Nothing Is Sound

Nothing Is Sound
Nothing Is Sound
Studio album by Switchfoot
Released September 13, 2005
Recorded Signature Sound
Big Fish
House of Cards Studio
Big Brown Sound
Starstruck Studio
The Pass
Stellenbosch Univ. S Africa
Genre Alternative rock, Post-grunge, Hard rock
Length 50:54
Label Sparrow/Columbia
Producer John Fields, Switchfoot
Switchfoot chronology
The Beautiful Letdown
Nothing Is Sound
Oh! Gravity.
Singles from Nothing Is Sound
  1. "Stars"
    Released: 2005
  2. "We Are One Tonight"
    Released: 2006

Nothing Is Sound is the fifth studio album by American alternative rock band Switchfoot. It was released on September 13, 2005, and début at number three on the Billboard 200. The first single from this album was "Stars," which was the number one most-added song on Modern Rock Radio, and received much airplay on alternative rock stations upon release. A second single "We Are One Tonight" was released in early 2006, but without much success on the Billboard charts.

The album was marred by major controversy over the inclusion of XCP copy protection distributed on all copies of the disc. This led to bassist Tim Foreman posting a detailed work-around on the band's website (which was promptly removed by Columbia Records). Nothing Is Sound was at the forefront of the Sony BMG CD copy prevention scandal, which eventually led to the recall of all CDs that contained the protection.



Recording history

After the large success of Switchfoot's previous record, The Beautiful Letdown, the band found itself constantly touring and were forced to work on most of the new record while on the road. As a result, many of the songs on Nothing Is Sound made their public debuts at various shows on the tours. Every night on tour, the band would write parts to new songs, and test them out during the shows."There's nothing like playing a new song in front of real people with real opinions. The people at those shows, (the extended Switchfoot family), they shaped this song as much as anyone," lead singer Jon Foreman said.[1]

Music and lyrical themes

Nothing Is Sound is characterized as being a much "darker" album compared to Switchfoot's other releases. Jon Foreman even hinted that the album could be viewed as "a dark chapter revealing even more mysteries to be solved".[2] Lyrically the songs explore topics ranging from loneliness, the end of the world, anti-entropy, and the commercialization of sex.[2] The band has always viewed the album as being more hopeful than anything, pointing to songs like "The Shadow Proves the Sunshine" as how a seemingly dark theme can actually be positive. Foreman says, "I may write about how everything is meaningless, but it’s a very hopeful thing for me to be proven wrong.".[3] The song is a fan favourite and is often played live at their shows.

Musically, the record features the most densely-layered guitar work by the band to date. This is attributed to the official addition to the band of touring guitarist Drew Shirley, whose work on the song "Golden" provided a "mellow, ethereal roof over top of the song," as Foreman noted.[4] "Noise never sounded more beautiful!"


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars [5]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars [6]
IGN 6/10 stars [7]
Paste 3/5 stars [8]
Jesus Freak Hideout 4.5/5 stars [9]
Cross Rhythms 10/10 stars [10]

In October, just over a month after its original release date, Nothing Is Sound was certified gold by the RIAA for selling 500,000 copies.[11] The incredible pacing tapered off significantly, following the revelation of Sony's rootkit on the disks. The November 1st, 2006 edition of Billboard magazine reported that Nothing Is Sound had sold 549,000 units. It debuted on the Billboard 200 at number three, being the highest that any Switchfoot album has ever placed.[12] "Stars" is the best charting single of the album, reaching as high as 16 on the modern rock chart, and number 68 on the Billboard Hot 100.[13]

Copy protection controversy

In November 2005, it was revealed that Sony was distributing albums with Extended Copy Protection, a controversial feature that automatically installed rootkit software on any Microsoft Windows machine upon insertion of the disc. In addition to preventing the CDs contents from being copied, it was also revealed that the software reported the users' listening habits back to Sony and also exposed the computer to malicious attacks that exploited insecure features of the rootkit software. Though Sony refused to release a list of the affected CDs, the Electronic Frontier Foundation identified Nothing Is Sound as one of the discs with the invasive software.

Bassist Tim Foreman posted a way around the protection on the bands message boards.[14] The original post was soon deleted, which caused some people to speculate that Sony would sue the band over this issue.[15] However, no legal action has been taken. Jon Foreman would later say that he felt the album was "tainted" by this.[16]

An additional copy protection problem was found on some of the disks that were published by EMI. These disks contained Cactus Data Shield copy protection. Ironically, some copies of that version were also recalled due to incorrect copy protection settings, although they were exchanged for other copy-protected copies with the correct settings.[17]

Dual Disc release

A DualDisc version of Nothing is Sound was released simultaneously with standard editions of the album. Notable is the fact that these DualDisc CDs did not contain the copy protection software.

