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Hello Hurricane is the seventh studio album by American alternative rock band Switchfoot, and the first of four albums produced in the same sessions. It was co-produced by the band and Mike Elizondo, after initial test runs with producers such as Ken Andrews and Charlie Peacock. The album was recorded mainly in their studio in their hometown of San Diego, Californiamarker. It was originally to be released on October 6, 2009, but it was pushed back to November 10, 2009 on their independent record label, the Atlantic-distributed lowercase people records.

Recording and production

Recording sessions with Charlie Peacock

Pre-production began in the first week of August 2007. That week, the band entered the studio to track 13 songs under the guidance of executive producer Charlie Peacock, who was the founder of the band's first independent label, Re:Think Records. These new song ideas were then indefinitely shelved, particularly when the band embarked on their fall Appetite for Construction Tour.

Major label independence

Some time after the Peacock sessions, the band revealed that they had left their former Major record label, Columbia/SonyBMG, on August 9 and intended to independently release their follow-up to 2006's Oh! Gravity.

To usher in this new period of label-independence, the band began construction of a recording studio in San Diego on October 12, 2007. Soon after, it was announced that the band had founded an independent record label called lowercase people records, under which proceeding projects, including the as-yet-untitled new studio album, would be released.

Self-produced sessions

In May 2008, the band moved into their newly-completed studio, and recording was kicked into high gear in June, with the band proceeding without a producer. "I feel like we've got a fairly firm grip on what we want to do and I feel like we can get there on our own," Switchfoot singer Jon Foreman said at the time. Progress was halted briefly when the band embarked on the Music Builds Tour in August, but was resumed soon after.

Sessions resume with Mike Elizondo and Darrell Thorp

On October 30, it was revealed that Grammy Award-winning engineer Darrell Thorp, who has worked with the likes of Radiohead and Outkast, had been working with Switchfoot in the studio for the new record, and later, producer Mike Elizondo was brought on board for the last few months of recording.

Recording was once more halted in January 2009 when Foreman embarked on a national tour with Fiction Family, a collaborative effort with Sean Watkins of Nickel Creek. No further news was heard from the band until late February, when the band announced they had finished selecting the final song list.

In March, the band recorded a few sessions with engineer Ryan Petersen and drummer Chad Butler reported they were "rounding 3rd base" on the album and that it was near completion.

Final mixing began on April 7 and on May 30, Switchfoot sent out an email from their newsletter saying that "Hello Hurricane" was finished.

Rob Cavallo and Atlantic Records

After the record was finished, the album found its ways into the hands of producer Rob Cavallo, newly appointed as Chief Creative Officer with Warner Music Group and Atlantic Records. Cavallo liked what he heard, and contacted Switchfoot, eventually signing them on to a 360 Deal to distribute Hello Hurricane through Atlantic Records.

"We tracked the whole record completely on our own dime and basically just our own opinions what the record should be," said Foreman. "And then Atlantic chased us down."

Shortly after signing on, the band held several sessions with Cavallo to rework some of the songs for radio.

Musical and lyrical content

The album from the outset was described to be different from any previous work the band has done. "We wanted to start with a clean slate because the last couple of records felt kind of compromised,” said Foreman concerning the period the band had with Columbia Records after 2003's The Beautiful Letdown. “With Sony, they fired people so quickly that it was hard for us to develop any sort of traction, so we fired ourselves. We got off the label because music is very sensitive to the place that it’s coming from. We wanted to create an environment where we were going to be with the same people for a long time and trust is established."

Along those lines, Foreman said that the record was going to sound different sonically, initially "shaping up to be more acoustic AND more electronic." "You know, it’s one of those things where you get to a point where you kind of want to shock yourself again," said Foreman.

Later in August, Foreman said that "there are so many different directions we can go in. One of the songs has a (Led) Zeppelin feel. One of them has more of a Devo feel... I feel like the headspace we're in now, the glass ceiling's been shattered."

In January 2009, Foreman said that the sonic direction had been taken in three directions.

The overall writing for the record was also varied, and there was an obvious shift in style and production. Concerning Thorp's input, Foreman said "He definitely took us to a place where I feel like this record has a much wider scope - the darks are darker and the lights are brighter and the lows are lower and the highs are higher. That was our goal was to create such a landscape." And the enlisting of Hip-hop/R&B producer Mike Elizondo also furthered the sonic palette from which the band drew inspiration. "That was incredible to have someone like that to bring a new synergy," said Switchfoot drummer Chad Butler. "Recording with him was a challenge for us - his approach was really refreshing. Someone who's got such a rhythmic sensibility."

