Wednesday, December 16, 1998

311 (Rolling Stone)

Straight outa' Omaha, Neb., 311 is a healthy mixture of funk, rock, rap and metal. The band, Nick Hexum on vocals, Chad Sexton on drums, Timothy Mahoney on guitars, P-Nut (Aaron Wills) on bass and SA (Douglas Martinez) on turntables, got their start opening for the die-hard indie band Fugazi back in 1990. They quickly developed a local fan base, and their three self-produced albums (Dammit, Unity and Hydroponic) went over so well that, after a February 1992 farewell concert in Peony Park, the band packed up and moved out to Van Nuys, Calif. to seek their fortune.

With the help of Yes producer Eddy Offord, 311 put together a demo tape and sent it off to the labels. Capricorn took the bait, signing the midwestern funksters to a lucrative deal. Their major label debut, Music came out in 1993, followed by Grassroots in 1994 and Transistor in 1997.

A live album, aptly titled 311 Live, came out in November 1998.

Sunday, December 13, 1998

Live By Their Numbers (Rolling Stone)

Continuing their enigmatic dalliance with their own band name, 311 will release a live album, simply-titled 311 Live, on November 3. That's the third day of the eleventh month. Fun stuff.

The album was recorded in New Orleans and Santa Barbara, Calif., during last year's "Transistor" tour and will feature material from the group's four-album catalog, such as "Down," "Omaha Stylee," "Freak Out," "Home Brew" and "Feels So Good." Live may also include a cover of Bad Brains singer H.R.'s "Who's Got the Herb?" The song "Tribute," originally released on a four-song CD accompanying the home video Enlarge to Show Detail, will also make the fourteen-track record.

In other 311 news, the band is currently messing around in a Los Angeles studio, working on material that will eventually become their fifth album. According the band's manager, fans can expect a new studio record to be in stores some time next spring.

Back To Their Grassroots (Rolling Stone)

Hanson's not the only breakaway mainstream act combing their "indie" past for lost gems. 311 are currently picking through their favorite tunes from their first three independent albums, Unity, Hydroponic and Dammit, for a best-of-the-rest compilation CD slated for release by the end of the year. The albums, originally released on the band's own What Have You Records, have been in high demand since 311 took the mainstream by storm in 1995. The as-yet untitled album will also be released on What Have You and will be available exclusively through the band's official website and to fan club members.

"Apparently, an original copy of Unity goes for a thousand bucks, so the fans have been bugging us for a long time to put [these songs] back out," says frontman Nick Hexum. "We're going to re-mix the tunes in our studio in Burbank, Calif., and put them out on the Internet only."

In addition to the re-mixing of the band's independent recordings, tentative plans are in the works for a 311 live album, according to band manager Adam Raspler. The album, if a go, will cull songs from the band's last two tours and will be released on Capricorn Records in October.

Meanwhile, Hexum has just finished producing an acid jazz album by his brother, Zack Hexum, and is set to begin work on 311's follow-up to last year's semi-flop, Transistor. "I'd say the difference on this next album is that before we wrote separately and then taught everyone the parts," says Hexum. "Now, we're gonna get together with a clean slate and write everything as a committee. I'm deliberately not writing until I get with those guys."

As for the tone of the new album, expect something more along the lines of such early tunes as "Feels So Good" and "Fat Chance" (a k a "Fuck the Bullshit") from the band's 1993 major label debut, Music.

"We wanna get the energy, confidence and balls back we had on Music. On the last album, we had a lot of [songs with] eighty beats per minute and now we are getting into ninety-five-plus -- like in the old days."

Transistor's failure to live up to the success of its predecessor didn't surprise the band, however, and Hexum has no regrets about alienating anyone with the album's hodgepodge of musical styles.

"I feel that we were most concerned with taking a creative step forward, and we really went further into our own realm of reggae, trip-hop and dub," says Hexum. "I'm proud of it on an artistic level, but I guess it was over the head of a lot of radio people. But that's better than selling out and making a bunch of rock songs that conveniently fit into the formats. We challenged ourselves and our audience -- we didn't expect it to go over easily. "Beautiful Disaster" is just now getting its props."

311's new album is tentatively slated for release next spring, although Hexum stresses that the band will not be working with any deadlines. No producer has been chosen for the record, but such heavyweights as Rick Rubin and Steve Lillywhite have expressed interest, according to Hexum.

311 Continues Tour Despite Drummer's Injury (Rolling Stone)

311 will continue a series of international WARPED Tour concert dates despite the temporary loss of drummer Chad Sexton, who fractured his left wrist on a Jan. 17 tour stop in Sydney, Australia.

The incident occurred during a casual pickup game of American-style football at the beginning of a series of WARPED dates in the Pacific. During Sexton's absence, 311 is relying on Yeti, the band's much-beloved drum tech, to fill in on three songs, and Josh Freese of The Vandals to play the rest of the set.

Sexton is expected to return in about a month.

