Switchfoot is all about honesty... and surfing
US rock band Switchfoot has been around for 16 years and they don’t show any signs of slowing down.
Guitarist Jerome Fontamillas says they are very excited to be touring, especially after being here ten years ago for some charity projects.
“We came down to visit hospitals, some villages, plant trees in some towns and it was awesome. We’ve been wanting to come back ever since… It’s good to finally be touring.
“We very much focused on community back then, but now the focus is the fans. We know we have a lot of family here and we want to engage that.”
Fontamillas says that as a live act they are very different to their albums. “It’s a different sound,” he says. “We have a lot of surprises, changing things up and anything could happen. It’s very audience- dependent.
“It could be a crazy rock show or it could be an intimate show… You never know. Especially to a crowd we’ve never played to before.”
He says they always try their best regardless of the crowd and they are very eager to see how it goes down in South Africa.
The band is made up of Jon Foreman (lead vocals, guitar), Tim Foreman (bass guitar, backing vocals), Chad Butler (drums, percussion), Fontamillas (guitar, keyboards, backing vocals), and Drew Shirley (guitar, backing vocals).
Though the music is quite Christian-based, it doesn’t overpower the music itself, and Fontamillas says faith is important to them, but isn’t what makes the music.
“Our faith informs a lot of what we do but it’s not about religion. It’s about the music and honesty coming out through the music.
“Anyone could relate to honest music, whether they’re Christian or not, so that’s what we aim for. Just honesty. People relate strongly to stories about life they can relate to.”
The band’s latest album, their eighth, is more introspective than previous albums, which Fontamillas says is self-realisation, and about the polarity of life. “It’s about the extremes of good and bad in all of us.”
Switchfoot, hailing from San Diego, California, are a cool bunch of dudes who enjoy music and surfing.
Fontamillas says it’s not about selling records, though it would be nice. “It’s about making the music we love. Creating, evolving, writing and surfing as much as we can.
“The songwriting is somewhat organic, and based around the lyrics most of the time. We have an empty canvas and we paint with emotions, our minds… We try, we fail sometimes and we have an album every now and then and we hope people like it as much as we do.”
Fontamillas says their influences have an impact on them, but not really on the music itself, and this breeds originality.
“We have five different styles coming together with each band member and we all have different influences.
We do have similar ones like the timeless Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Dylan, Cash, Radiohead… but then we have our individual influences, and it definitely influences the music but it doesn’t directly come out.”
Switchfoot are in South Africa on Wednesday, August 8 at the Carnival City, Big Top Arena, Johannesburg and Saturday, August 11 at His People Centre in Cape Town. Fontamillas says in between touring, they hope to go back and visit the communities they did in 2002/2003.
“We visited this village called Khayamandi, and we got really close to the kids… I hope we can go back and reconnect with the people there.”
They also want to surf.
“We want to see the country and find some good surf spots. It kind of brings us together, you know. And we want to find out the surf culture as much as we can.”
For Fontamillas and the rest of the band, the music industry and their position in society give them a platform from which to act and do good for communities.
“We want to make a difference. We’ve been given good lives and a great way to give back in any capacity. And we will. We live our lives with one main belief, really.
“Life is short. Live it well.”