Tag Archives: jon foreman

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

Switchfoot’s HELLO HURRICANE Album Trailer!

29 Sep

If you’re like me, then you’re stoked beyond all reason about Switchfoot’s upcoming album, Hello Hurricane (on pre-sale now).  Of course, it doesn’t release until Nov. 10, so it’s a long and hard wait–for all of us since I didn’t get a pre-release copy of the album…yet (here’s hoping!)  To whet our appetites, Switchfoot has crafted a preview video about the making of the album.  Enjoy!


P.S. What do you think of Switchfoot’s first album single, “Mess of Me”?

Rockin’ at RevGen 2009

14 Sep

Revelation Generation (RevGen) held its fifth annual two-day Labor Day Weekend extravaganza Sept. 4-5 in Frenchtown, NJ.  This year’s line-up was ambitious and impressive with big hitters such as Switchfoot, Jars of Clay, Relient K, Needtobreathe, Flyleaf, and MercyMe taking center stage along with other favorites such as Derek Webb, Jon Foreman (s0lo acoustic performance), BarlowGirl, Seabird, The Devil Wears Prada, and GRITS.  Thirty-thousand people, five stages, good eats, and great weather–the combination made for a great day!

Beach balls of all sizes started flying during Relient K’s set.  I got hit on the head a few times!

Attending only the second day of festivities, here’s what I discovered–The Fold (great band!), Dawn from Fireflight is super nice, Seabird is amazing live (and in conversation), BReith is a funny guy, Relient K keeps getting better and better, Jon Foreman on acoustic packed out the Nashville Tent, BarlowGirl is wild in concert (must see again!), I like Derek Webb’s new album much more on acoustic!

The ever-entertaining Matt Theissen of Relient K.

Like any festival, there are degenerates who ruin the fun for everyone.  I wanted to keep this positive, but Sarah got spit on by a teenager girl (“What? I wasn’t spitting on you!” she protested), got kicked by rowdy college boys (who came dangerously close to kicking my precious camera), was hit on the head by a half-empty water bottle that came flying out of nowhere (no one claimed it or apologized), and dodged numerous frisbees and footballs.  In fact, I was almost clubbed a few times as well.  I can honestly say that some people were completely out of control–and, no, they weren’t all teenagers and I don’t think any of them were drunk.  It was so exasperating that we didn’t dare venture past the acoustic stage after dark.  With a crowd that size, people don’t need to throw concussion-causing objects–that’s what yards and parks are for!

This is B.Reith.  I met him in the merch tent.  He was pretty amusing.  Check him out!

Overall, the event was wonderful.  The staff and volunteers were courteous, helpful, and so kind!  The festival really stepped up service to the media this year, which made things much easier.  And–this is almost unheard of–the shows ran almost perfectly on schedule!  Good management, RevGen!  I will definitely make RevGen a permanent part of my Labor Day weekend.

If you’ve been following me on Twitter, you know I’ve been talking about The Glorious Unseen [read Take 5] all week. Well, here’s a happy TGU member running the merch table. Sadly, I didn’t get to attend their live show.

When I got to RevGen, The Fold was on the New York Stage, and they were really good.  I caught up with the band later and also discovered, they are really nice guys.  Unfortunately, I didn’t take their picture.  But I will definitely interview The Fold for Backseat Writer.

Aaron of Seabird on keys

Aaron Morgan of Seabird on keys [top and bottom].

The first band I had a chance to watch and photography was none other than Seabird.  I’ve been dying to see these guys live since I first heard Til We See the Shore.  And Seabird delivered as promised.  The only downside–they didn’t play my fave song, “Maggie Mahoney,” but they did play two songs from their upcoming (insert girly scream) album! [Read Seabird interview.]

Jon Foreman performing for a packed out tent of fans [top and bottom].

Next, I checked out Jon Foreman’s acoustic set in the Nashville tent, which was packed out with rabid Jon Foreman fans.  He sang “The Cure For Pain” when I was taking my closer pics.  I know I’m supposed to be objective as a journalist, but tears were just pouring down my face as I snapped these shots.  “The Cure For Pain” seems to be an anthem for so many judging not only by my reaction, but the crowd reaction as well.

