In 1996, brothers Tim and Jon Foreman and their high school friend Chad Butler formed Switchfoot, a band in San Diego. To date, the SoCal natives and their bandmates sold 5.7 million copies worldwide of their nine studio albums, racked up a string of alternative radio hit singles, performed sold-out world tours, raised $1 million to aid hometown kids, and earned a global fan base devoted to their uplifting brand of
I had a chance to chat with Tim to discuss style, music, surfing, and more.
SH: How does music and/or surf culture play a role when it comes to your individual style?
TF: I think within both music and surfing, I’m drawn to things that are simple, timeless, and pure. Uncomplicated, iconic and individual? Absolutely. But not too many notes, just the right ones.
SH: Where is the most memorable place you have traveled to play a concert? Why?
TF: I truly love traveling the globe, so that’s a really tough question to answer. We toured India last year for the first time, so that’s pretty fresh in my mind, but it’s also not the type of place that I could easily forget. India is easily one of the most dynamic places on the planet. You could say anything about India, and it would all be true, at least somewhere. And the crowds really surprised us. The whole tour sold out almost immediately, and the crowds were absolutely crazy. It reminded me of the punk rock shows I grew up with, only at a Switchfoot show!
SH: If playing music for a living didn’t happen, what do you think your job would be? Why?
TF: Always a puzzling question for me. The 20-year-old version of myself was studying computer science and physics in college, until I put school on pause and started playing music full time. I guess I could’ve ended up writing computer code, but I think I would’ve missed out on exploring my more creative side. But because what I do now is so abstract, I do really find myself often drawn toward things like math, carpentry, and other projects that have a definite start and end point. I also like kids and teaching, so maybe I’d be a math teacher and talk about how I used to be in a rock band back in high school.
SH: Switchfoot does a lot to give back, why is this so important to you as an individual?
TF: I think it’s important (and challenging) to try to pull all of the disparate parts of myself into one true identity. And I think that’s a struggle for all of us. For me, that means being the same person on stage as I am when I’m alone, or at home with my family. It also means living out what we sing about. We play music because we love it, but we also play music because we want to see things change… within ourselves and in the world around us. These are songs of hope and new beginnings, and we’re always trying to get better at living that out.
SH: What music are you into right now?
TF: I’m drawn to music that feels honest. That can sound like a lot of different things, but the common thread is that it feels authentic to that artist, not contrived. Blake Mills is near the top of that list right now. Cage The Elephant, Delta Spirit, Børns, and a handful of other newcomers, too. I think there’s a lot of great music being made right now.
“We play music because we want to see things change… within ourselves and in the world around us.”
SH: What are your three favorite books? Why?
TF: Mere Christianity written by the Atheist-turned-Christian C.S. Lewis – this elegantly simple theology from one of the most razor-sharp minds of the 1900’s has helped me find words for why I believe what I believe.
The Lord of the Rings (all of them!) – it awakens the adventurer within me, and the idea that good is worth fighting for, however small or hobbit-like I may feel.
Godel, Escher, Bach – a fascinating exploration of the human mind through the groundbreaking works of a mathematician, an artist, and a scientist.
SH: Outside of music and surfing, what else do you do as a hobby?
TF: I’m deeply drawn to nature, and the ocean will forever fascinate me. Most of our planet is water, and so I think it’s easy to forget how little we actually know about the ocean and the life it contains. For me, living near the ocean is a thrill that I will never take for granted… it almost feels like I’m living next to outer space. It’s vast, mysterious, and mostly undiscovered. So, when the waves are flat, I usually go free-diving. Sometimes I bring a spear to catch some fish, sometimes I dive for lobster, but most of the time I just go to explore.
SH: Where’s the best wave you have ever ridden?
TF: Probably Restaurants or Cloudbreak on Tavarua. Uluwatu in Bali would be a close second.
SH: If you were stranded on a deserted island and found a backpack washed up on the beach, what 3 items would you hope to find inside? Why?
TF: A diving mask, lighter fluid, and a ukulele. (Note: The island has no cell service!) 🙂