Its early afternoon and we’re heading upstairs to the green room of the Kelowna Community Theatre to talk to Finger Eleven. Amid the comfy couches and wooden coffee table that has seen better days, guitarists James and Rick (who turns off a few obnoxiously bright overhead lights in favour of side lamps) join me for one of the most fun interviews we’ve ever done.
nightMair Creative: With a new album out, and a tour on the go, what do you want people to know about Finger Eleven? At this moment in time?
James: just that we’re a Rock n’ Roll band. Simple as that.
Rick: Yes! A lot of our hits became such big hits that they crossed over to different genres – people tend to like genres – which is probably the worst thing you can do as a music listener – but I think because our tunes crossed over to different genres there was a different perception of the band. People thought we had gone Pop but as James said we’re a straight up rock band.
nMC: Probably the biggest hit for Finger Eleven is Paralyzer… Drop dead gorgeous awesome visual stunner… and for people unfamiliar with the band’s name probably the most instantly recognizable tune…
Rick: Probably! The band did the performance for that video on the first morning on a rooftop in LA, and the second performance was the dancing, which we got to watch live from behind the scenes. It was pretty impressive – none of it was digital effects, it was all real.
James: Being there and watching it; if you were standing just a foot to one side or the other, it changed how you saw it happen. Because it’s real and not an effect, it has that thing, that feeling, the same as the music, the same as concerts – its not perfect, but that’s what’s so cool and awesome about it. Spontaneous, real.
nMC: You guys have a new album out, Five Crooked Lines. The impression I had listening to it was that it was a complete thought rather than separate songs – not a lot of bands do that any more, they just try to write singles for radio. How did you approach it?
Rick: That was a conscious idea we had at the beginning of the writing process actually. We knew we wanted to make a whole ‘piece’ rather than just songs. The last record actually was a result of writing 11 ‘songs’, and we wanted this one to be different.
James: We didn’t want to try and create a bunch of singles.
Rick: With this record the word ‘single’ didn’t even come up. We just knew that the record needed flow, it needed dynamics – some of our favorite songs on this go round didn’t make it. Even though they were great songs and we loved them, we felt we already had songs like that on previous albums. There was definitely a conscious choice to the ‘album mentality’ for sure.
James: And in the lyrical impression too – songs that have killer riffs and good lyrics – you kind of get the idea right away with what the song is trying to say. Finding awesome music and the lyric is right in your face, is challenging, and we wanted to make sure that all the songs had that.
nMC: you guys are not the lyric writer or singer, but definitely have the input into the music – do you guys have an idea as to what the album is trying to say or is it locked into singer Scott Anderson’s head?
James: Its not collaborative in the sense that he’s the author of the words, but as it starts to take shape, the music informs the lyrics and if he’s singing a long paragraph there may be a part in the middle where we go ‘oh it should be about that’ and then new lyrics get written – it’s a committee but it all goes through his head. He listens to what we create as music and much like you said about listening to music yourself, he gets a distinct first impression as to what the song might be wanting to say.
Rick: We sort of all work together to collaborate and arrange – the music and the melodies and lyrics all influence each other, and sometimes I don’t want to know what the song means. I’m a fan of music and lyrics like you are, and don’t want to necessarily know what Scott’s idea of the song is if I come up with my own idea when listening to it.
nMC: How’s the tour been going so far?
Both: awesome so far.
James: Since the record was done we knew we’d be hitting the road soon across Canada. I get the most excited about that. We’re still home in Canada and I have great memories of every city, and the crowds have been awesome. We’re super stoked about the record so it has this extra adrenaline.
Rick: A cool thing too is that our history is much more rich in this country. We’ve been around that many years that we’ve had success in other markets, but it all started here. Our whole story’s been told here from the beginning. You can feel it, I can totally feel it. We’re getting to the point now we’re generations deep with fans – not just that our fans are having kids, but our fans kids are coming to our shows now on their own. Its awesome!
nMC: Does that make you feel old?
Rick/James: (laughing) It doesn’t! Playing a rock concert never ever could possibly make us feel old!