I also caught BarlowGirl, Relient K, and Derek Webb on film, but missed out on Switchfoot’s photo pit.  It was getting pretty crazy up there, so I kept my distance.  Here are the rest of my photos::

BarlowGirl

Relient K


Derek Webb did a fabulous acoustic show, including some songs from his new album, Stockholm Syndrome, which just released Sept. 1.  [Read BSW interview with Derek Webb].


I’ve been super busy lately, but I promise to let you know when I’ve edited/uploaded all my RevGen photos.

The BSW Raven Awards:: Where Everyone Wins!

24 Apr

Now that GMA Week is over and the Dove Awards have been handed out, I can finally announce the winners of the Backseat Writer 1st Annual Raven Awards.  Here’s the thing with the Raven Awards, if you’re nominated, you win!  Of course, our winners don’t get a cool looking-trophy (maybe next year). Heck, half of ‘em won’t even know they won a Raven Award…but that’s not really the point.

The point, dear friends, is to nominate songs that have impacted my life and the lives of those around me throughout the past year.  Whether these are artists who are making it big or who are rockin’ the indie scene, they have all been meaningful to me.

Originally, I thought it would be funny to have my own awards to rival the Doves…and what’s the opposite of a white bird of peace?  The black bird of death!  Then I thought to myself, that’s not really the message I want to send.   But then I realized why ravens are among my favorite birds.  The book of Kings speaks of the prophet Elijah’s flight into the desert when he was fleeing for his life from Queen Jezebel, who promised to kill him.  While sitting under a broom tree, God provided His messenger with food delivered to him by ravens.  In this instance, ravens were used by God to bring life to His Child, who was in a very dark place (read my post “Fed by the Ravens”).  To me, being fed by ravens is be given a message from God Himself, delivered by a third party.

Thus, these are my “Ravens.”  Feel free to nominate anyone you think deserves a BSW Raven Awards in the comments section. You can share how this artist or song has impacted you.  Sorry, I just don’t have the energy to put links to everyone–do a Backseat Writer site–chances are that I’ve written about these artists. Oh, and we definitely needed some side art; I’m not favoring the artists whose pictures appear on this post!

(Artist pics from top to bottom:: Seabird, Tara Leigh Cobble, Josh Wilson, This Beautiful Republic)

Song of the Year

“Cinderella”—Steven Curtis Chapman
“For the Life of Me”-This Beautiful Republic
“Learning How to Die”—Jon Foreman
“Don’t Wash Your Hands of Me”—Alli Rogers
“Britney”—Bebo Norman
“Savior, Please”—Josh Wilson
“Listen Up”—Brandon Heath
“Rescue”—Seabird
“Hold My Heart”—Tenth Avenue North
“Still Young”-Shirock

Male Vocalist of the Year

Bebo Norman
Jon Foreman
Josh Wilson
Brandon Heath
Fernando Ortega

Female Vocalist of the Year

Alli Rogers
Francesca Battistelli
Dawn Richardson (Fireflight)
Tara Leigh Cobble

Band of the Year

This Beautiful Republic
Seabird
Leeland
Shirock
The Myriad

Album of the Year

Til We See The Shore—Seabird
Limbs & Branches—Jon Foreman
Empty and Beautiful—Matt Maher
Perceptions—This Beautiful Republic
Bebo Norman—Bebo Norman
Trying to Fit the Ocean in a Cup—Josh Wilson

If any of our winners want the world to know about his or her or their amazing award, please feel free to use this cool award jpg I designed!  It’s not a statue, but it’s pretty darn close. Congrats to all our award winners!

Amy’s Favorite Things (Take that, Oprah!)

13 Dec

By Amy Sondova Every year, Oprah Winfrey features a few of her favorite things on her daytime talk show (“Oprah’s Favorite Things“) and then adorns the audience with each and every one of her favorite things.  Well, I’m not Oprah, and therefore, cannot give all Backseat Writer’s readers samples of everything that I adore.  But I can tell you where to get ‘em.   Without further adieu, I bring you “Amy’s Favorite Things,” which I hope will help you as you finish shopping foryour favorite people this holiday season (and beyond.   These are timeless suggestions).

