Most DVD and blu-ray releases in music are fairly mild fluff pieces. They donít show or talk about anything real. Thereís controversy in a lot of them, but most of the time thatís staged and you can tell. With the new Switchfoot documentary, Fading West, the opposite can be said. Itís about as real of a view as youíll get into the lives of the long-running San Diego band. Theyíve been at it for over twenty years and soon theyíll have been at it for nine albums. With Fading West you can watch the definition of the band come to life. Itís not just with how they interact with each other and how they feel about surfing, this movie touches on a lot of personal details of the guysí lives. Alternative Addiction recently caught up with the bandís Chad Butler to talk about Fading West and how personal the movie turned out to be.
ďIt surprised us,Ē explained Butler. ďWe set out to make a movie about music and surfing, chasing waves and songs around the world. Along the way there were some unexpected twists and turns in the year that we were filming. The decision was to keep the cameras rolling and then decide what to put in the film. We captured it all, the highs and lows. The decision to put in some of the more difficult experiences was a little uncomfortable to be that vulnerable; exposing our family life and the inner-workings of the brotherhood of the band off-stage was hard. That stuff is typically very private. In this case, we felt like this was real and honest. We felt that if the movie was as human as possible then it would benefit the story. So that was a tough decision but Iím glad we did it. I think itís a real honest look at what itís like to be in a band, especially to be in a band as long as we have.Ē
Itís not like they didnít have footage to fall back on if they didnít want to put that stuff in the final cut. Talking with Butler about making the movie after the filming portion of Fading West was over, he talked about how much footage the band had to sift through in the editing process to find what turned out to be Fading West.
ďThat was the most daunting part. We had thousands of hours of footage to go through. We probably overshot this film but we were trying to cast a wide-net because we werenít sure what we were going to capture. There was a lot of subject matter. Surfing in all of these beautiful locations, looking for musical inspiration, there were a lot of different opportunities to explore. The camera crew was with us on the road off and on for 12 months and then it took about that long to edit the film. It was definitely an undertaking, but it was our first film and you learn the hard way.Ē
Fading West made itís debut a while ago and itís been received well by both critics and fans. If youíve seen the movie then youíve heard the music that goes along with it. Youíll be able to pick up the album next month and then you can experience the songs away from the film. For the band, itís difficult to separate the two. Itís hard to hear or play the songs without thinking of the movie and itís hard to see the movie without thinking of the music that goes along with it. So, the question we asked Butler was which came first the movie or the music? He said they were kind of done and worked on at the same time in different phases.
ďDuring the process of the tour and filming we were working on new songs and looking for inspiration for a ninth album. That was the whole point of the project in the first place,Ē started the longtime Switchfoot drummer. ďWe wanted to go to our favorite places in the world to get inspired. On-camera, you can see some of these songs come to life from the very beginning stages to Jon and Tim working on a riff at the foot of a bed in a hotel room or Jerome recording some indigenous instrument in Indonesia and taking that home. After the year we brought all of these song ideas back to our studio in San Diego and began to flush those out and develop those into songs for the album. The process was complete when the final edit of the film was in front of us then we were able to insert the songs into the scenes and adapt the music to fit the visuals. We had always wanted to do a soundtrack and what a better way to do that than to make our own film?Ē
The bandís currently on break for the holidays but theyíll be back touring next year to support the release of the album. You can buy Fading West digitally on iTunes, weíll keep you up to date on package deals of the movie and the album together as they get announced.