Switchfoot kicks off east coast tour at Penn College

Pennsylvania College of Technology’s Bardo Gym will be the starting place for the band, Switchfoot’s 2014 tour, supporting their newly released album and feature film, both entitled “Fading West.”

Chad Butler, drummer for Switchfoot, expressed the band’s excitement about touring with the fresh music, and their new documentary, an infusion of surf and music – the band’s two loves.

“We are so excited for this tour to get going, for a chance to play the new songs. It’s our first feature film. The songs on the album are closely tied to the places we went to film, like Australia and New Zealand. We were just looking for inspiration all around the world,” Butler said in a recent phone interview with the Sun-Gazette. “For the tour, we are planning some really creative ways of tying the music to the visuals of the film.”

For the recording of the album, “Fading West,” Butler said the band was ready to try something new. “For our ninth record, we wanted to get out of the usual pattern of recording in a studio and put ourselves out into new environments.”

The filming of this venture was something that Switchfoot as a band wanted to present to fans as well. “It’s actually a very personal look at our band,” Butler said. “And also a little uncomfortable sometimes. There are vulnerable moments. But it connects on different levels; it’s a human story. Whether you’re a surfer or a musician, you can relate to it.”

Although there are some unexpected moments that were caught on film, Butler said the band was ready to show audiences different sides. “There was a little hesitation when things go wrong. And the decision to include that footage in the film was difficult, but our music has always been about honesty and wrestling with the questions of life,” Butler said.

Switchfoot – which started with Butler and brothers, Jon and Tim Foreman, later adding Jerome Fontamillas and Drew Shirley – formed out of the group’s love for surfing and music. And they’ve always been a band about giving back, especially to the youth.

They have been involved in many different organizations, including Habitat for Humanity, Invisible Children and To Write Love on Her Arms. In 2005, they decided begin to begin Bro-Am, a day-long event including live music, a surfing contest and charity auction to help raise funds for homeless youth.

“This July we’ll celebrate our 10th annual Bro-Am. We’ve raised about a million dollars in the last decade,” Butler said. “We don’t take ourselves too seriously, but we don’t take the music seriously. The platform we’ve been given and the spotlight for worthwhile causes and organizations is amazing.”

For their performance at Bardo Gym next Thursday, older fans of Switchfoot can expect songs from their earlier albums, including “Learning to Breathe” and “The Beautiful Letdown,” with a twist.

“We’ll be re-inventing some of the older songs. We’ve got some surprises up our sleeves. I think as a band, and this being our ninth record, we’re very thankful that we still enjoy playing songs from our old records,” Butler said. “But without giving too much away, get ready for lasers.”

For ticket information, visit www.pct.edu/studentactivites/concert.