December ’05: Switchfoot, Curren And Machado Cut Tracks In Mex

posted by / Magazine / November 7, 2005

“Do-do-do—do—do—do-do.” Tom Curren, head down, hands cupped over his mouth, tries to sound out the bass line.

“So, ladies leave ya mens at home…” Tim Foreman sings shyly, hinting that maybe these are the words to the song.

“Yeah! That’s it,” laughs Tom, “Destiny’s Child — I like that song!”

From the “let’s go nuts in our rented minivan” stereo, Tim’s brother Jon (frontman of their band, Switchfoot, super platinum-selling pop/rock dudes), belts a chorus off their upcoming album, Nothing is Sound.

“When I look at the stars! When I look at the star-ah-arrs, I see someone else.”

Entranced, we bob our heads to the song’s flashy Scorps’-like riff as Jon’s eyes blink his approval in the rearview mirror. The drummer, Chad Butler, plays back the beat, pounding on his knees.

“Yeah, yeah — wait, that’s good!” Tom cranes his neck at the front speaker, and asks if anyone wants more of that weird fruit we bought on the side of the road.

“Man, look at this!” Jon points up at the massive olive-tan banyans tubing our jungle highway, “You just know this is gonna be a good trip.”

He’s right.

The whole thing’s dialed. We’ve got acclaimed surf cats, Tom C. and Rob Machado, and we’ve got the band. The deal is to set ’em up in a plush, Mainland Mexican getaway and let ’em jam. Cut a few tracks, cut a few waves and have fun doing both. We wanna hear surf music again. For the band, who spend their year giggin’ Tokyo to O-hi-o, the surf part is what they really came here for. As for the tunes, they’re all packing: Tommy Gun with his Yamaha keyboard, XX.

A transmogrification of indigenous red ants

So the pad is rad, but the heat is dizzying like a billy club smack to the head. Good thing the ocean’s just a short walkway below. We throw our junk on the floor and rush to the water. The waves are grey under passing rain clouds, about gut-high and flabby. The band have ripped open a coffin of glossy-new Merricks, while Tom and Rob opt to swim — until Jon ups the ante with a splendid backside reverse. What?! Rob grabs a Boogie Board and is making serious distance; then Curren, on a twinny, starts connecting combos like a cat on fire.

The night falls down on us. In the dinner room the maids have set our feast of beans and rice and a big box of chocolates, which, of course, we devour first. Talk bounces about us of long, warm point waves. Stoner’s Point is just up the road. Sherm’s bro, Ron “The Sherpa”, is with us, and he’s got all the info. Everyone’s bonding. Laughter’s floating up into the ceiling fan, spinning around the room. A long march of red ants is moving through a crack in the palm-thatched roof, and, one by one, blasted by the fan, into the sky, each one lands only stronger, continuing on for our plates. Their bodies are fierce, their minds set. What would happen if suddenly they grew big as us? If they inflated like balloons so that we could see their ghastly red fangs, their starving, robotic black eyes? I’m kinda trippin’ on the thought, till I look up and notice everyone else is gone.

“There’s a red house over yonder,” I hear someone singing from the jam room. “It’s where my baby stays.” I walk in and Tommy’s got the harmonica out and while Sherm’s banging away on a good-sized cowbell. It’s gonna be a long night.

Secret Beach

Oh my God, the sea-sand bottom shimmers in waves of far-traveled light. We are here! The smiling senoritas cook our beans, rice, huevos; squeeze the oranges at sunrise, brew the blackened mud caf, set the warm ceramic eating plates — Petra and the younger one, Piha, with her shiny silver-capped front teeth — we are extravagantly-treated happy guys.

Tommy’s up at the jam pad, leading the band. Rob Mob’s doin’ it on the single w/no fin — we call ’em 360s, extended cat crouch backwards glide. No need to go left, nor right. Water’s shallow, sand is safe for play. “Let’s make a beat to let ’em know when a good one’s coming,” says Tom, “And one to tell ’em they had a good ride!”

Tommy isn’t joking — he’s got the cowbell out, the tambourines — there’s a big need for MORE cowbell! Pretty soon the whole thing’s a straight Latin jam — Tom, Chad and Sherm (mondo-bongo-man). Soon the surf sesh below at the sand wedge cove is in ecstasy, literally dancing on waves. Hooting. Screaming. “Owwuu!” to righteous funk.

Take time to make friends

Tim Foreman’s the nicest guy, looks you right in the eye, listens like a hawk, then listens some more. He says some good things, too. He and Jon and Chad — they’re good people.

“Happy is a yuppie word,” Jon sings. “I want more than dirty cash can buy.”

Jon and the boys are trying a new one on us. They are happy, but intense, caring about lasting stuff: social justice, helping the poor and sick of the world. They’ve started a website, lowercasepeople.com, for their likeminded fellows.They finish, as the last strum resonates, and afternoon rays cross their “so, whatd’ya think?” faces, making them look a little older than before. They’re contentedly aware of nature’s decay, even while racing up the charts — their last disk, The Beautiful Letdown, sold 2.5 million. The next one expects more.

“That’s why my main goal with music is for it to benefit someone else,” says Tim.

No complain

The surf is flat, but the boys don’t complain. We’ve discovered the art of kayak surfing. The day is calm. The estuary is flowing out; a mini sand point is hooking its south edge. Many pelicans have descended upon the zone, feasting, stuffing big bills with fish. The whole vibe here is cool, unless you’re a fish.

Tommy’s a ball of energy, curious, mixing around with mics, drums, guitars, keys, foot pedals. Rob, on the other hand, is mellow as they come. But he works. At a little left point, knee-high, subtle interaction to each piece of lip crumble or fold, eyes precise — he is music.

“See, he’s interpreting it, same as musicians do one another,” says Tim, us watching from behind the wave, and he with a hot, Chappy Jennings-type style himself. Later, over heaping bowls of lentils, we talk about sound frequencies, about “white noise”, the snow on your TV.

“Space Junk. It’s soothing. It’ll put a baby to sleep,” says Jon.

“Um-hmm. Next time ya hear some on the radio, just tune in and groove to it,” adds Tom.

For the rest of the “Switchfoot In Mex” story, pick up the December 2005 issue of SURFING Magazine, on sale October 25th.

And to download the 4 tracks from the trip, click on the link below!

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