While recording Switchfoot's new Columbia project, "Oh! Gravity," lead vocalist Jon Foreman says part of the goal was to erase the boundary between artist and audience. So the band devised ways to mak

While recording Switchfoot's new Columbia project, "Oh! Gravity," lead vocalist Jon Foreman says part of the goal was to erase the boundary between artist and audience. So the band devised ways to make the fans part of the process. "In music, the band is only half of the equation," Foreman says. "The other half is the listening public. The word fan is awkward ... For me, it's a partnership."

The band launched a contest offering one fan the chance to play cowbell on the song "Amateur Lovers," garnering 22,000 entries. A webcam was also set up to allow for 24-hour access into the studio sessions. "The whole cowbell contest was about how do we blur the line between who we are as a band and the people who listen to us," Foreman says.

"Oh! Gravity," which streets Dec. 26, is the San Diego-based band's sixth studio album and its third for Columbia. The band is also distributed to the Christian market through EMI Christian Music Group. Switchfoot's first Columbia effort, "The Beautiful Letdown," has sold 2.6 million copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan, spawning the hits "Meant To Live" and "Dare You To Move." Last year's "Nothing Is Sound," has sold 549,000 units.

The new album contains the same caliber of thought-provoking, articulate lyrics that the band has become known for, but it rocks harder and has a more aggressive sound. Such songs as the title track and "American Dream" have an edgy, punk rock intensity, while "30 Second Hands" boasts an alt-country rock vibe.