The Source for Youth Ministry
Cool Conversations/Interviews

Switchfoot Interview
With Drew Shirley

Jonathan: Let me start out and ask, you know, some of the people don't know who you are so give us your entire name and what you do with "Switchfoot."

Drew: Yea. This is Drew Shirley, I play guitar for "Switchfoot." I've been in the band, oh let's see, about 5 1/2 years.

Jonathan: So what's the last CD you bought, downloaded or listened to?

Drew: Well, I was showing my cousin our song, "This is Home" but that's really weird to say, "I was listening to our song, last."

Jonathan: (laughing) O.K. So before your own song, what was the last song you listened to?

Drew: Let's see... if you want the real answer, I'm gonna open my iTunes and look.

Jonathan: Most recently played.

Drew: Oh, it was a demo by Jon for our next album, but before that, actually I listened to the new "Death Cab for Cutie."

Jonathan: Death Cab for Cutie. Keepin' it real here.

What's the last movie you watched?

Drew: Umm, I watched Bee Movie, last night with my daughter. (laughing)

Jonathan: Now how old is your daughter?

Drew: She's four.

Jonathan: Oh, that's awesome. Now how many, tell us, family, wife, kids, how many kids and all that?

Drew: I have one wife....

Jonathan: That's good. (laughing)

Drew: (laughing) and one daughter.

Jonathan: Yea, I always recommend one wife. (laughing) It's just kind of a personal thing for me... so Bee Movie, that's good.

What's your favorite restaurant?

Drew: Favorite restaurant... as a national chain or as a small independent locally owned chain?

Jonathan: Any place you would want to go?

Drew: Oh, Ki's in San Diego. It's my favorite. The fish tacos are amazing.

Jonathan: If they made a movie about you who would you want to play you?

Drew: Brad Pitt.

Jonathan: (laughing) Because of the resemblance... the striking resemblance?

Drew: There's a large resemblance, yea I mean we look a lot alike.

Jonathan: And your wife looks like Jolie?

Drew: (laughing) Yea, kinda.

Jonathan: (laughing) There we go. What's the weirdest thing you've ever eaten?

Drew: Oh my gosh, when we went to Indonesia, we had these things called "ma - loot." It's a baby chicken that's already becoming a chicken and they boil it in the egg and then crack the egg and you eat the baby chicken.

Jonathan: Don't you, like... suck it out of the egg?

Drew: Yea, yea. You suck the juice out and then crack the top and then chew on the little beak and legs and wings and you eat the whole thing.

Jonathan: (laughing) So, how was that?

Drew: Gross... really gross.

Jonathan: That's great. Now, I've got to mention this. You now have this Narnia gig, which is incredible. And I think these guys made a great choice bringing you in. How did this happen? Did they, you know, call you? How did you get your song to be the Narnia song now? It's during the ending credits and your music video includes the Narnia footage. So, how did this happen?

Drew: Yeah. They were looking for songs and a lot of people submitted songs. We were asked to submit a song and we did. And then they said, "We really like your song but we're not sure so we want to record it." And so we went through a bunch of revisions and, and making it more this or more that and long story short... the director liked our demo version of the song the best and actually put that part of the demo version in the actual film.

Jonathan: Oh, O.K.

Drew: And at the credits, they're gonna roll it. But the radio release for the video that you can watch on, you know, websites or on video channels, that has like a radio version of it. So there's a bunch of versions of it out and it was kind of a journey of re-recording and changing it and then coming back to the original. And so a long story short, we're just glad to be a part of such a big movie. It's something that we believe in as a film and have read as kids... you know we heard these stories and to now see them on the big screen is just one of those monumental types of things.

Jonathan: Oh, yea. What a fantastic thing. And I love the song by the way, it's great. Now uh, I got to ask you, you saw the film, right?

Drew: I haven't seen it yet.

Jonathan: That's right because as we're recording this interview right now, it actually has not been released. So you didn't get to see a screening?

Drew: No. We were busy during the screenings; actually we were doing the Jay Leno Show on the night that they asked us to come to the screening so...

