Music News & Reviews

Looking for America, in Fresno – Switchfoot, Relient K return to the road

Jerome Fontamillas, from left, Chad Butler, Jon Foreman, Drew Shirley and Tim Foreman of Switchfoot pose for a portrait in Los Angeles.
Jerome Fontamillas, from left, Chad Butler, Jon Foreman, Drew Shirley and Tim Foreman of Switchfoot pose for a portrait in Los Angeles. Invision/AP

If Switchfoot is out there looking for America, it might as well start in Fresno. The San Diego alternative rock band stops Saturday at the Warnors Theatre for the first concert of a 21-city tour that runs through February.

“We haven’t done a big headlining tour for a long time,” Switchfoot keyboard player/guitarist Jerome Fontamillas says.

Here are three things to know before heading to the show, from Fontamillas.

▪ Call this round two, or the “Still Looking for America 2our,” with the number 2 replacing the letter T, because the band is into puns. This is actually the second leg of the band’s massive Looking for America tour, which ran through 50 cities last year. The response to those shows was so positive and the band had such a good time, it decided to extend into additional cities, including several in Canada, contrary to the tour’s name.

“In a time when things are so divisive, seeing singing along, being unified, it was so edifying,” Fontamillas says. “We wanted to keep that going.”

▪ On that note, Relient K is back, too. The Ohio rock band joined Switchfoot on tour last year and is back as co-headliners.

The two bands have history.

They’ve shared the stage a hundred times, easily, and as a result have become good friends over the years.

The bands share similar stories, Fontamillas says. Both started playing music in the late 1990s (Switchfoot in ’96 and Relient K in ’98) and were seen as standouts in the developing scene of Christian alternative music. Switchfoot was more of the straightforward rock band and Relient K grew out of the punk scene, but both managed to find critical and commercial success with secular releases on major labels throughout the 2000s. See: Switchfoot’s 2005 album “Nothing Is Sound” or Relient K’s “Five Score and Seven Years Ago” from 2007.

“Life is not always rosy and that’s the honesty of the music,” Fontamillas says. “It’s not just Christians that gravitate toward that.”

▪ Tours like this typically follow album releases, so it’s fair to note Switchfoot’s latest, “Where the Light Shines Through.” The 12-track album, released on Vangaurd Records in July, was recorded at the band’s studio in Southern California with the help of producer John Fields.

Fans will know Fields’ work. He was behind Switchfoot’s 2003 album “Beautiful Letdown.” That record got a fair amount of radio play and helped the band break into the mainstream, Fontamillas says. Bringing Fields back into to the studio was “kind of like a return to that time,” he says.

Only now, Switchfoot has 10 albums under its belt and a better sense of its own identity. Fields was more of a partner than a father figure, Fontamillas says: “It’s really cool to see where we’ve been and how far we’ve come.”

Joshua Tehee: 559-441-6479, @joshuatehee

Switchfoot + Relient K

Looking for America tour Part II

  • 7 p.m. Saturday
  • Warnors Theatre, 1400 Fulton St.
  • $30- $50
  • 559-264-2848,