With all the artistic freedom also came increasingly large amounts of material in what bassist Tim Foreman calls "a very prolific season for us." The challenge for Switchfoot soon brought up the question of "how do you define yourself?" according to drummer Chad Butler. "You’ve got all these different songs and different styles and different musical experimentations. It becomes a big mess..." It quickly became clear that very few of the experimental tracks were going to make the record, with producer Elizondo telling the band to not "be afraid of what you've done for the past six records."

In the end, the band decided to go in the direction of making "a statement" and defining who they are in an independent era, "and that’s when it came down to what are the songs saying and which ones mean the most to us."

Studio Webcam and Twitter

As in the Oh! Gravity. sessions, the band installed a webcam in the studio to give fans a "fly-on-the-wall" view of their progress. Instead of the refresh-still-images camera that was utilized for the Gravity sessions, this version of the webcam featured real-time video streaming. It was launched for the first time on July 1, 2008, and was chronicled periodically on the fan-made Switchfoot Webcam Blog 2008.

Later, the band switched over to their Twitter account to update fans on the final stages of production for the album.

Release

Pre-release

The song "Hello Hurricane" was first debuted at a May 8, 2009 concert in Visalia, California. The band played a preview of the album version of the song through the PA system for the fans to hear. One fan recorded the song and posted it online, providing listeners with the first taste of the band's new material.

The tracklisting was announced via the band's Twitter on June 16, and Switchfoot began unveiling the new material throughout the Summer Festival tour season, beginning with "Mess of Me," which was played live for the first time on June 18 at the Big Ticket Festival in Michigan. "Hello Hurricane" was performed in its full-band incarnation for the first time at the Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto, Canada on June 20. "Bullet Soul" followed, live in Lancaster, PA at the American Music Theater for the first time on June 21, with "Needle and Haystack Life" debuting live at Spirit Song at King's Island in Cincinnati, Ohio on July 9. "The Sound" then was revealed on July 16 in Memphis, TN.

The band also began hosting listening parties across the United States to give fans a chance to hear the album in its entirety. Entrusting the master copy of the record to the YouTube online video content provider, Corey Vidal, fans got rare opportunities to hear Hello Hurricane during certain stops on Vidal's "Youtube Road Trip."

In September, Switchfoot released the first music video for the lead single, "Mess of Me," to YouTube. Fans were actively encouraged to promote and spread the video, and it garnered several top honors on the site.

The band also played a short string of radio shows, debuting a stripped version of "Free" at a 99xmarker radio session on September 9. The next day, Switchfoot debuted "Always" at a show in the Ft. Lauderdale Culture Room in Florida.

Songs from "Hello Hurricane" have been featured in College Football games on ESPN. Switchfoot's music is played before commercial breaks. Songs that are frequently played are "Needle and Haystack Life", "The Sound", and "Bullet Soul"

On October 16, before the American League Championship Series Game 1 broadcast, a montage of baseball highlights was shown, while interspersed with live clips of the band and the song "Free" playing in the background.

On November 3, 2009, the album was premiered in streaming format on the popular social networking site MySpace, giving fans a chance to listen to the new record a week before its release.

The band played "Mess of Me" on Jimmy Kimmel Live on November 12.

Distribution

Upon completion of Hello Hurricane, the band had concluded a season of independence and artistic freedom that hadn't been experienced since the band recorded The Beautiful Letdown independently. Once this season was concluded, the band began shopping around for partners to distribute the songs all across the globe, "looking for the best partner to give these songs a large platform that is respectful to the people that listen to our music." On August 7, 2009, Switchfoot announced that their independently-owned label, lowercase people records, would be partnering with Atlantic Records to distribute Hello Hurricane globally. EMI CMG will meanwhile retain the rights to release Switchfoot's material to the Christian market.

Formats

Hello Hurricane will be distributed in several different formats and packages, as announced on switchfoot.com. Official pre-sales for the packages began on September 16, 2009.

  • Digital Download
  • Standard CD Edition
  • Vinyl (with physical CD)
  • Deluxe CD/DVD Edition
  • Collector's Deluxe Edition (includes CD/DVD/Bonus disc, a hardbound 84-page photo book, an exclusive poster, and extra bonus content)


There is also an iTunes deluxe package available, with exclusive acoustic versions and other tracks.