Jonathan: Yea, and you probably wanted to keep that.

Drew: So we had to turn it down, yea.

Jonathan: (laughing) Yea, yea it's like... sorry Jay, I got to go to a movie tonight.

Drew: Yea, I'm going to watch a flick. (laughing) So, I haven't seen it yet.

Jonathan: I want to ask you, you know, obviously in the 2008 American Idol "Final Three," I was, you know, sitting there on my couch with popcorn and all the sudden David Cook says that he's going to be performing a "Switchfoot" song... I was excited! So I'm curious, were you sitting on your couch when you found that out or did you know a day in advance before David sang your song or what?

Drew: Yea, uh, honestly I don't watch American Idol. (laughing)

Jonathan: So did you guys know in advance?

Drew: I know it's massive. Umm, actually three hours before the show aired, my phone blew up because my friends on the east coast saw it and called me and started texting us like, "Hey, your song, we just saw it on American Idol... no way!"

Jonathan: Wow!

Drew: And uh, you know, we were so surprised too. Like, "What? This is incredible... No way!"

Jonathan: Yea.

Drew: So then, we watched it when it came on in the west coast.

Jonathan: Sure.

Drew: And umm, yea, it was pretty cool man. Randy Jackson gave us a pretty huge shout out too, he's like, "They're all out there from San Diego, CA--Switchfoot. I love these guys."

Jonathan: Yea, he says, "great song choice" and I quote him, "I love that band from San Diego, Switchfoot."

Drew: Yea.

Jonathan: That's got to be cool. I mean, not all of us get that privilege of you know, hearing Randy Jackson say that he loves us. I mean, was that a pretty cool moment?

Drew: Yea. I guess it is.

Jonathan: Yea. It's pretty much the largest show on TV and on any given week 50% of teenage girls are watching the show.

Drew: Good grief.

Jonathan: Yea, that's a lot. (laughing)

Drew: That's crazy man.

Jonathan: So, what was your reaction to David's performance?

Drew: I thought he did a good job. I mean he was there holding a Les Paul and that ought to count for something. He had his guitar on, left handed and you know he's plugged in to a little amp that's behind him which, I don't know if it was on or not, but who cares he's at least rocking a little bit on the show instead of just kind of glitter, microphone and sweeping camera shots and stuff.

Jonathan: Sure, sure. Now, I don't know if you follow iTunes. I don't know if that's something where you guys kind of keep up with "how are we doing?" But, I looked, two days after you guys were on American Idol, "Dare You to Move" is number 35 on iTunes. That's just two days later.

Drew: Yea, it must have been all those teenage girls that watch the show who bought our record again.

Jonathan: That's pretty cool stuff. Because when you look at iTunes there's no prejudice there; it's all genres, everything, all slapped on there and you were the number 35 downloaded song. That's pretty good. Of all songs!

Drew: That's awesome man! That is incredible. I mean, I didn't even know that.

Jonathan: (joking) Well, anytime you can just call me up and I'll fill you in on that stuff. (laughing)

Drew: Yea, fill me in... give me the update. (laughing)

Jonathan: There you go. O.K. now you used to be heard in Christian circles primarily and now you're heard everywhere. Has the band received flack for this?

Drew: Yea, in some ways we have but more often than not I'd say people are happy.

Jonathan: As they should be.

Drew: Yea, I mean, there are always critics and people that will say, you know, you shouldn't do this and you shouldn't do that. Umm, usually they are people who don't know you and just kind of like to throw stones, but that's O.K. I mean, that happens to everyone. You know, that's something actually in the music business that you get used to. You can't listen to everyone.

Jonathan: Sure. Well, we've seen the process repeated. Way back in the day, how old are you by the way Drew?

Drew: 33

Jonathan: O.K., O.K. So you might remember when you were a kid, I don't know if you had Amy Grant albums in the house?

Drew: I totally did.

Jonathan: O.K. So you maybe we are closet El Shaddai listeners too, I don't know but...

Drew: Oh dude, I was all about, "Sing Your Praise to the Lord" on vinyl.

