This whole story starts in a California garage with the Foreman Brothers & drummer Chad Butler. Armed with surfboards and cheap electric guitars, the plan was to finish college. But the indie record deal from RE:Think records offered the chance to go explore the world. And that’s just what they did. Three records later, (The Legend of Chin, New Way To Be Human, and Learning To Breathe (Certified Gold -Re:Think Records)), the Foreman brothers dropped out of UCSD to pursue music a bit more seriously. Enter multi-instrumentalist Jerome Fontamillas and tone-wizard Drew Shirley.
Then in 2003, this band of surfer dropouts signed to Columbia records. What started as a high school garage band, was now a band with multiple songs in the top 40. “Dare You To Move” & “Meant To Live” took The Beautiful Letdown (Columbia Records) to double platinum, climbing charts and gaining speed. But rather than lean into the newfound success, they chose to release a darker existential rock record questioning the establishment and declaring Nothing Is Sound (certified gold/ Columbia Records)
Oh! Gravity. (Columbia Records) continued the honest search, asking gravity himself, “Why can’t we keep it together?”
Then the SWITCHFOOT locomotive came to a halt. They chose to cut ties with the volatile parter that Columbia Records had become. They built their own studio. Questions swirled. Why? What do we love? Then came Katrina. The Hurricane swept through the south lands destroying homes and lives. The band underwent a metaphorical hurricane of their own, and after parting ways with Columbia, SWITCHFOOT ( launched out on their own label – Lowercase People Records. From the storm, came the anthem, “You can’t silence my love.” Hello Hurricane (LCP/Atlantic), the 7th studio album came out shooting darts, with ripping guitars and energetic melodies.
With a Grammy in hand, Jon rolled out a folksy singer songwriter solo project and a few Fiction Family albums, featuring Sean Watkins from Nickel Creek.
Shortly after, Vice Verses (LCP/Atlantic), the groove oriented follow-up to Hello Hurricane, connected listeners with stories inspired by the homeless youth in San Diego County.
Fading West, a pop alter ego and film documentary, chronicles the band’s journey through Australia, Indonesia, New Zealand and parts of America looking for inspiration. The film underscores the band’s quest for adventure, belonging, and journey for home.
Instead of just looking for Hope in the form of song, the band consistently finds ways to give back to their community. Partnerships with Habitat for Humanity, TWLOHA, and most notably their annual event The SWITCHFOOT BRO-AM. The event is now 12 years old, giving hope and funding to at risk youth in their hometown of San Diego. “Of all that we’ve been able to do as a band, I’m proudest of the BRO-AM. More than any platinum album, or Grammy, or award- the past decade of celebrating our community has been the most rewarding.”
The unapologetic writing has always led the band forward, sometimes uncomfortably. The irony is that even while pop culture has embraced SWITCHFOOT from time to time, SWITCHFOOT has never fully been accepted. They’ve never been cool, and they’ve never cared. It might be the secret to their longevity. The title track on The Beautiful Letdown says it all, “I don’t belong here, I don’t belong. I will carry a cross and a song where I don’t belong.” The song continues indeed, to a bold tenth record.