In 1989, Canadian high school students Scott Anderson (vocals), James Black (guitar), Rick Jackett (guitar), and Sean Anderson (bass) formed their very first band, called the Rainbow Butt Monkeys. The name has since changed to Finger Eleven, inspired by lyrics from the song “Thin Spirits”, but the line-up remains the same. With more than two decades of music behind them, Finger Eleven is still as excited about the music as they were back then. With a delightfully unique sound on each album, they’re going back to their roots with the hard-driving rock vibe that fans know and love.
Learning takes a multi-faceted approach. Where Jackett is learning more about the process of songwriting, Black is taking a step back. He said, “In a lot of ways, I think we’ve kind of hit a point where now we have to unlearn a bit. Like too fancy, too many things in some ways makes something that sounds very fancy and not rough around the edges.” Starting out, Finger Eleven had the same hopes and dreams as many bands. They wanted to be the best at everything. Their newest album, Five Crooked Lines, was recorded in a retro style, even using equipment from years past. It allowed them the freedom to develop a record with a back-to-basic, classic rock sound. Jackett believes that each piece of the music is a form of art that can get lost along the way. He explained, “It (the individual parts) just gets sort of blended in to everybody else’s track. (We) wanted to find a way to make a record where each individual gets across and it’s factored together, that’s what the goal was.” It was inspiring to make the record this way, because it was a return to form for Finger Eleven. Recorded in only eleven days and mixed in just four, it was essential not to overthink each step. It has been a journey of discovery, as each album has a distinctive flavor, culminating in the new release with the original Finger Eleven signature rock sound. It may have a retro tinge, but there is nothing dated about the fresh, exciting songs on the new album.
Success is doing what you love. Time has not muted the thrill of music for Finger Eleven, because the enthusiasm grows with each album. After six full length albums, a gold record, a platinum record, and a Juno Award for Best Rock Album of the Year, they have no plans to slow down. Finding the right mix of ideas is critical in making music, as Black notes in his definition of the perfect song.“It doesn’t ever last to be perfect for eternity. But for the moment when you hear it and you’re kind of a listener to your own idea. You’re listening to your lyric and you’re finally not the guy making it, you’re listening to it and you get moved by it. It doesn’t mean it’s a perfect song, but the expression is perfect, because I’m getting it.” No matter what specific meaning you may find in the music, the emotional connection becomes a universal bond.
The live performance at the Agora Theatre in Cleveland, Ohio, was an interactive experience with blasting guitar riffs, pitch-perfect vocals, and impeccable timing. Unique to Finger Eleven was a dual microphone set-up, allowing Black to move back and forth through effects and standard sounds lending a fascinating element to the backup vocals. The audience sang along as they highlighted beloved songs from the past, as well as new recordings. Not surprising was the fact that Finger Eleven sounds as professional and practiced live as they do in person, not always easy to do in small venues. Signed to Bicycle Music Company, Finger Eleven will continue to tour in support of Five Crooked Lines, bringing a new spin to a retro sound.