Tag Archives: switchfoot

Take 5 with Runaway City’s Josh Edwards

17 Aug

Runaway City is one of my fave new bands of 2010.  Influenced by some of my fave artists like Switchfoot, Daughtry, and needtobreathe, how could I not love these North Carolina rockers, whose debut album, Armored Heart is getting some serious play on my iPod?  Lead singer, Josh Edwards, who is a second degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do (don’t mess with him!), took the time to “Take 5” with Backseat Writer, even though he would have much rather been cudding with his beautiful wife, Keisha, and adorable baby, Layla.  But he’s OK with it because after answering these questions, he had to run off to band rehearsal.

The name of your band, “Runaway City” comes from the Old Testament concept of a city of refuge.  Please elaborate on how you chose this band for your band.

As far as choosing the name of our band, it was a grueling process. We had thought and thought about a name to finally come up with Runaway City.  You are already aware of the story and concept of the cities of refuge, so to further elaborate, we simply want to be a refuge for the listener–in any way we can.  Everyone who listens to our music, or meets us in person, or hangs out with us has a past.  We all need a place to go for escape, some encouragement, or even some kind of guidance.  We want to be that place.  We want to be the city of refuge for anyone who needs it.

Let’s talk about the first single from your album, “Fade.” What inspired you to write this song?

Our guitarist Tyler is the one who wrote “Fade”.  Without a doubt, this is a love song.  It speaks of a focused love.  What I mean by this is that if everything around me was taken away, none of it would matter but people that I treasure.  It is a song written to let those people know that they matter more than anything else in this world.  This is a great picture of how God feels about us!  I think it is amazing how God can love us all with such a focused love.

So my fave song on the album is “Longing.” Tell me about it.

“Longing” also happens to be my favorite song on the album as well–simply because it is the most directly connected to me.  I wrote this song at a point when I personally felt inadequate of the love that my wife gave to me.  I am very human and make mistakes.  Sometimes I would just think “How can she love me through this?” or “Why would she love me despite how I fail?”.  But she did, and she does.  This is a great picture of Christ and His unconditional love for us.  So many people won’t come to God because they feel inadequate.  They need to know that God loves them no matter what!

Runaway City is about being authentic with listeners about its corporate and individual struggles.  What is something with which you struggle? (And how can we pray for you?)

I think that I, along with the rest of the guys in the band, struggle most with wanting to be the best at every aspect of our lives.  What I mean by this is that I am a husband, father, singer, friend, co-worker, teacher, and all of these roles require me to be an example to someone.  In some cases, an example to maybe even the world (hopefully).  It is extremely hard to be the best at all of these, all of the time.  Runaway City, as well as I personally would love for you guys to pray for us that we will be everything we are called to be.

Now for a lighter question—what was the last thing that made you laugh so hard you almost cried? (Or maybe you did.  I like men who admit they cry.)

Honestly, Jace, our lead guitarist, makes me laugh until I almost cry often.  We seem to have the same sense of humor and laugh so hard at the dumbest things.  For example, we have this ongoing joke about a completely fabricated person.  We talk about his life, family, friends, and even what he has been up to.  Everything about it is ludicrous, but for some reason we laugh so hard.

Amy’s Favorite Things, Vol. 2

9 Dec

Since Oprah dropped the ball on her favorite things this year, it looks like I’m going to have to take up the slack (incidentally, I’ll also be taking over for Oprah when the daytime talk show queen turns in her microphone).  I’m sorry I won’t be able to send Backseat Writers a crap load of cool stuff to celebrate “Amy’s Favorite Things” (AFT) but you do have a chance to win an AFT Prize Pack, which includes an Oh Deer Super Dooper Pocket Pooper Keychain, a stuffed cow I got for free at Chick-Fil-A, an unopened package of Ice Breakers Ice Cube Gum I found on my desk, a beautiful star ornament created with my very own hands, and a personalized Christmas card with a holiday picture of my dogs inside (actually, anyone can get one of those, just e-mail me your mailing address).  Who needs fancy schmancy items like digital cameras and expensive make-up when you get can win stuff like this?

