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Chimes interviews Switchfoot’s Chad Butler

Photo courtesy Switchfoot.
Photo courtesy Switchfoot.

At this point it is “old news” that the award-winning alternative Christian rock band Switchfoot will be returning to Calvin on Sept. 28. This concert, however, will be anything but familiar.

The concert, part of Switchfoot’s new tour, will begin with a full showing of the band’s new documentary, “Fading West,” after which the band will answer questions from the audience. The band will then wrap up the show by playing a full set, which will include songs from the album they will be releasing on Jan. 14, 2014.

I had the opportunity to interview Chad Butler, drummer and founding member of Switchfoot, to hear more about the concert, the band and their new album.

According to Butler, the film was intended to document the band’s “dream” world tour — performing concerts at all of their favorite surfing locations while searching for inspiration for new songs. Butler expects the film to be accessible to longtime, recent and future fans as it is not just about Switchfoot, but about music, surfing and relationships.

Simply watching the trailer reveals all these elements, especially the raw human emotion that Butler says is present throughout the film. Butler says the band was surprised at the level of difficulty of being on this particular world tour, as the band felt the pull of wanting to be at home with those they love in the midst of pursuing musical dreams.

In regards to balancing family and work, Butler said, “We have a lot of questions and not a lot of answers. How can I be a father and play in a rock band? There is no model, no blueprint for how to do this.”

The highs and the lows of being on the road have all been captured on film and the band members made a very conscious decision to not cut the personal, relational scenes.

“It will surprise people how honest the film is,” Butler said.

This honesty and vulnerability will continue throughout the concert, not only as a part of the question-and-answer session following the film but as a foundation for the live performance.

The set will be a blend of old favorites and new songs from the album “Fading West.” Butler described the old songs as “reinvented” and “stripped down,” which he says is part of the band’s effort to fulfill the desire expressed by many fans for them to do an acoustic tour.

“People have been asking us for years to do an acoustic tour and that’s a side of our music we haven’t really leaned into in public before,” Butler said.

Switchfoot has now been together for 17 years and “Fading West” will be their ninth album. Butler says this is an exciting event for the band as “most bands don’t have this kind of longevity.”

He attributes the band’s endurance to the strong friendships they have off stage, calling the other band members his brothers.

This brotherhood moved back to their home community in San Diego to open their own record label, lowercase people records, in 2009. Butler says the band has “deep roots” in San Diego and working on records through their own label “has been, for us, incredible freedom.”

About the Author

Abby Paternoster

Abby Paternoster is the Chimes opinion and editorial editor for the 2013-14 school year. She is a sophomore from Ann Arbor, Michigan studying international development and social work. She loves to travel, experience new cultures and witness the work God is doing around the world.

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