Altered Art Charm from TickleMePinkBoutique on Etsy.com

Altered Art Charm from TickleMePinkBoutique on Etsy.com

*Etsy.com—Have you visited this site?  It’s a entire craft show right on your computer screen with everything from Scrabble tile pendants to handcrafted shoes!  There are a plethora of cool things for guys and gals alike.  Don’t believe me, guys?  Check out some of the screen printed messenger bags and t-shirts.  There’s something for everyone, and unique is the bottom line.

*Music—Every year almost everyone on my Christmas list can expect to get a CD or two.  This year there are a few artists who are hot on my list—debut artist Josh Wilson and music veteran Bebo Norman.  Besides being two of the nicest and most open guys I’ve ever interviewed, they’re also great singer/songwriters who released albums this year.  Bebo Norman’s self-titled release, Josh Wilson’s Trying to Fit the Ocean in a Cup, and Jon Foreman’s Limbs and Branches are must-haves!  But perhaps you’re looking for something a little rockier, then look no further than Seabird’s ‘Til We See the Shore or This Beautiful Republic’s sophomore album, Perceptions.   If you want to support indie artists, then get lost in the vocals of Tara Leigh Cobble’s Playing Favorites or Justin McRoberts’ latest project, Deconstruction.  And here are a few more recommendations: Narrow Stairs – Death Cab For Cutie; What If We – Brandon Heath; The Nashville EP and the Bee Sides – Relient K;  Opposite Way – Leeland;  With Arrows, With Poise – The Myriad;  anything by Caedmon’s Call, Fernando Ortega, Phil Keaggy.

Limbs and Branches - Jon Foreman

Limbs and Branches - Jon Foreman

*Sock Monkeys & socks—Is it just me or are you always running out of socks, too?  Whether getting lost in the wash, stolen by a shih tzu who shall remain nameless (Maddy!), or developing ginormous holes, pairs of socks seem to lose their mate after a month or two.  Therefore, I wear a lot of mismatched socks–argyle, plaid, and all patterns funky are worn together and I become a candidate for “What Not to Wear”.  Besides becoming a fashion mishap, there are are only things to do with those single socks.  You could make sock

monkeys, of course! You don’t even have to limit yourself to monkeys, there are patterns for all kinds of creatures online (sock monster, sock owl).  Then you can sell your creations at etsy.com.  Or you could just buy a conventional sock monkey at sockmonkey.com.

*Digital Cameras—The first time I got my hands on a digital camera, I took pictures of everything in sight, and I haven’t stopped.  My first pictures weren’t that great; then again, my camera wasn’t that great.  Yet I treasure the images of my grandmother’s last Christmas with our family.  Buy yourself a camera to capture the moments that truly matter, and then buy one for someone else.  Check around for the best prices and give yourself a gift that goes far beyond an electronic device.  I highly recommend Canon cameras, but if you want to go a little cheaper, Olympus makes great cameras as well.

*Anything handcrafted by you—Maybe you’re not into making sock monkeys, but there are tons of other projects in which to immerse yourself.  Try your hand at crocheting or knitting (you can even use a knitting loom like the Knifty Knitter) and make everyone scarves, hats, and SOCKS!  (See what a valuable gift socks can be?)  You could paint a thoughtful picture or make a collage.  If you’re not crafty, melt chocolate wafers and dip some pretzels; chocolate-covered pretzels make great gifts!  If all else fails, just make your dad an ashtray like you did in kindergarten—he’ll still think it’s cute (hopefully!)

Psych - Season 2

Psych - Season 2

*Amazon.com—Free shipping on orders over $25 and books, music, and DVD’s galore.  Every year Amazon is adding to its inventory.  I check back every day to see what’s on sale so I can nab Psych Seasons 1 & 2, Bones Seasons 1-3, books like The Inner Voice of Love by Henri Nouwen, The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey, the chick-lit novels of my fave fictionista, Christa Banister and those aforementioned CD’s at discounted prices.

