After over twenty-five years practicing the art that is rock and roll, Finger Eleven still seem unwilling to let past successes weaken their resolve. The band has had something of a storied career, with numerous hits and Juno nominations under their collective belts (including one Juno win for Rock Album of the Year in 2008), and yet they continue to chase that perfect sound, that perfect album.
“Every morning I wake up with a desire to best myself,” said Rick Jackett, rhythm guitarist for the band. “We still have something to prove.”
Part of that proving is the band’s nearly-complete North American tour, which makes a stop at Mavericks this Thursday. The tour is in support of their brand new album Five Crooked Lines, their first in five years. A bit of a hiatus, to be sure, but one that the band hope has made them stronger and more focused.
“We had been on the road for like fifteen years straight,” said Jackett. “That does some serious psychological damage. [Laughs] We needed to recharge.”
The band did a little more than recharge. After a small lineup change that swapped Steve Molella in for Rich Baddoe on drums, the band plunged into the writing and recording of Five Crooked Lines, a process that would take them nearly three and a half years.
According to the band, they produced so much material during those three years, that much of the process involved honing the record to just twelve songs. Jackett estimates that, prior to going into the studio to record, the band had written about forty-five songs for the album. In other words, for every song that made it to Five Crooked Lines, there are five that didn’t make the cut.
The album is recognisable as a Finger Eleven album, and yet there is something fresh to it. It’s clear that the band is trying something new, something they feel will excite fans new and old. Take a listen to the first single off the album, “Wolves and Doors”, below:
“The only thing we haven’t tried is just making a record like we did at the beginning of our career,” said Jackett, “one that’s not overthought, not over produced, just genuine.”
The album has a more stipped down, almost-live sound. Jackett explains that they wanted to get away from layering, sampling, and overused effects, something the band saw as endemic to the industry at large. Interestingly, the band also chose to abandon their angry past with this release, and while the songs are dark, the angst is absent. For Jackett, the change in tone was about being genuine.
“I think anger’s a young kid’s rock game,” he said. “I think to put that anger on just because it’s part of your character is as fake as it can get.”
For a band with such a history, one might expect a certain pressure to conform to the sound that made them popular in the first place. Not so. Certainly, the band knows that some people will be expecting the same old stuff from them, but they don’t seem phased.
“I think there’s a lot of people that write what they think your next record should be before your next record comes out,” said Jackett. “And that’s just a dangerous game.”
Finger Eleven will be bringing their new sound (and their old sound) to Mavericks (221 Rideau Street) this Thursday, August 13, 2015. Tickets are $40 and are available at the Mavericks box office.