A Step at a Time
By Joe Bosso

Jon Foreman can't help it; the singer and guitarist for San Diego's Switchfoot still clings to the Big Idea. You know, the whole my-art-can-make-the-world-a-better-place thing?

"It sounds pretentious to hear myself say it, but change is possible and I want to be a part of that," he says. "Don't misunderstand--I have no delusions of grandeur, thinking our songs will single-handedly change things. But a lot of our songs are about hope, and I think that's something the kids are picking up on."

Selling idealism is tricky business, but when it's wrapped up in the mellifluous melodies and crashing waves of guitar that make up Beautiful Letdown (Red Ink/Columbia), it goes down pretty easy. "As a guitarist I'm always in search of that one chord. Not even a chrod, it could just be a note," says Foreman, who cites both Jimmy Page and Wes Montgomery as early influences. "You know what? If I could make one note sing forever..." His voice trails off, but he's made his point.

The group's fourth album (and major-label debut), Beautiful Letdown, is the group's first to feature guitarist/keyboardist Jerome Fontamillas. Prior to hiring Fontamillas, Foreman handled all guitar duties by himself. "Bringing Jerome onboard was a big step," he says, "but one we needed to make. Now we're well on our way to becoming the band we need to be."

Fontamillas, who began playing bass because of Sting but ironically switched to guitar after seeing the ex-Police man do the same on his first solo tour, describes his role as "that of an anchor. I play more rhythm than lead, so I hold the band down. It's an important job."