In India, Switchfoot found ‘family halfway around the world’

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New Delhi, April 2 (IANS) They came all the way from the US to regale their Indian fans and, on their maiden tour of the country, members of the hugely popular alternative rock band Switchfoot felt they had found a “family” far away from home, says frontman Jon Foreman, who is drawn to Indian classical music.

Comprising Jon (vocals, guitar), Tim Foreman (bass), Chad Butler (drums), Jerome Fontamillas (keyboard, guitar) and Drew Shirley (guitar), the band performed at Hard Rock Cafe in Mumbai, Pune and New Delhi last month as part of their tour in India through Micromax Vh1 Rock Rules.

The concerts drew enthusiastic crowds.

Talking about the crowd at their performance, Jon told IANS: “It was similar in a lot of respects. My favourite thing about music is that it brings people closer together. And to feel like family halfway around the world, that was incredible.”

Jon has an affinity towards Indians.

“There are wonderful crowds. I’ve always found my friends who are from India to be beautiful people with a special spark in their eyes. It was amazing to be able to sing along with Indians in Mumbai… People really like rock and roll down here.

“Music, for me, is a communal experience and when you feel that connection, that’s special,” he added of Switchfoot’s Mumbai performance.

Jon has been to the country once before and he is glad to have returned with his band members.

“I have always been fascinated by Indian culture and music. I have a harmonium and a tanpura. I came here a few years back and went to Delhi and Lucknow. I’m glad that I brought my bandmates with me this time,” he said.

Southern California natives Jon, Tim and Chad formed the band in 1996 in San Diego, and Jon says the “joy” from music has remained constant through their 19-year journey.

“We’ve seen a lot of changes over the years and the thing that remains constant is that music has always provided me a vehicle in which to travel places I’ve never been. I will always have this joy that music gives me and that has remained constant throughout our journey,” he said.

Admitting he’s not “drawn to” Bollywood music, Jon said he is more of an admirer of traditional Indian music and likes to listen to Indian sitar maestro Ravi Shankar’s work after he discovered the instrument listening to The Beatles.

“I’m not really drawn to the Bollywood thing; I like more traditional Indian music. My first experience of listening to Indian music was growing up on The Beatles and hearing the sitar in some of their songs.

“I think that was what set me off to listen to Ravi Shankar and some other sitar and tabla music. I love the rhythms and I love a lot of the raagas… I tend to lean towards the stuff that is truly Indian and sounds like it couldn’t have happened in America,” Jon said.

Asked if he has any preconceived notions about India, Jon said: “Most of the preconceived notions are fairly positive – spicy food, the most incredible colours I’ve seen, beautiful smiles and crazy traffic.”

“The traffic on Indian streets is now famous internationally just like the spicy food and vivid cultural colours,” Jon concluded.

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