Chasing endless summers paid off for Eleven Past One.Five years ago, the Bowmanville, Ont. natives hitched a rickety 1970s-era house trailer to their SUV and drove around the U.S. south for six months, living in trailer parks with no electricity or running water.
The goal: to make it big. First stop: Cocoa Beach U.S.A., where singer Daniel Richter, his brother and guitarist Stephen Richter and drummer Steve Patenaude beach-tested their summery harmonies and feel-good melodies on unassuming sunbathers.
“We spent hours walking up the beach trying to promote our song ‘Summertime’ with two guitars and me serenading people,” recalls Daniel Richter. “We’d walk for miles and just go up to people and say, ‘Hey come to our show’ and give them a flyer. It didn’t really work! They loved it though. No one turned us away.”
Fortunately, the Floridian sojourn bore fruit in other ways. The trio eventually met an investor and a producer, which led to a three-month recording session in Los Angeles and a debut LP, The Ultimate Catch. That album caught the attention of manager Eric Clinger who introduced the group to Hedley and A Simple Plan producer Brian Howes, a collaboration that yielded “The World Is Ours,” the band’s uplifting breakthrough single.
Eleven Past One took the song directly to Virgin Radio in Toronto. Programmers loved it and soon stations across the country were requesting spins. “The World Is Ours” became a top 15 radio hit in Canada, its Cuba-shot video racked up three quarters of a million hits on YouTube and the group inked a deal with Warner Music Canada.
With guitarist Kyle Bykiv rounding out the line-up, Eleven Past One hit their stride as band with a knack for effervescent and timeless pop earworms. Anthemic follow-up single “I’m Ready”– with its addictive riff, buoyant hook and inspirational message – became the centerpiece for Family Channel’s anti-bullying campaign “Stand UP!”
“I would like to hear more songs that actually mean something to people,” says Richter. “A lot of songs are all about money, sex or drinking. We want to put something more positive out there.”
That philosophy is inescapable on Eleven Past One’s The World Is Ours EP. Released in November 2014, the eight-track record features collaborations with Ryan Williams (Pink, Kelly Clarkson), Ryan Stewart (Carly Rae Jepson, Victoria Duffield) as well as Andy Stochansky and Goo Goo Dolls front man John Rzeznik, who produced the pensive piano ballad “There’s Nothing Wrong.”
“We learned a lot about songwriting and I learnt a lot about myself as an artist,” Richter says of recording that song. “Usually I record a verse, stop and then the chorus and stop but I sang ‘There’s Nothing Wrong’ all in one take. It’s the most emotional performance I’ve ever recorded.”
The variety of collaborators naturally led the band to expand into new sounds and styles. A funky riff and disco shuffle propel “Give You All My Lovin’” on to the dancefloor; while wistful piano keys and swelling chords heighten the energizing ballad “Night of My Life” – another of the album’s emotional high points. “I Won’t Give Up” – the soundtrack to a night of carefree mischief—is pure Cali vibes; and the frisky, ‘80s pop-tinged “Night To Remember” pulsates with romantic energy.
No matter what the style, the songs exude catchiness and positivity. “Each song is a brand new thing,” says Richter. “This album has a little something for everybody.”
With an album of solid pop firmly in the bag, the band is now turning their attention to touring and spreading their feel-good vibes to audiences to stages across North America and around the world in the year ahead.