Reception

Hello Hurricane has received generally favorable reviews. Alternative Press rated the album 3.5 of 5 stars, calling it "an uplifting, hope-giving affirmation of resurgence from a band who might have been down at one point but were definitely never out." Relevant Magazine hailed it as "one of the best albums of Switchfoot’s career." Allmusic was also favorable, calling the album Switchfoot's "most natural, effortless outing to date." AbsolutePunk reviewer Gregory Robson was lukewarm in his assessment, giving the record a 77% rating, observing that it "flows with potential and disappointment, promise and filler, which makes for an entirely frustrating listen."

Hello Hurricane debuted at number 13 on the Billboard 200, with first-week sales of 39,000 copies.

Also, a single off the album, "Bullet Soul", will be the theme song of WWE's inaugural TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs pay-per-view, taking place December 13, 2009 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas.

Track listing

  1. "Needle and Haystack Life" — 3:49
  2. "Mess of Me" — 3:27
  3. "Your Love Is a Song" — 4:22
  4. "The Sound " — 3:47
  5. "Enough to Let Me Go" — 3:52
  6. "Free" — 4:03
  7. "Hello Hurricane" — 4:04
  8. "Always" — 4:20
  9. "Bullet Soul" — 3:24
  10. "Yet" — 3:53
  11. "Sing It Out" — 5:17
  12. "Red Eyes" — 4:50


*All songs written by Jon Foreman and Tim Foreman, except for "Needle and Haystack Life," "Always," and "Free" by Jon Foreman, and "Your Love Is a Song" by Jon Foreman and Mike Elizondo.


iTunes bonus tracks

*"Mess of Me" (Acoustic)
*"Always" (Acoustic)
*"Stitches"
*"The Sound" (Video)


Charts

Chart (2009) Peak position
Billboard 200 13
Billboard Alternative Albums 3
Billboard Christian Albums 2
Billboard Rock Albums 4


Personnel



"Building a Hurricane" B-sides album

The Collector's Deluxe Edition of Hello Hurricane came packaged with a b-sides album called Building a Hurricane. It features alternate versions of the album tracks, as well as out-takes and demos culled from the studio sessions for Hello Hurricane. This was available via pre-orders only.

Track listing

  1. Needle (Writing Sessions, San Diego Spring '08)
  2. Needle (July '08 - Take 7)
  3. Mess of Me (Charlie Peacock Sessions, Aug. '07)
  4. Red Eyes (Jan 12, 2009 - Take 1)
  5. Sing It Out (Writing Session, Raleigh, NC Fall '08)
  6. Sing It Out (Dark Version, Nov 22 '08 - Take 6)
  7. The-Voice-Inside-Your-Head Interlude
  8. Your Love Is a Gun (Bullet Soul Early Version)
  9. Enough Reprise
  10. Yet (Dressing Room Demo, Fall '07)
  11. Yet (Nov 4 '08 - Take 07)
  12. Tambo-Cave-At-Gmail-Dot-Com Interlude
  13. Sing It Out (Demo Oct '09, Prog Drums)
  14. Red Eyes (Demo, Early '05)
  15. Always Yours (Nov 13 '08 - Take 9)
  16. Always Yours, Tim's Unused Bridge
  17. Mess of Me (Demo, August '08 take 2, Full Band)
  18. Nicaraguan-Maracas Interlude
  19. Mess of Me (Early Demos)
  20. Your Love Is A Gun (Bullet Soul Laptop Demo)
  21. Hello Hurricane (Early Demos)
  22. Distortion Interlude
  23. Needle (Nov 18 '08 - Take 12)
  24. Sing It Out (March 19 '09)


