HJ: First off, I really enjoyed your new album. I can’t wait to see how the rest of your listeners like it! Can you explain the title “Hello Hurricane” a little bit?
Chad: Thanks a lot. We had an opportunity to work with Habitat for Humanity in Baton Rouge after Hurricane Katrina. We worked alongside a lot of people who inspired us, but particularly one woman who lost her leg in the storm and was learning to walk again. We hope the album embodies the idea of facing the storms and trials of life head on and sharing that same spirit.
HJ: Which song did you personally connect with the most?
Chad: I really love the song “Sing it Out” where the chorus says, “Take what is left of me and make it a melody.” It’s one of those songs that comes out of brokenness and the kind I need to hear every day.
HJ: After Jon took time off doing some solo EPs and the Fiction Family collaboration, how does it feel having everyone back together again?
Chad: We’re all really proud of him for getting these songs out and feel like Fiction Family and his solo stuff is like an extension of our own family. We’ve been really busy over the last three years putting together our own studio in San Diego and getting the new album ready, so we are really excited to get to go give life to these new songs.
HJ: As independent recording artists, what new freedoms have you found in writing and recording Hello Hurricane?
Chad: It was a little overwhelming actually. We went through this very productive stage and came out of it with a pile of over eighty songs and the challenge of how you whittle these down into one cohesive piece. We felt like we created a monster! We eventually got back to the questions of “What do we as Switchfoot want to say on this record?” and “What are the songs we want to die singing?”
HJ: What was it like working with producer Mike Elizondo on this album?
Chad: He was great. He’s a real genius of a musician, producer, and songwriter. He’s got a real hip-hop background and started out working with Dr. Dre and Eminem but has a good understanding of us as a band. He pushed us creatively, but also served as a good reminder and kept pointing us back to “What are the songs that only Switchfoot can deliver?”
HJ: There were some great drum beats on this album, especially “The Sound” and “Free.” As a drummer was it nice to get to break out even more?
Chad: Yeah, “Free” was one of those pulsing beats that was a lot of fun to play. I got to work a lot with Mike Elizondo on this one and he kept coaching me to not hold back at all. I enjoyed playing it and was glad to have his input on the track.
HJ: Any chance of getting to see some of the songs that didn’t make the Hello Hurricane cut in the future?
Chad: The last few years were so productive for us that we actually already have some songs picked out for the next album. We feel like we have been given a sort of new beginning and a new-found energy.
HJ: You always put on an amazingly energetic show. What do you guys do to get fired up for a concert and what do you look forward to most about touring?
Chad: We really are looking forward to playing the album from start to finish and hand-delivering these new songs to the fans. My favorite part is the anticipation right before we go on: we huddle up and get the set list together but you never really know what’s going to happen next. A guitar could break or a speaker catch on fire, but that’s part of the beauty of it. The music is like a living, breathing animal and you can’t really cage it and it’s exciting.
HJ: I love how your songs all seem to revolve around themes like searching for meaning, and there being something more out there. How do you try to inspire others to search for themselves?
Chad: Music is two-way communication. It is one of those things where you feel comfortable saying things you might have trouble bringing up in normal conversation. We throw the songs out and the audience sings back. They inspire us more than we inspire them a lot of the time. I’m very moved by the songs every time we play them and in the end we are all singing the same song.
HJ: What is it like being a Christian in the music industry but not be a “Christian Band?” How do you stay “in the world but not of it?”
Chad: I’ve learned that whether you are inside or outside the walls of the church, nowhere is safe. It all boils down to believing what you are doing is an honest pursuit and not trying to please one group or another. You have to be true to yourself and believe in it yourself.
HJ: How do you balance touring with having a wife and three kids?
Chad: We are really grateful for our families, and how much they believe in our songs and support us. None of us could do it without them.
HJ: I’ve seen you guys play Ventura, Encinitas, and San Luis Obispo, CA. Every time, lead singer Jon Foreman is climbing on speakers or bleachers or something really high! Do you guys worry about him much?
Chad: Haha! Yeah sometimes I’m playing and he just disappears! I love his energy and he’s everything you hope for in a frontman. He reminds me a lot of Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam in that way. It must be his past in working as a stage technician. He’s at home in the rafters!
HJ: Over thirteen years in the music industry, what would you tell your younger selves if you could go back in time?
Chad: Oh wow. I never thought we’d make it as far as we have. I definitely never dreamed we’d be able to make it a career! I like to tell younger musicians to enjoy every day and don’t just try to be the next big thing. Write songs you believe in. We played a friend’s birthday party about twelve years ago and we all reminisce and remember it as one of our favorite shows. No hype, just simple and pure. I think you need to remember and appreciate the little things.
HJ: At this stage in your career, you guys seem to be influencing a lot of younger acts. Who are some of your influences as a band?
Chad: I’m listening to new music constantly. I’ve been really enjoying the new Phoenix record as well as the new stuff from Owl City. My staples are the ones who are the classic honest songwriters, those not afraid to be real in the art they create, like Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder, and Johnny Cash.
HJ: Your annual free benefit show/surf contest, the Switchfoot Bro-Am in Encinitas is always a huge hit. Are we still on for 2010?
Chad: Yeah, actually we are going to be announcing the dates pretty soon. It looks like it will be towards the end of June. We are really psyched for it and it’s always one of our favorites. It’s also a great opportunity to help out charities like Habitat for Humanity and Stand Up For Kids who we are very proud to support.
HJ: I love how you always end your shows as a family. I’m sure there are always ups and downs, but how great is it touring and playing world tours with brothers and friends?
Chad: Oh man, it’s the best job in the world. We are so blessed to call it a job!