Without further ado, I present you with my favorite things of 2009.

AMAZON’S 50 ALBUMS FOR $5 (OR LESS)

Every month the world’s largest online retailer picks 50 albums that cost only $5 to download (but they picked 100 for December).  And every-so-often they slash prices even more—to a mere $2.99.  Over the year, I’ve been able to snag the latest from Sherwood, Owl City, Mat Kearny, and others.  Right now (12/09), you can get Green River Ordinance’s Out of My Hands (read interview), Switchfoot’s Hello Hurricane,  Relient K’s Let it Snow Baby…Let It Reindeer, The Almost’s Monster Monster, Beach Boys’ Pet SoundsThe Turtles’ Greatest Hits and The Elf Soundtrack –all for only $5.

TWITTER

Yes, people, I’ve joined the Twitter revolution!  It’s oh-so-fun to exchange silly banter—all in 140 characters or less. (Incidentally, that gushing statement about Twitter is only 119 characters!)

KRISTIN CHENOWETH

OK, while Kristin Chenoweth isn’t a thing; she’s a person and I’ve written about her before (“Snooked on Pushing Daisies“), but there’s more Cheno love to share.  Last spring, Kristin released her authobiography, A Little Bit Wicked, this fall she starred on one of my favorite shows, “Glee” (also performing a rousing duet of “Alone” with Matthew Morrison aka “Mr. Shue”) and she just made a Lifetime movie, The Twelve Men of Christmas.  Plus,  she’s the voice of Rosetta the fairy in the Tinkerbell movies.  There there’s Maddie’s Corner, an organization started by Kristin to help people and animals.  Yes, Kristin has a dog named Maddie and I have a dog named Maddy (Madalyne)!  Who knew? Suffice to say, Kristin Chenoweth is still smokin’ hot and undoubtedly one of my favorite things, er, people.

HOLIDAY ANIMAL CANDY POOPERS

I’ve known about these things for a while, but they never fail to crack me up.  Maybe I’m just immature, but a reindeer with a cranky face pooping brown candies out of his butt is really funny to me.  Plus, the candy-filled key chains and toys have all sorts of hilarious names like Poo-lar Bear (The Sub-Zero Poopin’ Hero), Baa Humbug Sheep (The Grumpy Party Pooper), and Oh Deer! (The Super Duper Reindeer Pooper). Because I love these things so much, I’m offering one of these little guys in my Prize Pack.  It’s a keychain version of Oh Deer for Pooper lovers on the go.

“GLEE”

Is this show great or what?  Singing, dancing, high school drama, a hot Spanish teacher—it’s all the stuff that I wish I had in high school (minus the drama—no one wants that!)  Plus, the cast on “Glee” can really sing.  I’m especially impressed with Lea Michele who plays young starlet Rachel Berry (my fave character) and Matthew Morrison’s vocals have really grown on me (especially during his “Alone” duet with Kristin Chenoweth as well as his mash-up of “Young Girl” and “Don’t Stand So Close to Me”).  Jane Lynch is also notable as the gym teacher everyone loves to hate—Sue Slyvester.  And that’s how Amy sees it.  Hmm, sounds better when Sue says it.

TINYPIC.COM

What a storage site!  Not only can TinyPic be integrated into your social networks like Twitter and Facebook, but it also offers dandy photo editing tools to touch up digital photographs in a hurry.  No need to use Photoshop for minor edits and TinyPic offers a ton of storage, as well as printing options (which I have yet to use).

HOODED SCARVES WITH POCKETS

Hooded scarves with pockets (HSwP) are a fashion must (guys, feel free to tune out).  It’s a hat!  It’s a scarf!  And it’s got pockets for storage!  I’ve only seen two of these out in the great wide yonder—there was a beautiful cream-colored HSwP at Target for around $17, but the knitting was shabby and coming undone—pass!  I found another HSwP online at Bath & Body Works of all places—a pink, gray, and white patterned beauty that cost $20 on clearance; it has since disappeared.  Sadly, the HSwP pictured on the left is $200, and even though it has faux fur and button—that is still way too pricey.  Even this amazing brown Fair Isle knit is $50, but I can’t figure out how it looks when worn.  If any of you know of any hot deals on HSwP (buttons preferred), let me know!

