by LYDIA COBB | photo by Tyler McElhaney

Switching Stance

The band members of San Diego’s alternative-rock band Switchfoot grew up surfing. Enter Drew Shirley, who joined in 2003 to play guitar. “I’m in a band of surfers, but wanted to live in the hills inland. That’s more me,” explained Drew. Home from far-away tours, Drew loves to be back in San Marcos to chill with his family and his parents and brothers nearby. His home was spared by fifty yards from the Cocos Fire. After evacuating his family, he went back for his ‘74 Nova and stayed to help firefighters save his neighbor’s home.

With Grammy Award-winning Switchfoot, Drew knows it’s special, acknowledging that the average run of a rock band can be five years. “Some days I have to pinch myself,” he added. Things weren’t always easy. “We were a part of the big record sales with Beautiful Letdown and then a part of the industry crash. And now, the most exciting thing is that we are still a band after all that we’ve been through.”

Drew moved as a kid to Rancho Peñasquitos when his father was stationed here in the Navy. He graduated from Mt. Carmel High. His mother was a music teacher at Scripps Ranch High, so he grew up around music and took piano lessons. Participation in high school, community, and church musicals and plays led him to form his first band with a friend in high school. In Riverside, while in college, Drew started playing music full time.

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Drew and the band just wrapped the 10th Annual Switchfoot Bro-Am at Moonlight Beach – a surf contest and eco-concert benefiting at-risk and homeless kids. “Our passion is just to bring hope to people. Our heart is towards the youth, since that’s a large part of our audience,” he shared. Drew has also volunteered for Stand Up for Kids in Oceanside.

Last year, he launched a boutique amplifier company based in Escondido called Revival Amps. Revival hand makes high-end tube amps modeled after the legendary sounds of the ’50s and ’60s. Drew is an avid collector of recording equipment, so this business is a natural progression to inspire musicians as he was inspired. He’s also producing other bands to help them launch with an extended-play album.

A hometown show is on Nov. 1. Drew’s passion for giving back, onstage and off, is the reason he rocks. It’s from the heart, he added, “Play music you love with people you love.”


Name: Drew Shirley
Profession: Switchfoot guitarist and owner of Revival Amps
Community: Eden Valley since 2003
Hobbies: Music, family, classic cars, vintage guitars and amps
Favorite Local Places: Mama Kat’s Restaurant and Pie Shop, The Yellow Deli, Double Peak Park, Plan 9 Alehouse, EscoGelato, and Ryan Bros Coffee