Finger Eleven Frontman: ‘We Achieved a Whole Other Level’ as a Band
Finger Eleven‘s new album, ‘Life Turns Electric,’ was recorded in New York City with the band at the helm, specifically guitarists James Black and Rick Jackett self-producing the 10 songs. With bandmates Scott Anderson on lead vocals, his brother Sean on bass and Rich Bleddoe on drums, they recorded the single ‘Living in a Dream’ first.
They sent that off into the universe (i.e. radio) while they stayed holed up in the studio to finish the rest. Now back in Toronto, Scott Anderson sat down with Noisecreep at the Gibson Showroom to talk about the new songs and the band’s 15 years together.
Did ‘Life Turns Electric’ turn out the way you expected?
I was hoping it would turn out just like this. It’s great to leave the studio and be really satisfied the way the record came out.
Do you say that every time you make a record?
The more records I make, the less I’m willing to settle. There is a resignation. You do have to let things go. You just have to go,
“Well, that’s what it is and we did our best.” We just have to say that less so now [laughs].
You kept to the schedule and the album actually came out on time.
We hit the schedule with a few days to spare. So we did some alternate versions.
I think on the deluxe version, there’s this really cool spooky acoustic version of ‘Living in a Dream’ and a plain vanilla version of ‘Whatever Doesn’t Kill Me.’ That’s what we did with [the rest of] our time. We took three days. But what a strange concept [to finish early]. It didn’t make any sense. There was nothing left on the white board to complete. That day arrives and we wake up and there’s nothing to do. It’s a very scary day. So we got in ahead of schedule and then we said, “OK, we gotta get the hell out of the studio or we’re gonna over analyze things again, and it’s just not fair to the songs.”
Is this a better way of working? Finish an album and release it ASAP, instead of delaying it for months until the ‘right’ time in the marketplace?
Even now, it’s been too long. Yeah, you can’t wait for it to be released. You’ve got this great new album; you’ve got this secret to share with everybody. We’re extremely proud because of the self-production and because the songs turned out the way they should have. We didn’t screw them up in the studio. Honestly, I don’t know how three-minute ideas survive in the studio. Everybody’s got something to say about ‘em.”
You mentioned you have a spooky version of ‘Living In A Dream.’ Did you cut that at the same time as the last song, ‘Love’s What You Left Me With,’ because that one is the most atmospheric?
‘Love’s What You Left Me With’ was a demo from a long time ago. I wrote it when my mom passed away and it was just acoustic and James added some pretty haunting guitars to it later on. It was not cut at the same time. But I was really wary of any production tricks with that song because it’s pretty dear to me.
Was it too personal to release when you first wrote it?
I just put it away. I didn’t know what to do with it. I was a little bit possessed about writing it and then just said, “What now?”
How long after your mom passed away did you write it?
Like a week. It was part of my process. Usually I have to get up and listen to some ideas and work at it, but I was quite possessed. I didn’t know what else to do. Nothing else felt right. But I guess my means of expression is a songwriter; it does make a bit of sense if I step outside myself a little bit.
Does it say everything you wanted to say?
I guess it was just a document of a time and place. I put the emotions to melody really. As a single idea, yes, it does. I didn’t really change anything from the time I wrote it, which is pretty rare.
Any other songs that personal?
I don’t think so. Some of them maybe start personal and blossom into a greater idea with a little bit more excitement.”
Was there a point in Finger Eleven’s career where you were like, “This is what I do for a living. This is going to be my job”?
I think it happened on the third Finger Eleven record [2003's 'Finger Eleven'] where we had success outside of our own heads and outside the record company that was trying to not be so in love with us and keep supporting us, despite any hits whatsoever [laughs]. We achieved a whole other level where we meant something to people outside a music community. People who knew who we were and we broke through. It’s crazy. It did happen quite organically and we had a hit on our hands ['One Thing'] and it turned into a monster. So it was like, ‘OK, we have more resources now to keep doing this.’ That gave us some security.
You guys are a solid rock band that writes solid rock songs. That’s what you do.
That’s all there is to it [laughs]. Seriously, that’s all I’m looking for. I’m not looking for anything else. It’s hard enough to do. That’s what I want this band to stand for.