Well, that wraps up another year of Amy’s Favorite Things !  Now I suppose you want to know how to win AFT Prize Pack.  It is *so* easy.  All you have to do is leave a comment below telling me (and the world) about one of your favorite things!  If you Tweet or write a Facebook status note about the contest, you get an extra entry (one for Twitter, and one for Facebook for a grand total of three entries!)  Hint: if you follow @amysondova or @backseatwriter on Twitter, you can RT (reTweet) what I say.  I only wish I was eligible to win this contest.  The contest ends on 12/16 at 12 PM EST. Oh, and don’t forget to re-visit all my favorite things from last year!

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.

Review:: X: Christmas – Tooth and Nail Records

3 Dec

By Moriah Coxen Anytime you ask a rock ‘n’ roll band to cover a classic Christmas song, you’re going to get something interesting.  Tooth and Nail Records’ (T&N) X: Christmas compilation, a follow-up to Happy Christmas, is no exception.

Creativity:: 10 This album does not disappoint with The Almost (Aaron Gillespie) covering “The Little Drummer Boy” and Seventh Day Slumber reminding us to listen with “Do You Hear What I Hear?” August Burns Red brings joy to any hardcore fan with “Carol of the Bells” (an instrumental track), which includes the most kick-drum beats in Christmas music history. Hawk Nelson’s “Gloria” is a clever combination, using the classic chorus tune but in the verses tells the story the lead singer wanting “the girl of my dreams” for Christmas.

Original Songs:: 9 Switchfoot’s “Evergreen” appears in T&N’s Christmas compilation (originally recorded for the Happy Christmas album in 1998). KJ-52 forks over a Floridian’s view of winter-y things in “It’s Christmas Timewith talks of going to the beach on Christmas Eve—amusing. However, I found the chipmunks-on-helium-sounding background vocals a bit annoying. “His Favorite Christmas Storyis a touching tale of a man retelling the story of his favorite Christmas moment The album is complete with “Christmas Shoes,” the sappiest song on the record.

Classic Covers:: 8— Crunching guitars kicks off this musical adventure through the holidays with Thousand Foot Krutch’s “Jingle Bell Rock,” putting you in the right mood for what’s about to go down. Anberlin’s “Christmas, Baby Please Come Home” is filled with passion and yearning, while FM Static’s rendition of “Christmas Shoes brings a nice pop-punk feel to what could be the most tear-jerking Christmas song of all time. Jars of Clay does a beautiful rendition of “Love Came Down at Christmas,” and Sanctus Real delivers a softer, epic “Silent Night.” David Crowder Band’s “Feliz Navidad” provides an interesting switch that seems awkward at first but then warms you like a good bean burrito. Cameron Jaymes of The Jaymes Reunion’s smooth vocals confirm that “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” can be done in a “new old fashioned way”. Project 86 gives a memorable rendition of “This Time of the Year” with eerie sounds, while Corey Crowder’s “Angels We Have Heard On Highand Kutless’s “Mary Did You Know?” seem lackluster in the creativity department.

Musical Score:: 9— Anything with the Tooth and Nail logo will be edgy–no doubt. So along with Christmas albums of the past, X: Christmas brings shredding guitars merrily together with choir bells and double-kick drums with the occasional seasonal sounding harmony.

Overall Holly Jolliness:: 7 —The overall Holly Jolliness is a 7 because I was more interested in how the covers were delivered and how they were different than thinking about my family and stocking stuffers.

Total:: 44— Keep your eyes peeled for this album as the paper is flying Christmas morning—it’s probably going to be there.

Print copy of review.

To read our review guide lines, go here.

You can find X: Christmas and the rest of our great “12 Days of Christmas Music” reviewed albums in Backseat Writer’s online store, Drive-By Shopping, under the “12 Days of Christmas Music” category!

