We're the Dark Horses - An Interview with Switchfoot
Beliefnet discusses music and belief with members of the Grammy winning rock band.
BY: Stephen Russ
Explain what you mean about this being the most soulful record to date.
“Dark Horses” is the first single which people are hearing now. It’s charged with like unity for the underdog type of spirit and it has a lot to do with the homeless kids that we’ve been in contact with through the Center for Kids San Diego, that we give money to. There are songs like, gosh, the last song on the album, “Where I Belong” it’s called. That song brings me to tears sometimes. It’s very much a song about who we are as people and about finding our place in not just the musical world but in the actual world that we live in as men.
There’s a longing in this record which I think Switchfoot is known for. We’re known for that sense of sort of longing, asking questions that make people think. We’re very much a band that asks more questions than gives answers. Songs like “Where I Belong” and “Restless”, those two to me are very much kind of worship songs, they have like that spirit in them of worship where it’s a longing or reaching, a seeking. “Selling the News” has a lot of social commentary which is another kind of song that Switchfoot does very well. And then “The War Inside” is an honest song about struggling to live out what you believe on the inside and that has a lot to do with our soul. When I say it’s the most soulful album, I guess that’s kind of what I’m thinking. Our struggles, our personal struggles are out in the open on this record.
How involved do you get in kind of the writing process?
Well, a typical song on a record, John will write it on an acoustic guitar, bring it to the band in a rough format and say “look at this.” We’ll all listen and take thoughts in, we’ve been a band for awhile so no one is precious about their stuff and Jon isn’t precious about his writing. He’ll allow quite a bit of input. The lyrics are mostly, you know, Jon writes and Tim will jump in sometimes as an editor. Then the music is more of the full collaboration and I guess that’s where I come into play. I think I do a lot more inputting on the music; the guitar sounds, the parts, the arrangement, the how to express those words in sounds.
It feels like you’re very connected to the lyrics that Jon writes. Is that always the case?
Yeah. A lot of the songs that he writes are out of discussions that we have, stuff that we talk about on the road. If we’re in a car for a long time chances are there will be a song that comes out of that. If there’s an interview that we do sometimes with you guys, it will get us thinking about stuff and then we’ll continue a conversation. After that, a lot of our songs come from struggling with life at two in the morning and Jon will come the next day and be like, “Guys, you know, I got this song last night I wrote in my hotel room, what do you guys think?” And we’ll talk about it. So I mean chances are we’ve talked about every song as a band before it goes on the record. So yeah, I’m connected to the songs personally.