If I won a Grammy Award, I think I'd display it prominently. Not Jon Foreman of Switchfoot, the Christian rock band that won music's top prize earlier this year for its last album, Hello Hurricane. When we asked Foreman where he'd put his statuette, he had to think about it … until finally revealing that it was "in a box in the corner."
Foreman says that he and his bandmates are still making music for the same reasons they started making it in the first place: They simply love it.
That's evident on their new album, Vice Verses (lowercase people/Atlantic), which releases today. We recently chatted with Foreman about that Grammy, the new record, songwriting, and what "making a living" really means.
This is the first time we've talked since you guys won a Grammy. Congratulations!
Thank you. It was really interesting. Winning the Grammy kind of cemented everything that I really thought—the idea that there's no award that can be greater than the reward of simply playing music night after night. It's an honor to win it, but hearing somebody say that a song changed their life is much more encouraging.
So where is your Grammy now?
It's in the studio somewhere in a box, I think.
It's in a box? Not up on a shelf prominently displayed?
No. I mean, we're thankful for it. But what do you do? I can almost give it to my parents and leave it at their house probably better than putting it somewhere around mine.
I read your essay in the Huff Post. When did the definition of "making a living" change from something financial to something less tangible for you?
I don't know that it's ever changed for me. Being in Switchfoot, we never expected actually to make money for music. That was never the point. And so for me, to be able to do what I love with my life is the definition of making a living. Existence has to be more than about a bank account and a full stomach.
So even as teenagers, you guys didn't say, "Hey, won't it be cool when we become big rock stars someday?"
When you guys started hitting it really big in the mid-2000s and making good money, did that change things at all?
It was a huge surprise that we would actually pay rent with a song. In one way it didn't change anything; we were still night after night playing the same songs we'd been playing for years. But in other ways it changed a lot of things. There were actually people coming to the shows. So, the financial aspect becomes an element of, well, how do you deal with what the world would define as success? Do you let that dictate your own definition? Do you continue to try and uphold the things that you believe in?
Fame and money brings temptation along with that. Have you wrestled with that?
No, no. We're all super human.
Of course we have. But the misunderstanding is the idea that somehow you're afforded more temptation with what the world defines as success. I don't think that that's true. I think it's just different flavors. This is America. There's tons of different flavors of anything you want. You've got choices. If you want to sell out, there's always a million ways to do that. You want to give up, there's a million ways to do it. I think the danger is thinking that because it's under the category of religion or it's within the walls of a church that somehow it's safe. I don't think that that's ever the case. I think that more things have been done in the name of religion that have been miles away from what Christ would have wanted outside the walls. All to say, absolutely, there's a million ways to fall, but a lot of them are inside the church as well.