Canada has produced many great rock artists over the years. Nickleback, Alanis Morissette, Barenaked Ladies, and Finger Eleven. In 2003, Finger Eleven gained prominence with their hit, "One Thing." The song reached number one in Canada, and the top 20 in the U.S. Finger Eleven returned in 2007 with their release, "Paralyzer." VOA's Larry London caught up with lead singer Scott Anderson and lead guitarist James Black in Washington, D.C.
Once known as the Rainbow Butt Monkeys, the guys in Finger Eleven settled on a less colorful name while recording their first album, "Thin Spirits."
Band member Scott Anderson says, "They're (the other band members) in the control room, I'm in the booth (studio). They're listening to my lyrics. Very often, that's the first time they would hear them, back then. They are, like, 'What are you talking about? What are you saying with Finger Eleven?' And I'm like talking about going your own way and following your own path despite the consequences. You go and do that. That's what I'm getting at in the song. Everyone said, 'That's pretty cool.' Then we broke for lunch, and made an executive decision in the car. We're like, 'Yeah, that's the name', and that's all we said about it."
Guitarist James Black, who does most of the band's songwriting, says Finger Eleven spent most of the past four years performing live. They took their time with the music for the new album. "It took quite a while to even get into the songs that are on the record. The first year of writing we were still hot getting off the road, so we just played in a different mentality. It was very instrumental, and that doesn't leave room for vocalists. At a certain point, it was like, 'OK. Let's try some simple ideas.' So there's lots of room for vocalists. Some of those ideas were too simple. You kind of find this balance. I think it's really the length of the process was just coming down off being a live band, and coming back up being a songwriting band, then becoming a recording artist band," says Black.
The video for "Paralyzer" was filmed with 40 professional dancers. This is something very different for Finger Eleven.
Anderson explains, "We're on a rooftop, and we are a band. The energy coming from this band and this song is so explosive that it is creating a dance routine on the street (laughs)."
Black adds, "Really, the trick was all in camera effects. You would have a person standing and a row of people behind them, and then as the dance would move them to dance, it would look like they were blossoming out of this one person. To see it all go down was really fascinating."
Finger Eleven set out to create different sounds with the new CD, "Them-vs-You-vs-Me", and even included a banjo for the first time.
"[With] four instruments in a room just jamming at full volume, after a while you kind of run out of things to do. You do your trick, and that guy does his trick, and after a while it's just the same two tricks together," Black says. "You go looking for different sounds and different instruments and feelings. The technology now is just so you can make an electric guitar sound like a banjo, so that's maybe one that was more a luxury than anything, to go and buy a banjo. You play it differently, and you do something different, and a new song comes out, and it's an experiment that pays for itself."
In December, Finger Eleven released a two-disc DVD in Canada, titled "Us-vs-Then-vs-Now." The collection includes songs that didn't make it on the "Them-vs-You-vs-Me" album. They already have plans for their next project.
Black says, "And there's 14 songs on that (DVD), and quite a few of those that were written and didn't make it, but there was something about them that we felt deserved to get out there. And there (are) other songs we wrote for this album on a few drunken nights on the (tour) bus. We listened to the old demos, and we were like, 'You know what? I have the solution to this.' After having gone through the process of finishing the record and touring for a year, you kind of, with objectivity, look at a song that didn't make it and you say, 'I know exactly what would fix this song and make it a little better.' So hopefully it'll be around on the next record."
And the next record is already available for digital downloads. For now, Finger Eleven is taking a break after their yearlong tour. Their fans hope it will not be another four years before they hear from Finger Eleven again.