Being part of a successful band for twenty-four years is a rare achievement, but Chad Butler from Switchfoot has lived that reality. There have been many highlights over the years, and while he admits that the experience has been a gift, it’s also a wild ride.
The release of the band’s album, ‘Fading West’, back in 2014 is one of Chad’s favourite memories. They were able to travel all over the world playing music and surfing. “That was a real highlight for me,” says Chad.
Switchfoot has just recorded their 12th album together, something that they never dreamed possible. Chad says he still can’t believe they get to do this every day. It doesn’t happen very often that a band not only lasts this long together but manages to stay friends. Their goal has always been to remain, friends, long after the band is done, and Chad believes that it’s surfing together that has helped to keep them connected outside of playing music.
Their new album, ‘Interrobang’ was recorded at the world-famous Sound City Studio where some of the greatest bands of all time have worked. “That studio is legendary”, says Chad. “People like Nirvana, Fleetwood Mac and Johnny Cash have recorded there. It was so nice to be up in LA and using different gear, different instruments, trying to reinvent our sound for this album. After 11 albums together, we didn’t want to do the same thing again.”
Switchfoot was also recently invited to play at the Grammy Museum, which is a rare honour for a band these days. It’s a very small theatre that seats about 300 people and the band got to play and talk about the process of making the album. One thing that came up in that conversation was just how different they are, with Tony their producer being a very outspoken and aggressive atheist.
“Mending and melding that into a creative team was a challenge. And yet it was a beautiful thing, because even with our different worldviews and political views, in the process of making an album we were able to come together and be united through music,” says Chad. “That sort of captures the theme of the album, which is to say we can disagree with someone and still stay in a relationship with them and even make something beautiful together.”
Chad believes that it’s so important in this day and age with all the disagreements around current issues, that we don’t just stop the conversation about God. People need to see us continuing to lean in and see that the relationship is more important than the argument. “We were able to document the whole process of making ‘Interrobang’ and there are some really fascinating moments in the conversations within the studio and with our producer Tony. A beautiful friendship came out of that and the art itself is the final product of the album as a body of work.”
Like all of us, Chad has been affected by the Covid situation, and the band has found it challenging and difficult and have missed playing concerts. But they have also enjoyed some great family time together, more than they’ve ever had in their entire careers.
“We started doing live streams as a band every month, which has been a lot of fun to come together and connect people from around the world,” says Chad. “That’s been amazing. So there are some silver linings I’m thankful for this year as well. We managed to raise a bunch of money and awareness for youth charities here in our hometown and across the country, and that’s a beautiful thing too.”