*Ebay.com—Whatever you can’t find on Amazon.com, you can find on Ebay.  There are literally millions of treasures on this site from low, low prices on video games to truly bizarre items like vintage hand towels.  But whatever you’re looking for, you can probably find it on Ebay.  You can also find a bunch of stuff you weren’t looking for, too.

*Michael’s, A.C. Moore, Joann’s—Craft stores are slashing their prices, and signing up for their e-mail newsletters allows customers to get even more coupons (especially if you don’t get them in your local newspaper).  Remember that camera I told you to buy?  You can get beautiful frames for those pics on sale at any of these stores for 40-50% off during the holiday season.  Plus, custom framing is 60% off (I say buy a frame and do-it-yourself!)  Not only that, but you can find deals on Christmas décor, craft kits for the kids, and nice gifts like candle holders and scented candles for your co-workers.  Even if you aren’t crafty, craft stores are a great place to shop for gifts.

Even though Black Friday has come and gone, you can still save money and give great presents to your loved ones…and those people you don’t really like that you still have to buy for.  We know Christmas isn’t all about the presents, but if you’re like me, you sure do like to get them (hey, I’m being honest here).  Plus, great presents show cleverness and creativity that has little to do with price and everything to do with thoughtfulness.  Our mere trinkets can never compare to the gift of God’s Son wrapped in humanity, so as we give to one another let us remember the greatest gift that mankind was ever given.

Click here to see all my my favorite things!

Review:: Limbs and Branches by Jon Foreman

20 Nov

By Amy Sondova Released last month, Jon Foreman’s latest project Limbs and Branches (Organic/EMI) is a departure from the rock melodies that catapulted Foreman’s band, Switchfoot, into the spotlight.  The album is a compilation of the songs from Foreman’s Seasons EPs, which were released quarterly to coincide with each season.

The eclectic solo project offers a stripped down sound, adding a personal element to the vulnerable, highly personal songs.  Sometimes melancholy and other times reflective, Limbs and Branches is an album that cuts through the crap to produce an amazing recording encompassing true artistry.

The two new songs—“Broken From the Start” and “Over the River”—fit Foreman’s work, allowing Limbs and Branches to be as fluid a release as the Seasons EPs.  Most notably, it is what has been included from the Seasons EPs that makes this album.  “Instead of a Show” is a critique of the church’s ability to put on a show instead of fighting for the poor and downcast, while “South Bound Train” is a Song of Solomon-like love song.  Then there’s “Learning How to Die,” about a dying woman who says that life taught her how to die.  Foreman’s most personal song, “Cure For Pain” is also included on Limbs and Branches.

Limbs and Branches is a complete album that highlights the excellence of Foreman’s ability as a songwriter and capability as a solo artist.  Original, fresh, simple, yet complex, Limbs and Branches is an album that needs to be listened to over and over again to be truly appreciated.  Just put it on repeat and enjoy the ambient sound, then dig deeper into the music for a spiritual and emotional journey of your own.

Print copy of review.

Switchfoot Permeates Airwaves

19 May

Photos: Switchfoot behind-the-scenes images from the set of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. (Photos by Andy Barron.)

Rick over at Hoganson Media Relations sent this over the “wire”:

The multi-Platinum selling rock band Switchfoot was not only featured performing its new song, “This Is Home,” on NBC’s “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” last week, but the band’s song, “Dare You To Move,” was sung Tuesday by American Idol® finalist David Cook on the highly rated FOX program.

“This Is Home” was written and recorded by Switchfoot for the Walt Disney Studios and Walden Media theatrical release, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, which released Friday and became the No. 1 movie at the box office over the weekend. The song is heard over the end title credits of the film, and appears on the Original Walt Disney Records Soundtrack CD, the current No. 1-selling soundtrack at iTunes. The band’s “Tonight Show” performance can be viewed here.

“Dare You To Move” is from Switchfoot’s RIAA certified double-Platinum recording, The Beautiful Letdown, and was a top-five single at both pop and alternative radio, as well as was named one of the Top 50 Most Performed Songs of 2005 by ASCAP. David Cook’s performance of the song, as well as Switchfoot’s “This Is Home” concept video, can be seen at www.switchfoot.com.

