LEFT TO RIGHT: Switchfoot's Jerome Fontamillas, Chad Butler, Jon Foreman, Drew Shirley and Tim Foreman.
Brian Nevins

Veteran rock outfit SWITCHFOOT reaches a high-water mark with its forthcoming album and new documentary.

The members of the san diego–based, Grammy-winning band Switchfoot have made no secret of the fact that most of the time, they’d rather be surfing. First, there’s the band’s name, which was derived from surfer lingo. Then, there’s the annual Bro-Am festival, a music and surfing event the group created in 2005 to benefit children’s charities in the San ­Diego area. But with their latest releases — an EP from Atlantic Records/Word (part of a forthcoming album, Fading West, due in January), and a self-produced companion documentary of the same name — the guys are putting their hobby in the spotlight.

The group — composed of brothers Jon and Tim Foreman, along with Chad Butler, Jerome Fontamillas and Drew Shirley — filmed Fading West in exotic locales such as Bali, New Zealand and South Africa while writing and gathering inspiration for tracks. With cameras in tow, the musical brotherhood discussed its deep-seated desire to chase rays and waves. Set to screen during the opening segment of shows on the band’s current world tour, the documentary, which has been described as The Endless Summer meets Rattle and Hum, is a visual tribute to places Switchfoot has ventured and others it has yet to visit.

“Whenever we’re traveling or at home, we always try to get to the sea,” says Jon Foreman,­ Switchfoot’s lead vocalist and guitarist. “To make an album and also a film about the ocean — and our connection to it — has been an incredible journey.”

With the expanse of the ocean as its muse, the band approached the production of the new disc with a sense of boundless creative freedom. To wit, Tim, the group’s bassist/vocalist, handled some of the songwriting duties — a divergent course for the band. “Early on, I handled most of the songwriting,” Jon says. “I’m proud of ­everything Tim’s done over the years, but he really rose to the occasion for this record.”

Sonic variety is evident in the tracks featured on the EP, which is available for purchase on its own or is automatically downloaded when fans ­preorder the full-length album. There’s the soul-cleansing­ ­anthem “Who We Are,” the electronica-tinged “Worth the Fight” and the title track — available exclusively on the physical EP — which sums up the band’s raison d’être.

“My favorite time of day is the golden hour, as the sun is dropping,” Jon says. “The song ‘Fading West’ is kind of talking about chasing the sun around the globe. Our journeys, as brothers — and all of us in the band are brothers, in a sense — are tied to the ocean. The sea is the common denominator.”