The Canadian Rockies

FINGER ELEVEN
Publicity Photos - Toronto - March 8, 2015
Dustin Rabin Photography 2693 FINGER ELEVEN Publicity Photos - Toronto - March 8, 2015 Dustin Rabin Photography 2693

Finger Eleven hits Oddbody’s Music Room

By Rusty Pate

Photo: Finger Eleven will perform at Oddbody’s on July 24 in advance of their latest album, Five Crooked Lines; photo: Dustin Rabin

The terms “rock band” and “longevity” rarely go together.

Some bands aren’t successful enough; others collapse under the weight of too many expectations. Creative differences can fracture a group. Drugs, girls or personality clashes often spell demise no matter how much talent the individual members might have.

Hell, The Beatles barely made it a decade.

So, how does a Canadian band from just outside of Toronto stay together for more than 25 years?

It’s simple, according to Finger Eleven guitarist Rick Jackett.

“We’re real friends and we were real friends before the band started,” Jackett says. “We really enjoy each other’s company and the music we make together as a group. We don’t have a lot of the skeletons. I think you need to be like, kindred spirits. To make music, you have to kind of speak without speaking.”

The band started as little more than a couple of high school buddies that wanted to play rock music. They dubbed themselves Rainbow Butt Monkeys and entered a local talent show.

It wasn’t long before they won a radio contest, recorded an album and became stars on the Canadian scene.

“This is the first and only band we’ve ever been in,” Jackett says. “It’s the same band members, but with such a different philosophy and such a different mentality that we needed to change to be able to continue to grow.”

The band has released seven full-length albums, with most finding their way to the top of the Canadian charts. Their 2003 self-titled offering cracked the top 20 in the Great White North and spawned the single “One Thing,” which gave the group their first real opening in the States. It hit 16 on the Billboard Hot 100.

The band’s 2007 follow-up album Them vs. You vs. Me produced its highest charting single to date, the top-10 “Paralyzer,” and won the Juno (basically the Canadian version of the Grammys) for album of the year.

Jackett says breaking big in the U.S. was so different from the success in their native land. For one thing, Canada just doesn’t have as many places to tour. Three months on the road at home, and the band had virtually played every major metropolitan area.

However, the desire to perform well here was not purely logistically based.

“Growing up as huge music fans, a lot of our favorite bands came from the States,” Jackett says. “The whole idea of ever achieving the status of a gold record was just unfathomable. I thought I had a better chance to go to the moon.”

Finger Eleven’s latest long player, Five Crooked Lines, drops on July 31. It was produced by Dave Cobb, who has also worked with the likes of Sturgill Simpson and Jason Isbell. While that may seem like a strange combination on the surface, Jackett says the band was looking to expand their sound and try new things—and Cobb quickly became the logical choice.

“We knew we didn’t want to make a typical record,” Jackett says. “He knew how to get the best out of all of us. We were really hungry and we had such respect for his production style. It was a very harmonious experience.”

While the recording process took just two weeks, the band members spent the better part of four years writing and demoing. Jackett said they were trying to find the right mixture of fresh areas to explore and great songs.

One of those tracks is the sprawling seven-minute opus “Come On, Oblivion,” which Jackett cites as one of his early favorites. It is a moody and brooding cut, building slowly from a hypnotic bass line. A booming chorus breaks up the atmospheric and quasi-psychedelic swells of the verses.

He also cites “Not Going To Be Afraid” as among the best the band has ever written.

Many days have passed since they first got together in school. However, one thing remains the same: their passion and dedication to musical growth. Jackett says while people obviously grow and change with age, they’re still the same kids looking to get on stage and deliver a blistering set of heavy rock.

Fans that have yet to catch that live show can expect a balls-to-the-wall experience with a heavy focus on the music rather than vain, self-serving and ego-centric rock star worship.

“There’s just a real genuine enthusiasm that comes off stage,” Jackett says. “We really enjoy being on stage. What you won’t see is a bunch of pouty, spoiled, pretentious guys wasting your time.”

Finger Eleven will perform on Friday, July 24 at Oddbody’s Music Room 5418 Burkhardt Rd. Show starts at 7 p.m. Supporting acts include Brent James & the Vintage Youth, Violent Kind and Averous. Tickets are $17 in advance, and $30 day of show. For more information, please visit fingereleven.com. 

 

Reach DCP freelance writer Rusty Pate at RustyPate@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Reach DCP freelance writer Rusty Pate at RustyPate@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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