Band Finding “Where the Light Shines Through”

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Switchfoot b 235Switchfoot worked through a daunting creative process on its latest album and arrived at a place "Where the Light Shines Through."

The hopeful song titles the new release, which is the Grammy-winning band's 10th album.

"We've been through a lot as a band, and in writing these new songs we went through some mountains and some valleys," said keyboardist Jerome Fontamillas during a call from a tour stop in Minneapolis, Minn.

"We were still trying to figure out who we are as a band, and wondering whether this is even worth keeping doing," he noted.

But then....the light.

"In that song ("Where the Light Shines Through") is the idea is that you may be going through a dark time, but in that spot is probably where God can really use you. That's where the light really does shine through."

The California-based band is showcasing some of the new songs on its current tour, which stops at the DeltaPlex Arena on Sept. 29 (details below).


Switchfoot (a surfing term – several of the members are avid surfers) began 20 years ago when lead singer Jon Foreman, his brother Tim and drummer-friend Chad Butler began as a rock-pop trio. They picked up two additional members along the way, including Fontamillas, who came on board just before the band's breakthrough 2003 release, The Beautiful Letdown." The collection features one of the band's mainstay songs, "Dare You To Move."

"Right when I joined the band, I began playing that song and have been playing it every since," said Fontamillas of the tune which offers encouragement to go on in the face of adversity.

"That song means a lot to a lot of people and also to me," he said of the ballad they perform at nearly every show.

The band's mainstream music acceptance (performances on "The Tonight Show" and other TV entertainment outlets, several songs in the film "A Walk To Remember") comes without affecting their Christian music fans. Often their songs reach multiple audiences on varying playlists. Switchfoot's new album topped the Christian rock charts the week of its summer debut and placed high on the overall Billboard 200 list as well. The new songs "Float" and "Live It Well" are in the top ten of Christian rock and contemporary hit charts respectively.

Switchfoot headlined stages this year at both of Michigan's major Christian summer music festivals – Big Ticket Festival in Gaylord, and Unity Music Festival in Muskegon.
"We really love playing there, and this summer was when we started playing some of the new songs for people and it was really exciting for us," Fontamillas recalled.


Fontamillas came to the U.S. when he was just 3 years old when his family emigrated from The Philippines. He lived in southern California and knew the Switchfoot guys during their early performing years.

"I was in other bands but would play at the same clubs they were and we became good friends," he said. "Then they asked me to play with them."

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Fontamillas said no. He had just got a "corporate job filing and faxing papers," and he felt he had to turn them down.

But he had a change of heart.

"On my second day on the job I called Jon (Foreman) during my lunch break and said, 'I don't like my job. Can I still come and play with you?' "He said, 'Sure.' And after lunch I went to my boss and said, 'I quit. I've found something I really want to do.'"

Fontamillas, 49, is married and has two young children.

He said band leader Jon Foreman likes to keep things exciting – during shows and afterwards as well.

"We never really know our whole set (song) list until about 10 minutes before we go on stage," Fontamillas said. "And sometimes Jon does 'after-shows,' and will do some of his solo songs."

After a concert, Foreman may send a message to his Twitter followers (@jonforeman) naming a nearby location where he will do an impromptu free acoustic show.

"It depends on how he's feeling – he's learned to pace himself," said Fontamillas. "But most of the time, he'll do it."

Switchfoot with Relient K
7 p.m. Thurs. Sept. 29, 2016
DeltaPlex Arena, 2500 Turner Ave. NW, Grand Rapids
Tickets: $40.50 floor (standing); $35.50 reserved grandstand; $20.50 student reserved
Parking $7
Author Information
Terry DeBoer
Terry is journalist who writes for newspapers, magazines, newsletters and websites. His most frequented “beat” is arts and entertainment. He is married with two children and lives in Grand Rapids.

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