Sometimes your big break comes easier than you imagined it would. Just ask the members of Finger Eleven.
After six years, the Canadian quintet is finally getting its just desserts with “One Thing,” the second single from the band’s self-titled third album. While predecessor “Good Times,” a quick-tempo confrontational rocker, didn’t make much of an impact, “One Thing” is a gentle acoustic ballad that arrived with surprisingly little effort.
“It came out pretty easily,” singer Scott Anderson said. “It’s the result of [guitarist] James [Black] and I going to a cottage with an acoustic guitar to try to finish up some ideas. Then a new one got started, ‘One Thing.’ It’s a little poem about longing. I was writing stuff down that didn’t sound uncool to me.”
Anderson and Black don’t usually hammer out songs on an acoustic guitar as some songwriters do. They prefer to work them out plugged in at full volume. The equipment they brought to that North Ontario cabin was more a matter of convenience than convention, since their plan was to finish melodies for the electric songs they wanted to feature on the album, which was released in June.
When they brought the tune back to their bandmates – guitarist Rick Jackett, bassist Sean Anderson and drummer Rich Beddoe – they decided to keep the haunting tune much as it was.
If penning the song in a cabin on a sunny afternoon was laid-back, recording it was even more so.
“The producer, Johnny K, wanted to make sure I was really relaxed, so I had a beer at his insistence,” Anderson said, “and then another and another. It kept going like that all night. It’s an easy song for me to sing, physically, so I didn’t object. I don’t have a strong recollection of recording it. I just remember smiling and singing.”
“One Thing” was the exception to a rule. Anderson said the rest of the album was recorded sober, though he admits that when singing more aggressive fare, like “Other Light” and “Panic Attack,” a few Red Bulls will “do it for you.”
Coffee, on the other hand, had a mixed effect on Anderson during the recording of “Good Times.” While it provided the energy rush it’s renowned for, the potent potable took an unwelcome toll on the overamped singer.
“I was full of Starbucks coffee because we did it in L.A., and someone’s always making Starbucks runs,” he explained. “So when I was singing ‘Good Times,’ I bit my cheek and my mouth filled with blood. We used that take because I got all growly. I remember Johnny going, ‘Yeah, that’s great!’ and I’m like [sarcastically], ‘Yeah, it sure was.’ ”
Some rock fans are quick to accuse a band of selling out when it scores a hit with a single softer than most everything else in the group’s repertoire. Finger Eleven pay no mind to such ignorant chatter and view “One Thing” ‘s success as a challenge to show people more of what they have to offer.
“We figure that if we write a soft song, we still wrote it, it’s still us,” Black said. “We never declared ourselves a heavy band. In fact, we want to be known for different layers. So if someone who knows us as a soft band gets introduced to something electric…”
“That’s the next step,” Anderson said, finishing his bandmate’s thought. “If someone knows us for that particular single, we’ll have to get them to come see us live and hope they’ll dig that.”
Finger Eleven are performing alone throughout February before hooking up with Trapt and Smile Empty Soul on the annual SnoCore outing, which begins March 4 in Washington, D.C..
Finger Eleven Tour Dates, According To Wind-Up Records:
2/6 – Niagara Falls, NY – Dome Theatre
2/7 – Atlantic City, NJ – Hard Rock – Atlantic City