The eleventh finger

On June 28,  mega bands Nickelback, Finger Eleven, Staind, Hedley, Buckcherry, Default, and State of Shock will be descending on the town of Bay Roberts to play at—as far as we can tell—the biggest outdoor concert the province has ever seen. 20,000-30,000 people are expected to show up, it’s going to be loud, and they’re going to be cheering for high energy rock.

For Rich Beddoe of southern Ontario, the drummer for Finger Eleven, the experience of playing for a crowd that size is incredible.

Elling Lien caught up with him by phone to talk about playing huge shows, the band’s new album, and life on the road.

So you’re coming to town this summer for a big outdoor show!

Yeah! The festival things are always fun, you know, you do your gig for 45 minutes to an hour and then you sort of hang out in the sun all day and drink beer and watch bands.

Is that usually how it goes?

That’s pretty much how a festival goes. They’re always fun, because when you’re on stage there are all these other bands watching you. Watching rock n’ roll.

When was the last time you guys were here?

We played at the Mile One arena about three or four years ago on our last Canadian tour for our last record.

And how’d that go?

I remember that street of bars, I remember that being really fun, but it was after the show that I really remember. George Street, and a bunch of cool people hanging out. Newfoundlanders are always super-friendly. Throughout Canada, Newfoundlanders are known for being super fun and super friendly and really welcoming. We’re excited to be coming back. We were there a few days early to be tourists and it was really fun.

Really! You probably don’t often get the chance to do that.

No, you’re right. That was a fly-in show, so there was some time, but usually we’re out that night and on to the next city. Which kind of sucks. People always assume when you’re touring you get to see everything, but all you really see are parking lots and venues.

That sounds a little brutal…

Well, we have fun, but I guess touring is not really about touring, we’re here to play. It’s not that brutal, but no one goes into touring expecting to be a tourist all day. We’re here to work, and we happen to love what we do.

So tell me about Finger Eleven’s new album, Them vs. You vs. Me.

We released it in March, and we’re excited about it. We took a long time to make it and we put the most thought into it. It’s weird to walk into a store now and see it there. It’s almost hard to believe.

Does it feel real?

This whole job is surreal. That show we’ll be playing there with Nickelback, you’ll look out and see 20,000 people cheering. That shit never gets old! I remember going to shows as a kid and imagining what that was like, and now I get to live it. It’s important to never take it for granted… We’ve worked so hard to get here but it could all be gone tomorrow, so we try to play every show like it’s our last.

I was reading an interview with you before and you said you used to play three shows a night doing music for a living… barely scraping money together.

Yeah, that’s how I lived for many years before this band. It’s tough.

So about the album: you cover a bunch of styles, and there’s a range of influences in there, but what keeps the music Finger Eleven music?

I think there’s a chemistry between the five of us, and I think there’s something in Scott’s voice that brings it all together.

We like to do straight-up rock songs, but we’re also big fans of prog rock. We grew up loving Genesis and we always try to add a little twist into our songs. And there is a chemistry. I know when I play in a band with other guys, I play different, and when I play with these guys I play a certain way.

Sometimes people hear some of our music and they wonder “oh, who is this?” But then as soon as Scott starts singing people know.

Knowing that having Scott sing will make your songs Finger Eleven songs, does that free you up to be more adventurous and experiment a bit more?

Well,, not really… we just never have any rules to begin with. We never try to repeat ourselves, even though sometimes I think some fans might wish we would. There are certain records that some fans come up and tell us to record an album like a certain song.

“I loved ‘One Thing’, why don’t you make an album like that?”

[laugh] Well, we already have a “One Thing.” We’re always trying to advance ourselves, but we’re never set any rules or borders with our music. We try to come together and just create something interesting and feels good to us. We’re not even thinking about record sales or fans when we’re writing, we’re just thinking about satisfying ourselves.

You could sell millions of records, but that doesn’t really matter. What matters is, in twenty years from now, am I going to put on this CD and have it be relevant, and am I still going to be proud of it?

We don’t like to think about if a song will get on the radio, or if people are going to like it even. That kind of shit there’s nothing we can do about it. We’re a band. People are going to judge you no matter what you do. So I think you have to make yourself happy, be proud of it, and answer any question about it.

The last thing you want to have when you put out a record is to not be sure of something and then someone calls you on it. We try to put all of our confidence and heart into our music, and I think it’s for that reason that we’ve been around for fifteen years.

