Nickel Creek and Switchfoot Members Create New ‘Family’
We’ve all heard the old saying “opposites attract,” and that doesn’t just apply to romance. When artists from different musical genres combine their talents, great things happen — as evidenced by the Grammy-winning collaboration from Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. The latest example of an award-winning acoustic musician and a rock star joining forces is Fiction Family, a new duo formed by Switchfoot frontman Jon Foreman and Nickel Creek guitarist Sean Watkins.
Foreman and Watkins first met when Nickel Creek and Switchfoot were both playing a festival in San Diego. “John and I met backstage and talked about writing a song,” Watkins tells the Boot. “We traded numbers, but we didn’t do it until we saw each other in a coffee shop much later. We decided to write a song and make a demo. Then we decided to make a three song EP and it turned into a five song and then seven song EP and then we decided to make a whole record.”
Fiction Family’s self-titled debut disc recently released on ATO/Credential Recordings, and the duo have been touring together in support of the new project. Foreman acknowledges the duo might seem unlikely musical partners, but says they eventually found common ground.
“We’re a bit of an odd couple and that’s what makes it work,” Foreman says. “We’re both coming at it from totally different perspectives, with completely different personalities, but we’re really good friends and we respect each other and so even though we have different backgrounds, the music we grew up listening to and still admire today is very similar. I think having that common thread just brings a unique element to our musicality.”
Foreman also points out that they both come from bands where they played with siblings, which also contributed to the duo’s unusual moniker. “They are two words that hold a lot of meaning for me. I think that much of who we are as a culture lean towards fiction,” he says. “As for the family of it, you have the entire nation that’s kind of looking for family. That’s one of the reasons why I like the name. Also both of us come from sibling bands and this is not a sibling band, so this is kind of a fiction family of sort.”
Watkins’ sister Sara, also a member of Nickel Creek, plays fiddle on two of the album’s tracks. “She is only fiddle/violin player on the project,” says Watkins. “We pretty much did everything ourselves. It was definitely a fun project.”
Foreman describes their sound as having “a lot of Jayhawks mixed into it. There’s definitely a little Beatles influence. Both Sean and I are a sucker for a good melody and Sean’s an amazing guitar man, so I think that really factored in heavily.”
Adds Watkins, “Hopefully it’s not predictable, but I think it will make sense when people hear it. I also think that there is stuff that both of us haven’t done before on record, which I think will excite fans of either of our groups.”
There will be 500 deluxe editions available of the project that will include a vinyl record, a CD, and a DVD featuring the music video, a photo gallery, behind the scenes footage and a segment where Sean and Jon interview each other. It will also include a solo track from Foreman and one from Watkins as well as a limited edition print. The deluxe edition won’t be available at retail, only through BandFarm, which handles Switchfoot’s merchandise.
“A lot of these songs are really trying to tell a good story,” says Foreman. “It’s funny because I don’t know if you hear too many story songs on the radio, but I’m a sucker for them, from Johnny Cash to Bob Dylan. In my head when I’m thinking about this record, it feels like sort of a small town where you are documenting various inhabitants of the town. It’s a little bit nostalgic. When I’m singing these songs, I’m almost telling them in a third person, singing them from someone else’s perspective. That’s the feeling I get from the record.”