Sunday, October 25, 1998

Transistour Review (In Music We Trust)

"Transistor" Tour

The lights go off and flowers appear on the white curtain covering the stage. The music starts and the fans scream.
This is the moment Beasley Coliseum's occupants have been waiting for. We had already seen Incubus and Sugar Ray play and now 311 is taking the stage for one of the most awesome concerts Pullman has ever seen.
Nick Hexum's voice is heard and as the curtain drops the lights go wild and the band goes full into "Hive." This song is one of the four songs 311 performs off their third, self-titled album -- the album that brought them to MTV, big cities and big audiences.
Doug (SA) Martinez, Chad Sexton, Aaron (P-Nut) Wills, Tim Mahoney and Hexum continue to perform up to 17 other songs, some of which were taken from their 1993 album, "Music," with six from their newest album, "Transistor."
This Omaha-based band has been almost continually on MTV promoting "Transistor." The title cut was the first to be released from this highly anticipated album and the fans ate it up like candy.
"Prisoner", a song about a girl's struggle to find her spot in the world, was their second single -- a slower, more mellow song that caused many more people to love this band's unique style.
The band has mixed rap, reggae and rock since the late 1980s. "Transistor," compared to their earlier works, has more singing, lighter melodies and more enlightening, positive lyrics. All five guys contributed to this album.
Sexton, the drummer, has his own instrumental work "Color"; Mahoney, the guitarist, has "Running" under his belt and Wills, the bassist, has "Creature Feature", a song about being good and kindhearted to everyone but also understanding the fact that we all have flaws. Hexum and Martinez write together on almost every track, as they perform vocals.
The unique quality of this band is how straightforward they are in their lyrics and shows. During the Nov. 6 concert, Hexum voiced his opinion on marijuana -- legalizing it and the police's current problem with it. Hexum is obviously pro-marijuana, as the concert-goers found out when he changed the lyrics in the song "Feel So Good" ("Music," 1993.)
The song usually is sung as "Just take a moment to have a fit once in awhile", whereas in the concert he changed the lyrics to "Just take a moment to smoke a joint once in awhile." They also write many lyrics about "passing the kind bud" and smoking your "bootyweed."
The guys have always voiced their opinion on many topics. They have appeared on MTV's "Rock the Vote" political shows in the past years and they showed their support for the alternative sports of snowboarding, skateboarding, biking and inline skating when they performed at MTV's Sports and Music Festival (Nov. 7 and 8).
All in all, the energy this band displays on-stage and on their records has the intensity of an earthquake: It shakes the ground, makes you jump and you can feel the energy for moments afterward.
There is hardly anything more grand than enduring a remarkable concert.

Wednesday, March 11, 1998

311 Tap Police Producer Hugh Padgham For Next Disc (Allstar Magazine)

As songwriting work continues on 311's upcoming fifth studio album at their Hive complex in Burbank, Calif., the band has settled on a co-producer to work with their in-house engineer Scott Ralston, and it's none other than veteran London-based knob-twirler Hugh Padgham, who's best known for his work with the Police and Sting, as well as for albums by XTC, Peter Gabriel and David Bowie.

"The idea this time was, rather than state- of- the-art production, working more for classic songwriting and melodies, so we wanted someone who had made records like that, melodic- based," says singer/guitarist Nick Hexum, clearly happy with the band's selection.

"I listened to XTC quite a bit in junior high and high school, and that was huge for me," adds Hexum. "They were very innovative and melodic, and the same with the Police. They used reggae and punk, yet with very strong melodies, and it was very cutting-edge, hybrid music. So when Hugh was brought to our attention we realized he was exactly what we were looking for. I think that albums like Synchronicity and Ghost in the Machine are groundbreaking, warm-sounding albums that equally are progressive as well as classic. There's an emphasis on the songs, and it's a perfect blend for us."

After a furious recording schedule for 1997's Transistor album, when they recorded more than 30 songs in just a couple months, the plan for 311's new one, according to Hexum, is to take more time with each tune, and to let them fully develop before they're recorded.

"We're just hanging out together a lot, working on our music five days a week. We just work until we're burned out, and we're like, 'OK, we accomplished something good today, now let's stop.' We don't have any pressure or any stress about deadlines or anything like that. We don't want to let the record company, or any sort of financial concerns, rush us through [the process]. It's impossible to let the songs fully develop when you're trying to make 31 of them in two months."

Hexum says that Padgham is expected at the band's studio to begin work on the still- untitled album in early March, with a tentative release date penciled in for early October. The album, he says, will be more uptempo than the decidedly spacey bent of Transistor.

"There's much more rock this time, more big guitars, and faster tempos."

As for the sound of the new material, Hexum says it represents further exploration of the band's trademark rock/reggae hybrid, some of which he says is influenced by the trip to Jamaica that he and Martinez took last year.

"We were concentrating on the rock songs we had on the first batch,
and on this second batch we're starting to explore our mid-tempo,
hip-hop, and dancehall rhythms. It's more of a high-energy experience than [1996's] Transistor, which was more of a trippy experience."

311 hasn't played a live show since two at the end of last January in
Hawaii, their longest time off the road since before their first album
was released in 1993, leaving the quintet eager to get back in front of their fans.

"It has been a year, and we definitely miss it," comments Hexum,
before excusing himself from the phone to rejoin his bandmates in
rehearsal. "I'm really looking forward to the pure excitement of playing in a smaller club at first. I don't want to jump straight into the big outdoor sheds, I want to ease into the bigger crowds.
We want to tour at a mellow pace this time, so we can keep it going
through next year. I'm looking for this fall to be a small-level tour,
like club and theater level, and then next summer we'll play the big ol' Lenny Kravitz-size outdoor shit."

Tuesday, February 17, 1998


The members of 311 celebrated the 29th birthday today (Feb. 17) of guitarist Tim Mahoney last night (Feb. 16) with three hours of bowling and partying at Hollywood Star Lanes.

Everyone in attendance -- including many longtime friends, girlfriends, and associates of the band -- wore special iron-on patches of Mahoney holding a bowling ball.

The group was divided into six co-ed teams, and after a two-game competition the winning team (which included your’s truly) was awarded special trophies commemorating the event.

The band’s co-manager, Peter Raspler, threw the high game of the night, an impressive 198.

311 is currently putting finishing pre-production touches, at their Burbank, CA, studio, on the 14 or so songs pegged for their upcoming fifth studio album for Capricorn Records, which is tentatively due in stores Oct. 5.