Jonathan: There you go. Vinyl was where it was at. But you know when she released "Unguarded" and then all of the sudden she got some secular play and immediately criticism and people are saying, "she's no longer Christian" and some Christian stores even yanked her- this was pre-divorce even. It was a mess.

Now Switchfoot's growing success has boosted album sales, concerts, and popularity, but I'm sure all this growth has also opened doors for ministry opportunities. Can you give us an example of possibly some things, some opportunities, some open doors?

Drew: Yea, and you know, first of all, I don't fault Amy Grant at all. I think she's a great artist and when I saw that happen, I felt really bad that people were slamming her. And I remember... it's happened a hundred times with Jars of Clay, with "Flood" and you know when that came out I got in a debate around the college lunch table with people who were slamming on it and I would say, "What are you talking about? This is a band who's doing well and people are listening to their song and they're getting play and this is great. You know, this is awesome. Let's be excited for it and see where it goes and, you know, just like really be open minded about um, what might be happening there in a positive way, as a good thing... as a really great opportunity."

Jonathan: Sure.

Drew: And like you just said, your second part of the question was, you know 'what have we seen happen because of that,' and I'll tell you it's incredible. We get letters from people who have said like, "I heard "Dare You to Move" somewhere, and people who were going to commit suicide and heard that on the radio and stopped. You know, I'm not saying we saved their lives but hey that song played a role in keeping someone from doing something tragic. I'm not saying that I'm great or anything, but I'm just saying, I'm glad that that song is out there and that our other songs are out there and we want to make music for everyone. We want as many people as we can to hear our songs because we believe in what we're singing about. We think that it's great, not that what we're singing about is the best song that you've ever heard because you know, some people will say, "Oh, Switchfoot, I'm not really into that style." Maybe you're more into that Bette Midler or you know Yanni, but...

Jonathan: (laughing) Bette Midler... there you go.

Drew: For what we do in rock music, we just... you know, we take our music real seriously and we don't take ourselves real seriously. I'm a nerd. I'm a complete super nerd, but I don't care.

Jonathan: There you go.

Drew: This is who I am and this is what we do and we think of ourselves as a band for thinking people. You know, people who hear a song and maybe it'll cause them to think. And so it's an honor when we stir up conversations because of a song or get feedback from people who said your song meant this to me and meant this to me. It shows that they are thinking about it and they're taking it in.

Jonathan: Sure.

Drew: It's real, real encouraging to me.

Jonathan: I saw in an interview at the Dove awards and somebody asked Jon about that and he said, "I look at these type of gatherings as the locker room and this is our chance for all of us to get out and do something bigger than preach to the choir." So by that I'm assuming he's talking about in these Christian gatherings this is kind of like the locker room, but he sees this growing popularity as a chance to preach to other than Christian venues, do something bigger than preach to the choir. What do you think? Give us a glimpse of what that looks like, something bigger than preaching to the choir.

Drew: Alright, well I mean, we don't play concerts just in churches. I'm not saying that... that's just what we're called to do, you know? We play concerts everywhere, in bars, or theatres, or outdoor venues, or colleges. We play everywhere, everywhere that people listen to music.

Jonathan: Now, are there ever ministry opportunities at these particular gigs?

Drew: Oh, yea man. I mean, there's ministry opportunities going to Taco Bell, Man. (laughing)

Jonathan: Absolutely.

Drew: Right, I mean, your life is where that happens, you know.

Jonathan: Exactly.

Drew: You know, live your life wherever you go. To me, in my mindset, it isn't about O.K.... now I'm going to a gig, now I better, you know, look for an opportunity to encourage someone. You know, that is life, man.

Jonathan: Sure. So it's not like, "Oh wait, now here's my program and so for this two hours let's put on a program pointing to Jesus and then let's go back to life as usual."

Drew: That's exactly it, man. I mean, our faith is who we are and playing guitar is what I do, so I live who I am wherever I go. I'm who I am right now on this phone call with you and then afterwards when I go, you know, hang out at a restaurant for lunch. Do you know what I mean by that?

Jonathan: Yea.

