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Switchfoot's North American tour begins March 22 in Kahului, HI, after which they’ll headline the traveling Soundwave Festival in Australia and New Zealand, where they’ll shoot footage for their upcoming surf film Fading West.

They'll kick things off locally on March 20 with An Evening with Switchfoot at La Jolla Playhouse, where the band will join producer Neal Avron (Sara Bareilles, Weezer) to discuss the making of their latest album, Vice Verses (Atlantic Records). The evening will also feature a Q&A and meet-and-greet session.

They’re also booked to play the Hangout Music Fest, happening May 18 through 20, 2012, on the beaches of Gulf Shores, Alabama, along with locals Tribal Seeds and Flogging Molly, with headliners to include the Dave Matthews Band, Jack White, and Skrillex. Busy band, huh!

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Remember when Christian rock conjured up images of guys with poodle perms wearing bumblebee stripes (Stryper) and high school productions of Jesus Christ Superstar stiffly performed to an amplified vinyl record?

Or do you feel the same as cartoon character Hank Hill, when he complained to one Christian rocker "Can't you see you're not making Christianity better? You're just making rock 'n' roll worse."

Those a bit more in the know maybe had a few albums by nine-fingered guitar virtuoso Phil Keaggy, whose meticulous picking and McCartneyesque voice would have screamed “cult audience” no matter what he sang about.

Some might have followed the careers of crossover artists who left the mainstream for the Christian bookstore market (i.e., Kansas’ Kerry Livgren) or performers who went from the latter to the former (Amy Grant’s wooing of the mainstream was only assisted, perhaps assured, by all the press about members of the Christian rock community calling her a “traitor”).

More recently, bands like U2, Creed, and P.O.D. have blurred the lines between Christian rock and plain old rock-and-roll by bringing faith to some good songs instead of just singing to the faithful.

Local-boys-made-good Switchfoot (their website header reads “Diego Rock USA”) earned double-platinum sales with 2003’s The Beautiful Letdown. The album landed two singles in the top-five Billboard charts (“Meant to Live” and “Dare You to Move”), as the band scored gigs on Late Night with Conan O’Brien and The Tonight Show.

The Tonight Show was extremely cold,” recalls singer/guitarist Jon Foreman. “Other than that and meeting the guest snakes, nothing really happened. However, Conan is a bit of a guitar buff and tried on my Firebird for size. He’s not a bad player, either.”

Switchfoot is in the CD rack right there between Matthew Sweet and System of a Down, and their Live in San Diego DVD has been certified RIAA gold in sales (no small feat for a music DVD).

Switchfoot’s third CD, Oh! Gravity charted in January 2007 at number 18. The following week, it slipped to number 41 and never went higher. The first Switchfoot release, The Beautiful Letdown, sold 2.6 million copies.

In May 2008, the band’s song “This Is Home” was heard within and during the closing credits of the film The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. Their 2008 Music Builds tour donated profits to Habitat for Humanity.

Foreman released four solo record in 2008, as well as forming the band Fiction Family with local player Sean Watkins from Nickel Creek. In November 2009, Switchfoot released Hello Hurricane, which won a San Diego Music Award as Album of the Year in September 2010. Shortly thereafter, the album Germs of Perfection: A Tribute to Bad Religion included Switchfoot covering a track.

In late 2010, a “lost” EP, Eastern Hymns For Western Shores, was released exclusively through the Switchfoot website. According to the band, “These songs were recorded during the time between Nothing Is Sound and Oh! Gravity. For years, the masters to these sessions were thought to be lost/stolen, but they have at last been recovered. Recorded and mixed within the same week, these six songs showcase a darker and more mysterious sound for the band...each song on the EP has its own unique postcard, and it’s all wrapped up like you just picked them up from the gift shop on your travels around the world.”

In February 2011, they won a Grammy for Best Rock or Rap Gospel, for their album Hello Hurricane. On February 26, Foreman sang the National Anthem at the San Diego State Aztecs vs. BYU Cougars basketball game, before taking the band in April and May on a tour of Australia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Canada.

The day after performing at the Del Mar Fair on June 17, 2011, the Grammy winners hosted their 7th Annual Bro-Am charity event at Moonlight Beach in Encinitas. Around the same time, Atlantic Records announced it would release their eighth studio record Vice Verses, produced by Neal Avron (Weezer, Linkin Park), in September.

In August 2011, they were named Artist of the Year at the San Diego Music Awards, before appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live on Monday, September 19, to debut their new song “Dark Horses,” the lead single from Vice Verses. A national tour with Anberlin started September 22.

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