Switchfoot are about to release their 7th album on November 10th. Drew Shirley (guitars) and Jerome Fontamillas (keyboard) have taken their time to answer a few questions about a little bit of everything.
1. You guys always seem to be pushing yourselves musically with every album and it’s refreshing to see. Now you’ve mentioned having 4 albums coming out within the next 4 years (a tentative time frame I take it). How are you guys going to do this while still having a fresh sound with every album?
Jerome: We always challenge ourselves to push the envelope of creativity on each album we do. We leave the songs in the cutting floor for each band member to dissect and come up with ideas we believe will make the song the best it can be. We hope the fresh sound of an album will come by us constantly trying to make the songs better and by really pushing ourselves to make the best albums we can.
2. Have you guys ever given thought to doing a concept album of some sort, especially now that you have full creative freedom?
Drew: Well, as far as doing a concept album goes, we have talked about it, but the timing has never been right. We tend to have an abundance of songs written and then look for a “thread” that will tie an album full of them together. Sometimes it is musical in nature, sometimes, style or lyrical. On this current album Hello Hurricane, we asked ourselves which songs would you want to die singing? As in, which songs do we believe have the most soul and honestly.
3. Have the struggles you guys experienced in making Hello Hurricane brought you closer together as a band?
Jerome: I believe it has. We are all already close so it was such a relief and encouragement to know that when things started to get bumpy while recording, we can always count on each other to be there.
4. Is there any song that was the most difficult to write and how was it difficult?
Drew: We spent longer making this album than on any other album. Having built our own studio in San Diego, and cut ties with Columbia, we found that we had ultimate time and freedom to record. We recorded around 80 songs and many of them have different versions. The freedom became the challenge. When you have to sort through that much material, it can be overwhelming. I believe we went through that process and came out the other side with an album that is truly us, and taught us a lot about ourselves.
5. Have any good stories from fans on how your music has helped them in some way?
Jerome: Each song connects to different people in different ways. We are so encouraged and honored to have fans come up to us at shows and share how the music has helped them through a difficult time in there lives.
6. Is the song ‘Yesterdays’ about anyone who was close to the band in particular? It seems like such a somber song but still with a good message of moving on (but not forgetting) and not letting the trials in life drag you down.
Drew: Yesterdays was written with a couple different people in mind, but carries the sentiment that we all feel when losing someone we love. There were personal experiences of loss that inspired it, but we hope that it will bring some relief to people who may be experiencing loss.
7. What song means the most to you and why?
Jerome: The song “Sing It Out” is a special song to me. Such a powerful song. This is also the first time I scored a string part for a Switchfoot song so I’m really excited on how it turned out.
8. How do you guys feel you have grown as musicians and people since being in Switchfoot? Any goals left incomplete that you still are striving for?
Drew: Being in a band makes you grow together with the other guys. We gone through a lot as a band. Good and Bad. Being in the band has taught me much about productivity. This is a hard working group that is very hands on and committed to doing things right. I sometimes just look and appreciate who I am in a band with, it’s a humbling thing for me. I have grown as a musician in many ways. I have tried to learn restraint musically… playing less and realizing that the notes you don’t play are sometimes as important as the ones you do.
9. Are there any genres you guys would like to experiment with in the future?
Jerome: When we embarked on recording songs for this album, we did experiment on different styles of music from very electronic to really acoustic to spoken word and everything in between. I guess the bottom line is, what kind of music are we willing to play for the next few years. What songs define the sound of who Switchfoot is.
10. Are there any songs that the band knows are coming up on the set list and they look forward to playing them? Which are the most fun?
Drew: We are going to play the whole album Hello Hurricane front to back on this next tour. We all get excited about different songs, but I can’t wait to play “enough” and “This is the Sound”… love those songs. After recording 7 albums worth of music, we have enough songs to choose from that all of them are our favorites live really…
11. Did anyone in the band ever take music lessons? Any interesting stories of when they realized they had a special talent?
Jerome: My parents forced me to take piano lessons when I was 6 years old. I didn’t really learn to love it till I was alot older.
12. (For Drew) How was working in All Together Separate different than Switchfoot?
Drew: Bands are like girlfriends…if you will…no 2 relationships are alike, they are all different in lots of ways. In ATS, we had different things that we collectively liked and disliked. Our song-writing process was much different than that of Switchfoot. We would often ‘jam’ song ideas together as a band. Typically, in Switchfoot, Jon, being a gifted songwriter, may write a song on acoustic guitar first and then we all add parts and arrange it as a band. In ATS, I was the only guitar player, whereas with Switchfoot I have learned to find my space musically and work around what Jon is playing on guitar or Jerome on keys.
13. (For Jerome) Any chance of a Fold Zandura reunion at some point?
Jerome: Though I loved playing in Fold Zandura, it doesn’t seem likely that there will be a reunion anytime in the near future.
14. Any members of the band have a favorite song or album (other than your own material)?
Drew: I have so many favorite songs and albums, so I will just pick three. First, Phoenix – It’s Never Been Like That. Every time I put it on I like every song on it. Second, Miles Davis – Kind of Blue. I try to listen to it in entirety once a week, it has every emotion in it. Lastly Led Zeppelin – Houses of the Holy. I am so inspired by the producing, musicality, and guitar playing by the mighty Led Zep.
Thank you for your time.