“Hello Hurricane acknowledges the storms that tear through our lives,” states Switchfoot singer and songwriter Jon Foreman. “This album is an attempt to respond to those storms with an element of hope, trying to understand what it means to be hopeful in a world that keeps on spinning.”
With Hello Hurricane, Switchfoot is set to thrive in 2009 with a newfound independence: a new home studio HQ, a new label, and a return-to-roots creativity and sense of purpose. After ten non-stop years of working as the world’s most humble multi-million selling rock band, the hard-charging North County San Diego-based quintet saw recording sessions for their aptly-titled seventh full-length album as a unique chance to reassess, reflect and rededicate.
“We built our own studio so we wouldn’t be paying and playing by the hour,” says Foreman of their self-styled Studio of the Foot home. The band tracked more than 80 songs and allowed themselves to get lost in the music again and get back to basics. “That’s why we see this album as a new beginning of sorts,” continues Foreman, citing the inspiration that likewise moved bandmate/brother Tim Foreman (bass), Chad Butler (drums), Jerome Fontamillas (keyboards), and Drew Shirley (guitar). “For us it was a feeling of true freedom.”
“The average work day would begin with us meeting on the beach to do some surfing,” recalls Butler with a smile.
“Then we’d head to our studio to write and record. It’s the dream, really.”
Hello Hurricane was recorded by the band and produced by renowned hip hop bassist and producer Mike Elizondo, known for his work with the likes of Dr. Dre, Eminem, 50 Cent, Pink, Maroon 5 and Fiona Apple. “I first met Mike through Sean Watkins (of Nickel Creek) and we had a jam session together in LA,” remembers Foreman. “We felt like old friends right away.” The result is Hello Hurricane, which follows the band’s 2006 studio album Oh! Gravity and last year’s era-ending Columbia Records compilation, The Best Yet.
“It was exciting to work with someone from Mike’s background and to take some different approaches to rock music,” adds Butler. “He definitely helped us push the music in some new directions.”
“Absolutely,” nods Foreman in agreement. “We saw a chance to reinvent ourselves with Mike. Good songs can be played in many different ways and still add up. For me, that meant tearing things apart a little bit and, as a result, Hello Hurricane has some of the most aggressive tones we’ve ever had when it comes to guitar and drums.”
The album’s driving and urgent “Mess of Me” – with its personal declaration of independence, as Foreman passionately announces to the world that “I wanna spend the rest of my life alive!” – powerfully demonstrates the edge behind the new tones. Not content to settle into a single groove, the band moves from the high flying album opener, “Needle and Haystack Life,” to songs like the stirring “Always” and the sweetly soaring “Your Love is a Song,” which – by its very nature – cries out for many waving hands illuminated by a blue cell phone glow.
The anthemic, riff fueled “This is the Sound,” with its utterly timely generational themes, finds Foreman spitting, “This is the sound from the discontented mouths of a haunted nation!” The “Hello Hurricane” title track is even more poignant when it comes to the band’s perspective on themselves and the world around them. “I’m not talking about ‘Rock You Like a Hurricane,’” says Foreman with a wink before turning reflective. “There is a real despair that I see when we travel around the country… and it’s music that people turn to in a time like this. I wanted to reach out to those people with song.”
“For the last decade or so, we’ve been a rock band that really thrives off that interaction with the crowd,” states Butler. “Our motivation for playing music in the first place was a desire to connect with people in a deeper way.” Out of this connection the band’s renowned live show has developed an incredibly loyal following both here in the states and abroad.
Summer ‘09 also found the band proudly hosting the fifth annual Switchfoot Bro-Am, to benefit local chapters of StandUp For Kids, a national volunteer outreach nonprofit founded in San Diego. Dedicated to making a difference in the lives of at-risk and homeless kids, the Bro-Am is highlighted by a surf contest, charity auction, and festival concert featuring sets by Switchfoot and a host of other area artists. “We’re probably the five most fortunate people on the planet to be able to do what we do everyday,” adds drummer Chad Butler. “The Bro-Am really sums up our connection with San Diego, the surfing and music communities coming together to make a difference.”
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