Journal, Studio

Stories Behind The Songs:
Where The Light Shines Through

August 2, 2016 — Jon Foreman



Ironically, this album of light was born from one of the darkest times I’ve even been through. But rather than running from the pain, I wanted to meet it face to face. And somehow these scars began to turn into songs. What are my struggles? What are my fears? Where do I find God? Or maybe more aptly put- where does God find me? It’s all in the songs. And instead of becoming the dark introspective record I thought it would be, this album became a place of joy and solace for us. A resurrection of faith and hopes and dreams that I had left for dead a long time ago.

To me, “Where the Light Shines Through” feels like a homecoming- a return to an intentionality I haven’t felt since “The Beautiful Letdown.” First off, there’s the obvious producer choice: we hadn’t worked with John Fields for ten years. We crossed paths by chance, (is that the right word?) at a show in Minneapolis last year. Even though it had been years since we had last seen each other, it felt like no time had passed at all. We began chatting, and I told him, “You’ve got to come down and hang out with us at our studio in San Diego.” He said, “I’m only coming down there if we’re recording music together.” I said, โ€œDeal.โ€ And the rest was just scheduling.

In almost every way, WTLST is the direct opposite of our previous album “Fading West.” For “Fading West” we were trying to create music that would match the visual content of the movie, searching for new inspiration off the coast of Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Indonesia. In contrast, WTLST is an attempt to dig deep into our own soil. Instead of looking for inspiration in foreign oceans, this new album is searching to find our own song buried deep within our own wounds. After travelling around the world to create our last project, this album felt like a welcome return to our San Diego roots

I still can’t believe that we’ve recorded our 10th Album as a band. 10 albums!? It’s unreal. It’s humbling. Its crazy. It’s remarkable. Even more remarkable to me is the passion that we still share for the music, for throwing our full weight into the creation process. I’ve seen a lot of bands come and go but I’m still convinced that being Switchfoot is still the best job in the world! Playing these songs night after night, attempting to express the hopes and fears, the joys and pains of being human. What an honor! To call this my occupation, my means of making a living? Maybe obsession might be more on point. After hundreds of songs, we’re still searching for a better way to say it. Looking for the words, different combinations of the same notes. Attempting to express timeless, transcendent truth in a new way.

But when I think of what I’m the most thankful for, it’s not the songs or record sales or any of that. Above all I’m most thankful for the brotherhood that has been created over the course of the past nine albums. Sure we fight and disagree form time to time, but we fight like brothers. And underneath the tension is a genuine friendship that will outlast the disagreement. Tension and release, dissonance and harmony- the band that has become our brotherhood is not unlike the record itself- an honest attempt to turn the struggle into a song

And that struggle is epitomized most by the title track. The lyrics certainly speak directly of the broken prayers of honesty and humility, of embracing the scars and wounds that unite our broken human tribe. But even the recording process of this song is a story of redemption. Early on in the recording process, we tracked a “demo” of this song. Demo’s are meant to serve as a rough sketch of what the song could be- they are imperfect, quick, unrehearsed and loose but they inform you in choosing which songs to record properly for the album.

Early one morning, just before we completed the mixing on this record Tim came into the room with a bold, (and unwelcome) opinion. “I think the demo is better.” That’s not a popular statement. “Are you saying we should scrap the day and a half’s worth of work that we did to re-record the drums, the bass, the guitars, the vocals, the keys, and everything else? Are you saying that the first time we ever played the song, with all of its idiosyncrasies and mistakes was a better version?” Yup. That was exactly what he was saying.

And he was right. That first demo captured the sentiment of the song and even the sentiment of the record better than the version that was more properly recorded. So what you hear on the record, however, is not the song that we tracked for the album- instead you hear the demo. Five guys in a room playing a song that they barely know- with joy, abandonment, and mistakes included.

Your scars shine like dark stars.
Your wounds are where the light shines through.
So let’s go there to that place where we’re singing these broken prayers.

Don’t hide your wounds.
The wound is where the light shines through.


Categories: Journal, Studio

  • Andy

    Wow, I already loved this song. Would have never guessed it was the demo, but now I like it even more. Maybe that’s because it’s “five guys in a room playing a song that they barely know- with joy, abandonment, and mistakes included.” This song is where the light shines through!

  • Priscila Erlich

    I never imagined that it was the demo, this song is perfect and genuinely expresses the truth, faith and love !! Thanks Jon for sharing the stories of the songs, it edifies our lives as well as the whole album is special and blessed!

  • David Lim

    I would never have guessed that the track was a demo – you guys are amazing. Does anyone know what Jon is singing during the end of the bridge? (It’s the scars that make a man / So maybe ???????)

  • Roy L Bonario Jr

    Switchfoot’s music goes to my very soul. I’m a 70’s arena Rock lover, as well as a Paul McCartney/Beatles fanatic, I was turned on to Switchfoot by my sister about 5 years ago, The Beautiful Let Down was the first one I heard, and from there I went back and bought everything they have recorded, have seen them 3 times in concert, including at Warehouse Live in Houston where I was 15 feet away from the stage and got to help Jon walk the rail. They are about my favorite group today and the new Album is a MASTERPIECE!!! Thank you Switchfoot for giving me this gift, it is a true light in a very dark world we live in…

  • Helen

    You sound like that when you play a rough demo?!?! Oh man. You blow my mind so many times over but that’s amazing!
    And I’m so thankful for these ten records and all these years, and that you’re still enjoying it all ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Dee Jordan

    Bros! I feel you sooo much on this song! My Struggle is My Strength and I have survived suicidal thoughts and bipolar disorder with frequent visits from ghosts and demons! My transformation took place when I surrendered all at the prayer tent at Soulfest 2015, i returned to rock out a year later at your show last night with my fiance, one year free of medications and out of psych units with a new career and family! I am a recent published author on amazon and a Life Coach with dreams of running my own womens ministry and completing bible college! Check out my website ladies and gentlemen and read the first pages of my book! Never underestimate the power of sincere prayer and that dreams really do come true. Stay aligned with truth, prayer, LOVE and the Word of GOD! Shine through <3

  • gloria musiime

    I am enjoying this album immensely… especially i won’t let you and the day i found God??
    Thankful for all the music that you bless us with…

  • Joanna Chouhan

    Praise be to God !! Amazing as it sounds…..God’s plans are way greater, higher, better and different than ours in….when we put our trust on Him, we can be sure to expect the unexpected in a very positive way. Love Swithfoot….you people are doing a very good job…seriously!!

  • Emily

    Wow! that was the demo? it sounds amazing!! I love you guys so much and your new album has helped me so much. much love to you guys <3


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