Rich Beddoe, drummer and percussionist, for Finger Eleven recently spoke with me about the band’s newest release, Life Turns Electric. Everything we have come to expect from these guys is on this disc; powerful vocals and great melodies combined with deeply personal, introspective lyrics that resonate long after the songs are over. This is a record that is sure to build on the success of their previous effort, Them vs. You vs. Me. Here is what Beddoe had to say about the record and the upcoming tour.
Where are you guys at?
Rich: We are still in Toronto right now. We are about to head out in a couple of days. Actually tomorrow we head out.
I read that you have a gig tomorrow in Oklahoma, right?
Rich: Yeah we are flying down there tomorrow.
That starts off a full week of shows correct?
Rich: Yeah I think we come home for a few days and then we stay down in America.
Do you have a bigger tour lined up or are you going to do smaller stuff at the moment?
Rich: We are just doing clubs on our own with a couple of opening acts for the first run. Then we will be doing some business/radio shows in November and December and then a tour in January and February. Everything is still in the early stages right now. We are just trying to see what the options are. We want to get out there hopefully with another band and we could have another big rock tour in the future.
Now that your brand new CD, Life Turns Electric, is complete and set to be released tomorrow, how do you feel about it and are you satisfied with the outcome?
Rich: Well yeah, absolutely. It is always a crazy day, the day before a record comes out, because we have sent so much time and energy thinking about it, writing and recording it and this is sort of the last day we have it to yourselves, you know? But absolutely we are really proud of the record, it was a lot of fun to make. I think it is a really fun record to listen to. It is probably the most rocking sort of ‘70s rock kind of style record we have done. It is kind of an up-tempo rock record and we are really proud of it and it is really exciting to know that people are going to get to listen to it 24 hours from now.
It is out there no matter what right? I mean there are no more changes, it is done.
Rich: That is it. I think the more records you make, this is number 5 for us, you definitely can live with that easier. It is the whole recording process that is kind of scary for younger bands in a studio. It certainly was for us for the first couple of records. The more you get used to it you just stand behind your decisions and you live with it. Our two guitar players produced the record this time and we all wrote it and it was nice you know? We didn’t have anyone to rely on for decisions because it was just us, the five guys in the band. Because of that I think we came out with a really strong record we can stand behind and that we are really proud of.
What was the writing process like for this one? Did you guys all write together?
Rich: Yeah, I mean there are always different incarnations of a song. Sometimes there are the four of us musicians kind of writing a song and then giving it to Scott who will write melodies and lyrics over that. Sometimes we write just using an acoustic guitar. We can get sort of carried away with a song sometimes; we find that sometimes the song takes on a life of its own where you sort of forget maybe what it was in its infancy. It is nice to kind of strip away everything and kind of just relearn it again on acoustic guitar. A lot of times that is where Scott finds the best melodies. Then you can add everything back on once the melody is there. We all have studios at home and we can send ideas back and forth. We write a song and I can send my drum part to the next guy or he can send his bass part to the next guy, so sometimes we do things at home. There really is no set way we do things… it is just about getting together and getting the creative juices going.
Did you guys feel any pressure when writing for this record to follow up on your previous record, Them vs. You vs. Me?
Rich: Just our own pressure we have on ourselves to create something we are proud of and can stand behind. We never knew “Paralyzer” was going to do so well when we wrote it and we never knew “One Thing” was going to do so well. You kind of have to put those things out of your mind when you are making a record. As long as you can stand behind it whether there is a big hit single or whether it is a failure. If it is a record you are proud of you need to leave the studio with that in your head. Once it is out in the world you kind of lose control of it and just hope for the best.
There are so many factors out there that make a successful record and a lot of that is timing or what is going on in radio at the time. We have been told by record companies that a certain song was the song and it turned out that song wasn’t the song and nothing happened. We don’t really have that kind of pressure on us because it can make you insane. The only pressure is to write a batch of songs that we are really proud of because at the end of the day if a million people buy the record or if two people buy it we still have to live with a record we created and know that every decision on it is ours and we are proud of it. Once it is out in the world you hope that everyone sees what you saw and gets it, but you just never know.
Are there any tracks on the disc that are personal favorites for you or that have good stories behind them?
Rich: Well the last song on the record “Love’s What You Left Me With.” Scott and Sean are brothers in the band and their biological mother passed away last year. Scott started this really heartfelt message, I don’t even know if it was supposed to be a song or just part of the grieving process, but Rick wrote a nice little acoustic guitar piece and Scott just wrote this really touching piece over it. It sat there for about 8 months and when we got back and listened to it as a band there was something so real about it. It is sad you know and we weren’t sure if it was the right choice for the record. But when we listened back to the tracks and it is the last song on the record, it is a really touching song. I think a lot of people will get it because everyone has had those kinds of loses in their lives.
You guys have been at this for quite a while. Did you ever imagine you would still be doing it?
Rich: I still can’t believe it. I have seen so many bands come and go… bands that are friends of ours. We definitely never forget how lucky we are to do this. I think we have had a great ride you know. We did not start out with a big hit on our first record. Everything has been small steps and no one in the band has gotten carried away or lives outside of their means. No one has done anything really stupid and we have been able to remain a band for this long. A lot of times I think people get sucked into something, maybe buying houses that they can’t afford or maybe living lives that they can’t afford yet.
We always just took it slow; we were in a van and trailer for the first 3 records. Of course we wanted to get a bus like everyone would, but some of those decisions are some of the small reasons we are still here. We have always been very real about everything and have been willing to get out there on tour for a year and a half and play to next to nobody; knowing that when we come back maybe 10 more people will show up. I think over the years that is what has built our audience and sustained our career. We are lucky you know because a lot of bands just don’t get that chance. I think a lot of it is just luck and stupid determination and some of it is just living inside our means that we can afford and not doing anything to dumb.
I think you have hit a good niche. I was listening to this album last night and comparing it to the previous one and I think you guys have hit a niche in the alternative/commercial radio stuff and it should do pretty well.
Rich: We hope so, I mean you never know. I think Finger Eleven has a sound, but we certainly never try to have any borders about our sound. We just try and write good songs and I think every album sounds a little bit different than the last. As far as Alternative or Rock radio and those audiences out there, we just try and think of ourselves as a rock band and hope we fit in somewhere. It has sort of worked over the years. I think a lot of bands have a certain trend or sound and a style to their music and if that trend happens to go away sometimes the band goes away as well. We always try just to play rock and roll music and hopefully people will continue to like rock and roll.
Any closing words at all?
Rich: We are just excited to get back on the road. We have been off of the road for a couple of years it is kind of like we are little kids again getting back on the bus and playing. We are really exited to be playing these songs live I guess just the overall excitement of playing for people.