Only a few months have passed since Where Calgary’s last conversation with Finger Eleven. Since then, the band won the 2008 Juno Award for Rock Album of the Year for Them vs. You vs. Me, and announced their return to the Coca-Cola Stage at this year’s Calgary Stampede.
We caught up with drummer Rich Beddoe to talk about the Junos, Stampede, the surprising occupation he had before joining the band in 1998, and some possible ideas for future albums.
AM: How do you think Calgary faired as the venue for the Junos this year?
RB: It’s the perfect place for the Junos. If you’ve seen how many times we’ve played there over the years… the Stampede and MacEwan Hall… it’s always been the highlight of our Canadian tours. It’s a very musical city, a very ‘rock ‘n roll’ city. We never have a problem selling tickets in Calgary.
AM: Has winning your first Juno Award changed the band?
RB: It’s a great honour to win something like that, but it doesn’t define our band, it doesn’t change anything about how we feel about our band. I’m on a bus touring with eleven guys and that’s what I’m thinking about every day.
AM: What are you looking forward to most about performing at the Stampede again this summer?
RB: It’s a fun day, it’s always a great time and there’s always lots of people there. Any time we’re headlining, we get to play at night and look out at all of those people.
AM: Besides performing, what’s the best reason to go to the Stampede?
RB: That big yellow ride where you get in a cage, it’s fast and it spins around. I have to go on it every time. And, there’s always hot girls, you know, country girls everywhere.
AM: In an earlier interview we did with James, he talked about buying his first cowboy hat here. Do you have a similar experience?
RB: I got my first pink cowboy shirt there last year. I remember there was this whole thing “are you tough enough to wear pink”…it was for breast cancer, so I got one and I wore it onstage and it was cool. I got a big reaction when I walked out in my pink shirt, like everyone appreciated it. I thought it was good to do something towards a great cause.
AM: Did you ever have a back-up plan in case you didn’t make it as a drummer?
RB: I didn’t. I think my parents were worried because I didn’t do well at school, and I didn’t really have a big job. I was working at a gas station. I just had this dream that something was going to happen. I think it happened at the right time. I was starting to get panicky about what the future held for me.
AM: Is playing drums something that a person can ever really master, or are you always learning?
RB: I think that it’s like playing any other instrument. There’s so many different styles and techniques and anyone who claims they’ve mastered any instrument is sort of foolish. That’s the great thing about being a musician though, for the rest of your life, it’s never going to get boring or old.
AM: Lyrics can really be used to convey emotion. Is there a way to do that with drums?
RB: I think so, Paralyzer for example, that beat gets people’s heads bopping. Drums are the reason people dance. It’s something happening internally from the drums. It’s the oldest instrument around.
AM: Do you think any of the songs that didn’t make it on to Them vs You vs Me will make an appearance in some of your future albums?
RB: Maybe different incarnations of them. I think there’s a reason that songs don’t make it. We wrote a lot of songs, and not every song you write is good. When you’re writing it you don’t really think about that because you’re sort of in your own universe and you just think that everything you write is going to be amazing.
AM: Is there a “Greatest Hits” album in your future?
RB: I think we need one more record—something about Greatest Hits ages you a bit. I never buy greatest hits records, I just buy people’s albums, most of my favourite songs from Led Zeppelin weren’t their singles. To me, greatest hits just means radio hits. Maybe we’ll make a greatest non-hits…that would be better. You’ve got me thinking here.
AM: You’ve referred to the band as being “ridiculously nerdy,” and also that you guys are really into video games. What game is spending a lot of time in your X-Box these days?
RB: The new Grand Theft Auto, and the new Rainbow 6. I’ve stayed up until 6 in the morning, just sitting there on the bus geeking out. When we all play together, we all play Halo 3, we link it up and battle each other, sometimes we battle other bands. Other buses would pull up and they’d come on our bus, and we’d proceed to shoot them in the face with our big space guns.
AM: Any other thoughts?
RB: We’re excited to come back to Calgary. They’ve been very supportive of the band over the years.
Click here to read our interview with Finger Eleven guitarist James Black.—Ally McConnell