You guys recorded a track on a benefit compilation of John Lennon covers for Amnesty International [Make Some Noise]. Tell me about that.

Yeah, we were approached to do that and we jumped at the opportunity. It wasn’t just helping Amnesty, but on top of that it was awesome that we were asked to do a cover of John Lennon, one of the greatest songwriters of all time, right? So we were like, “fuck yeah! No question!”

We were actually writing the record at the time out in Muskoka, out in a cabin out in the woods. We played [“Look at Me”] through and it came out really easy and it was one of those magical things, where it was done in an evening. There’s something kind of special about that.

And any time it’s possible to be more than just a song, where there’s something good motivating it all, that feels good too.

Were you given the song?

No, we were able to pick and they told us we could do it. When we were first approached Scott immediately picked “Look at Me”. It was one of those songs that he was singing long before we recorded it, and that added to the charm of it. To get to sing something that he already loved singing anyway, and have it recorded and documented.

It was pretty awesome.


What is your current obsession?

Halo. Halo 2. I’m waiting patiently for Halo 3. [laugh] Being on tour it’s an interactive game, and when you’re sitting on a bus waiting to play, it’s fun to challenge your band mates and shoot them in the face.

What is your idea of earthly happiness?

Uh, I’d say vodka, women and music. [laugh]

Aren’t you living that dream?

I didn’t say I get any of those things. [laugh]

 What is your secret super power?

The power of flight, of course.

What is your principal defect?

My principal defect… My uncontrollably curly hair.

That’s a bad answer. You’re not really responsible for that.


What sound or noise do you love?

I suppose a big ass bassdrum through a PA system. It just rocks you. When I get the chance to go out and hear it, that monstrous sound through the PA… When someone hits a bassdrum and your hair blows back for a second, that’s a sign it’s going to be a good show.

What sound or noise do you despise?

My alarm clock.

What job, other than drummer, would you like to attempt?

A chef. I’m a fan of cooking, and if I didn’t play I would have gone to a cooking school and pursued that.

What do you like about it?

Well, I guess two things: Now that I’m on the road and I don’t get the chance to make food for friends. I like making a meal and having people enjoy it.

I guess it’s like writing a song and having people get into it. It’s not so much about me enjoying the food, it’s about other people.

Now, on tour, I eat out every single night, and cooking at home is one of those things that I miss right now.

When do you guys get to stop?

…That’s a good question. We’ve been going since January pretty solid, and we’ve had about four days off since January. Usually you go for a few months and then have a few weeks off and then go again… Eventually Christmas comes and you take two weeks off for Christmas. You go all year.

If you have a successful record, I think a normal touring cycle for that is about two years. That’s if it does well. If you have a moderate record, you’ll probably be on the road for a year… Basically, if you’re off the road within a year, your record bombed.

What job would you not like to do?

Roofing. I did roofing in the middle of the summer for a few days a bunch of years ago and it was the hardest fucking think I have ever been a part of. I walked out of the job three days in. I was climbing up a ladder with a thing of shingles over my shoulder and as I got to the top the ladder almost fell backwards and luckily another guy grabbed it.

And I was like, “that’s it for me! Good night Irene!”

It’s dangerous and it’s hot and it’s hard work.

Landscaping, on the other hand, is very hard work but I could do that job. It seems more rewarding. That’s something I could do similar to roofing, but roofing is just fucking unbelievable.

Where would you like to live?

I guess I can answer it in two ways: One way would be Barcelona, Spain.

I can’t imagine anyone wanting to live there.

[laugh] I think it’s gorgeous, and everyone’s cool. That would be a place I’d want to live, but I don’t think I could ever leave Canada.

Where would I like to live? Anywhere in Canada.

Iqaluit! Baffin Island!

Sure! I could do that…

Last question: How would you like to die?


One part of me wants to die and experience death fully, like in a plane crash, where you have time to think “wow, I’m about to die.” And then there’s another side of me that fears death that just wants to die in my sleep.

But really, however I die, I’d want it to be in a way that doesn’t traumatize my family. The least affective for the people I’m leaving behind, you know? I wouldn’t want my family bawling, or any incident where they were messed up for the rest of their lives. •


Other events Friday

Gallery Opening: Notes on Location: Sampled Sites in Books by Artists, and Peter Wilkins: Kinetic Portraits of 12 Canadian Writer, The Rooms (Opening reception Fri, Jan 19 at 8pm)

19 January 2007

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