In The Studio: Switchfoot

May 4, 2011 by Annie Zaleski

In The Studio: Switchfoot

 

EXPECT IT: September via Atlantic

To record their eighth studio album, Vice Verses, Switchfoot spent time at their San Diego studio and at Paramount Recordingin Los Angeles. Neal Avron, who’s worked with acts such as Yellowcard and Anberlin, is producing the album. Avron’s résumé made him a logical choice to guide Switchfoot’s pop-rock—which is something that vocalist/guitarist Jon Foreman says his friends have been telling him for years.

“Sean O’Donnell from Reeve Oliver, who’s now in Yellowcard, [and] Jordan [Pundik] from New Found Glory [have talked up Avron],” he explains. “They’re both just like, ‘You gotta meet him, and you’re going to work with him.’ I’m really glad it worked out for both of our schedules to make a record together, it’s been so much fun. I feel like everyone’s pushed each other in a really good way.”

Indeed, Foreman says that Vice Verses will “surprise people in a lot of ways.” Switchfoot’s ever-prolific nature—they wrote 80 songs alone for 2009’s Hello Hurricane—means that “there’s all these songs and colors that we never actually show to people,” he says. “On this album, we’re actually showing a few of those colors that we’ve never actually shown off before.” For instance, Foreman notes that the verses of the song “Selling The News” are “almost spoken-word,” while “The War Inside” de-emphasizes electric guitar in favor of driving rhythms.

The latter song is a good representation of Vice Verses’ sound. “We set out with this record to make an album that was driven by the bass and drums, the rhythm section,” he says. “A couple of my friends who heard the record said it almost sounds like dub. We all grew up listening to hip-hop records, stuff that has a lot more of the motor coming from the rhythm section rather than the electric guitar. That’s something we wanted to try out [to] see how far we could take that.”

The name of the album comes from a Switchfoot song that should be familiar to fans—Foreman’s been performing it live for years--although the band found it challenging to fit the tune’s “acoustic, singer/songwriter” instrumentation into Vice Verses’ rhythm-heavy vibe. Still, they aren’t shying away from thought-provoking material, especially lyrically. Foreman says some songs address the idea of “selling the news”—e.g., how money or “ad-driven corporations” can influence the stories you hear about or read—while “The War Inside” is “examining the darker stuff within. I’ve tended to come to the conclusion that none of the external wars can be won without first confronting whatever demons you’re fighting inside.”

Vice Versesstarts with “Afterlife” and ends with “Where I Belong.” The two songs form lyrical symmetry that Foreman finds appealing. “For me, [‘Afterlife’ is] speaking about the idea that I want to live my life right now, I’m not waiting for the afterlife,” he says. “The flipside of that coin is the idea that this world isn’t really a place I feel all that comfortable with; there’s a lot of things I still don’t understand. I’m still trying to figure out where I belong in the world. To have ‘Afterlife’ start the record and ‘Where I Belong’ close the record, it feels like it brings it full circle.” alt

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