Rock Rewind: The Evolution & Impact Of Finger Eleven 

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Hailing from Burlington, Ontario, Finger Eleven has enjoyed tremendous success and carved out a unique place in the music industry. With a career spanning over two decades, Finger Eleven has evolved both musically and lyrically, leaving an indelible mark on the genre.

Formed in 1989, Finger Eleven began their journey as a quintet consisting of:

  • Scott Anderson (vocals)
  • James Black (guitar)
  • Rick Jackett (guitar)
  • Sean Anderson (bass)
  • Rob Gommerman (drums)

Let’s take a look at their story and how they got to where they are today …

Becoming Finger Eleven

Originally known as Rainbow Butt Monkeys, the band’s early work showcased their infectious energy and youthful exuberance. 

In 2018, Scott Anderson shared, “We called ourselves Rainbow Butt Monkeys, there was nothing professional about it … It was all about fun, which didn’t mean we didn’t take music seriously but I remember back in high school, we all had the attitude of we’re going to play music for a living and nothing is holding us back. We had that overconfidence that comes from youth. Twenty years and a whole bunch of luck later, we still get to play music together as a band. We’ve overcome a million obstacles but the spirit of the band is making music together, creating something out of nothing.”

Having played a few shows, including their school’s Christmas Concert, Rainbow Butt Monkeys decided to enter a local radio contest. The band took first place and used their prize money to produce their first album. 

Following the release of Letters From Chutney, the group decided to rebrand. They shed their funk sound and changed their name to Finger Eleven in 1997.

The name, Finger Eleven, came from a demo version of “Thin Spirits” from Tip. In an interview Scott Anderson explained, “When everything is pushing you in one direction and your instinct drives you in another–that’s finger eleven.”

It was this decision that marked a turning point in their career …

Staying True To Themselves While Going Mainstream

Finger Eleven’s self-titled album, released in 2003, propelled them to mainstream success and earned them critical acclaim. The album’s lead single, “One Thing,” became a chart-topping hit and remains an iconic anthem to this day. This early success showcased the band’s ability to craft memorable melodies and poignant lyrics that resonated with listeners.

Throughout their discography, Finger Eleven has continuously pushed the boundaries of their sound, incorporating elements of alternative rock, post-grunge, and experimental influences like nu metal. 

Their willingness to experiment with different textures and musical styles has resulted in a dynamic and ever-evolving sound, setting them apart from their peers.

With each subsequent album, Finger Eleven has demonstrated their growth as musicians and songwriters. Their music has evolved to reflect their personal and artistic journeys, with lyrics that delve into themes of self-discovery, human connection, and the complexities of navigating life’s challenges, which resonates with fans on a deeply emotional level.

In 1998, before recording their third studio album, Gommerman left Finger Eleven and was replaced by Rich Beddoe. Beddoe had previously met James Black, one of the band’s guitarists, during an Alice In Chains concert in Toronto. 

Beyond their studio recordings, Finger Eleven is renowned for their electrifying live performances. Their energy on stage is infectious, captivating audiences and creating an atmosphere of pure rock and roll euphoria. Whether performing in small venues or on massive festival stages, their commitment to delivering an unforgettable experience has solidified their reputation as a powerhouse live act.

Despite their success, Finger Eleven remains grounded and dedicated to their craft. They have maintained a strong connection with their fanbase, consistently engaging with their audience through social media and intimate fan events. Their authenticity and genuine appreciation for their supporters have fostered a loyal and passionate community.

Finger Eleven Discography 

Since 1990, Finger 11 has put out:

1 live album – iTunes Live from Montreal (2010)

3 compilation albums – Us-vs-Then-vs-Now (2007), iTunes Originals (2008), and Greatest Hits (2023)

They’ve also released 7 studio albums …

1. Letters From Chutney (1995)

Finger Eleven’s band members started playing together when they were still in high school. After winning a local radio contest, the group signed on with Mercury Records in 1995. At the time, their music was a blend of funk, grunge, and hard rock. 

Following the release of four EPs, Finger Eleven (still going by the name Rainbow Butt Monkeys) release their debut album – Letters From Chutney. 

BONUS FACT: Chutney was the name the band gave to a dog they found on the side of the road. 

In 2018, Finger Eleven performed as Rainbow Butt Monkeys at Burlington’s Sound of Music Festival, playing only songs from their 1995 album. 

