Q&A with Switchfoot band members Drew Shirley and Jerome Fontamillas
Switchfoot came to downtown Madison to play at a small venue, The Majestic. Photos are available through the gallery.
Q: Has the band played here before?
A: Jerome: We played at that big festival held annually, Summerfest.
Q: Has your time on tour been memorable so far?
A: Drew: We haven’t remembered a ton of it. Sometimes it gets to be like a blur. We remember certain snap shots of places where you go, “Oh, that was here.” A lot of times it’s walking around that makes you remember. Jerome: Playing 200 to 250 shows a year is a lot.
Q: How long will your current tour be?
A: Drew: About a month and a half, and we’re on week two. We also had overseas in Europe, South Africa and Indonesia. We’re actually filming a movie. It’s a big deal for us. It’ll be something like “Endless Summer,” with all these surf destinations, since that’s a big part of our band. We record songs all over the world in the process, show how it’s made behind the scenes and what it’s like on tour. It releases next year.
Q: Have you picked a name yet?
A: Drew: Yes, “Fading West.” We’re already making the soundtrack for it, which will be released as a CD. It’s a nice, creative way for us to make music now that it’s in a cinematic approach. In the studio, we write the song and it becomes whatever it is, to fit as a 12-song studio album. Now we’re doing instrumental and a bunch of things we haven’t done before.
Q: What new instruments have been in the waiting?
A: Drew: Well we’re always picking up new instruments, for instance we recently picked up a kettle from the 1980s to mess around with. We have a part of the documentary where that’s shown and explored.
Q: Switching topics, your new studio album released last fall, “Vice Verses.” How has the success of it been compared to previous albums?
A: Jerome: It’s been really good. “Hello Hurricane,” the album before, kind of paved the way for “Vice Verses” to come out. “Hello Hurricane” was a restart of our band. And “Vice Verses” is just the next step in that journey. People are coming to our shows and already know all the songs.
Q: Has your intention over the years to really refine your sound to be the way it is?
A: Drew: Yeah, I mean, as a musician, it goes on a journey; we’re always changing and progressing and hopefully getting better and trying new things and going to different places to record and get better.
Q: Between “The Beautiful Letdown” and “Hello Hurricane,” your sound has really become quite something different.
A: Drew: “The Beautiful Letdown” was old stuff that John [Foreman] (lead singer) produced in his bedroom. Fast-forward to Vice Verses, John comes in with an acoustic guitar, you know, and sings “Dark horses.” And then we all hear it and say, “All right, how do we make it stand up as a band song.” Then we all make our own parts. Then you have tracks like “Selling The News” and “The War Inside” where it’s all drum and bass focused with keyboards. We wanted to keep the guitars out and get the drums and bass so good that you don’t need the guitar. Then we have things that Jerome did like programming, which is new. We also have a remix album coming out called Vice Re-Versus.
Q: Switching topics to “Bro-am,” that’s a big thing for you guys. It’s normally helping youth homeless, but is there anything new you guys are doing this year?
A: Jerome: This is going on our ninth year now. We’ve partnered with a local youth-based organization called “StandUp for Kids.” This year we’re doing the same. The things they do for the at-risk kids in San Diego are awesome and we definitely want to support that.
Q: If I’m not mistaken, it’s one of the biggest and most effective non-profit events in the United States.
A: Drew: Yeah, it’s great. All proceeds go to the organization. We don’t make money off of it, none of the venders make money; when bands come to play they play for free.
StandUp For Kids has been recognized by both the George W. Bush and Bill Clinton administrations and the United States Justice Department for the impact and scope of its programs. For more information, visit www.standupforkids.org.