Humans of Cleveland: Jon Foreman
On Sunday we found ourselves meeting a human that I never imagined I would be talking to in person: Jon Foreman. Although he isn't quite a human 'of Cleveland,' I know many humans from Lee who have been listening to his music for a long time'including myself. Many people recognize Foreman as the lead singer of Switchfoot, although he has done solo work as well as a collaboration called Fiction Family.
Foreman shared with us the questions to some of the questions that have been plaguing our minds for years.
'What was your favorite moment last week?'
'There were several musical moments--those moments where everything comes together and you feel like something magic happens. While we were going up the coast of California it felt like a pretty magical moment and also [there were] some amazing moments with my daughter. She's three. Hearing her laugh is probably better than any music.'
'What makes her laugh?'
'She's kind of a physical comedy girl. I can just kind of collapse and she thinks it's really funny. She thinks I'm funny, and maybe that's her only flaw.'
'What other things bring you joy?'
'I love surfing because it's this release where you're in an environment unlike anything you're normally involved in. So you're staring out instead of at buildings or walls, you're staring at horizons. And you are aware that you're not in control and you're not in your home. You're watching creatures swim around you and they're in their home. Sometimes it's a terrifying environment and sometimes it's playful but you have no control over it. That's one of my favorite places, maybe because it's so unlike the world that we live in behind the wheel and with a guitar.'
'How has your goal in making music changed from when you first started?'
'You pick up a guitar when you're in junior high, for me, and you're listening to Led Zeppelin and you think, 'That's what I want to do.' So you start learning other peoples' songs; B.B. King, The Beatles, and then you start writing your own songs. I think that the thread that is common throughout all of that is the joy you get back from the music. Whether you're listening to it or playing it, you're entering in on the level of joy. That was the very simple purpose of our band'to enjoy the songs we had written together as a band. It sounds really selfish on the one hand, because it is not thinking about anyone else. It is just about what you think is cool and fun and what sounds good to your ears. But on the other hand it's really authentic as an artist to do something that has no interest in what the rest of the world thinks.
So that's where it starts. For us, this record of songs we recorded, they were written about being a freshman in college and what it means to be a freshman. Our first song was about a chemistry class, that's pretty funny stuff. From there, we started touring. You start traveling around the world and singing these songs that were from a very specific location'you're college dorm room, then suddenly you're in the UK and you're like, 'Maybe we should stop singing about this one girl that lives across the hall.' There's a change there.
You begin to see other things in the world, you grow up a little bit, as you're exposed to the good, the bad and the ugly around the world, you have more material to write about. The thing that has stayed constant is writing from that honest place of understanding the world through your own lens and also entering the music through the door of joy.'
'Do you have any advice for college students or people our age?'
'It's a lot of the same stuff I'm trying to figure out throughout the day. Keep asking the big questions. The saying we've had as a band is, 'There are two yeses; the big yes and the small yes.' There are all these little yeses. 'Do you like coke?' 'Sure I like coke.' 'Do you like writing in your journal?' 'Sure I like writing in my journal.' All these things that you say, 'Sure I kind of like that. I like looking at Instagram. I like all these things.' But then there's the big yes. What is the big yes in your life? Don't let the little yes crowd out the big yes; because you only have so much room in your life.'
'What are your 'big yeses?''
'There are a few. Certainly trying to stay focused with my faith means [asking], 'How do I serve the community?' 'How do I serve my family?' So that means, how do I become and continue to live out the actions of a good father, a good husband, a good friend? Those are big yeses. How do I continue to craft my art? That's another big yes.'