These chart-topping Canadian rockers have appeared on the soundtracks to both Daredevil and The Punisher. Jason Ahlquist talks to Rich from this fan-friendly band.
All the original members of Finger Eleven grew up in Burlington, Ontario. Together they were originally a funk band called Rainbow Butt Monkey of all things. As RBM they won a local radio talent contest and used the money to record their first album – Letters from Chutney.
Eventually, the band changed their name and in 1998 the signed on new Drummer Rich Beddoe.
From there they signed on with Mercury Records and released “Tip” to Canadian audiences. Soon after, they signed on with Fledgling Wind-Up Entertainment to release Tip to American audiences. They were only the second band so sign with the label at the time. That’s when things really began to happen for the F11. I had the opportunity to talk to Rich Beddoe about his role in F11 and how he came to this point. Their relationship with Wind-Up was one of the first subjects out of the starting block.
“They really care about the artist,” Rich said, “they also have a lot of business savvy and don’t take any crap from anyone.”
The artist-friendly business environment turned out to be a haven of creativity for many acts to come – Creed, Evanescence, Atomship and Drowning Pool to name a few. As for Finger Eleven, it gave them the room to expand their scope with the critically acclaimed The Greyest of Blue Skies and commercial hit, self-titled third album.
For Rich, this shit has been a pretty important piece in his life. He moved to Burlington when he was four years old, by the time he was eleven, he had already tried his hand at guitar. But it was the drums that eventually captured him.
Rich’s development as a drummer followed an almost mathematical arc of fascinations from the simple algorithmic of basic beats to more layered, arrangements.
“When I first started out, I really got into the beats of Run DMC, Grandmaster Flash and other hip-hop pioneers. I was moved by the simpleness of the 4/4 beats they used.”
As he developed in his drummer skin, exploring his art, Rich began to open his ear to other beats and develop an interest in more intricate percussion from prog rock groups like Genesis, art metal rockers Queensryche and of course the Beatles.
“Anything I didn’t understand,” Rich said, ” I wanted to get into. But it’s funny, the more you look into the complex, the more you appreciate what’s simple.”
You can really hear that in his work – his ability to rig up thick – molecular songs like Sick of it All with all its vaulted layers and to then switch to the basic foundational percussions on One Thing, is a mark of a musician in it to serve the song as opposed to the technique.
Aside from their kick ass music, Finger Eleven owes a great deal of its success to its fan-friendly attitude – and to the F11 friendly attitude on their fans. When The F11 street-teams, they mean business. Rather than rely on the enthusiasm their fans have for their star power, the band really tries to connect to their listeners. I first noticed this in the frequent presence every member has on the street team message board. This place wasn’t just a place for agents and venue owners to coordinate flyer drops and radio show vote rigging. You can actually talk to these guys about — well, stuff. Whatever.
Being the ever-intrepid reporter I thought I’d step out and contact an F11 street teamer.
Colin Insley sent talked to me about his experiences on the Finger Eleven Street Team.
“Finger Eleven has the best relationship with their fan base of any band that I’ve seen.”
When Colin joined up, he received a cell phone number to contact the band. “I figured that I would never be able to talk to them on the phone because I thought that the chances of it were highly unlikely,” Colin told me, “But I decided to give it a try anyway.”
Collin dialed up the number a couple of times, not getting through at first, but very shortly connected to Rich.
“We just talked about school and what was going on with me and how much I enjoyed seeing them the several times that I have.
“It was the complete opposite from the typical fan reaction (of) ‘OH MY GOD I LOVE YOU GUYS SO MUCH!!!!!’ which was really cool because let’s face it – even if somebody is in a world famous band, they’re still a human being and not really any different from you or me. I felt totally comfortable talking with Rich and he was totally cool about the fact that I forgot what time it was in Canada and accidentally called them at 1:00 in the morning. Finger Eleven deserves everything they get because they work so hard at what they do and have so much respect for their fans.”
Finger Eleven is currently back in Canada working on their fourth Album. To learn more about the F11, go to http://www.fingereleven.com/ or http://www.wind-upent.com/. If you want to check out their really cool Street Team, go to http://www.fingereleven.com/streetteam/.