Switchfoot jamming out
El Modena High School

Life is Short, Live it Well — Music and Switchfoot

“One life, one story to tell

Life is short; I wanna live it well

And you’re the one I’m living for

Awaken all my soul

Every breath that you take is a miracle

Life is short; I wanna live it well”

—Switchfoot’s “Live It Well”

The first notes… a guitar strum… a piano key… light vocals. Music is important to the American culture. You’ll see every teen walking around with headphones in their ears, the cords dangling from their pockets. Music speaks to people in unexplainable ways. It seems to be like an all-cure. Sad day? Music. Happy day? Music. Feeling kind of eh? Put in those headphones and walk to the beat of your own drum. 

In this day and age, people value authenticity. When everyone is telling us to keep up with the Kardashians, we like to rebel. To do what we want, feel what we feel, breathe again. Or we try to at least. One such way to rebel is to own what we like; to be loud and proud that we like a band or a certain trend. I beg the question: is there anything more authentic than a good band? For people to tell us their thoughts and emotions, and not only that but allow us to agree with them? For Switchfoot, music is not just their livelihood, it is their life. And with that, they impact our lives.

In 1996, Jon Foreman on vocals and guitar, Tim Foreman on bass guitar, and Chad Butler on drums formed the band “Switch Foot” — a surfing term meaning to take a stance in an opposite direction; a fitting name for a Christian band. The band soon gained popularity and additional band members.

In 2001, Jerome Fontamillias joined Switch Foot as a keyboardist and guitarist, and Drew Shirley joined as a guitarist in 2005.

Fontamillias said, “It started out as a three piece in college with Tim, Jon and Chad and then Drew and myself joined the band a little later on.”

The three grew to five, and the five became a hit. 

Yes, every person can appreciate music, but not everyone can create it, and fewer can create music that others to enjoy. And is that not the point of music, to create a sense of emotion in people? For Switchfoot, God is at the center of their music, although some of the meaning may be hidden unless further inspected.

Like most bands, Switchfoot writes about what inspires them. Fontamillas said, “We are inspired by many things. Life in general, our family and friends, the ocean, literature, the Bible, God, what’s happening in the world today, art, music, culture.”

These principles are refreshing and perhaps it is each message behind the lyrics that leads to their growing fan base. But as they said before, Switchfoot doesn’t play for fame, they perform for something bigger than themselves. As mentioned before, one thing that inspires the band to write is their religion, and Fontamillas said, “Where I am right now, Psalm 46:10 really speaks to me.” It says: 

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” 

During their career as a band, Switchfoot has produced 10 albums. Their most recent album, “Where the Light Shines Through,” was released in 2016 and features songs such as “Live it Well,” “Where the Light Shines Through” and “Hope is the Anthem.” Switchfoot is currently on a song-writing hiatus, and instead are currently touring. The band will be back in California to play the Ohana Festival in Dana Point on Sept. 30. Tickets are on sale now, purchasable online.

With the introduction of newer technology and social media, people are always looking to get a quick fix. But live performances, CDs and radios will never lose their charisma. There is something about the way a guitar rift coursing through your chest as the drums mimic your own heart beat that draws people to them.

Unsurprisingly, performers and attenders alike love concerts.

“We always love it when we’re singing the songs, but the audience is singing along with us louder. Those type of elements in the live show where we are connected to the crowd that way is one of the best things about playing live,” Fontamillas said.

Many people want to be remembered, and no one forgets a concert they go to. To some people, this may seem like “making it” in the world. But the cliche rings true, money doesn’t buy happiness and it doesn’t guarantee success. 

To define success is the daily human struggle. People fight their whole lives to become successful.

“Success is a subjective word. It may mean something different for each of us. I look back at how our music has affected many lives, and I am grateful that we were able to do that through the songs,” Fontamillas said. As for us, we too are grateful that Switchfoot was able to affect us with their songs. To become a band such as this is a privilege for the whole world. 

As for advice? Fontamillas said, “Life is short, live it well.” 

1 Comment

  • Reply Ashley Ramynke June 5, 2018 at 6:20 pm

    Really amazing article Aly! I love how you integrated the band’s questions with commentary about the modern music industry! I can’t wait to read more of your articles!

    Liked by 2 people

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