Drew: So it's like, this music, you know, getting back to the show, the music that we play and being a band opens a lot of doors. I mean, songs can take words where words couldn't go on their own.

Jonathan: Sure.

Drew: You know, to quote someone else's words. And so, yea, it's been a real great thing to see DJ's from stations all over the world or video producers or other bands even that we're playing with just say, "Hey man, you know your songs have meant a lot to me. I had a real hard time in my life. They guided me through it, they shined some light in the darkness, and brought me hope when I was hopeless. And uh, thank you." That just means a lot.

Jonathan: Well good. Well hopefully you get ministry opportunities there as well as when you're at lunch and you're talking with the waitress, right?

Drew:Yea, exactly.

Jonathan: Hey, I've found that a smile and a big tip have opened up some serious doors for conversation in my life.

Drew: Right. Cool.

Jonathan: Hey, how does Switchfoot differ from a worship band?

Drew: Well, a worship band probably would play at church and lead worship, and you know, we are a band that does entertainment. So as far as... some people come to our shows, you know, it's their birthday present from their cousin or something.

Jonathan: Sure.

Drew: And it's like, "I'm gonna go to the Switchfoot show and have a great time and it's gonna be awesome," and you know, we have different purposes. We have different things we do. Like I said, I draw a real distinction between my faith and a genre of music or my job. You know I play guitar and I, you know, that's what I do. If I was a mechanic, I would fix cars the best that I could. But I would still be who I am while I was doing that, so yea, so we're different than a worship band, although, some people worship through our songs.

Jonathan: Uh, huh.

Drew: That's totally great. I mean we see people, I'll look out at the audience all the time, I'll see people with their hands up or something... or maybe they're even crying, I don't know, I mean I just see different emotions. Which I think it's great; it's just so awesome.

Jonathan: Now have you guys ever done that worship venue? ...have you guys ever lead worship?

Drew: No, not... Switchfoot hasn't.

Jonathan: O.K., as individuals maybe but not as Switchfoot?

Drew: Yea, exactly, yea. I don't think so. I mean not since, not to my...

Jonathan: Not since you've been there.

Drew: Yea, exactly... not to my knowledge.

Jonathan: Okay. You know, one other thing I'd love to get your two cents on. Music genres are kind of an interesting subject and you kind of touched on your style and being who you are. Well, a couple of years ago Kaiser and MTV did a poll and they found out that 65% of kids listen to hip hop on a daily basis and second was alternative rock at 32%. And you probably see charts here and there and you know the top ten charts and iTunes downloads and everything is really predominantly hip hop. I mean, let's just say it simply: hip hop is pretty big right now. Does that affect Switchfoot at all?

Drew: Umm, (laughing) that's a good question, man I like this. Yea, we live in a hip hop nation, don't we?

Jonathan: We do.

Drew: Yea, we certainly do. And does it affect us? Umm, I like a good dance party. And so, you know, I'll throw a good dance party on the bus sometimes on tour and we'll just like crank the hip hop jams. Uh, they're a lot easier to dance to than alternative rock music. (laughing)

Jonathan: Sure.

Drew: So as far as musical style, who knows man, maybe we will incorporate some hip hop. I don't know. Uh, as far as like turning hip hop, I doubt it.

Jonathan: No, you got to be who you are. But you know, it's funny that you say incorporate because you're right. Some bands have been smart and they've inserted hip hop into their sounds. Like, let's say Lincoln Park has obviously done some of that. Or the growingly popular trend to feature a rapper like Jay Z or Timbaland or someone. You'll hear a rock band and they'll have a certain song "featuring Timbaland" or something like that.

Drew: Yea, yea. Kind of like how Akon was with "Apologize" or something.

Jonathan: There you go. Now, this is obviously a good marketing move, I mean like Madonna recently released her new album so she grabs Justin Timberlake, Timbaland and, of course, what song is the one that's the big hit is the "Four Minutes" which is Timbaland and Justin Timberlake. But you don't see a lot of Christian bands doing this, why not?

Drew: I don't know man. We should.

Jonathan: Yea.

