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Interview: Switchfoot’s Jerome Fontamillas

By Apartment613 on February 8, 2017

By Nicole Irvine

When you speak with Switchfoot, you quickly get the impression that these guys are pretty genuinely happy. Not just content – but have an overwhelming sense of hopefulness and positivity about their surroundings and music they produce.

In fact, 2017 marks a really interesting point for Switchfoot, as this marks the 20th anniversary of bands debut album The Legend of Chin. The band are still touring their tenth album, Where the Light Shines Through (2016).

Naturally, this makes for a perfect point to chat with guitarist and keyboardist Jerome Fontamillas ahead of their show February 10 at Algonquin College, and reminisce about his career thus far.

“With each album we do, this may be our last album, or maybe we may have 10 albums left in us. Its one of those things, if I still love what I do and it still matters, then I’m going to keep doing it.”

“What I’m most proud of is that we’re a band after 10 albums – and doing 10 albums, it’s a feat. I’ve been involved with seven of those, to still really enjoy hanging out with each other and be really close like families – it’s pretty amazing. It’s the fact that you can still play music with these band of brothers”

No matter what kind of family you’re from, it obviously makes it harder to gain new perspectives and motivation to create new material. Fontamillas believes they have perfected their process in a way, ensuring that each album they create is just as good as the last.

“After each album, we kind of break up the band to find ourselves. We need to figure out if we still want to do this and if this is something we want to keep doing. We always feel like your latest album is always your last album, but we all keep coming back,” he says.

“With each album we do, this may be our last album, or maybe we may have 10 albums left in us. It’s one of those things, if I still love what I do and it still matters, then I’m going to keep doing it.”

If Where the Light Shines Through were to become their last album, Switchfoot would end on an intriguing note. The album highlights aspects of the human condition throughout, sparking a conversation that is remarkably relevant for today’s landscape. While things look bleak and miserable from some angles, it can exemplify what it means to feel hope – presented from a perspective that seems wise through years of experience.

“We have a big Christians listener base, and we appreciate it. Even as a band we’re all believers, and in that sense we definitely don’t reject that aspect of it. We just don’t want to put our music in a certain genre. The fact that our music is very honest, it doesn’t just speak to Christians – it speaks to everyone. We speak about life, and everyone can get something out of it.”

Some may argue that with themes like this, the Grammy category wins, and a huge following gained from the film A Walk To Remember (which focuses on Christian themes) that Switchfoot is a strictly Christian rock band. While the connotation is welcome, Fontamillas doesn’t want you to write them off one-sidedly.

“We have a big Christians listener base, and we appreciate it. Even as a band we’re all believers, and in that sense we definitely don’t reject that aspect of it. We just don’t want to put our music in a certain genre. The fact that our music is very honest, it doesn’t just speak to Christians – it speaks to everyone. We speak about life, and everyone can get something out of it.”

Switchfoot reminded me there can be consistent forms of positivity that connect us in all different walks of life – no matter if it’s 1996 or 2017. And we could all use a bit more of that, couldn’t we?

Switchfoot and Relient K play at the Algonquin Commons Theatre (1385 Woodroffe Ave.) on February 10 at 7:30pm. Tickets start at $26 and are available online at www.algonquinsa.com. $1 from every ticket will go toward Switchfoot’s BRO-AM Foundation for underprivileged youth.