Full Name: Jerome Earl Fontamillas
Nickname: Romey, Rome, J-rome
Date of Birth: June 20th, 1967
Birthplace: Born in the Philippines and grew up in Southern California
Height: About 173 cm (5’8)
Immediate Family: Parents, Johann (brother), Jennifer (sister), Kristi (wife), Parker Lennon (son)
Hobbies: Watching films, reading, drinking coffee, the beach, sleeping, and producing & recording in the studio
Position in band: Keyboards, guitar, backing vocals, noise
Favorite food: “Korean barbeque, noodles, coffee”
Favorite books: “Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold” C.S. Lewis, “The Alphabet of Grace” Frederick Buechner
Favorite movies: “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, “Life is Beautiful”
Influenced by artists/albums: The Beatles “Abbey Road”, The Police “Synchronicity”, U2
First bought record: The Beatles “A hard day’s night”
First concert: “Depeche Mode “Black Celebration Tour”
My hero: “My Parents”
Hobbies beside music: “Reading, music producing”
What I’d be if I hadn’t become a musician: “Engineer, teacher or coffee barista”
Motto in life: “Life is precious, live those moments properly.”
Jerome was born in Pasay City, Philippines, but his family moved to America when he was 3 years old. Jerome lived in Chicago till sometime after the 5th grade, then he moved to California where he lived in Capitola and Santa Cruz. Jerome has been playing music for most of his life, ever since he parents forced him to take piano lessons. “I keep telling them that, too. You made me play the piano! Look what you’ve done to me!” he jokes.
Before he began to seriously play music, Jerome had a variety of odd jobs, from working at a dairy farm to bringing dead bodies from the hospital to the morgue. He began to play music steadily during his teen years and in 1988 he joined with his friends Jyro Xhan, Ray Tongpo and Wilson Peralta to form the industrial band Mortal Wish. Four years later the band got signed and changed their name to Mortal. The band released 7 albums before breaking up in 1996 (their seventh album came out on a different record label in 1998). Following Mortal, Jerome and fellow bandmate Jyro Xhan formed a new band, the post-grunge alternative-rock band, Fold Zandura, where Jerome played the bass and did some vocals. The band was well received, especially in the Christian music community, and Fold Zandura put out 5 CD’s before calling breaking up in 1999.
With no musical endeavours to work on, Jerome got an office job at “the tallest building in LA” where he had to wear a suit and tie to work every day. He lasted only two days before realizing that he simply had to get back to music. He called Jon Foreman,(whom Jerome had met at a Sonshine Festival), a friend of his and the lead singer of Switchfoot. He knew that Switchfoot had been looking for a keyboard player, so he called up Jon and asked if the position was still available. Fortunately, the answer was yes, and Jerome began touring with Switchfoot in 2000, right before the release of Learning To Breathe.
Even though Jerome was touring with Switchfoot, he still worked on other musical ventures and in 2002 he reunited with Jyro Xhan for a Mortal reunion. They released a new album called Nu-En-Jin which featured nine new tracks and guest vocals by Jon Foreman. Soon after that, in 2003, Jerome became an official Switchfoot member.
Jerome is a talented musician and he can play many instruments, including the keys, piano, guitar, bass, and the drums. He is also a producer and has produced several indie bands, such as Starflyer 59, The Echoing Green, NIV, March, and Sonia V (with whom he co-wrote the #1 hit ‘Alive’.)
Jerome married his long-time girlfriend Kristi in 2005. Kristi is a talented artist and teaches high school art. They had a baby boy in January 2010.
Jerome enjoys reading books and watching films. Unlike the rest of the band, Jerome did not grow up surfing. He can only do the switchfoot move underwater. “That is, after I’ve fallen off the board!” His musical influences include Steve Lillywhite, U2, and Jonny Greenwood from Radiohead.
Jerome currently lives in Riverside and when he’s not on tour you will probably find him with his family, in the studio recording and producing local talents, with his friends, or at the beach.
More on Jerome:
Jon Foreman (lead singer) on Jerome: The world is right because Jerome was invented.
Chad Butler (drummer) on Jerome: Jerome is the elder statesman of the group. He brings a wealth of experience, a broad vocabulary, a broad musical vocabulary… and up-to-the-minute finger on the pulse of technology… just that element of electronic mayhem. He’s a ‘fountain of sound’ – that’s how we refer to him in the band. He’s always working on how to make these songs come alive, both in the studio and live. Personally, Jerome is the most encouraging and uplifting seasoned veteran in a band that I’ve ever met. For someone who’s been on tour since he was 18, for as long as he has, he’s absolutely un-jaded, motivated, encouraging and absolutely a joy to be around.
Tim Foreman (bassist) and Drew Shirley (guitarist) on Jerome:
Tim: “Jerome is just the nicest person on the planet. I can’t really explain it, because I don’t know exactly how it works. He’s just never bummed out about anything. He’s amazing.”
Drew: “His own brother said they’ve never had a fight.”
Tim: “He’s the oldest and yeah his own brother said that he’s never had a fight with Jerome. That tells you something.”
Chad Butler (drums) on Jerome: “Jerome has many hidden talents. He’s very mild mannered… I think by night though, he’s a superhero. It’s amazing… oftentimes we don’t hear much about what Jerome’s doing in the day, and I’ll like turn a corner and he’s got a little work station set up. Wearing headphones and he’s got all the recording software and he’s working on something. And then he’ll play us this amazing idea for a song… a piece of music he’s been working on. He’s constantly working on new sounds of the live show… always got something cooking. I like that he’s a music chef. A musical chef! And he likes it spicy. If there was a TV show… Jerome can multi-task. He could be cooking at the same time, while he’s making music in his kitchen. His musical kitchen.”