I suppose, seeing as I’m a Montrealer and all, I shouldn’t openly admit to being a fan of Ontario, but it is home to some wicked bars (think Hideout and Bovine Sex Club), kickin’ music festivals (CMW, hint hint), and rockin’ Canadian bands like, let’s see … Finger Eleven!
Having put out their fifth studio album, Life Turns Electric , last October, Finger Eleven recently wrapped up a Canadian tour in support of the Juno-nominated release and were getting set to kick off CMW 2011 at The Mod Club when I caught up with drummer Rich Beddoe and bassist Sean Anderson in the middle of a torrential downpour. The duo talked about recording in New York City, discovering a new sound and going to bed at 10:30 (when not touring, of course).
Q: You’re about to kick off CMW, do you still get excited about playing shows, even after all these years?
Rich: We’ve been off for a while, we finished a Canadian tour a few weeks ago, so this is for us, as a band, fun. Just getting together and playing. We’ll probably enjoy this, it’s different than just being on the road, this is, we’re dying to play a show, so it’s fun these one-offs. And a local show of course, which makes it kind of nervous too, something about hometown always makes you a little nervous, but excited all around.
Q: Is there anything specific you like to do before a show to get ready?
Rich: He sleeps; he always has a nap like an hour before, always. Which I like to do, sometimes I don’t get around to it. We just usually listen to music. On our bus, most buses have two lounges, in front and back, and in the back it’s usually loud music, having some drinks. And in the front, Scott likes to listen to music just to warm up his voice, to sing along to, so that’s usually a little more mellow … I kinda just warm up a bit with some drumsticks.
Q: When you get home after a tour like this past one, is it hard to readjust to ‘normal’ life?
Sean: When I’m home, now I’m in bed at like 10:30. I shouldn’t admit that, actually. Waking up at like 6:30, 7:00. Then we go on the road and I’m all out of sorts and eventually the schedule switches over … It always takes a few days of adjustment, it’s like travelling over to Europe, you need that day’s adjustment.
Sean: I think it did. The record started off with a lot of acoustic ideas … We wrote some stuff while we were in New York and then some of those acoustic ideas we kind of, I don’t want to say rocked it up, but we kind of put a grain or a seed in those acoustic ideas that became something more rockier.
Rich: There’s a pace to New York, you know? We walked to the studio every day, about a 45-minute walk, and we were right in Times Square too, so it was an excitement. We were all living together so at night we’d go to the bar beside the apartment we were staying at, so it was just the excitement of New York. Even just the tempos of the songs, this is probably the fastest record we’ve ever made as far as tempos.
Sean: And the bar we hung out at afterwards, it wasn’t anything special other than it was just convenient … It wasn’t busy which is perfect and it had a jukebox, so we listened to classic rock and stuff and that was sort of like we’d listen to some songs on there and think about what makes this a great song, what they did in the bridge or they went to this part instead of that part … All that together, New York definitely had an impact.
Q: This album definitely sounds different from all the others, is that sort of change of sound a conscious decision going in or does it just happen?
Rich: We just write songs, every record sounds different. I think we definitely, there’s no plan how a record is gonna sound, it’s just what we’re all going through. Whether growing as people, maturing, certainly the lyric content, whatever Scott has had happen in his life comes through and he always sings about things that he’s gone through or is going through, so the albums might change lyrically just based on what is happening in his life. Just as the band matures and it grows, we get stronger as songwriters and as friends too … but we don’t set out to do anything.
We kinda were talking about Paralyzer, it did so well for the band, what is it about that song that everyone bops their head to it? It’s funny as a band to actually try and take apart your own song … Every song you write, you don’t think about ‘till after and sometimes you look back at it in a different light.
Sean: The record label would love ten Paralyzers, but you know, we can sit out here and try and figure out how to do it again and I don’t think we ever would. We take a couple years between records and so that has a huge impact.
Q: Having been a band for so long, how do you keep it fresh for yourselves?
Rich: We’re really lucky guys like, even just right there, soundcheck is fun, we actually still enjoy one another. We don’t get to hang out a lot when we’re off the road, we all have our own lives … We just actually still enjoy making music together. I think if it didn’t stay fresh, who knows what would happen? We haven’t really dealt with that. I think things get stale on the road after, you know, two years on the road nonstop.
I think some bands burn out and fizzle away, but we just, for some reason, it doesn’t burn out for us. It’s still a fire when we get on stage and play together most times. We’re still friends, we still enjoy each other’s company, that’s what it boils down to.
Q: What’s the best (or worst) feedback you’ve ever gotten after a show?
Rich: Usually, people just say you sound like your record; you guys are a live band. We’ve always taken pride in how we sound live, that’s what we are: we’re a live rock band, so I think people always notice that. They know this is a real rock and roll band, there’s no gimmick, there’s no tracks running – we get up, plug in and play.
Q: Last one, finish this sentence: “Finger Eleven is…”
Sean: These are tough these things!
Rich: Finger Eleven is a real rock band?
Sean: Finger Eleven apparently isn’t very creative or imaginative [laughs].
For more on Finger Eleven: http://www.myspace.com/fingereleven