I recently had the opportunity to talk with two of the members of the stirringly-spiritual art rock band Switchfoot. In case you haven’t seen the interview, you can check it out here. Interviewing artists is by far my favorite part of this job, but it isn’t often that interviews are as much fun as this one was. The guys are truly gracious, and very glad to be where they are, doing what they are doing. Contrary to what you might think, that is not always the case with musicians. It’s even more astonishing when you consider what Switchfoot has accomplished.
I first caught wind of the band when they released Learning to Breathe, but at the time was not as enamored with them as I would become. Despite it being a fantastic album, I had a hard time separating it from other Christian music at the time. Still, it seemed that the band had a message that stretched beyond that of its peers. One that recognized what it meant to be a person of faith, but to still live in the world and be a part of it. It was a message that went beyond that grandstanding and, dare I say, proselytizing of other Christian music.
As a result, it wasn’t a shock to me when the band caught mainstream success on a secular label. The Beautiful Letdown took the band to new places, new venues, and to a brand new audience. Then, and since, the band has never changed it’s message; one of hope, love, and unwaivering devotion to their own spirituality. As a band, they have manged to co-exist between the world of Christian music and secular music without distilling what they had to say. Since then, other bands have made similar efforts, but it is hard to imagine that happening without Switchfoot.
To me, they are one of the rare bands who are “doing it right.” Making Christian music for a Christian audience is fine – don’t get me wrong. But, the influence ends there. It is safe. If the idea of music is to put out a message that everyone can be influenced by, why only make music for one specific set of people? I doubt that people become Christians just because of their music, but I have no doubt that many, many people are positively influenced by what they are doing. I also have no doubt that Christians have no trouble feeling spiritually connected and encouraged by their music. That, to me, seems like the best of both worlds. It is what they do as artists, and it’s had a profound influence on music in the last decade.
Through all of that, these guys are as humble and friendly as the day that they started. I can’t help but be impressed, and enthused, by it. Way to go guys.