By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
I assumed that Eleven would go with a major if the right deal came up.
“I don’t think so,” said Shneider. “I put my foot down very early on. Corporate mentality does not allow us to concentrate on what is different; they want to concentrate on what is exactly the same, or what is going to be a very particular group, 12 to 22, or whatever numbers they come up with that month. And we are not like that.
“Our music is for fans, and people we can potentially play for later on — not just people that watch TRL; people that are not satisfied with music that is incredibly safe. The young people are listening to all this safe music, which should be actually for grandparents instead of for young people.”
But a band has to form a plan to market itself. Does Eleven think about who its audience is?
Shneider: “The disgruntled.”
Johannes: “We’ve found through the years that we were shocked by the diversity of our audience. We’ve had, like, 65-year-old gospel singer mamas come up to us . . .”
“. . . and kids that have mohawks and piercings and are only 12 years old,” said Shneider. “What is our audience? It’s not an age group.”
Even so, a potential tour built on that far-flung fan base would be an expensive proposition. Johannes has an alternative idea about that:
“I’d like to set up a visual and sonic space somewhere on the Web, and we could perform anytime we want. It could be a full show, it could be us working through a song, or individually performing different things. It would be an amazing thing.”
Johannes encountered Shneider a couple of days after dreaming about a girl on the other end of a teeter-totter, who said, “My name’s Natasha and we’re going to meet.” Their fated coming together bears fruit through a highly complementary pairing of emotional/intellectual and technical gifts (Shneider’s perfect pitch and compositional thinking, Johannes’ wizardry on seemingly every musical instrument under the sun). Much of Eleven’s enormous emotional wallop owes to Irons’ spare, compacted power, which provides the band with a very special pulse — it seems to breathe in a literally human way (“Dynamics is my whole gig now,” he says) and, of course, sometimes explodes in fury. (And in recording sessions, he plays without a click, thanks. Jack says, “Good things can happen naturally.”)
Like the environment in which they’re created, Eleven’s records have an otherworldliness to them, due in part to Johannes’ odd ideas about sound design. “It’s almost like a dream place,” he said, “in a way like a black-and-white French New Wave film: Because it’s not looking like reality, then the symbolism and all the magic is preserved, and the ideas come across somehow — because you’re not fooled into perceiving it as the real thing.”
I suggested that the trio’s sympathy for each other creates its own kind of aural magic.
Shneider: “Every musician, producer, writer, we have to be listeners first. We’re nobody if we’re not listeners.”