Switchfoot manages to find light amid dark time

Switchfoot manages to find light amid dark time
Switchfoot band members from left: Tim Foreman, Chad Butler, Drew Shirley, Jerome Fontamillas and Jon Foreman are releasing their 10th album, “Where The Light Shines Through,” July 8. They perform at their annual BroAm event at Moonlight Beach July 9. Photo by Robbie Jeffers

ENCINITAS — Tim Foreman is still enrolled at UCSD — but his attendance record there won’t be earning him any accolades — he’s been absent now for about 20 years.

Instead of double majoring in computer science and physics, Foreman took his bass guitar, songwriting abilities and with his brother Jon and other friends, formed the band Switchfoot, which has since gone on to earn several accolades of their own.

Debuting in 1997, the band is marking their 20th anniversary, and on Friday the release of their 10th album, “Where The Light Shines Through.”

And did he ever think 20 years later that the band would still be around let alone be as successful as they are?

In a word, “No,” Foreman said. A notion marked by the fact that a seat in college (a backup in case the band thing didn’t work out) remains open for him.

Way back when the band signed their first record deal it was a take it one-day-at-a-time approach, Foreman explained.

“We never assumed making a living playing Rock ‘n’ Roll was really something that was possible — it was never a goal. We just played music.”

Yet to pinpoint the thing Switchfoot is most proud of in its now 20-year history, it wouldn’t be winning a Grammy or selling millions of albums. For Foreman it would be the annual BroAm event, which kicks off Saturday at Moonlight Beach.

“Which is funny,” he said. “Because it’s not something that we can even take credit for. It’s really the community we’re proud of.”

But what wasn’t so funny was the previous year for the band members both personally and professionally.

Foreman said they all did a lot of soul searching.

And at the end of that search was their new album.

“It’s a very personal album,” Foreman said. “The songs really kind of surprised us, songs of hope rising out of this difficult season, whether it was the stuff we were going through or the stuff we were seeing on the news — not a lot of hope in the headlines. But the songs that started to emerge out of that feeling were surprisingly hopeful and kind of pulled us out of that funk that we were in.”

That sense of hope, which is carried throughout the album’s 12 tracks, is what has followed the band over the years.

“Our overall theme as a band has been hope,” he said. “What we’ve tried to do is make honest music and for us, we are honestly hopeful. There’s no other type of Switchfoot that we know how to be.”

Still, with the new album just out, the band is already asking what’s next.

Foreman said they’re always writing new songs — not with the ulterior motives of putting another album out, or a hit song for the radio.

They’re always writing, because life is always happening.

“We write because life is happening around us and we’re responding to it and these songs help us wrestle with the world and figure it out,” he said. “Just because the album’s finished doesn’t mean we’ve stopped writing.”

And they also haven’t stopped playing for good causes.

The BroAm has raised more than $1 million for San Diego charities since it began in 2005.

It’s also a big part of what helped keep the band together, Foreman said.

“Music is a great catalyst for change and I do believe that, but I think it’s also really rewarding to combine singing about change with actual tangible change that you can touch,” he said.

Whether it’s through BroAm or the other organizations they’ve worked with, it’s been one of their motivating factors to continue singing about hope and change.

“Where The Light Shines Through,” is available for purchase online at Amazon.com and iTunes.

A full schedule of concerts and information for the BroAm is available at broam.org.

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