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.