From the surf to the stage

By ANNA BEATY KERR The Daily Sentinel
Friday, March 26, 2004

Four surfers from San Diego have put down their boards to make a big splash in the music industry. They will make waves tonight with a sold-out appearance at Mesa Theater and Club.

“We are definitely looking forward to coming there,” Switchfoot drummer Chad Butler said via his cell phone. “It’s going to be a good, sweaty rock show.”

Butler talked to The Daily Sentinel while waiting to complete a sound check for “The Tonight Show” in Los Angeles The show aired March 12.

“This is kind of surreal, I am standing in front of Jay Leno’s parking spot,” Butler said. “There’s a red Triumph convertible in it.”

It’s hard to ignore the recent buzz about Switchfoot, with live performances including “The Tonight Show,” “On Air With Ryan Seacrest” and mentions on MTV’s “Total Request Live” within the last month.

The band’s recent success is largely due to its fourth and fasting-selling album, “Beautiful Letdown.” The band’s new DVD, “Live in San Diego,” was released this week.

The album, released more than a year ago, is ranked in the Billboard top 100 albums. The single “Meant to Live” is on Billboard’s Top 40 Modern Rock Tracks.

All 11 tracks of “Beautiful Letdown” were recorded in a small studio in two weeks. The band’s new label, Columbia/RED Ink, didn’t pick it up until after the album was finished. The album’s success is its raw sound that is free of label influence, Butler said.

“We didn’t spend too much time polishing it up so it didn’t lose its energy,” he said.

Switchfoot is: The Foreman brothers, Jon on guitar and vocals and Tim on bass; Butler on drums; and Jerome Fontamillas on keyboards. The Foremans and Butler grew up together catching waves and gigs wherever they could in their hometown of San Diego. Fontamillas joined the band in September 2000.

“We are still the same guys that we were in college, playing for 20 people in the coffee shop,” Butler said. “We have learned a lot and had the opportunity to pay our dues. The passion for our music has kept us together.”

This closeness also resonates in their music, consisting of tight transitions between hard-edge guitar solos, inspirational lyrics and psychedelic keyboards. The seemingly effortless transitions take a lot of work, Butler said.

“We are pour everything we have into our music — blood, sweat and tears,” he said.

“We’ve been through thick and thin,” he said. “We’ve slept on the floor of hotels in Europe and then looked for waves the next day. I don’t think that we are any different today. The challenges we face are the same, we just don’t spend as much time at the beach as we used to.”

Butler said he and his band mates might try to get in a day of snowboarding at one of Colorado’s resorts during their tour. They have two more stops in Colorado; at the Ogden Theatre in Denver on Saturday, March 27, and the University Center Ballroom in Greeley on Sunday the 28th.

Doors open at 8 p.m. Special guests The Jealous Sound and Copeland will open the concert. Tickets are $15, this is an all-ages show.

For more information on Switchfoot, visit