Switchfoot: Electrical Storm

Originally published in Guitar World, March 2010

Switchfoot's Jon Foreman and Drew Shirley discuss the group's latest long-player, Hello Hurricane.

When Switchfoot began recording their new album, Hello Hurricane (Atlantic), they had no idea what they were doing. Not a clue. Even so, the San Diego quintet emerged with what many are calling their strongest effort yet.

“Looking back at it, I’m glad we didn’t have a plan,” says the band’s singer and guitarist, Jon Foreman. “Usually, we have a very rigid idea of what an album is supposed to look and feel like before we even start it. This time, we let the songs guide us. Turned out to be the right way to go.”

However, of the 80 or so songs Switchfoot tracked, Foreman admits to one overarching goal: “We wanted to capture our live sound. Some of our past records have been a bit restrained. This time, we said, ‘Let’s give the people a taste of what it’s like to hear the band in concert.’ ”

As evidenced by the hard-charging first single, “Mess of Me,” and riff-o-ramas like “Needle and Haystack Life” and “The Sound (John M. Perkins’ Blues),” they succeeded wildly. Foreman says the use of vintage amps played a big part in nailing a more aggressive sonic quality. “We got away from the huge new models with dialed-in sounds. You’ve got to make an amp do the talking, not the other way around.”

For lead guitarist Drew Shirley, being able to spend late nights in Switchfoot’s brand-new home studio allowed him to “get inside the songs and make sure there wasn’t one wasted note. As every musician knows, when you’re watching the clock in somebody else’s $1,000-a-day studio, it can stifle your creativity. On Hello Hurricane, I was able to work on my own until two in the morning and just let go. It was so liberating. Nobody was giving me the ‘hurry up’ vibe. I think that’s why the guitars sound awesome.”

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