The Echo interviews Switchfoot guitarist about recent tour, new album
By Alex Mellen | Echo
Guitarist Drew Shirley has been a member of the alternative rock band Switchfoot since 2005. The band released their ninth album, “Fading West,” this January, and their accompanying film of the same title has been showing at concerts since September. Shirley is currently traveling with Switchfoot on their spring tour.
Echo: How are things going on your spring tour? How has road life been?
Drew: Super awesome. A big rock show. No, it’s fun, it’s great, we’ve been touring for a long time, and this is one of those tours . . . it’s so exciting when you have a new record out and you can tour it because (of) new songs; it breathes a new energy into the live show. We have . . . lasers. Got me real excited and feeling like a kid again.
Echo: It’s been in the news recently that protesters have been coming to some of your concerts. Have you ever experienced this before?
Drew: No, how weird, right? Switchfoot . . . It’s something that, I gotta say, stirred a lot of good conversations, because, you know, when that happens you start really asking some deeper questions like “Why are they here?”. . . So we all looked into it, and Jon (Foreman, Switchfoot’s founder and lead vocalist) went out there and tried to talk to them.
We have been open that we’re believers in our band. And sometimes that means that you take fire from people who think Christians are close-minded and ridiculous, and sometimes that means you take fire from other Christians who think that you’re not Christian enough. It’s one of those fine lines that you just have to decide for yourself. For me, I just thought it was kind of exciting.
Echo: What’s going on in your head when you’re at a concert with the protestors outside? Does that affect how you perform at all?
Drew: No, I mean, Jon had some really good things to say you can look up on our website, and really I just feel for the people in the crowds who might have a weaker conscience or they might just get weirded out by it. I feel for those people more than (for) myself feeling weird about it, honestly.
Echo: You’ve played at some other college stops on this tour. How does that venue differ from other places?
Drew: (W)e play colleges quite often. It’s . . . pretty awesome, I think. (The) college crowd seems to really get us. Our songs have some depth and . . . I think of our audience as a thinking audience, and people who actually are reading the lyrics, sort of thinking about stuff along with us. And college audiences are always that way, and it’s always a great fit with the energy, too.
Echo: You’re a newer member to Switchfoot (the band formed in 1996; Shirley joined in 2005). What is it like in the band?
Drew: Awesome. It’s like the brothers I never knew I had, really. We (treat) each other like brothers. We kind of operate like brothers. In the band, of course, it feels like brothers, so that sort of carries over. They’ll fight, then they’ll make up, and then they’ll have their quirks, and we’ll all kind of watch it and see like, “What are they going to do?” And then there’s an atmosphere where it’s like, “Well, we’re together.” We’re always going to come back to that basis of relationship.
Echo: Which song in “Fading West” speaks to you most?
Drew: I really like the song “The World You Want” right now. That song, the lyrics are just really, really great and prophetic. I think that “the world you want is just the world you want, you’re making it” is a statement that puts all of us as people on the same playing field, where we are enjoying the world around us, and we all equally have the responsibility of that.
That song was sort of inspired by our trip to South Africa. We saw a people there that were not rich and not powerful and wealthy and super influential and stars. But they were influencing their community in ways that we had never seen before. We saw such a family atmosphere, and in the kids we saw such a hope.
Echo: I heard you recorded a lot of songs for your last album “Vice Verses” that didn’t make it into the album. Are there any sort of EPs or bonus material that we could be looking forward to from Switchfoot?
Drew: Yeah, I think we are looking this Christmas to put something out with extra songs and bonus features. Something which, along with the movie, like a companion, would follow that (the movie ) . . . or maybe songs that are in the movie but aren’t on the album. There’s quite a few songs that are actually in the movie that we didn’t end up putting on the (record). But Switchfoot has a vault that’s like crazy big right now that’s all unreleased music. Some day soon, we gotta get some more of it out.
Switchfoot will be playing at Indiana Wesleyan University’s auditorium tonight, with doors opening at 7 p.m. and the concert beginning at 8. Tickets are $10 in advance from the IWU box office or iTickets.com, and they will be $12 at the door.
Thumbnail photograph courtesy of thecoastnews.com.