Switchfoot discusses “Native Tongue”
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Switchfoot has been one of the most prominent bands within American Christian circles for the better part of the last two decades. The band, which is composed of lead singer/guitarist Jon Foreman, bassist Tim Foreman, drummer Chad Butler, guitarist Drew Shirley, and keyboardist Jerome Fontamillas, won a Grammy for their 2011 album “Hello Hurricane” and has consistently charted highly on both Christian and overall Billboard sales charts.
While the band may not immediately label itself as an exclusively Christian act, many of its fans attest to some form of Christian faith, and all of the band’s members identify as believers. Additionally, many of Switchfoot’s songs deal with issues of spirituality and religion, but usually not explicitly.
This year, Switchfoot released its eleventh studio album, titled “Native Tongue.” The album marks the band’s first release since 2016’s “Where the Light Shines Through.” After a short hiatus, the band reconvened to record “Native Tongue” with the intent to “pursue joy,” according to frontman Jon Foreman. In support of their new album, Switchfoot is in the midst of the “Native Tongue Tour,” which made its way to Santa Barbara’s Arlington Theatre last weekend. The Horizon was able to interview keyboardist Jerome Fontamillas to discuss the new album.
What makes “Native Tongue” thematically or sonically distinct from SWITCHFOOT’s previous albums?
We don’t stray too much from the themes from previous albums. We are always asking questions and trying to seek answers on life, love and hope. Sonically, we always push ourselves to produce music that extends past our musical limits. Somewhere in there our music will generally fall into a space that we feel comfortable sharing it with people.
What was the most difficult aspect of the writing or recording process for this album?
A couple things really. First, do we have that drive to make another album coming out of a year and a half hiatus? And are the songs relevant and good enough to form another album? Second, we always write tons of songs, so of the 100 or so songs we have accumulated, dwindling it down to 12 or so songs can be difficult.
Who are some artists that inspired “Native Tongue”?
We are always inspired by certain artists like Led Zeppelin, the Beatles, U2, and Radiohead to name a few.
What was it like collaborating with Ryan Tedder and Brent Kutzle from OneRepublic?
They have a knack of helping form a song with creative textures and melodies. They were awesome to work with.
What advice would you have for aspiring musicians?
Always strive to get better. Enjoy what you do. And if you get the chance to, play live as often as you can.
What are your favorite things to do in the Santa Barbara area?
When you’re near the ocean, you always head that way. There are some good surf spots a little south of there. Also, it’s always nice to cruise State Street.