This summer Switchfoot will be performing at festivals nationwide followed by the “Music Builds” tour that hits major markets across the country beginning Aug. 21 in Detroit, MI. The “Music Builds” tour benefits Habitat for Humanity and also features Third Day, Robert Randolph & the Family Band and Jars of Clay. Tickets are on sale through www.LiveNation.com.

With an ever-growing fan base, Switchfoot has also been actively involved in a number of humanitarian causes since its inception, including DATA, Bono’s THE ONE Campaign, Invisible Children and Habitat for Humanity. The band further founded the Switchfoot Bro-Am, a surfing and music benefit-event, and the online magazine, lowercase people, a daring new endeavor to revolutionize the way beauty, truth and humanity is viewed.

Relient K: Building on the Best Things

18 Feb


Article written in Fall 2007

By Amy Sondova Hours before their tour bus caught fire along the Pennsylvania Turnpike, Matt Thiessen and the other members of Relient K were discussing with Switchfoot ways the bands could support the non-profit Habitat For Humanity in their upcoming fall tour. “A week after the bus fire, it occurred to me that we were just talking about people that have lost homes and then I was focused on all my shirts being gone,” shares Thiessen.With only the clothes on their backs and a few personal items they managed to grab on the way out, Relient K watched helplessly as their bus turned to ash in the early morning hours.

Fortunately, much of the band’s equipment was salvaged from the wreck. The experience left the band shaken, but gave Thiessen a new outlook on what matters in life, “It was nice to give myself a reality check and realize that my concerns and my short-term problems are not a big deal. We tend to say we’re all about the big picture in life. Then when something like that happens to us, we tend to focus on ourselves.”

Relient K is focusing on other as they co-headline “The Appetite for Construction” tour with Switchfoot (which also includes special guest, Ruth). One dollar from each ticket sold will be donated to Habitat for Humanity. but the support for the organization won’t end there, “We just recorded a song that Jon [Foreman, lead singer of Switchfoot] and I wrote together. It’s called ‘Rebuild’ and it’s for Habitat. Jon’s going to release the song for free on the [Habitat] website. You can donate money to the organization when you download it.”

Thiessen has a couple of projects in mind to benefit the non-profit, including an EP he may put together after the tour. Besides raising funds for Habitat for Humanity, the bands on the “Appetite” tour also hope to raise awareness for the organization, which includes encouraging individuals to become involved in local builds.

“Every night we’re able to have some reps from Habitat come out to the shows. The whole local chapter thing really works out for a national tour,” remarks Thiessen. By highlighting the efforts of local Habitat for Humanity chapter, Thiessen hopes that community support and involvement with the organization will increase.

At the time of the interview, Thiessen and his tour mates were sitting in Springfield, IL anticipating an evening concert. Yet their thoughts are with the people of California and the fires that are raging. Hailing from San Diego, the members of Switchfoot have been directly affected by the wild fires, “I was talking to the bass player and he’s got 20 people staying at his house,” shares Thiessen. “Jon was talking about it from stage yesterday and he mentioned the San Diego fires and how Habitat can help.”

“Appetite for Construction” marks the first time that Switchfoot and Relient K have toured together since 2001, the same year Relient K released their popular second album, The Anatomy of Tongue in Cheek (Gotee). However, Thiessen says the band still nods to early songs, still performs “Sadie Hawkins Dance”, but has also matured personally and musically. “You can’t write the same songs that you wrote when you were 19 when you are 27,” he explains.

Relient K released its debut album in 1999, when Thiessen was only 19. Now a few years from the landmark age of 30, Thiessen reflects on the past seven years, “When we started, we were on the road in a van stopping at Wendy’s to eat every day. One by one, the guys got married. Everyone in the band is now married. We’ve gone through a couple of member changes.” The band’s current line-up includes Thiessen (lead vocals, guitar, piano), Matt Hoopes (guitar, vocals), Dave Douglas (drums, vocals), John Warne (bass, vocals), and Jon Schneck (guitar, banjo, bells, vocals). Sadly, December 29 marks long-time drummer Dave Douglas’ departure from the band to pursue other interests.

