Finger Eleven drummer Rich Beddoe has mixed feelings about the band’s cross country tour (bringing them to Macewan Hall on February 4th and the Edmonton Events Centre on February 5th). On the one hand, he is excited to be performing shows for their loyal Canadian fans. On the other hand, driving across the country in the winter isn’t so much fun.
"We we do a lot of tours in Canada in January and February. It is a great time to go out because not a lot of bands are coming to those cities to play. We get such a welcome reception from people for rolling into cities in the middle of winter," he said over the phone. "It is cold on the bus - I just got a nice new sleeping bag for Christmas that I can’t wait to use on the bus. We just did a tour in December and I was freezing...so you have to adjust and dress appropriately. You get used to it. We have had buses in the past break down on highways in the winter, I had better knock on wood that it doesn’t happen."
The Edmonton-raised Beddoe is excited to be coming home but also has a certain fondness for Calgary. In support of their 2007 album, the band played Calgary five times.
"Calgary has been one of our favorite places to play. It is a real rock city and some of the best crowds we have. We have been there so many times because we really like coming. We always have the most fun in that town so it is always on the list to get there and play. I grew up in Edmonton and there is just a different energy in Calgary that I can’t explain. You can definitely feel it from the stage..."
In addition to songs from their new album Life Turns Electric, the band will mix in fan favorites like One Thing and Good Times. A band that has always focused everything onstage, Beddoe says to expect the same level of show that Finger Eleven has become known for.
"We are really excited for this tour because we just had a break over Christmas, so we are re-energized and ready to go. We have a really good package together a great set list, with a bunch of old and new songs. The lighting package we have is really cool...it will be a fun, energetic night."
In July 2008, Beddoe’s band mate James Black was interviewed for GayCalgary, and talked about how important being on the road was to him. Beddoe provided his own outlook on balancing home life with touring.
"It sums up who you are. You live day to day on the road and your habits really revolve around being on the bus and in hotels and on stage every night. When that ends and it is time to make another record, you really need time to deflate and get back into living at home for awhile. It is always a little difficult on everyone in the band to get used to that. At the same time our wives would like us to be home. Finding a balance somewhere in the middle is what is most healthy."
"We spent two and a half years on the road and at a certain point you burn yourself out a bit. I hope with this record we can find a balance between being at home and getting re-energized and being out there playing shows. The older you get, the more you appreciate being home, but we have always been road dogs. We love being out there and playing and that lifestyle is what has been normal for us."
"We aren’t great at writing songs on the road, we have to go home and deflate in order to be creative and start writing a new record. We are always envious of bands that can write on the road, come off tour and go right into the studio. We need that time home, a lot of stuff [singer] Scott [Anderson] sings about is relationships and things he goes through in life that doesn’t happen on the road. So you have to live a bit of both to be creative and make songs that mean something to other people. You can only do so many songs about living on a tour bus."Life Turns Electric is the band’s fifth studio album, and takes a different sound from previous collections.
"It is not as heavy, more rock and roll / classic rock feel to it than some previous records. It doesn’t have as much angst, or as dark. It comes from where we are in our lives right now. When we were making the record we came off a really successful album and tour for Them vs. You vs. Me. So when we started writing, spirits were high and the songs had a really uplifting feel. We made the record in New York and the pace there added to the excitement of the record. So it is the most classic rock record we’ve made."
Going into writing, the band had to deal with the monster that became the song Paralyzer. Instead of feeling pressure to create another hit of that caliber, the band just focused on putting out the best album they could.
"You are lying to yourself if you are not aware of how huge that song was. We have been around as a band for so long, we never knew that Paralyzer or One Thing were going to be big hits. What we have always trusted is our own instinct, and the only pressure we put on ourselves is to write great songs and make a solid record. As long as we achieve that, we’ve done our job and the rest is a gamble. Radio changes so quickly and dramatically, one day something could be a hit and the next day it’s not. We put pressure on ourselves to make a good record of potential singles. That is what the last album was and that is what Life Turns Electric is. ...We’ve made a record we are proud of and happy with whatever results happen. Just creating it and having it out there is already successful for us."
It seems at times that Finger Eleven’s music is everywhere. From WWE wrestling to video games to shows like Scrubs, Smallville, Third Watch and Gossip Girl, the band’s songs have become a staple of pop culture.
"They just kind of come to us. We have been lucky, we are with wind-up records in New York, that really helped bring people to us. We don’t know how it comes to be that we are asked, we just know we are thankful. It is nice to be part of things you are into. We are all big gamers in the band so attaching yourself to games, movies and TV shows you are into is special."
Finger Eleven established themselves in the 1990’s. If you look at their peers at the time, bands like Moist, The Tea Party, The Matthew Good Band, and many others are no longer together or performing. For the original band members to have gotten together in high school and endured 22 years together is a pretty remarkable achievement.
"We are lucky to be a bunch of best pals that make music together. I would like to think if we weren’t doing this at this level we would still be getting together evenings and weekends after our day jobs and jamming together in our garage. The one thing that really stuck with this band is the enjoyment of making music together, and that has just gotten stronger as each band member has gotten stronger at their instrument. We are all just good friends who enjoy spending time together making music. We have always tried to not make this a big corporate venture, it is about getting out on a bus and playing rock shows."
"We have always tried to keep that fun element to it and I think that is what people do get from the band. They sense that we are having a good time up there and giving our all. We really enjoy what we are doing."
Life Turns Electric available now.
February 4th - MacEwan Hall, Calgary
February 5th - Edmonton Events Centre