References

  1. Switchfoot Eyeing Spring 2009 For New Album - Published August 1, 2008 (Retrieved June 24, 2009)
  2. Switchfoot Community - New Album Release details, the latest skinny - Published July 30, 2009 (retrieved July 30, 2009)
  3. 2008/2009 New Switchfoot Album Page - Published June 12, 2008 (Retrieved August 7, 2008)
  4. a new beginning in stereo... Jon Foreman Myspace blog 8-9-07 - Published August 10, 2007 (retrieved May 5, 2009)
  5. Switchfoot creates "Lowercase People Records"! - Published October 29, 2007 (Retrieved May 5, 2009)
  6. Switchfoot Eyeing Spring 2009 For New Album - Published August 1, 2008 (Retrieved March 10, 2009)
  7. [1]
  8. Q&A: Chad Butler from Switchfoot on surfing, being in an indie band and working with Eminem's producer - Published June 19, 2009 (retrieved June 20, 2009
  9. Switchfoot Tweeting on Twitter!; announces that they have put together the final Song list for the New Album! - Published February 26, 2009 (retrieved February 27, 2009)
  10. Switchfoot "rounding 3rd base" and nearing home plate (for the new album)! - Published March 5, 2009 (retrieved March 5, 2009)
  11. Switchfoot mixing their first song today! (Hello Hurricane) - Published April 7, 2009 (retrieved April 15, 2009)
  12. Breaking: New Switchfoot Email - Published May 29, 2009 (retrieved May 30, 2009)
  13. FootColumn: Switchfoot and Expanded rights and 360 Deals? - Published October 8, 2009 (retrieved October 18, 2009)
  14. PositiveMedia's Call-in Show - Published October 6, 2009 (retrieved October 18, 2009)
  15. Jon Foreman steps in and out of "Hurricane" - Published November 5, 2009 (retrieved November 5, 2009)
  16. los angeles, california. - Published August 5, 2009 (retrieved August 23, 2009)
  17. twitter
  18. Songwriting for the Ages - Published January 12, 2009 (Retrieved January 15, 2009)
  19. "acoustic AND more electronic"... Switchfoot interviewed on MTV Asia - Published December 28, 2007 (Retrieved January 15, 2009)
  20. Spring is in the air! fall & winter can now rest at peace! and New RECORD NEWS - Published March 20, 2008 (Retrieved January 15, 2009)
  21. Switchfoot Eyeing Spring 2009 For New Album - Published August 1, 2008 (Retrieved January 15, 2009)
  22. Fiction Family Pt. 2 - Published January 2, 2009 (retrieved January 27, 2009)
  23. A Conversation With Switchfoot’s Drummer Chad Butler - Published August 5, 2009 (retrieved August 8, 2009)
  24. Switchfoot rock Visalia and preview Hello Hurricane! - Published May 9, 2009 (retrieved May 13, 2009)
  25. Download preview of Switchfoot's new song, "Hello Hurricane" - Published May 11, 2009 (retrieved May 13, 2009)
  26. hellohurricane - Published May 11, 2009 (retrieved July 10, 2009)
  27. Switchfoot Unleashes the Hello Hurricane Tracklisting - Published June 16, 2009 (retrieved June 16, 2009)
  28. **New** Switchfoot - Mess of Me
  29. NEW SONG!! Bullet Soul by Switchfoot live at AMT in Lancaster, PA
  30. Needle And Haystack Life - Published July 10, 2009 (retrieved July 11, 2009)
  31. Switchfoot - The Sound (new song) Memphis, TN - Published July 16, 2009 (retrieved July 16, 2009)
  32. "Hello Hurricane" Intro clip!; YouTube Assault Aftermath - Published July 29, 2009 (retrieved July 22, 2009)
  33. 'Mess Of Me' - Switchfoot (new single from new album "Hello Hurricane" - out November 10, 2009) - Published September 8, 2009 (retrieved September 12, 2009)
  34. Free - Switchfoot / 9/9/09 - Published September 9, 2009 (retrieved September 12, 2009)
  35. Always-Switchfoot**New Song!** - Published September 11, 2009 (retrieved September 12, 2009)
  36. "Free" by Switchfoot on Fox Sports Baseball Highlight reel - 2009 ALCS Game 1 - Published October 18, 2009 (retrieved October 18, 2009)
  37. Switchfoot Perform "Mess of Me" - Published November 13, 2009 (retrieved November 13, 2009)
  38. New Album Release details, the latest skinny - Published July 30, 2009 (retrieved August 8, 2009)
  39. BREAKING: Switchfoot teams with Atlantic Records for Worldwide release of "Hello Hurricane" - Published August 8, 2009 (retrieved August 9, 2009)
  40. switchfoot.com
  41. Bon Jovi tops album chart - Published November 18, 2009 (retrieved November 18, 2009)
  42. http://www.billboard.com/charts/hot-100#/album/switchfoot/hello-hurricane/1294132
  43. Switchfoot :: Hello Hurricane Collector's Deluxe Edition - Published September 16, 2009 (retrieved September 21, 209)



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