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.

Take 5 with Ruth

2 Nov

By Amy Sondova When it comes to answering questions, Ruth’s frontman, Dustin Ruth, is a thorough guy.  Instead of offering pithy answers, Dustin instead chose to respond to this “Take 5” with thoughtful responses.  Having just released their sophomore album, Anorak, on Oct. 28, Ruth (which is not only Dustin’s last name but an acronym for “Return Us To Him”), the band is eager to share their songs on their current tour with DecembeRadio.

However, Ruth is no stranger to the road having toured with Switchfoot and Relient K on the “Appetite for Construction” tour last fall (read BSW’s interview with Relient K’s Matt Thiessen) as well as the ever-popular Emery.  Read on to learn more about the term “Anorak,” documentaries on Trekkies, and so much more from the fingertips of Dustin Ruth, who was ever-so-prompt in answering his “Take 5” questions.

When coming up with a title for the album, how did you come upon a British slang term like “anorak”?  (Where did you learn British slang?  What are some other British slang terms you think our readers need to know?  Sorry, for the 3-in1 question, but it had to be asked).

Well I was hanging out with a good friend of mine Chris Martin, he’s in a pretty good band you may have heard of “Coldplay”. Check them out. Anyway he and I were talking and I asked….just kidding. 

We were hanging out with Emery on their bus one night in Portland before they played a show and Josh Head put on Trekkies 1 and 2. This is a documentary movie about people labeled as “trekkies” who are extremely into the sci-fi series “Star Trek”. They go to these conventions and dress up like their favorite character and speak the language of that character, ect.  In Trekkies 2, the documentary expands from the U.S. to Trekkies around the world. While in the U.K. they ask an old man on the street outside a Trekkie convention what he thinks of the costumed people entering the building. He responded, “Anoraks, all of them”.

When I heard him refer to them as Anoraks, it stuck in my head and I looked the term up online. I found on Wikipedia that it was a British slang word for someone who’s a nerd and really excited and into a topic most people don’t care about (Amy’s note: click here to read Wikipedia’s entry about Ruth). That’s where it all began. We confirmed this while touring in the U.K. a few months ago and got a real education on where the term got its slang use. People there were very excited that we knew what it meant.

Why for our record? Well we’ve found that it can be challenging to be accepted by a lot of people out there. We travel a lot and no matter where you are, on a plane, train, or at a restaurant, when people ask if you are a band and you say “Why, yes” they want to talk. When they find out what your primary topic of music is about they become extremely uninterested. On the flip side, there have been songs that we didn’t record on the first album because we were told they were too honest and that people in the “Christian industry” would not accept them. So with this record we didn’t care what anyone thought and recorded what we felt was right.

As for other British slang, well I’m not cool enough to know any. I just was watching Trekkies 2.

Not only is the title for the album unique, so was its crafting, which was primarily took place at rest stops and hotels—not your usual realm of inspiration.  How did the album come together in these unlikely places?

I think it had to happened in these places because we were on the road solid that year. When the year was over we ended up playing over 180 shows. So there wasn’t much time to write at home. I also only write alone and so this was very challenging. I often times would be in the van while the guys slept in the hotel or were watching Spinal Tap or Wayne’s World multiple times without me. It was tough.

But I will say when we got home finally, we were able to get the gear out and jam on all the new stuff together and the guys did a brilliant job of writing parts and developing the record. I think it really paid off to be able to get back to what we love doing the most as fast as possible.

Why is the song, “Nothing to Hide,” one of your favorites?  (I think it’s because guys are suckers for love songs).

Wow. Well, I am a sucker for love, but this song is very complex. I highly debated ever explaining it to anyone and may not. In the end it makes perfect sense, I promise. Honestly, I believe its one of the best songs I’ve ever been blessed to have written. We spent a lot of time as a band molding it to what it is. I spent a lot of time just thinking about vocal parts, harmonies, counter melodies and really felt excellent when it was finished. The lyrics go deep for me and I know in my heart they go deep for everyone.

