Frontman Jon Foreman Talks Holidays in California and Switchfoot's New this is our Christmas album
Do your Christmases look hot and sunshiney, rather than freezing and snowy?
While that's the case for a lot of people, there isn't a lot of holiday music about it—which is precisely what inspired Switchfoot frontman Jon Foreman to put together the band's new album, this is our Christmas album. It dropped last month, infusing the band's signature sunny California sound into five original Christmas tracks, as well as seven classics, and creating the perfect festive soundtrack for anyone who celebrates in the sun. We had the pleasure of speaking with Jon himself all about the album and its influences, and he shared it all with us in the interview below.
Sweety High: We love the kind of silly straightforwardness in the title this is our Christmas album. How did the band land on it?
Jon Foreman: We were thinking, you know what? Let's just be straightforward. Let's just call it what it is. We thought it had a certain amount of humor to it. It's so straightforward, it's almost laughable.
SH: Where does the album draw inspiration from?
JF: Back in 2020, I was trying to make a Christmas playlist that kind of referenced where we live—Southern California, and San Diego, specifically. The album was born from the fact that I couldn't find the album that I wanted. That set me off on a course of, well, what if we made that album? What if we brought to light the album that we wanted to see in the world? Basically, all of the references on this record are an attempt to dive into the things that we love about where we live, and about Christmas. In terms of influences, we've got the Beach Boys, and the punk bands we grew up in and listening to. They all add a little bit of that Southern California sunshine.
SH: "California Christmas" is a fun holiday track that's also a kind of silly homage to things like dealing with hot weather and traffic in December. How did the song come to be?
JF: It starts with being fine with making fun of ourselves, and making light of where we're from. I mean, if you can't laugh at yourself, who are you gonna laugh at? For me, "California Christmas" comes from the holiday season, and hearing all these songs about a white Christmas, and snow, and being cold, and creating something that can be a type of Christmas that I can own.
SH: What do you feel is the California sound, and how is it infused into this album?
JF: California has an incredibly rich heritage of music, from the Beach Boys to the West Coast punk scene to the West Coast hip-hop scene. And San Diego, specifically, has got such an incredible heritage of musicians and venues. I think one thing that people don't know about San Diego is the diversity that exists there, and I think San Diego is a place of open-minded people. We wanted to make a record that felt timeless while branching out into several different genres. We've got a hymn on there from way back in the day. We've got a song from the '60s. And then we have our own songs on there. On the vinyl, one side says, "Songs We Wrote," and then, on the other side, it says, "Songs We Didn't."
SH: Speaking of the album being a mix of originals and classics, how did you go about creating the mix that felt right, with your own twist on it?
JF: We had a lot of fun with it. We recorded probably 20 different songs, and ultimately, we just went with whatever was striking us at the time as the most enjoyable. We chase that joy.
SH: What's your favorite classic song on the album?
JF: I really love the version that we do of "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day." It was a poem written back in the 1800s, but it definitely feels like it could have been written for right now.
SH: What's your favorite of your original tracks for the new album?
JF: Maybe "Looking for Christmas." That one feels like a big warm hug.
SH: Is there anything else you'd like to add?
JF: I'm just really thankful we're out on tour now. It's been such a joy to be able to play these songs for everybody. And I'm excited to head home to my family. It feels like we've been living in Christmas for a year, recording the album and then talking about it. It'll be nice to finally enjoy it at home and put the guitar on the wall.
For more on our recent holiday favorites, click HERE to read our interview with Lorelei Marcell on her new track, "Love Me Back (Maybe Next Year)."