In an interview following the performance, Scott Anderson shared, “These are the first songs we wrote as a high school band and there’s a great energy … feel like we were able to harness a bit of that energy today (Saturday). There was a portion of our younger selves that showed up on stage today, that’s for sure.”

In 2015, the band was asked what advice they would have for the Rainbow Butt Monkeys of 1996. Black explains, “I think we were doing it for the right reasons from the beginning. I don’t think I’d tell myself from back then to do anything differently. I listen to those songs today and I feel like they were accomplishing the smaller dreams we had as a band back then, so I don’t know if it had even been in my mind the kinds of bigger goals we’d all develop.” 

2. Tip (1997)

In the late 1990s, the band decided they wanted to move away from funk towards a heavier rock sound. To be taken more seriously, the band changed its name from Rainbow Butt Monkeys to Finger Eleven. 

Following their name change, the band released their second studio album – Tip. The song “Quicksand” peaked at #28 on the Hot Mainstream Rock chart and was used in the Roswell TV Show but was not credited.  

The release was followed by heavy touring. Finger Eleven played Edgefest and Vans Warped Tour and they opened for Creed and Fuel. 

Soon after releasing Tip, Finger Eleven was dropped by Mercury Records. They later signed to Wind-up Records and re-released the album in 1998. 

3. The Greyest Of Blue Skies (2000)

In 2000, Finger Eleven released The Greyest Of Blue Skies, which was a commercial success in Canada. The album included “Suffocate,” which was used in Scream 3, and “Drag You Down,” which was in Daria. A number of songs were also used in Dragonball Z feature films.

According to Beddoe, one of the “secrets” to The Greyest Of Blue Skies was that they used Roland V-Drums, which were new to the scene at the time of recording. 

He explains, “A lot of the bulk of the drums were electronic drums. I was playing them but those sounds were coming from triggers. And all the stuff underneath were real drums. Like in ‘Drag You Down’ at the start there’s two drum tracks going. One’s a real track. One’s the v-drums.” 

While Beddoe wasn’t confident in the use of V-Drums at the time, looking back, he realizes that they were a big part of what made the album. “At the time, when the album was done, I think I was a little … what’s the word – I wasn’t proud of the fact that most of it was electric drums even though I played it.”

He continues, “I remember a specific memory of this feeling right after we finished the record. We went on tour with Creed or I think we just played a show with Creed and we were in the back of the bus with Scott Phillips the drummer, and I think I’d come in after when they’d already listened to a few songs and he was with Rick and I guess Rick had mentioned how we recorded it. And I know Scott didn’t mean anything by this but it just crushed me that I sat in the back lounge and he looked at me and was like ‘You recorded with V-Drums on this?’ and just the way he said it just took the air out of me and I was like, “Oh my god. Why is that bad?’ and I just questioned everything. But now, in hindsight, that record still to this day it sounds so f*cking great. The guitar tones are amazing on it too, but the sound of those drums makes a big part of that record.] “ 

Following the album’s release, the band continued touring, this time playing X-Fest, Edgefest, K-Rockathon, and Summersault 2000. They also played solo shows and headlined for other artists.


In 2002, Finger Eleven produced “Slow Chemica.l” The was used from 2002 to 2008 as the theme song for professional WWE wrestler Kane (and in 2004’s The Punisher).

Jackett remembers finding out that their song would be used for Kane’s entrance music. 

“They already had an idea of the song they wanted for Kane’s entrance back then, they just wanted someone to expand on it. We recorded something for them and didn’t hear back from them for a while. We figured ‘No way they’re using it’ and then we’re watching one of their pay-per-views at a bar and Kane comes out to the song we recorded. We heard it for the first time everyone else did. I don’t know if WWE did that on purpose, but as a fan of theirs, it was actually a really special moment.”

4. Finger Eleven (2003)

Up to this point, Arnold Lanni, who also worked with Simple Plan and Our Lady Peace, had produced all of Finger Eleven’s records. But for the band’s self-titled album, Finger Eleven worked with Johnny K. 

Unlike their previous heavy rock albums, Finger Eleven featured screaming vocals over repetitive guitar rhythms. The album debuted at #4 in Canada and reached #1 on the Top Heatseekers chart in the US. It was the first Finger Eleven album to get the attention of Americans. 

