, the old hatred. I feel so alone. I feel so alone in this world of pain.

All my heroes are the ones who ran after the higher vision, the news that stays new. We’ve been chasing lesser gods, gods who do not know our names, gods who will die alongside of us. The kingdom of the heavens does not come to us in our wealth, it comes to our in our poverty. Our money, our knowledge, our medicine, our sex, our privilege- these are double-edged swords, dependent upon our own shaking hands for guidance. With our two hands we build up and destroy, we hold and break the future. My own hands are shaking. I reach for the new day with fear and trembling. I’m reaching for a bird called hope, for the one true song who could bring me home. I’m waiting for dawn. I’m dreaming, reaching for the other side.

At the end of the record there is a reprise that goes back to the first song. For me this is a reminder of the repetitive nature of all that we call life. Wonder, surrender, joy, forgiveness, hope- yes, give us today the daily bread of our moment by moment existence. This life is so fragile- at any instance one of us could slip beyond this life into the infinite unknown. It’s as though every breath we take has been given to us on loan. We are surrounded by mysteries, miracles, wonders, and tragedies that we will never master. Yes, I will die one day- of this I am certain. But I’m not dead yet! No, tonight there is breath in my lungs- pushing, pulsing, yearning to break free… I will dream, for dreams are the seeds of what may be. I will wonder, for without wonder, how could life be wonderful? And I will sing.

Yes, until my pending death I will sing. In the face of indifference, I will sing. In the face of adversity, I will sing. I will sing about the pain. I will sing about the mystery. I will sing of the hope, the cage, the bullet, the winter, the dreamer. I will sing of all of these. I’ve seen miracles there in your eyes. It’s no accident we’re here tonight. We are once in a lifetime

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No Responses to “In His Own Words, Jon Foreman Explains Switchfoot’s HELLO HURRICANE”

  1. wiredtoinspire November 11, 2009 at 12:21 AM #

    I like this a lot. 🙂

  2. matt February 4, 2010 at 10:30 PM #

    could you tell me where the original for this can be found?

    • Amy February 4, 2010 at 11:39 PM #

      What do you mean “the original”? This is the original….from his publicist for any media people to use.

  3. matt February 4, 2010 at 11:44 PM #

    you said: “I decided to post a few of lead singer Jon Foreman’s explanations of his songs and this album.” my question was from where did you obtain this. in other words, i’m wondering if there is some place where i can read more things from jon.

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