While I should probably be asking about “Back to the Five” (feel free to throw some thoughts in about that song), I want to ask you about the story behind one of my fave songs on the album, “Miracle Photo.”  Would you mind sharing about it?

“Back to the Five”: A song about being homesick and realizing time is still turning at home and your not there to enjoy it. That’s tough for me. I really love Washington and the West Coast. In the midst of everything we miss on the road we know we are doing what were supposed to right now. That’s what this song is about.

“Miracle Photo”: A song about the miracles God has done for this band. He has parted the Red Sea for this band. I think the biggest inspiration for this song was the Switchfoot and Relient K tour. There was no logistical reason for us to be on that tour and there were hundreds of more qualified bands on the list before us. Somehow a burned copy of Secondhand Dreaming made it full circle with those two bands and they picked us. There are a lot of miracles outside that but it was pretty cool to watch happen.

Usually this is the place where I ask an absurd question, but we sort of tackled that in Question #1, so I’ll ask this instead:  This album’s about watching dreams come true and watching other dreams fall apart.  A lot of times when dreams don’t’ come true, people become angry with God.  How have you handled the pain of dreams that don’t come to pass and how has it impacted your relationship with God?

Great question. I deal with that everyday. It’s hard to be working hard for what sometimes seems like nothing. At home friends ask what I’ve been up to. My favorite response is “still working hard to get down that dead end road”. They always laugh because they know at some point I’m going to have to get a real job and pay some bills. But they know I’ll never put down music.

As for me and God, I am so blessed to know Him. I can’t believe He even cares about me. There are times I get mad at Him. Those are the times my true ugliness shows. He’s my best friend and He takes care of me and I just really want to know Him better. I can’t wait for the next song to teach me something about Him. All I can say is that He is the one that copes with me, and He is the one that holds me close. If I had to do that myself, I would be long gone.

Print copy of Take 5.

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.

Thousand Foot Krutch: Igniting Our Flames

23 Feb

By Amy Sondova It all started seven years ago with the release of their debut album, Set It Off. Now Canadian rockers Thousand Foot Krutch have released their fourth album, The Flame in All of Us (Tooth & Nail) to critical acclaim. “We tried to delve deeper into what we love about music,” explains lead singer Trevor McNevan from his home in Brentwood, TN. “We’re definitely covering new ground. I feel like we redefined what we did in the past, but we’re also reinventing ourselves, too.” Pulling from his eclectic taste in music, McNevan says that as a songwriter, he strives to challenge himself and his band mates, childhood friend Joel Bruyere (bass) and Steve Augustine (drummer), to try something new with each album. McNevan admits change can be risky. “Sometimes you develop a new fan base in doing something new and sometimes you lose people who have been there.” Yet that’s okay with McNevan, as long as he’s being true to what he’s called to do musically.

From their beginnings as a high school band in Toronto, McNevan, Bruyere, and Augustine never imagined the success they would find in both Christian and secular music markets, especially with their previous hits “Rawkfist” and “Move”. Having songs featured on MTV Radio, NFL and Major League Baseball broadcasts, and even the T.V. show, “Smallville”, Thousand Foot Krutch has been able to venture outside the traditional Christian music scene to share the stage with fellow faith rockers Switchfoot, as well as Korn and The Roots. God’s been opening doors for the band that allow for different platforms in both markets says McNevan, who then adds, “We really have a heart for people outside of the church. It’s wicked to be able to play shows with bands on both sides. We all love each other for who we are and respect each other for what we do.”

While some critics in Christian circles may judge the band for its bold steps into the mainstream market, McNevan is unconcerned by their critique. “It’s our responsibility to do what God called us to do. If people want to judge that, then they can. People seem to be a bit more snobby when it comes to music.” Those same people don’t call a Christian who paints a Christian painter, McNevan says, yet they put that label on bands all the time. He goes on to explain, “We’ve always made music for everyone. We don’t think of it like this song is for the church and this song is not. Obviously our faith is important to us. That’s who we are as people, that’s our lifestyle, and that’s going to come out in everything that we do.”