The single “One Thing” Made it to the top 20 on the Hot 100 (#16), Adult Pop (#2), Pop 100 (#11), and Alternative (#5) charts. Many of the album’s tracks also appeared in movie and games. 

While the album was being recorded, rumors circulated that Finger Eleven was breaking up but it never came to be. In response, the band posted a cell number for fans to call. No matter what time of day it was, they would be able to chat with someone from the group. 

5. Them vs. You vs. Me (2007)

Taking a more mellow approach to their music, the band releases Them vs. You vs. Me in 2007. “Paralyzer” the band’s biggest hit to date, was the album’s lead single. It spent 50 weeks on the charts peaking at #6 on the Hot 100. It also topped the rock charts in both Canada and the US. 

In a 2008 interview, Beddoe recalls first realizing just how big “Paralyzer” had become. 

“Last year we toured for ten months pretty much nonstop and then got home for Christmas and everyone was like, ‘Holy shit, you guys are huge. Congratulations!’ It was like, what are you guys talking about? We’re just working. Nothing has changed. Then you’re driving your car around and you hear ‘Paralyzer’ 50 times a day and go like, holy shit! (laughs) So you have to experience it yourself to really see the scope of what’s going on.”

The album was certified gold in the US and platinum in Canada. It peaked at #14 on the Hot 100 and won a Juno Award for Rock Album Of The Year in 2008. 

“The variety of rhythms, along with the increasing emphasis on acoustic-based power ballads, gives Them vs. You vs. Me the greatest musical variety of any Finger Eleven record, but they remain boxed in by their good intentions: they remain a group that’s too polite to dislike but too well-mannered to remember.” — Stephen Thomas Erlewine, AllMusic editor

The band continued to tour throughout 2007, 2008, and 2009, playing concerts with artists like Seether, 3 Doors Down and Kid Rock. 

6. Life Turns Electric (2010)

Finger Eleven’s 6th studio album received mixed reviews. While it charted, it only reached #88.

In an interview with WatchMojo, Beddoe explains, “[It’s] probably the most positive uplifting record we’ve ever made with the least angst. Lyrically, Scott, he’s in a great place right now in his life. It’s been such a great few years for us, traveling around the world and having this success from Them vs. You vs. Me so making the record was very positive and you can hear that in the album for sure.” 

In the same interview, Jackett shares, “We’re aware of [the evolution of the band and the music] for sure. I think other people may be a bit more aware of it than we are because they don’t see the hundreds of songs we write between records. For us, it’s just a very natural progression of probably mostly just not wanting to repeat ourselves.”

Beddoe continues, “But if you saw us a few years ago when we were making Them vs. You vs. Me we were all very different people than we were when we were making Life Turns Electric. So I think in every record that really comes out … the maturity of each band member both personally and just within the band.” 

7. Five Crooked Lines (2015)

In 2013, Rich Beddoe left Finger Eleven. Steve Molella would later join the band but Five Crooked Lines had already been recorded with Chris Powell on drums by that time. 

The album was released on Concord Bicycle Music as a result of a catalog sale in 2013 and a merger between Bicycle Music Company and Concord Music Group in 2015.

Five Crooked Lines charted for a week before peaking at #44. This release was followed up by their Fall Of The Hammer cross-Canada tour. 

In an interview, Jackett explains that Five Crooked Lines was about getting back to their roots. “We weren’t trying to mimic our early years. We found that when we followed our hearts and our guts, it came down to raw guitar riffs, strong vocals, and stronger drums. I’m not talking shit about what we’d done more recently either, but I think we relied more heavily on the nice things that big production studios afforded us, like increased use of technology. Thing is, we don’t need that stuff to make a great rock and roll record.”

Finger Eleven Is Still Making Their Mark

As Finger Eleven continues to evolve and explore new creative territories, their impact on the alternative rock genre remains significant. Their music serves as a testament to the power of introspection, personal growth, and the ability of art to connect us all.

With their compelling soundscapes and thought-provoking lyrics, they have left a mark on the hearts and minds of listeners worldwide. As we eagerly anticipate their next musical chapter, one thing remains certain: Finger Eleven will continue to captivate and inspire with their innovative spirit and unwavering dedication to their craft.

This November, Finger Eleven will be playing live at The Rock 95 Birthday Bash. For more information click here

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