Sunday, January 2, 2011


Originally called Chin Up, the alternative pop/rock outfit Switchfoot was formed in 1996 in San Diego, CA. Singer/guitarist Jonathan Foreman, bassist Tim Foreman, and drummer Chad Butler had only played several shows before adopting the Switchfoot moniker (taken from a surfing term) and partnering themselves with Charlie Peacock, an influential label executive who sought to promote Christian music to mainstream pop markets. After signing with Peacock's own label (re:think) in 1997, Switchfoot recorded and released their debut LP, The Legend of Chin.

New Way to Be Human followed two years later and found an audience amongst Christian listeners, with the title track garnering a 1999 Dove Award for Song of the Year. Keyboardist Jerome Fontamillas joined up for 2000's Learning to Breathe, which found Switchfoot taking more steps toward mainstream modern rock. Breathe would prove to be a transition album for the group, earning a Grammy nomination for "Best Rock Gospel Album" (an award that had more to do with the band's label affiliation than the album's specific sound) and selling over 500,000 copies, thus achieving gold status. Its success, coupled with the band's presence on the hit soundtrack to the 2002 film A Walk to Remember, set Switchfoot up for a healthy major-label run. The Beautiful Letdown, Switchfoot's debut album for Columbia Records, was issued during the spring of 2003. It represented the quartet's full evolution toward a more accessible mainstream sound and eventually earned double platinum sales, due in no small part to the success of "Dare You to Move" and "Meant to Live." Supported by frequent tour dates, the album hit number one on Billboard's Christian Albums chart and peaked at 16 on the Top 200. Switchfoot then returned in September 2005 with their fifth album, Nothing Is Sound, which marked the band's first Top Ten entry on the Top 200 (the album debuted at number three). Nothing Is Sound went gold, sparked another radio hit in "Stars," and was the first Switchfoot recording to include the work of additional guitarist Andrew Shirley (formerly of the contemporary Christian group All Together Separate), who had been a touring member of Switchfoot since 2003. Wasting little time, the band was soon back in the studio with veteran U.K. producer Tim Palmer (U2, the Cure, etc.) to begin work on their sixth album, one that found the guys broadening their musical scope; Oh! Gravity then appeared at the tail-end of 2006. While the band set to work on a proper follow-up in 2008, Columbia Records issued a greatest-hits compilation entitled The Best Yet. Hello Hurricane arrived the following year.