It's been four years since the release of Finger Eleven's self-titled third LP — an album that's sold close to 563,000 copies, mostly on the strength of its sole hit single, "One Thing." And while the band's lead singer doesn't expect every fan of that effort will still be interested in Finger Eleven's forthcoming disc, Them vs. You vs. Me, he does hope to escape the same fate that's crippled the careers of such promising artists as Los del Rio, Right Said Fred and the Baha Men.
"Listen, you're either a one-hit wonder or a no-hit wonder," said frontman Scott Anderson, when asked if he fears Finger Eleven will succumb to the same disease that claimed the commercial relevance of Vanilla Ice and Gerardo. "Basically, it depends on what your intentions are. If you set out to write a big hit single, you have to be an artisan in order to make it sound like you weren't manipulating something. If it gets away from expression and you try to write some sort of top-40 bullsh-- thing, it sounds like you're just not a very good artist."
And on Them vs. You vs. Me, which drops March 6, Anderson claims Finger Eleven didn't even attempt to replicate the success of "One Thing." They didn't set out to craft a hit song — it was business as usual in the studio. If one of the tracks on this next album garners the same sort of response from fans, the singer said that's purely coincidental.
"If you sit down with your band and something happens in an organic sense, then that's fine — then, it can go wherever," he continued. "Once that success happens, if you try to purposely do that again, I think your career's over. Bands think all of their songs are f---ing gold. Otherwise, you wouldn't put it on your record. We had to be very careful with this album, and unfortunately for the label, and for the sake of our career, there isn't 'One Thing: Part Two' on this record. I wouldn't know how to do that. But I can say there are some badass mellow songs on it, and some badass rock songs too. There's nothing else we can do. The band — every band worth anything — always thinks there's an evolution to their sound between records. Otherwise, they're just phoning it in, and it will probably sound like that.
"We had, for the first time in our careers, a hit, and it's like, 'You know what, we're one of those bands that needs to go away for a bit,' " Anderson added, explaining the time gap between albums. "They're still playing that song. You get sick of those types of bands. I know I do. I don't mind the break, but if [our fans have] moved on, you can't really blame them. But we're just stupid enough to believe in the music we make, that it's going to be all right. We would have come back and had, like, those crap records where the band maybe works hard on one or two songs. But we have to live with a f---ing record, and anyone who actually thought we were cool deserves something we believe in."
Finger Eleven, who'll be on tour with Hinder and Black Stone Cherry through March 3 in New Orleans, plan to promote Them vs. You vs. Me on the road; they'll be heading out March 16 in Fresno, California, with Chevelle and labelmates Evanescence, for a run of gigs that concludes April 5 in Glens Falls, New York. The album boasts a dozen fresh cuts, including "I'll Keep Your Memory Vague," "So-So Suicide" and "Sense of a Spark."
Produced by Johnny K (Disturbed, 3 Doors Down), Them vs. You vs. Me marks a progression in the band's sound that Anderson said came totally naturally.
"I think that's what time can give you," he explained. "To skew it and sculpt it in a very intentional way, that's fake as hell. I think I'm just jealous because I would love to be able to do that. For us, it took just a whole pile of stabs in the dark, and just writing, and having another member react to it, and then finally hacking a song out of it. That is basically what this record is — a collection of ideas we believe in. Whether they go together perfectly, I'm not sure that's the nature of a Finger Eleven album anyhow."
The band recently shot a video for the album's first single, "Paralyzer" — a tune the singer described as a "self-deprecating joke about how stupid I feel going out to nightclubs." The clip was shot with director Barnaby Roper (Snow Patrol, Moby) in Los Angeles, and follows the story of a man who gets caught up in a groove.
"The band's sort of playing on this rooftop in this totally isolated downtown area, and there's just one dude, and the idea is that he sort of catches the beat of the song, and has this wicked little dance-off with this chick and hilarity ensues," Anderson said. "It's by far the most entertaining part of the video. We're there, we're rocking out and the concept idea actually worked out for once. It's a sexy video, and I had nothing to do with it."