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Rockers Collective Soul, Switchfoot do it their way

Collective Soul, Switchfoot slated to visit Honeywell

Wheat Williams

Whatzup Features Writer

Published July 13, 2022

Two multiplatinum, world-renowned rock bands that have been expressing the soul and spirit of our times for nearly 25 years are joining together for a three-month co-headlining tour.

Atlanta’s Collective Soul and San Diego’s Switchfoot are back with new music and stories to tell when they visit Wabash’s Honeywell Center on Sunday, July 24.

I’ll skip the usual rundown of each band’s millions of albums sold, industry awards, tours all over the world since the ’90s for Collective Soul and the 2000s for Switchfoot, and their hit singles you still hear everywhere. These two bands have a pent-up urgency to get their new music in front of their legions of fans across the U.S., so let’s go. 

Mutual respect

Collective Soul, with their cheerfully wacky fashion sense, are brothers Ed Roland on lead vocal and guitar and Dean Roland on guitar, with Will Turpin on bass, Johnny Rabb on drums, and Jesse Triplett on lead guitar.

The enviably athletic Switchfoot are brothers Jon Foreman on lead vocal and guitar and Tim Foreman on bass, with Chad Butler on drums and Jerome Fontamillas on keyboards and guitar, joined by new guitarist Boaz Roberts.

In an interview with Whatzup,  Collective Soul’s Dean Roland and Switchfoot’s Butler explained how this co-headlining tour got on the road.

“We’ve been buddies with those guys for many years,” Roland said. “As you’re touring, you cross paths here and there. Maybe you played a festival together, and you catch up really quick. We knew that we had both wanted to do it at some point, but the schedules didn’t line up. After the pandemic was going on, we were like, let’s plan, let’s get something going. It just seemed like the right time. 

“My brother Ed and I, we’re huge fans of those Switchfoot guys. They’re so authentic. It’s really that simple. And that’s the best, when it happens like that. There’s not really agents and managers involved where you’re doing some crazy negotiations and whatnot. It’s like, ‘Let’s just go.’ ”

For Switchfoot, the decision to team up was just as easy.

“We played with Collective Soul a couple times over the years,” Butler said. “I’m definitely a fan of their songwriting, and as musicians, they’re all incredible players. It just seems like a logical fit. I think our fan bases overlap. When the idea was pitched to us, we thought, ‘Let’s hit the road.’ ”

Getting new music out

The path each band took to get to this place, however, was quite different.

Collective Soul is preparing for the Aug. 12 release of their 11th studio album Vibrating. That album is  really the second volume of what they thought of as a double-album with Blood, which was recorded in 2018 and 2019, produced by Ed Roland and the band in their hometown. 

“We were doing all this at the same time,” Dean Roland said. “One record (Blood) was going to be more orchestration and melodic type stuff. The other (Vibrating,) was more of  a rock record. When you find that thing, you don’t let it go. You stay in that moment as long as you can. And that creative bliss.” 

Blood was released June 21, 2019.

Then, left in what must have seemed like a vacuum, the band had to wait years to get the music in front of their fans. 

“The cyclical nature of what we do is, you want to be able to play the songs live,” Roland said. “Obviously, when we play shows, we’re going to play all the songs that fans of Collective Soul want to hear. But we want to get out there and play the new stuff that we’re excited about, and hopefully people connect with. The treat is to be able to go and put it on display, and play it for folks.”

Different recording approach

Switchfoot stepped into a different stance, yet they still create the way they always have, starting as competitive surfers in high school in San Diego. To this very day, Butler said, “We surf together almost every day when we’re home, and then go to the studio to work on music.”

Their 2021 album, Interrobang, has a story that’s different than most of the “pandemic albums” you’ve heard. 

For years, the band was accustomed to recording in their own studio in San Diego, with their familiar method that starts with the band members recording their parts separately, then augmenting those tracks with overdubbed layers of atmospheric sampling and looping. But 2020 found them taking a more “Collective Soul” approach. 

Despite the uncertainty of the lockdown year, they went to Los Angeles to work with producer Tony Berg. 

“It was a wild, wild season to be recording, because of all the COVID protocols: testing every day,” Butler said. “But I think that tension really reflected in the songs and in the music. I think a lot of good records have come out this year, because of what happened the previous years. If that’s the silver lining, I’ll take it.

“We were really stretched musically by the producer,” he added. “He encouraged us to do a lot of pre-production where we were all playing in the same room. It forced us to work out the parts and sort of vibe off of each other in a live setting. It felt more like we are playing on stage. Tony’s whole approach was that nothing should be stock, whether it’s the chord changes or rhythmically. Always looking for ways to surprise the listener and, wow, there’s some twists and turns in the songs.”

Shaking off labels

At the beginning of their careers, Switchfoot found themselves, famously, marketed as Contemporary Christian, even though they always wanted a broader audience.

“I think we’ve always called ourselves a rock band, and said that Christianity is a faith, not a genre,” Butler said. 

“As artists, you’re going to be reflecting your worldview in the songs. I think that’s an interesting and wonderful perspective to be writing songs from.” 

Butler seems happy that genres and labels mean less today.

“You know how record companies would categorize bands, but I don’t think people see it like that anymore,” he said. “Now that we are in this streaming culture, in playlists, I think it’s great that it’s so diverse. You’re able to have the songs judged based on their content and their merit and not by record company categories.”

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