Switchfoot is a San Diego staple. Now in its 20th(!) year, the North County quintet just released “Where The Light Shines Through,” their 10th album together and first for Vanguard Records.
It documents a band focused on resilience. Following a year filled with struggles in both their personal and professional lives, the band united in a way even they didn’t see coming. Musically, lyrically and fundamentally - Switchfoot is asking new questions this time around.
After headlining the San Diego County Fair’s opening day in June, the band returns to their hometown for a pair of shows. On July 5, they’ll be hosting their record release show and party on a Hornblower cruise, and they’ll return to Moonlight Beach in Encinitas on July 9 for their 12th Annual Bro-Am concert/surf contest/charity event.
During a recent break on tour, DiscoverSD spoke with Switchfoot guitarist Drew Shirley about it all.
Q: I can’t believe it’s been 20 years. That’s crazy, right?
A: Yeah. Twenty years and 10th album. It’s something I never realized was going to happen. I don’t think that any of us did.
Q: What can you tell me about making “Where The Light Shines Through?”
A: Last year was a difficult year. And when you make an album, it’s almost like you have to figure out why you want to make another one. For us, we don’t make albums just because we want to make money or just put out the next one. God knows there’s not much money in making albums anyway. We had to ask ourselves, ‘why are you pursuing this,’ and ‘do you have anything to say?’ That heartbeat had to be found.
Q: And did that spill over into pushing things musically as well?
A: The single “Float,” which is out right now, is a new sound for us. But bands need to change. You have to evolve and bring your listeners on the journey that you’re on. What’s exciting to you now is different than what was exciting to you 10 years ago. We didn’t really write any guitar-driven songs this time around. It was more about the rhythm of it, the timing of it, drums and bass lines. I think we are trying to push ourselves musically.
Q: Is the message becoming more overt?
A: We’re more carefree than we’ve ever been about expressing whatever we want to express on this record. And I think that’s what people want in an artist. If artists aren’t talking about things that are important to them, who is? If you’re not pushing the envelope of conversation, who is? Music allows you to have conversations you might not have in real life. It’s very much like that for us with hope. We want to bring people hope. That’s something we feel we’ve been able to do with our songs.
Q: Do you attribute any of that to being on an indie label again?
A: We’re at a place in our career where we have our own studio in Carlsbad. And it’s completely our own space. It’s a formidable place to record, but it also has a lot of synergy. We have our day-to-day manager there, merchandise fulfillment, and we run all of our own website and promotions out of the building. Our last three records were recorded there, but we’ve really taken it to another level.
Q: Happy to be back in San Diego for a few days?
A: I really feel that sense of ownership playing here. We’re in our community and have that connection to the people and places that we’re from. We pride ourselves in San Diego. We travel all around the world and talk about our city. We’re advocates.
Scott McDonald is a writer, on-air personality and consultant with 15 years of experience in the San Diego music scene. He has interviewed hundreds of artists, from the legendary to the underground, for print and television. Follow McDonald and his melodic musings on Twitter @eight24_ or Instagram @scotteight24. Send your music musts to email@example.com.