The up-and-coming group consists of, from left, Chad Butler, Tim Foreman, Jerome Fontamillas and Jon Foreman.

Band finds
broader appeal

"Peace in a Chaotic World." That will be the theme of evangelist Greg Laurie's sermon at this weekend's Harvest Crusade youth outreach program. It's also a phrase that describes the message of the up-and-coming rock band Switchfoot.

The 7-year-old San Diego band represents a new breed of Christian bands on both major and independent record labels trying to broaden their appeal by cutting out the proselytizing in favor of more searching, spiritual lyrics. (One of these bands, Evanescence, crossed over to national mainstream appeal and played at the very secular Pipeline Cafe last Saturday to an appreciative crowd.)

In fact, Switchfoot lead singer and writer Jon Foreman said, at the start of their Hawaii stay Tuesday, he prefers playing "the smaller, sweaty clubs" over the large, impersonal radio station-sponsored outdoor festivals the band's been doing of late on the mainland.

The higher profile is due to Switchfoot's major label debut on Red Ink/Columbia Records, "The Beautiful Letdown." While concessions have been made to make the album more marketable (in the form of highly paid engineers remixing several songs to make them more "radio friendly"), it's still very much a strong collection of songs that could be the start of a solid career in the public eye.

"These songs are for everybody," Foreman said. "It was always our intention to keep them free from being boxed in as Christian songs. They're honest and open songs that come from a spiritual level. They're meant to open doors -- there's no obligation involved to change your life then and there. The first thing that we only ask is to be honest with yourself."

While Jon and his brother Tim Foreman are native Californians, fellow band members Jerome Fontamillas originally hails from the Philippines and Chad Butler from Amsterdam.

"But there's a common bond between us that's more than just the music," Jon said. "We've kept our friendship going as we grew up in San Diego -- going surfing, getting together for barbecues. It's strong enough that, even if the band broke up, we'd still be friends."

From such earnest musical pleas as "This is Your Life" and "Dare You to Move," to clever and catchy social-message songs "Gone" and "Adding to the Noise," Foreman said he wanted listeners "to feel the passion from every song."

"The whole album works almost like a diary, filled with the kind of honest and genuine questions that keep you awake on your bed at 3 a.m. in the morning," he said. "I like the Socratic approach with the lyrics in our songs. I want to create a dialogue, rather than throw out answers. It's only through looking at your own life that the real answers come."

Harvest Crusade

With evangelist Greg Laurie and featuring the music of Switchfoot, Crystal Lewis and Seven Simple Pieces

Where: Waikiki Shell

When: 7:30 p.m. tomorrow

Admission: Free

Call: 637-6225 (North Shore Christian Fellowship)

Also: 7:30 p.m. Sunday at the Lahaina Civic Center on Maui (local band Olivia will replace Seven Simple Pieces)

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