San Diego rockers Switchfoot are releasing their 10th studio album Where the Light Shines Through. Having a career now spanning over 20 years the band deliver a new album full of well crafted anthems of hope. We caught up with singer Jon Foreman to discuss the album and find out when they might be back in Australia.

SCENEzine
How’s 2016 going for you so far?

Jon Foreman
2016 is worlds better than 2015 I don’t know what it is but I’ll take it. It’s been a really good year.

SCENEzine
What’s the feeling like before you release the new album?

Jon Foreman
Well 2015 had some darker stuff that we were wrestling with as we were making the album. It almost felt like we were making a really dark record but somewhere along the way the light broke through. The title track and the whole record comes from that. The wound is where the light shines through. For us in this process there was some healing. It feels incredible to be on the other side of that and I can’t wait to share this record with the world.

SCENEzine
It must be surreal to be releasing your 10th Switchfoot album. Did the 1996 version of Jon see this happening?

Jon Foreman
Absolutely not (laughs). That’s the funny thing about us as a band we’ve never planned for anything. We just kind of put one foot in front of the other. You just write another song, play another show. Then have a conversation and try and do it the best you can. Living well in the moment. To think that we’ve made ten albums even saying it now sounds absurd. I’m so thankful that I’ve been able to do what I love for a living.

SCENEzine
Is there a story behind Where the Light Shines Through cover art?

Jon Foreman
The record is kind of a collage of styles. In my opinion it’s got a little from the last 9 albums we’ve made. Stylistically it’s got a lot more rock and roll to it. We wanted the album cover art to be timeless. It feels like it could be from the 70’s or from now. We talked to our friend who plays bass in the band Cold War Kids. He’s an incredible artist and is the guy who came up with the cover.

Switchfoot where the light shine throughs cover art

SCENEzine
Was the album written in one session or were you writing whilst touring Fading West?

Jon Foreman
For me I’m always writing songs. A lot of these songs were written specifically for this record. We attempted to use a different process. A friend of ours whose produced a couple of records for us Mike Elizondo came up with Dr Dre. He’s done a bunch of writing sessions with him so we asked how does Dr Dre do it for Eminem. It was a totally different style than we had ever written before so we really wanted to push ourselves to try something new. A lot of the songs were written in that kind of free form setting.

SCENEzine
Is that the challenge being 10 albums in to keep it fresh and interesting?

Jon Foreman
Yeah the goal every time you write a song is to become like a child picking up the instrument for the first time. I feel like that’s the key to heaven. That’s the key to wonder, to music. The idea that you have to enter with humility like a kid just wide eyed and not feeling like you’re an expert at anything. The goal is to just feel like you’re exploring a planet for the first time for me as a songwriter that’s my goal.

SCENEzine
You released a cool video for “Float”. How did the idea come up to shoot that video?

Jon Foreman
It was pretty organic with just a couple of filmmakers that we met in Manilla. We wanted to capture exuberant joy that exists in spite of difficult situations because that’s kind of what the songs about. The video is basically us playing in one of the poorest parts of Manilla and just shutting down an intersection and it turned into a dance party. It’s us playing in the middle of an intersection with all these kids dancing bare foot it’s probably one of my favourite experiences we’ve ever has as a band, truly memorable.

SCENEzine
With the song from the album “Live it well” it seems like it has a theme of self reflection. Is it therapeutic for you singing those lyrics?

Jon Foreman
Yeah it is. For me those lyrics of hope, meaning and purpose those are the songs that we want to sing night after night. We sing these songs because we believe that hope deserves an anthem. Those are the songs that give a voice and melody to those longings. That song in particular starts out like a prayer. Take the burden from my arms, take the anchors off my lungs. Take me broken and make me one. Break the silence and make it a song. You start from a place of brokenness and you see where hope takes you.

SCENEzine
Switchfoot are known for your powerful lyrics. There’s so many comments on the internet speaking of how your lyrics have helped people through hard times. How do you approach the lyric writing process knowing you can affect so many people worldwide with your words?

Jon Foreman
You can get really overwhelmed when you think about it like that. I don’t necessarily like to be in front of people. It took me a long time to figure out what to do on stage and how to perform.
The songs are really coming from my own experience. So not in a selfish way but when I’m writing a song I push all of the rest of the voices out of my head and make it pure.
The questions that I’ve got that I’m asking god are thrown out there into the darkness. Those are the places that I start the song. I has to be my own question and my own journey that’s where it starts. Then it’s the most incredible joy to think that those questions, doubts, fears and insecurities having a song about them could help somebody else through a hard time. It’s incredible but it’s way beyond me. There’s something else going on entirely.

SCENEzine
There’s quite a striking track on the album called “Looking for America” featuring rapper Lecrae. Can you tell us about that song?

Jon Foreman
That song almost didn’t make the record. Lecrae came in at the last minute and made that song what it is. I think we’ve always wrestled with politics. That song and “American dream” and “Politicians” all these songs are wrestling with the idea that in a democracy we the people determine what is law. But at the same time with those concepts it’s really hard to rhyme words about policies and politics. But I wrestle with that stuff I read the front pages of the paper and think who are we as people and who are we as a nation. That’s kind of the underlying question for that song.

SCENEzine
Over in Australia we see the news showing so much uncertainty in American politics and so many tragedies over there. You seem like such a positive guy, how do you remain positive living in America through these times?

Jon Foreman
There’s a lot to be afraid of. A lot to doubt, fear and be cynical about. Actually I wrote a piece for the Huffington post titled what Isis want. I feel like ultimately what my job as a citizen of the United States and as a believer my job is to love. To find the commonality in the things that bring us together. Man I get discouraged, frustrated, angry and all of that. But at the end of it all I truly believe that ultimately there is a healer of souls who’s in the process of healing all of these broken and fractured pieces of humanity I’m looking at every day.

SCENEzine
Going way back in time our favourite Switchfoot track is “Dare you to move”. Do you remember how that song came about?

Jon Foreman
There’s a couple of things that inspired that song. Musically Jimmy Eat World had just came out with an album called Clarity. I loved that album and the top end. As for the lyrical content it just was where I was at the time. The song is singing to someone else but really when I wrote it I was thinking to myself I dare you to move. Because I was in a stuck place. I was frozen and discouraged. So at the time I was just struggling with identity and figuring out what I was supposed to do with my life.

SCENEzine
Lastly can leave us with a message for your Australian fans and give us a hint as to when you might be back down under?

Jon Foreman
Man I can not wait to go back to Australia. I feel like there’s a common thread between San Diego where we live and Australian cities. I hope that we are down there soon. Maybe in 2017 we can talk Relient K into touring down there that’d be a lot of fun. In the track on our new record “Live it well” the chorus is life is short I want to live it well so go out there, change the world and we will hopefully see you next year Australia.

(interview by Christian Ross)

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