Formation and early years (1996–2002)Switchfoot was founded in 1996 as Chin Up, consisting of Jon Foreman and his brother Tim, along with Chad Butler on drums. After playing only a few shows, the band was contacted by music industry veteran Charlie Peacock and eventually signed to his indie label Re:think Records under the current moniker, Switchfoot. Re:think went on to distribute the first three Switchfoot albums, The Legend of Chin, New Way to Be Human, and Learning to Breathe. Because Re:think was bought out by Christian giant Sparrow Records before Switchfoot's first release, however, the band's and Peacock's intentions of being marketed outside of the Contemporary Christian music scene and reaching a wider audience were put on hold. Consequently, the band was mostly marketed exclusively to Christian radio and retail outlets early in their careers, a time Jon Foreman has described as when "half of who we were was lost."
Of Switchfoot's first three albums, Learning to Breathe was the most successful, being certified gold by the RIAA, and receiving a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Gospel Album.
Later on in 2002, Switchfoot's music was featured prominently in the movie A Walk to Remember, starring singer and actress Mandy Moore, who sang Switchfoot's song "Only Hope" during a scene in the movie. In addition to Moore's cover of "Only Hope", Switchfoot’s songs “You”, “Learning to Breathe”, and “Dare You to Move” were showcased in the film, as well as their own original version of "Only Hope" towards the end of the film.