For the 13th summer in a row, San Diego feel-good rockers Switchfoot will be hosting their annual Bro-Am surfing and music festival on a beach in their hometown. Year after year, it’s been a day that the band and their local fans have looked forward to, but they’ve also enjoyed watching the charitable concert and surfing competition grow and expand into something much bigger than an event centered around a single band.
“It’s our favorite day of the year,” says drummer Chad Butler. “It’s a music festival and a surf contest raising money and awareness raising money for local charities and kids here in San Diego. It’s grown from a humble beginning to something much bigger than just Switchfoot. It’s a full San Diego community group hug. We’ve got thousands of people involved with volunteers and organizations supporting the event, and we’re looking forward to the best one ever.”
But while some may not hear the beachside influence immediately in Switchfoot’s uplifting tunes, Butler insists that surfing is truly one of the focuses at the core of everything the band does. Along with the local music scene, the surfing community in San Diego helped raise the group’s members into who they are today. At this point, the band’s Bro-Am is just one of many ways Switchfoot is looking to give back to the community that supported them so much.
“We all grew up here, and surfing is just a natural part of being a kid in San Diego,” Butler says. “I always say that surfing and music kept me out of trouble growing up. They gave me healthy creative outlets, and I’m really grateful to the community. It gave me a lot of support, and we’re just looking to give back for the kids who don’t have the same resources and support that we did.”
As important as the charity aspect is to Switchfoot, the surfing itself is one of the main draws of the Bro-Am. Although it’s not exactly a world-class competition, the ocean-based portion of the event is all about the fun and camaraderie that goes along with the sport. That same surfing bond holds Switchfoot together on and off the stage, and it may largely be the reason why the group has maintained such a consistent output of music year after year.
“I consider it a gift that I get to make music I love with people I love,” Butler says. “I think we have a pretty unique relationship as a band, and maybe it stems from our love of surfing. We hang out together offstage, and we really see it as a family and a brotherhood. The other thing is that I think we just enjoy making music year-round, so it’s not really about an album cycle or a particular project. It’s really about looking for great songs and having fun making music together.”
Along with their musical consistency, one thing that’s always separated Switchfoot from many other bands is the dedication and vigor with which their fans love them. Around the globe, the group’s legions of fans make sure that every concert feels like a hometown show and each record has a solid following. Even 14 years after they struck mainstream gold with The Beautiful Letdown’s “Meant to Live” and “Dare You to Move,” Switchfoot’s audience is still as feverishly passionate as ever before.
“It’s truly an amazing opportunity that I don’t take for granted,” Butler says. “Everyday I wake up and can’t believe that I get to make music with my life and call it a job. We have an incredible audience, and we feel like we’re really privileged that we get to tour all over the world and not really have it based on the highs and lows of numbers and success in the industry, but more about trying to make honest music and communicate with people.”