Burlington, Ontario’s Finger Eleven formed in 1989 around brothers Scott and Sean Anderson on vocals and bass, along with highschool friends James Black on bass and drummer Rob Gommerman. Before long they doubled their guitar attack by adding Rick Jackett.
Calling themselves Rainbow Butt Monkeys, they played throughout the region after graduation and in ’94 entered a local radio station’s talent search contest. The money they won paid for some studio time in Burlington, and they compounded that by going to Metalworks Studio in Toronto to finish some demos with producers John Punter and Atilla Turi.
With Rob Lanni and Eric Lawrence acting as their managers, they scored a deal with Mercury Records, and released their debut album LETTERS FROM CHUTNEY in April 1995. With tracks like the lead-off “As Far As I Can Spit,” “Spiderprints,” and “Cookin’ In The Kitchen,” the songs were tight and the music was heavy, but the album’s mix of alt-rock and funky metal made little impression.
They carried on honing their chops and found time to hit the studios and record new material. But finding their influences had expanded and therefore their own sound had matured, they felt a name change was in order if they were going to be taken seriously. The name ‘finger eleven’ comes from a line in “Thin Spirits,” one of the new tracks that had been written. With new producer Arnold Lanni of Our Lady Peace, TIP was recorded in his Toronto studio (Arnyard Studios) and was on the shelves in late 1997. But unimpressed, Mercury dropped the band only six weeks after its release. After reworking a few details and guitar and vocal mixes, changing the jacket, and renaming “Awake And Dreaming” to “Consolation Day,” indie label Windup Records picked them up and re-released the album in September ’98, not long after Rich Beddoe took Gommerman’s place behind the drumkit. Beddoe was recommended by Black, who met him at an Alice in Chains concert several years earlier in Toronto. The album’s second wind started out slowly, but eventually picked up enough momentum that they found themselves opening for the likes of Creed and Fuel for the next year.
They kicked off the new millennium with THE GREYEST OF BLUE SKIES, which garnered the band their first two Juno nominations, for Best Rock Video for “Drag You Down,” and for Best Rock Album. Along with “First Time” and “Stay and Drown,” it also appeared in a Dragonball Z feature film, while “Suffocate” appeared on the “Scream 3: The Album” soundtrack. All the exposure translated into sales, and the album was certified gold in Canada the following spring.
2003 saw their self-titled album on the streets, produced by Johnny K. It eventually went gold in the US and platinum at home, due largely to the success of the single “One Thing.” Peaking at #16, it was their highest ranking US single at that time, and also made it to #3 in Canada, and was a hit on rock, pop, and adult radio charts. The song also found its way onto several television programs that year, including “Scrubs,” “Smallville,” “Life As We Know It,” and “Third Watch.”
The album also contained several tracks that were featured in various video games, including “Stay In Shadow” on Burnout 3: Takedown, “Good Times” on SSX3, and “Other Light” and “Conversations” on 1080 Avalanche.
All the fuss they were making prompted the label execs to release a limited edition run of the album which included a bonus DVD featuring the “Good Times” music video, along with studio and live concert footage. The album made its way to #3 on the Canadian chart, as well as cracking the top 10 in Australia and the UK. They were on the road for the better part of the next two years, and on some of the hottest tickets around the world, including the coveted SnoCore 2004 tour, while earning a pair of Juno nominations – for Single of the Year for “One Thing” in ’04, and Group of the Year a year later.
The band utilized producer Johnny K while reaching superstar status with 2007’s THEM VS YOU VS ME, launched by the lead-off “Paralyzer.” The single spent several weeks in the top 10 on just about every rock chart in the world, and was performed on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” on two separate appearances, as well as at the 2007 NHL Awards Show, on the retired battleship USS New Jersey in Camden, NJ, as part of a promotional stunt by a Philadelphia radio station, and at the Miss USA 2008 pageant in Las Vegas, NV. You can also listen to the song playing while you scream on Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit rollercoaster at Universal Studios Florida.
“Falling On” was next on the charts, breaking the top 40 in just about every market, as did “I’ll Keep Your Memory Vague” and “Talking to the Walls.” The album made it to #2 in Canada, but only #37 in the US. Before the year was up, they released US VS THEN VS NOW, a DVD chronicling the band’s career. Along with nominations for Single of the Year for “Paralyzer” and Group of the Year, they picked up their first Juno Award in ’08 for Album of the Year, where they performed “Paralyzer” with the Calgary Youth Orchestra.
A large portion of the band’s 2008 tour schedule had to be cancelled or postponed, including a European tour that summer that consisted of Download Festival 2008 in England, Rock Am Ring, and Rock In The Park in Germany when Scott Anderson sprained his neck.
Recouping, and after some much needed time off, they went back and forth to Wind Up’s studios in New York in January of 2010, and finished up the raw tapes that June. The result was LIFE BECOMES ELECTRIC in October. The first single, “Living in a Dream,” was released that July, and quickly shot up the charts, and was chosen as the official theme song to the 2011 WWE Royal Rumble. It was followed in January 2011 by “Whatever Doesn’t Kill Me.” The band received a Juno nomination that year as well, for Best Rock Album of The Year.
Finger Eleven has proven themselves a hot commodity for outside projects. Topping that list is World Wrestling Entertainment. On June 25, 2007, “One Thing” was used during their broadcasted tribute to Chris Benoit (before they realized he’d not only committed suicide, but killed his son and his wife). It’s also been used during several WWE pay per view events and DVD soundtracks. The band also recorded wrestling superstar Kane’s 2002 theme song “Slow Chemical,” which also made its way to the movie soundtrack for “The Punisher.”
Other movie appearances from the band’s music include “Sad Exchange” on the “Daredevil” soundtrack in ’03, and “Thousand Mile Wish” was featured in the closing credits of the 2005 movie “Elektra.” “First Time”, “Stay and Drown”, and “Drag You Down” were all featured in the movies “Lord Slug” and “Cooler’s Revenge.”
“Drag You Down” was featured in an episode of the television series “John Doe,” while “Paralyzer” was featured in an episode of the first season of “Gossip Girl,” and in the pilot episode of “Greek.” “Stay in Shadow” appeared on the soundtrack of the 2003 remake of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” and “Complicated Questions” appeared in the second season of “CSI: Miami.”