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Hello Hurricane

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Title: Hello Hurricane  
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Subject: Switchfoot, Timeline of alternative rock, Drew Shirley, Jerome Fontamillas, Mike Elizondo, List of post-grunge bands, Mess of Me, Always (Switchfoot song)
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Hello Hurricane

Hello Hurricane
Released November 10, 2009 (2009-11-10)
Recorded 2007–2009
Spot X, San Diego
Phantom Studios, Westlake Village
Genre Alternative rock, hard rock
Length 49:03
Label lowercase people records/Atlantic
Producer Mike Elizondo, Switchfoot
Switchfoot chronology

The Best Yet
Hello Hurricane
iTunes Session
Singles from Hello Hurricane
  1. "Mess of Me"
    Released: September 29, 2009[1]
  2. "The Sound (John M. Perkins' Blues)"
    Released: April 26, 2010
  3. "Your Love Is a Song"
    Released: June 29, 2010
  4. "Bullet Soul"
    Released: November 16, 2010

Hello Hurricane is the seventh studio album by American alternative rock band Switchfoot. On February 13, 2011, the album won the award for Best Rock Gospel Album at the 53rd Grammy Awards. It was co-produced by the band and Mike Elizondo, after initially self-producing their work, as well as test runs with producers such as Ken Andrews and Charlie Peacock.[2] The album was recorded mainly in the band's Spot X Studio in their hometown of San Diego, California. It was originally to be released on October 6, 2009, but was pushed back to a November 10, 2009 release on their independent record label, the Atlantic-distributed lowercase people records.[3]

Recording and production

Recording sessions with Charlie Peacock

Pre-production for Hello Hurricane began during the first week of August 2007.[4] That week, the band recorded 13 songs at Big Fish Studio under the guidance of producer Charlie Peacock, who was the founder of the band's first independent label, Re:Think Records.[5] As an experiment, the band "set up all in one room" and tracked the songs live.[5] These new song ideas were then indefinitely shelved when the band embarked on their fall Appetite for Construction Tour with Relient K, with drummer Chad Butler later calling the sessions a "failed experiment".[5]

The band does credit Peacock with encouraging them throughout that time period, positing that the band was "reaching for a horizon that's much larger" than anything they'd done before.[5] The band walked away from their time with Peacock determined to keep "pushing for something we hadn't felt yet...just that desire to go back in and keep writing and keep pushing and looking".[5]

Major label independence

After the Peacock sessions, the band revealed on August 9 that they had left their Major record label, Columbia/SonyBMG, and intended to independently release their follow-up to 2006's Oh! Gravity.[6]

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 they had founded an independent record label imprint called lowercase people records,[7] under which proceeding projects, including the as-yet-untitled new studio album, would be released.

In May 2008, Switchfoot moved into their new studio which they called Spot X, and recording for the record 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.[8] 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,[9] and later, producer Mike Elizondo was brought on board for the last few months of recording.[10]

Work on the record was once more halted in January 2009 when Foreman embarked on a national tour with Fiction Family, a side project band involving Sean Watkins of Nickel Creek. No further news was heard from Switchfoot again until late February, when the band announced they had finished selecting the final song list.[11]

In March, the band tracked 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.[12]

Final mixing began on April 7,[13] and later on, the band announced that during the sessions, they had actually been at work on 4 albums-worth of material.[14] The album's title was announced on the 24th, and on May 30, Switchfoot sent out an email saying that "Hello Hurricane" was finished.[15]

Rob Cavallo and Atlantic Records

After its completion, the album found its way into the hands of Rob Cavallo, newly appointed as Chief Creative Officer with Warner Music Group and Atlantic Records.[16] Cavallo liked what he heard and contacted Switchfoot, eventually signing them on to a 360 Deal to distribute Hello Hurricane through Atlantic Records.[16][17]

"We tracked the whole record completely on our own dime and basically just our own opinions what the record should be", said Jon Foreman. "And then Atlantic chased us down".[18]

Shortly after signing on, the band held several sessions with Cavallo to rework some of the songs for radio.[19][20]

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. He describes the time period with their former label as one filled with personnel turnover, which eventually led to their departure from Sony because "we wanted to create an environment where we were going to be with the same people for a long time and trust is established."[21]

During the early stages of production, Foreman said that the record was going to sound different sonically, initially "shaping up to be more acoustic AND more electronic".[22] "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.[23]

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."[24]

In January 2009, Foreman said that the sonic direction had been taken in three directions, with some songs being more "beat driven", some "punchy," and others "a little bit broader, ethereal," with the band ultimately deciding to go with an amalgam of the three elements.[25]