The DVD-side of the album featured the entire album in 5.1 Surround sound, and also includes an approximately 30-minute long documentary on the making of the album.

Music videos

Switchfoot's first music video from this album is "Stars", which was filmed almost entirely underwater. Switchfoot has since released a live video version of "Stars", and another two videos for the album's second single "We Are One Tonight". The band also filmed a video for the song Happy Is a Yuppie Word in anticipation of it being released as the first single. However, it was never formally released, but was later included on the DVD Switchfootage 2 along with a video for The Blues.

Track listing

All songs written by Jon Foreman except where noted.

  1. "Lonely Nation" – 3:45 (Jon Foreman, Tim Foreman)
  2. "Stars" – 4:20
  3. "Happy Is a Yuppie Word" – 4:51
  4. "The Shadow Proves the Sunshine" – 5:04
  5. "Easier Than Love" – 4:29 (Jon Foreman, Tim Foreman)
  6. "The Blues" – 5:17
  7. "The Setting Sun" – 4:24
  8. "Politicians" – 3:28
  9. "Golden" – 3:36
  10. "The Fatal Wound" – 2:44
  11. "We Are One Tonight" – 4:42 (Jon Foreman, Tim Foreman)
  12. "Daisy" – 4:18

Extra songs

In addition to the mainstay tracks listed above, the album was released with extra material at different stores.

  • Albums purchased at Target stores contained an extra track called "Goodnight Punk". The song was originally considered for the album The Beautiful Letdown but was cut from the final selection.
  • Albums purchased at Wal-Mart contained a Christmas song called "Old Borego" as a bonus track, which Jon Foreman had penned earlier for a charity album released locally in the band's hometown of San Diego.
  • In Japan, the album was released with an alternative version of "Dare You to Move" which is featured during a montage in the band's DVD "Switchfootage", along with the unreleased track "Monday Comes Around."
  • Albums purchased at iTunes included an acoustic version of the song "Stars".


Year Chart Position
2005 Australian Albums Chart[18] #25
2005 New Zealand Albums Chart[19] #31
2005 US Billboard 200 #3
2005 Top Internet albums #1
2005 Top Christian albums #1


In 2006, the album was nominated for a Dove Award for Rock/Contemporary Album of the Year at the 37th GMA Dove Awards.The song "Stars" was also nominated for two Dove Awards.[20]


  • Jon Foreman – guitar, vocals
  • Tim Foreman – bass, backing vocals
  • Chad Butler – drums, percussion
  • Jerome Fontamillas – keyboard, guitar, backing vocals
  • Andrew Shirley – guitar, backing vocals
Additional musicians[21]
  • Chris Westlake – strings
  • Tommy Barbarella – strings
  • Todd Cooper – choral vocals
  • Jimmy Coup – choral vocals
  • Joel Hossler – choral vocals
  • The Kuyasa Kids – choral vocals
  • Andy Sturmer – backing vocals
  • Rachel Masen - backing vocals


  1. ^ Jon, Foreman (2005-09-12). "Nothing Is Sound Song Stories". Retrieved 2008-03-27. 
  2. ^ a b Foreman, Jon (2005-09-12). "12 days of Switchfoot". Retrieved 2007-06-27. 
  3. ^ "Switchfoot, nothing is sound". 2005-08-26. Retrieved 2007-06-27. 
  4. ^ Nothing Is Sound Song Stories - Published November 2005 (retrieved January 17, 2009)
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ Courtney Lee (2006-06-19). "Switchfoot Announces European Tour Dates". Christian Today. Retrieved 2008-07-27. 
  12. ^ "Artist Chart History – Switchfoot". Billboard. Retrieved 2007-02-09. 
  13. ^ "Artist Chart History – Switchfoot". Billboard. Retrieved 2008-07-27. 
  14. ^ Foreman, Tim (2005-09-14). "". Retrieved 2006-08-13. 
  15. ^ "Artist Suggesting Ways Around Copy Protection". Slashdot. 2005-09-19. Retrieved 2006-08-13. 
  16. ^ Newman, Melinda (2006-06-26). "Switchfoot switches plans, back in studio". Reuters. Retrieved 2006-08-13. [dead link]
  17. ^ "Recall of Switchfoot, "Nothing is Sound," Discs" (Press release). EMI. Retrieved 2007-02-09. 
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^ 37th Annual GMA Dove Awards Nominations & Winners on; Jones, Kim
  21. ^ CD Liner Notes

External links

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