Even as band changes, Relient K remains a perennial favorite of teenagers and young adults, both Christian and non-Christian despite receiving criticism for their departure from Gotee Records (who the band still uses for distribution in Christian markets) to the mega-label, Capitol Records. Undeterred by public opinion, Thiessen asserts that while the band expanded beyond the Christian market, their faith should not be in question. “We try to be who we are and a lot of people are drawn to the way our band does things and how we seem happy in doing them—the fact that we are all about our faith and writing about it, standing for it, and not backing away from it. We’re definitely not throwing Bible from the stage like Stryper did back in the day; but we also don’t shy away from writing songs about what we believe.”

Serving as a great equalizer among fans of varying beliefs, the band hopes to counter the myth that all music produced by Christians is substandard. “It’s a stereotype that goes along with Christian music,” sighs Thiessen. “Once they hear that label, they think minor leagues. I’ve seen it on message boards like, ‘You know that band’s a Christian band?’ And the next post is like, ‘Oh, crap! I don’t like ‘em now.’”

“Everybody’s got their own opinion of the Christian faith and sometimes people haven’t been introduced to it in a very good ways,” continues the impassioned Thiessen. “It’s tough for them to embrace a band that expresses the faith they may have been pushed away from.” Even though they play bars and clubs as well as Christian music festivals, the band sees what they do as ministry, “But if we tell people that our ministry is to be less abrasive than other Christian band, it’s kind of a weird thing. We’re just trying to be a part of these kids’ lives with our lyrics and who we are as people.”

In fact, to make their current tour more youth group-friendly, the bands have asked all venues to refrain from serving alcohol. “Band like Switchfoot, Ruth, and Relient K—we do club shows and the Warped Tour, but we also love being involved in Christian youth culture, too.” Growing up in the church and going to youth group, Thiessen has encountered many different Christians and their public statements on faith. He says, “Personally, I wouldn’t find myself drawn to someone who just comes out of nowhere, who doesn’t know me and starts grilling me about my faith. I’m not going to embrace something I haven’t known because some stranger’s yelling at me about it.”

Instead of being a “preaching band”, Relient K tries to show that Christians in a band can do more than just sing worship songs. “I feel like we’re ambassadors molding the whole thing together and making things [between the secular and sacred] less separated. I feel like that’s kind of the point of the Christian faith—to be less separated from everything and not have this isolated us against them mentality.” Branching out of the Christian bubble has been good for the band, who released their fifth album, Five Score and Seven Years Ago (Capitol) in March. Then October saw the release of the band’s first full length Christmas album, Let It Snow Baby…Let It Reindeer (Capitol).

The reviews for the albums have been positive, often comparing Relient K’s harmonic vocals to that of the Beach Boys, a comparison that seems to have been unnoticed by Thiessen. “That’s my favorite band in the whole world!” exclaims an excited Thiessen. “To get a comparison like that, wow!” Citing the band’s landmark album, Pet Sounds, as his favorite, Thiessen says, “I can listen to that record and I don’t think we’re ripping off the Beach Boys. If people can see the influence, I feel like I did my job. You always want the things you love to come across in your music.” Thanks to Capitol Records, Thiessen has about every song the Beach Boys has ever released, including a framed vinyl of Pet Sounds in his living room—a living room that Thiessen gets to see far too little because so much of his life is spent on the road.

When discussing the band’s latest release, Let It Snow Baby…Let It Reindeer, Thiessen offers listeners a touching mental picture on what it means to come home after being on tour. Describing the song, “Merry Christmas, Here’s To Many More”, Thiessen shares, “It’s got the imagery of me coming home and all the friends I’ve ever known are at my house and having a Christmas party. It’s about being loved and accepted from your friends and family. I spend most of my life not seeing a lot of my friends. At Christmas time, I get to come home and be with the ones I love.” Not only does Thiessen find comfort at home with friends and family, but his efforts for Habitat for Humanity are helping many across the country to do the same.

For more information on Relient K, please visit them online at relientk.com. To get involved or make a donation, to Habitat for Humanity, check out habitat.org.

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