Drew: I mean it's definitely stuff that we've kicked around. We're always thinking of new ideas and tossing out like, "what if we produced it like this or that or what if we had a remix even or something" and who knows man, some of that stuff might be coming down the chute.

Jonathan: Yea, I think it's great. There's a great worship band Dutton, out of Texas and they sent me a song for a DVD giveaway we did. And I had my buddy Maximillian remix it. We sent it to Dutton and we said, "What do you think of this?" and they were like, "That Jams!" They loved, you know, the hip hop remix of their own song. It was kind of a different twist and it doesn't mean Dutton is now switching and is hip hop. But you know, they had this one hip hop mix... it was kind of cool.

Drew: Hmm.

Jonathan: Yea, fun stuff.

Drew: Yea, sure man.

Jonathan: Allow me to segue. Music industry is full of trashy content. You guys don't have trashy content. And I gotta like that. What advice can you give to kids about using discernment in what they listen to?

Drew: Wow! Well, I mean, my iPod is full of all kinds of music. You know what I mean. I listen to oldies, classical, jazz, every genre, hip hop. There's a lot of artists that I like.

Jonathan: Yanni, Bette Midler?

Drew: Yanni, Bette Midler-huge influences, you know. (laughing)

Jonathan: There you go.

Drew: No but seriously, you know, who you hang out with, it affects who you are. You know, as far as the friends, the circles you roll in, and the people you have around you. If you have people that are constantly lying to you and they're saying, "Oh, you're so great, you're so awesome." And then you get cocky. Or if we had people around us that were always just saying things that aren't truthful... you know, you want to have things and people around you that are honest and that are telling you honest things about who you are, you know, and telling you when you are wrong and when you've screwed up or when you need to change.

Jonathan: Sure.

Drew: And so, you know I prefer to hang around people who are like that and so when it comes to music, you know, I listen to different music for different moods and when I'm in a certain kind of mood, you know, it's like, it goes here and when I'm in a different mood it goes there. But you know, music is a definite influence and it affects people in different ways. Like, to be honest with you, I'm not really a lyrics guy a ton. But mostly I'll like, turn on a song and I'll listen to the guitar part and think it's awesome but then I'll ask someone else, "What's this song even about?" I have no idea. (laughing)

Jonathan: Well, sometimes it's even hard to hear the lyrics too unless you look them up.

Drew: It totally is. Like on some songs, some people have a complete opposite view from me where you know they're like, "Oh my gosh, this song means shouldn't listen to it because it really is just a horrible concept here." You know?

Jonathan: And you're like, I didn't even hear it. Well, O.K....

Drew: I did not even know that.

Jonathan: O.K., well let me ask this. Research shows that when it comes to that, "do the lyrics affect me" the 2007 American Academy of Pediatrics revealed that teens, and I'll quote them, "Teens who listen to lots of music with degrading sexual messages were almost twice as likely to start having intercourse as teens who listen to little or no sexually degrading music." So we did a poll with youth ministers and we asked their youth group kids questions basically about the music they listen to and we asked how many of you would still listen to music even if you knew that the lyrics were bad? And of youth group kids, 73% said, they still would. So how can we as youth workers or how can you as Switchfoot fight this kind of thinking? Or do you think that? Do you kind of fall in line with the 73% and think, 'I'd still listen to it?'

Drew: You know man. I don't really know. That's a great question. I think what I'll do is keep making music with Switchfoot that I believe in. And we're gonna be going to the studio in the next few months and just try to make a killer album that relates to people and is honest music from our heart. But that's something too, I'm gonna have to think about more. You know, I don't have as much info as you do on it.

Jonathan: Well, but let's face it. If kids are listening to a number one song from Switchfoot, then they're not listening to Little Wayne's "Lollipop" or whatever it is at the time, you know?

Drew: Right. So get out there and listen to your "Switchfoot" album guys.

Jonathan: That's good. That's good stuff. Well, hey man, thanks for your time.

Drew: Alright, thanks man.

Jonathan: I appreciate it Drew.

Drew: Alright, thank you Jonathan.


click here for more

© 1999-2017 The Source for Youth Ministries           Site Disclaimer