Reaching across the divide isn’t always easy, but Thousand Foot Krutch seeks commonality, not division with others, which is evident in their latest album. The Flame In All of Us is a call for humanity to come together to discover the unifying threads that make us human.

The album title is pulled from the pages of Donald Miller’s popular book Blue Like Jazz according to McNevan who elaborates saying, “No matter what we believe, where we grew up, what our nationalities are—all those things that divide us—at some point in our lives well all have the questions—Who am I? Why am I here?”

It’s exactly those questions that Thousand Foot Krutch seeks to explore in the album’s title track, “The Flame In All of Us”, an upbeat melodic song. The album ranges in style from rock to alternative to the heavier sound for which the band is known. Perhaps the most poignant aspect of the album as a whole is McNevan’s ability to rail through struggles while always pointing to hope. “We don’t always have great days. We sometimes have really bad days,” he humbly admits. “To be this shiny, happy Christian all the time—that’s not me and that’s not a lot of people I know. I feel being realistic about it is more honest.”

McNevan’s honesty about his personal struggles show up in a lot of songs. From wrestling with how God wants us to live in “Favorite Disease” to “My Own Enemy”, where McNevan laughs at the irony of his own shortcomings. It’s the song, “Wish You Well,” that McNevan finds most personal. Without going into too much detail, McNevan explains the meaning of the song, “It’s about being close to someone and then the hurt and pain you feel as you watch that person close to you take a 180 and head in another direction.” With a frustrated sigh, he admits, “As a friend you can’t do much but try to be there and pray for them.”

Another one of McNevan’s favorites is called “The Safest Place”, a song about the classic struggle that man has with himself. “Some of us lead double lives and we have secrets we keep even from our closest friends. Those temptations or addictions make you feel like you’re leading a double life some of the time. I feel like it’s something we’ve never talked about as a band before on a record,” says McNevan. “The song is from the perspective of talking to the problem—to the actual addiction. ‘I’m not going to be the safest place for you to hide anymore. I’m making the decision to shut that door and not let you hide here.’”

Addiction is also the theme behind the dark ballad, “Broken Wing”. Spoken from the lives of those close to him who have wrestled with addiction, McNevan shares, “When you’re going through an addiction, or anything really, you feel like you’re the only one going through it, like the rest of the world stops and your problem is the biggest. It’s tough to be in that spot or be next to someone that’s in that spot. They feel busted and you feel busted.”

McNevan sings to Julia, a fictional character meant to give those who struggle with addictions a face and a name. The words of “Broken Wing” ring true for those who have ever felt beaten up by life, “You’re a broken wing, not a broken thing.”

“Falls Apart” along with “What Do We Know” are the first two singles from the album released to radio. “Falls Apart” is a heavier rock song about how things fall to pieces when individuals choose to walk away from God to seek their own paths. “What Do We Know” is an anthem of hope for a world rocked by recent heart-breaking tragedies. “The song started out with someone waking up the morning of 9/11. It also specifically speaks about Katrina, Virginia Tech, and the major catastrophes that have taken place the past few years. They’ve made us stand back, no matter what we believe, and say, ‘Wow, we’re not in control here’.” shares McNevan.

The heart of the song is the admission that no one has all the answers, no matter how we divide ourselves. Yet when something tragic happens, the invisibility complex melts as we seek comfort in one another. McNevan adds, “It’s tough when you’re reading newspapers on the road or watching the news and you realize how these things are done to cause fear and to keep us afraid. That’s not what we need to focus on—on being afraid. We need to focus on what we can do—what can we do? We can stick together and support each other and love each other.”

Thousand Foot Krutch is leading the charge to discover what makes us human by igniting the flame we all share. McNevan says that’s a charge he wants to lead by living as an example to others. “We’re always talking and telling people what we think. I think we need to shut up a little more and let our lives do the talking.” By building trust with others and forming relationships, Thousand Foot Krutch believes we can fan the flame in others as they do the same for us.

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