The overall writing for the record was also varied, with shifts in style and production. Foreman attributes this to Thorp's input, crediting the engineer with creating a landscape in which "the darks are darker and the lights are brighter and the lows are lower and the highs are higher".[26] The enlisting of Hip-hop/R&B producer Mike Elizondo late in the process brought a "new synergy" to the sessions, with drummer Chad Butler describing Elizondo as "someone who's got such a rhythmic sensibility".[10]

With all the artistic freedom came increasingly large amounts of material in what bassist Tim Foreman calls "a very prolific season for us." The challenge for Switchfoot became a question of "how do you define yourself?" according to 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".[18] 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."[27]

Elizondo asked the band, "What are the songs that only you can bring? What are the songs that only Switchfoot can deliver?" And it was with that lens that the band chose the final track listing for Hello Hurricane.[5] The inspiration for the album title comes from the story of a woman the band worked with during post-Hurricane Katrina who had lost her leg during the evacuation. "Her statement was, 'I walked out of my old house, I'm gonna walk into this new one,'" recalls Butler.[28]

Studio webcam and Twitter

As in the 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.



The song "Hello Hurricane" was first debuted at a May 8, 2009 concert in Visalia, California when the band played a preview of the album version of the song through the PA system for fans to hear.[29] One fan recorded the song and posted it online, providing listeners with the first taste of the band's new material.[30][31]

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.[32] "Hello Hurricane," "Bullet Soul,"[33] "Needle and Haystack Life,"[34] and "The Sound (John M. Perkins' Blues)"[35] were all debuted throughout the season as well.

Switchfoot also occasional listening parties across the United States to give fans a chance to hear the album in its entirety.[36] Entrusting a 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".[36]

In September, Switchfoot released a music video for the lead single, "Mess of Me", to YouTube.[37] The band also played a short string of radio shows to promote the upcoming record, debuting a stripped version of "Free" at a 99x radio session on September 9.[38] The next day, Switchfoot performed "Always" at a show in the Ft. Lauderdale Culture Room in Florida.[39]

Songs from "Hello Hurricane" were featured in 2009 College Football games on ESPN, with "Needle and Haystack Life", "The Sound", and "Bullet Soul" regularly playing before commercial breaks.

On October 16, before the American League Championship Series Game 1 broadcast, a montage of baseball highlights was shown interspersed with live clips of Switchfoot and the song "Free" playing in the background.[40]

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.

"Bullet Soul" was utilized as the theme song for WWE's "TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs" pay-per-view.[41] and aired on ESPN broadcasts throughout the 2010 college football season along with "The Sound."

The band also played a string of late-night television shows after the album's release. They played "Mess of Me" on Jimmy Kimmel Live! November 12[42] and on The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien on December 2.[43] Switchfoot then opened 2010 by performing "Always" on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson on January 4, 2010. They also made appearances on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno The band was also tapped as one of two acts (the other being The Goo Goo Dolls) to play the ESPN National Championship Tailgate at the Rose Bowl stadium before the BCS National Championship Game on January 7, 2010.[44] Switchfoot continued to receive promotion for the album from the sports world, performing as the house band during the 2010 ESPY Awards pre-show.[45] A few weeks later, they played a concert on the ESPN campus in Bristol, CT.[46]

Hello Hurricane also has gotten some TV show airplay. One Tree Hill played "Your Love Is A Song" during the ending of the episode "You Know I Love You, Don't You", on November 30, 2009 and "Enough to Let Me Go" was played on "Every Picture Tells A Story", on April 26, 2010.[47] "Always" was used for an episode of Grey's Anatomy titled "The Time Warp" on February 18, 2010.[48] The song "Yet" appeared on an episode of The Vampire Diaries on November 5, 2009.


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.[49] Once this season was concluded, the band began shopping around for a distribution label, "looking for the best partner to give these songs a large platform that is respectful to the people that listen to our music."[49] 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 would meanwhile retain the rights to release Switchfoot's material to the Christian market.[50]


Hello Hurricane was distributed in several different formats and packages, as announced on

  • 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.


Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 74/100[52]
Review scores
Source Rating
AbsolutePunk (77%)[53]
Allmusic 3.5/5 stars[54]
Alternative Press 3.5/5 stars[55]
American Music Channel 4/5 stars[56]
Billboard (favorable)[57]
Christianity Today 4/5 stars[58]
Cross Rhythms 9/10 stars[59]
Jesus Freak Hideout 4.5/5 stars[60]
Paste (7.4/10)[61]
Relevant Magazine (favorable)[62]

Hello Hurricane has received generally favorable reviews, with reviews aggregation website Metacritic calculating an average rating of 74 out of 100.[52] 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."[55] Relevant Magazine hailed it as "one of the best albums of Switchfoot’s career."[62] Allmusic was also favorable, calling the album Switchfoot's "most natural, effortless outing to date,"[54] while Billboard said Hello Hurricane is "a sleekly presented modern-rock album with no shortage of bruising guitars or catchy choruses."[57] 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."[53] But the Times of India's reviewer Nigel Britto was more optimistic. "Hello Hurricane presents a renewed optimism and vigour and a lot more musical experimentation."[63]

Hello Hurricane debuted at number 13 on the Billboard 200, with first-week sales of 39,000 copies.[64] It has sold over 230,000 copies in the United States to date.[65]

Track listing

Album release
No. TitleWriter(s) Length
1. "Needle and Haystack Life"  Jon Foreman 3:46
2. "Mess of Me"  Jon Foreman, Tim Foreman 3:28
3. "Your Love Is a Song"  Jon Foreman, Mike Elizondo 4:19
4. "The Sound (John M. Perkins' Blues)"  Jon Foreman, Tim Foreman 3:46
5. "Enough to Let Me Go"  Jon Foreman, Tim Foreman 3:52
6. "Free"  Jon Foreman 4:02
7. "Hello Hurricane"  Jon Foreman, Tim Foreman 4:04
8. "Always"  Jon Foreman 4:19
9. "Bullet Soul"  Jon Foreman, Tim Foreman 3:24
10. "Yet"  Jon Foreman, Tim Foreman 3:53
11. "Sing It Out"  Jon Foreman, Tim Foreman 5:17
12. "Red Eyes"  Jon Foreman, Tim Foreman 4:49



Chart (2009) Peak position
New Zealand RIANZ Albums Chart 13[67]
US Billboard 200 13[68]
Billboard Alternative Albums 3[68]
Billboard Christian Albums 2[68]
Billboard Rock Albums 4[68]

Year-end charts

End of year chart (2010) Position
Billboard Christian Albums 7[68]

Building a Hurricane

Building a Hurricane
Compilation album by Switchfoot
Released United States November 10, 2009
Recorded 2005–09
Genre Alternative rock
Length 58:00
Label lowercase people records
Producer Switchfoot

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 outtakes and demos culled from the studio sessions for Hello Hurricane. This was available via pre-orders only.[69] This deluxe edition was nominated for a Dove Award for Recorded Music Packaging of the Year at the 42nd GMA Dove Awards.[70]

Track listing

  1. "Needle (Writing Sessions, San Diego, Spring '08)" – 1:50
  2. "Needle (July '08 – Take 7)" – 4:16
  3. "Mess of Me (Charlie Peacock Sessions, Aug. '07)" – 3:05
  4. "Red Eyes (Jan. 12, 2009 – Take 1)" – 3:24
  5. "Sing It Out (Writing Session, Raleigh, NC, Fall '08)" – 0:44
  6. "Sing It Out (Dark Version, Nov. 22 '08 – Take 6)" – 1:46
  7. "The-Voice-Inside-Your-Head Interlude" – 0:06
  8. "Your Love Is a Gun (Bullet Soul Early Version)" – 3:31
  9. "Enough Reprise" – 0:32
  10. "Yet (Dressing Room Demo, Fall '07)" – 1:36
  11. "Yet (Nov. 4 '08 – Take 07)" – 3:53
  12. "Tambo-Cave-at-Gmail-Dot-Com Interlude" – 0:14
  13. "Sing It Out (Demo, Oct. '09, Prog Drums)" – 4:35
  14. "Red Eyes (Demo, Early '05)" – 2:15
  15. "Always Yours (Nov. 13, '08 – Take 9)" – 4:22
  16. "Always Yours, Tim's Unused Bridge" – 0:50
  17. "Mess of Me (Demo, Aug. '08 – Take 2, Full Band)" – 3:49
  18. "Nicaraguan-Maracas Interlude" – 0:25
  19. "Mess of Me (Early Demos)" – 2:01
  20. "Your Love Is A Gun (Bullet Soul Laptop Demo)" – 3:25
  21. "Hello Hurricane (Early Demos)" – 2:22
  22. "Distortion Interlude" – 0:06
  23. "Needle (Nov. 18, '08 – Take 12)" – 3:33
  24. "Sing It Out (Mar. 19, '09)" – 5:29


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