Finger Eleven's fast-rising debut recording, 'Tip," is the album that almost never was. The disc, which mixes the Toronto guitar-rock quintet's frenetic six-string thrashing with moody textures, was released by Mercury Canada in August 1997. But label restructuring resulted in a tragically short life for the initial incarnation of the CD.
"It didn't get a chance to succeed or fail," says singer Scott Anderson. "Seagram's had bought up Mercury in Canada. We were dropped as a result of the whole housecleaning thing that was going on. All of a sudden there's no label, there's no money, there's no support. It's just us."
Anderson and company soon attracted the attention of Wind-up, an New York indie label whose roster includes the band's current tourmates Creed. Several tracks on "Tip" were remixed, additional parts were added to the song "Awake and Dreaming," and the entire project was remastered. The result is a hard-charging disc that has gained rock-radio airplay with its first single, "Quicksand," which drives home its message of hopelessness with throbbing bass, a fierce backbeat and Anderson's edge-of-desperation singing.
"It's got a few nice hooks in it, and I think it's not exactly what everybody's doing at this point," says Anderson. "It only really became something really special in the mix. It kind of crept up on us. It came from being quite frustrated and not knowing where to direct any of that frustration and depression."
Finger Eleven performed their first gig at a high-school talent show in Burlington, Ontario. Anderson, who had been influenced by British progressive rockers like Pink Floyd and Genesis, put together a three-song set with guitarist James Black, his brother Sean Anderson on bass, guitarist Rick Jackett and a drummer later replaced by Rich Beddoe.
The band followed in the wake of such Canadian heroes as I Mother Earth and Our Lady Peace, but they drew on hardcore and grunge to develop their own sound. They soon hooked up with Our Lady Peace and King's X producer Arnold Lanni for their debut.
"Back when we started, there weren't that many independent bands around Canada," says Anderson. "We wanted something that could sound like stuff that we would buy in the store. That's the music that we grew up on. The record store was our scene."