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Finger Eleven stays relevant by reinventing sound

<p>When Finger Eleven first started playing music they’d have dreams of selling a million records. Now that they've hit that mark, they don't care about album sales.<br /></p>

When Finger Eleven first started playing music they’d have dreams of selling a million records.


Now that the band has hit that mark — they’ve sold more than two million copies of their 2007 disc Them vs. You vs. Me — they don’t care how many albums go through the check out line.


“At the beginning you think you’re not doing well unless you sell millions of records,” says guitarist Rick Jackett. “The truth is it doesn’t really matter.”


Jackett blames a shifting music industry for his attitude change. “Major pop stars aren’t selling,” he says. Even for a band like Finger Eleven, it’s their shows and merch that bring in the money.


Still, you’d expect the band to feel some sort of pressure to follow up their massive success. But Jackett disagrees. There’s been no label interference and their only goal was to improve their songwriting.


“We’ve always had pressure on ourselves, to top our last record,” Jackett says. Of course every band says that, but many have trouble matching a massive seller.


I wouldn’t say Life Turns Electric, Finger Eleven’s new record that’s out today, is that much better than their last disc, but there are improvements.


The disc still has plenty of heavy riffs, pounding drums and Scott Anderson’s alt.rock wail, but the group also tackles pop and funk. Their single Living in a Dream is unlikely to match Paralyzer’s success, but its Franz Ferdinand-like verses is a nice change from their heavy rock.


Jackett chalks up the poppier sound to two things: Better songwriting and a more positive view on life. “We’re continually trying to write stronger melodies,” he says. “But a lot of it comes from maturity. We start to lose our angst that alienates you from everyone else. We don’t hate the world so much anymore, we wake up happy in the daytime.”


It also had something to do with a jukebox filled with obnoxious dance music. “There was a bar beside the apartment [where] we were staying that played mostly classic rock and new dance music,” Jackett recalls. “I did not want to listen to the dance tracks, so we played a lot of classic rock, and that influenced the record.”


Ultimately, the band is just trying to stay relevant in a different record industry than they started in.

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