By Michael Mueller

San Diego rockers Switchfoot take their surfing seriously. "If you want to be in the band, you've got to learn how to surf," insists singer/guitarist Jon Foreman. "Yeah," concurs guitarist/keyboardist Jerome Fontamillas, "and I've got scars to prove it."

Taking their name from a surfing move that means to switch the foot with which you lead, Foreman, Fontamillas, drummer Chad Butler, and brother/bassist Tim Foreman have collectively put their best foot forward on The Beautiful Letdown, a collection of punchy rockers with all the potential in the sea to shoot the curl and ride rock radio's waves to the top.

When their hands aren't busy waxing surfboards, Foreman and Fontamillas are happily exploring fret-boards. "I used to practice all the time in high school," says Foreman. "I'd learn B.B. King, Ronnie Jordan, or Wes Montgomery -- different stuff. But I decided that I wanted to write my own material."

Fontamillas takes on a supportive role, citing the styles of his heroes George Harrison and The Edge. "I like to add color -- octave parts or countermelodies over Jon's chords."

As in love with music and the guitar as these two are, both got off to a rough start. "When I was a kid, I used to bounce around on my parents' guitar cases," Foreman recalls. "And one day, I broke the case and cracked the guitar inside."

Adds Fontamillas, "My parents bought me a nylon-string acoustic and a book of chords. Later, I found an old Fender Squier in a garage somewhere."

Although their single, "Meant to Live," is all over the radio, the duo manage to keep it real. "It's a dream come true to play every night and have people sing along and care," says Foreman. "I've always said that wealth is being able to do what you love anytime you want, and that's what we do; we're very wealthy."