Switchfoot were originally called Chin Up. The band changed their name to Switchfoot after they were signed by Re:think Records in 1996. Switchfoot are all keen surfers and derive their name from a surfing stance: to surf "switch" means to ride with your opposite foot forward, which is far more difficult.
Switchfoot released their debut studio album, The Legend of Chin, on June 17, 1997. They would go on to release two more albums with independent record label, Re:think Records: New Way to Be Human and Learning to Breath.
Switchfoot's music was featured throughout the 2002 romance film, A Walk To Remember. In one scene, leading actress, Mandy Moore, sang their song, "Only Hope," while original tracks "You," "Learning to Breathe" and "Dare You to Move" were also featured in the movie. This exposure lead to record label interest, with Switchfoot going on to sign with Columbia Records/SonyBMG in 2002.
The Beautiful Letdown, Switchfoot's major label debut album, was released in February 2003. The album saw Switchfoot divert from lo-fi indie in order to explore a heavier rock sound, complete with electronica influences.
Switchfoot bassist, Tim Foreman, attracted the headlines in 2005, after he spoke out against the copy protection Sony had installed on the band's album, Nothing Is Sound. This copy protection prevented fans from importing CD tracks to their PC programs such as iTunes. Foreman provided fans with a workaround on Switchfoot's message board, although the post was soon deleted by Sony.
In January 2005, Switchfoot traveled to South Africa. While there, the band witnessed the devastating impact poverty and disease had on the region. The trip prompted Switchfoot to launch lowercase people, a charitable organization which distributes a quarterly arts and social issues magazine, and sells independently designed apparel. All profits raised by the organization go towards helping Third World communities.
Ever since 2005, Switchfoot have held the annual Bro-Am Surf Contest and Concert in San Diego, in order to raise money for children's charities in the area.
In August 2007, Switchfoot parted ways with Columbia Records and had formed their own independent label, lowercase people records.
On September 1, 2009, Switchfoot announced they would be hiding copies of their single, "Mess of Me," around the world. The band asked fans who found the copies to make their own disks to subsequently hide for others. The first copy of "Mess of Me" was found hidden at Moonlight Beach in San Diego under a palm tree. According to Switchfoot, the single ultimately managed to spread as far as Australia, Hawaii, Russia and Guatemala.
On February 13, 2011, Switchfoot's seventh studio album, Hello Hurricane, was awarded the Grammy Award for Best Rock or Rap Gospel Album.
Switchfoot are often labeled "Christian Rock." The band are distributed to Christian markets, feature at Christian music festivals, and are regular recipients of DOVE Awards. However, Switchfoot themselves have disputed the label, arguing their music is for everyone. Jon Foreman told Boston.com: "For us, it's a faith, not a genre. We've always been very open and honest about where the songs are coming from. For us, these songs are for everyone. Calling us 'Christian rock' tends to be a box that closes some people out and excludes them. And that's not what we're trying to do. Music has always opened my mind - and that's what we want."
Switchfoot frontman, Jon Foreman, often contributes articles to The Huffington Post
. In our interview with Foreman
, he revealed that these articles often go on to inspire Switchfoot songs: "I've really enjoyed those essays for the Huffington Post... In fact, the essay called 'Dark Horses,' it's a bit I wrote for the Huffington Post, actually inspired the song, because the essay came first. And I thought, well, this is actually applicable to a lot of the kids that I meet on the streets of San Diego, the homeless kids, the kids that people are writing off, saying that it's hopeless and there's no chance. And yet there is a chance. There is."
Jon Foreman told us that when the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami hit, he was in Maui in Hawaii - a state which was under alert at the time. Foreman said: "During that particular quake I had taken some time off and was hitchhiking around Maui with my best friend from college and sleeping on the beach. It was our first night on the island and that's when we heard these warnings. And we ignored the first few, and then started to take it more seriously. But I will never forget where I was when that earthquake and tsunami happened... there were a lot of beaches that were very effected, harbors that were very effected. Fortunately, where I was it wasn't as destructive. Certainly not as destructive as it was overseas in Japan."