Inspired by such films as Rattle and Hum and Endless Summer, Fading West follows Grammy-winning alternative-rock band Switchfoot as they travel the globe in search of new musical inspiration and perfect waves. Directed by Matt Katsolis and filmed during Switchfoot’s 2012 World Tour, Fading West charts the creation of the San Diego-based fivesome’s upcoming ninth album in its earliest and most unpredictable stages. As the band visits legendary surf breaks in Australia, New Zealand, Africa and Bali, brothers Jon and Tim Foreman breathe fresh life into their songwriting and sound by harnessing the spirit of their stunning surroundings and mining new emotional depths. Part rock documentary, part surf film and part travelogue, Fading West offers rare glimpses of the longtime surfers on their boards and in the waves, captures the frenetic energy of their live shows, and in the end portrays a journey both epic and intimate.
Mapped out according to Switchfoot’s favorite surf spots, the tour chronicled in Fading West kicks off in Australia where the band appears alongside the likes of Marilyn Manson and Slipknot on the metal-dominated lineup of the Soundwave festival in Sydney and Melbourne. Switchfoot then travels to New Zealand, where their adventures range from milking cows to jumping off cliffs and hitting the waves with their lifelong surf hero and 3-time World Champion Tom Curren. During their visit to South Africa—along with braving icy waters and board-snapping surf—the band is reunited with the Kayamandi Township children’s choir and dance team who inspired their 2005 song “The Shadow Proves the Sunshine.” And in sublimely serene Bali, Switchfoot joins up with surf legend Rob Machado (a childhood neighbor/idol of the Foremans) in the waves and onstage at a Kuta Beach club.
At the heart of Fading West is the ever-growing conflict between Switchfoot’s roles as world-regarded musicians and passionately devoted family men. That tension comes to a head when—at the very start of the tour—Jon gets word that his newly born daughter needs emergency surgery, and quickly leaves the tour to return to his family. Through heart-on-sleeve interviews and candid conversations among the band members, Fading West reveals Switchfoot’s relentless determination to balance the pull of the road with a deepening need to be home.
With the film and tour culminating in a hometown show at Moonlight Beach in Encinitas, Fading West also takes viewers inside the eighth annual Bro-Am surf contest (an event that benefits homeless kids in the local community through Switchfoot’s own Bro-Am Foundation). Throughout their excursions around the world and back home again, Switchfoot radiate a sense of joyful brotherhood that’s intensely uplifting. Soundtracked by songs from their upcoming album, Fading West is ultimately a soul-stirring look at a long-beloved band faced with the daunting question of what’s next—then finding the answer both out on the road and in their own backyard.