2023 marks the 20th anniversary of Switchfoot’s seminal album, The Beautiful Letdown. The triple-platinum record included the chart topping hits, Meant To Live & Dare You To Move and changed the lives of the band members and a generation the world over.
The underdog success story of The Beautiful Letdown exemplifies Switchfoot’s iconoclast, grassroots approach, defying the odds of major labels and mainstream media. When the band began the recording process, they believed that there was a real possibility this would be the last album they’d ever make.
“We’d watched most of our favorite bands dissolve after 3-4 albums, and although there had been some exciting moments the year prior, we knew there was a very real chance this could be it for us. So we approached it like it WAS our last record. What are the last songs we want to sing? Let’s make that album” says bassist Tim Foreman.
Teaming up with now legendary producer John Fields (Brandie Carlile, Jimmy Eat World, Ben Rector), Switchfoot dove headlong into the recording process.
Lead singer and guitar player, Jon Foreman remenices, “Even 20 years later this part of my life still feels like a strange dream.
At this point in our journey, we were at a crossroads as a band. There were no examples of anyone who was doing what we wanted to do, so we were essentially paving our own road; knowing it could be a dead end.
Until I met John Fields, I’d never encountered anyone with a musical appetite that matched my own. Tracking was a glorious blur. We were sleeping on the studio floor or on the floor of our manager’s house. Meals were cheap and fast. We were pouring all of our free time into the songs- every day starting early and ending late. Unlike a lot of records, this was recorded, mixed and mastered in just a few weeks.”
When the album was finished, one of the largest record labels in the world had signed on to release it and Switchfoot seemed poised for a wonderful new chapter. After years and albums of trying to make ends meet, the band was gearing up for a bigger audience than ever before.
And that’s when their dream took a turn, “We flew out to play our first big show in New York City. The plan was to win over the east coast contingent of our new record company, and celebrate the album we were about to release.
Instead, the band walked off stage to a much different reception. “Turns out, the head of the record company hated us. Halfway through our performance of Dare You To Move, he walked out of the room, yelling ‘Why do you keep signing this $#!&’ And boom, just like that, we were dropped before the album even came out.”
Over the next few days, the band faced their fears and doubts in a new way. “Our rejection in New York brought up some big questions: Do we believe in these tunes? Are these songs still worthwhile? With or without the Columbia logo on the back?”
Ultimately, we came to the conclusion that the record label’s opinion didn’t matter. We believed in these songs. And no record company logo or opinion could take that away. We decided to do what we had always done: singing in spite of whatever opposition we might face, paving our own road, and finding a way forward.”
Fast forward a year, a few hundred shows & 2 million sold copies of the album later, the band was living in an entirely new world. Even the head of Sony records was a reluctant supporter.
Drummer Chad Butler recalls, “There were so many unbelievable moments… Our songs were on the radio all over the world?! Our videos were on MTV, VH1, and all the late night shows wanted us to play!? It was a surreal crazy time for this young band from San Diego…
Looking back, I realize the album was aptly titled – The Beautiful Letdown embraced a human story equally full of highs and lows.”
Celebrating the 20th anniversary of The Beautiful Letdown, the band realizes just how important that rollercoaster was. “The journey of the beautiful letdown reminded us why we started playing music in the first place. It united us and gave us a deep appreciation for each other and the people that showed up to sing with us. We’re so excited to celebrate the release of The Beautiful Letdown (Our Version) and the worldwide journey that we’ve been on ever since. We can’t wait to take these songs on the road and play the album front to back for the first time ever!”
Switchfoot has sold over 10 million copies worldwide of their thirteen studio albums (including their 2003 triple-platinum breakthrough The Beautiful Letdown and 2009’s Grammy Award-winning Hello Hurricane), racked up a string of Alternative radio hit singles, and performed sold-out tours with over 5 million concert tickets sold in over 40 countries around the world. Through their unique blend of emotionally intelligent and uplifting brand of alternative rock, Switchfoot has earned a devoted and loyal global fan base.
Switchfoot has raised over $2 million dollars to aid kids in their community through their Bro-Am Foundation.
Switchfoot consists of Jon Foreman (vocals, guitar), Tim Foreman (bass), Jerome Fontamillas (keys, guitar) and Chad Butler (drums).