Thursday, December 16, 1999

311 prepares new material

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, December 14, 1999

311 To "Come Original" For Fall Theater Tour (MTV)

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The Omaha, Nebraska punk reggaers known as 311 are getting ready to release a new studio album, "Soundsystem," on October 12, and the band has just announced dates for a fall tour that kicks off in Nashville, Tennessee in late September.

311 has already released the riddim-heavy "Come Original" as the first single off of "Soundsystem," and recently shot a video for the track with veteran director Kevin Kerslake.

As we previously reported (see "311 Heads Into Studio With Hugh Padgham, Remixes Lenny Kravitz"), 311 cut the new album with producer Hugh Padgham -- who's also handled Sting, XTC, and David Bowie, among others -- during sessions at Hive Studios in Burbank, California.

The current schedule for 311's upcoming U.S. tour:

•9/20 - Nashville, TN @ 328 Performance Hall
•9/21 - Knoxville, TN @ Moose's
•9/22 - Charlottesville, VA @ Trax
•9/24 - Hartford, CT @ Meadows Music Theater
•9/25 - Washington, DC @ RFK Stadium (WHFS Festival)
•9/26 - Boston, MA @ Civic Center
•10/3 - Ventura, CA @ Ventura Theater
•10/10 - Portland, OR @ Roseland Theater
•10/13 - Salt Lake City, UT @ DV8
•10/19 - Omaha, NE @ Sokol
•10/20 - Lawrence, KS @ Bottleneck
•10/21 - Kansas City, MO @ Uptown Theater
•10/22 - Columbia, MO @ Blue Note
•10/29 - Birmingham, AL @ Five Points South Music Hall
•10/31 - Atlanta, GA @ Tabernacle
•11/3 - North Myrtle Beach, SC @ House of Blues
•11/4 - Winston-Salem, NC @ Ziggy's
•11/5 - Norfolk, VA @ The Boathouse
•11/6 - Washington, DC @ Nation
•11/12 - Worcester, MA @ The Palladium
•11/15 - New York, NY @ Irving Plaza
•11/22 - Pittsburgh, PA @ Metropol
•11/24 - Detroit, MI @ St. Andrew's Hall
•11/25 - Cleveland, OH @ Agora Ballroom
•11/26 - Columbus, OH @ Newport Music Hall
•11/27 - Cincinnati, OH @ Bogart's
•11/30 - Baton Rogue, LA @ Varsity Theater
•12/1 - New Orleans, LA @ House of Blues

Red Hot Chili Peppers, 311 Hook Up For New Year's Eve Gig (MTV)

Add the Red Hot Chili Peppers and 311 to the growing list of artists who have nailed down their New Year's Eve plans, as the groups have just announced plans for a special joint show at the Forum in Los Angeles on December 31.

The Peppers are currently on the road in Europe, where they have shows scheduled through a November 22 date in Lisbon, Portugal. The band isn't expected to mount an all-out U.S. tour until next spring.

Two weeks after the special Y2K show at L.A.'s Forum, the Chili Peppers will head to Japan for a few gigs, then over to Australia and New Zealand for the Big Day Out festival, which will also feature Blink-182, Nine Inch Nails, the Chemical Brothers, and Primal Scream, among others (see "Chili Peppers To Join NIN, Chems, Blink-182 At Big Day Out; New Video On Tap").

As for 311, the Lincoln, Nebraska dub rockers are currently in the midst of their own tour and will play the Palladium in Worcester, Massachusetts on November 13, the same day that tickets for the New Year's Eve show with the Red Hot Chili Peppers go on sale via Ticketmaster.

311: As The World Turns

You know how 311's music sounds like it's made by a bunch of guys who really dig each other? Guys who just want to make the world, if only for an hour or so, a sweeter place to be? Good. Because that's the way these native Nebraskans want it. They want to bring their combustible rap-rock-reggae to cities and towns all over the globe, and maybe have a good time in the bargain. And -- miracle of miracles -- that's what they're doing.

Now, after years of gaining a rep as one of the best live acts around; after a couple of platinum records; after stepping back, kind of hiding out for a while, and taking the time to "relax enough to feel the turn of the Earth;" after making an album without feeling like they had to get back out on the road Right This Minute -- after all that... well, they're back out on the road, of course.

At the moment, the guys are touring behind their new album, "Soundsystem." Nick and P-Nut were kind enough to take a little time to talk with the MTV Radio Network's Meridith Gottlieb about some stuff that's been on their minds lately. Turns out, it's mostly music. Go figure.

MTV: Say "hi" to the folks at home.

P-Nut: Hi, I'm P-Nut. I play bass in 311. Welcome.

Nick: Hello, I'm Nick and I sing and play guitar and walk around like a zombie. [Laughs] [RealAudio]

MTV: Let's talk about the new album. Tell me about the approach you took to making "Soundsystem."

P: Well, we wanted to write an album that was really tight, and make it rock really hard,

N: After "Transistor" and all the years of touring, pretty much since '92, we were really just ready to take a break and sort of get settled in our homes and relax a little bit in '98. And then we started slowly working on the record and just doing it at a comfortable pace. We kind of had this slogan, and kept saying, "Life is not a race." If you're not enjoying ourselves now, you never will. And that turned into a song on the new record, "Life's Not A Race," which is just about chilling out and letting your heart rate relax enough to feel the turn of the Earth, which you can do sometimes.

And one of the main things that we did was build our own recording studio. We're really into producing and engineering our own stuff, to a certain extent. On this record, more than ever, we were in there working, turning the knobs ourselves rather than just going into a recording studio and pointing to something and saying, "Make this sound more trebly, or more low end," or whatever. This time we got in there and just made it happen ourselves, and we also bought all the gear and hooked it all up, which takes a while of what we call "sync-hell." Getting digital recorders to work in time with analog recorders is tough, because a lot of this is brand-new gear that hasn't really been around too long. So we were figuring it out for the manufacturers, in some cases.

MTV: What made you go with Hugh [Padgham] this time as producer?

N: We wanted someone who was not in our scene, someone who wasn't a rap-rock guy, or a California guy. We figured if we made a record that he really likes, then we're really going outside of ourselves and moving up to a higher level, rather than just sticking to a formula. We really liked his work with The Police and XTC, and he's known as a really thorough engineer, and we wanted to bring that level of technique into the group.

MTV: You've always had all kinds of elements working in your records, but in this one in particular I heard a very, very strong reggae influence.

P: We've been listening to reggae a lot. I'm a metalhead. I'm wearing my Iron Maiden shirt as we speak. So it's a new thing that I'm grasping onto, and I'm getting more and more situated with it.

N: We actually intended the record to come out as more of a rock record, but out of all the songs for the first batch, none turned out to be real rock-heavy. And then we took a trip down to Jamaica and saw the local sound systems. That's kind of what inspired the title. We wanted this to be a really hard-rocking album, but then we kind of felt like we missed playing reggae vibes. There's only one straight reggae song on the record; the rest of it is reggae elements, and more hard-rocking music.

MTV: Another thing I thought about when I was listening to this record is that it seems that lately we're hearing about a lot of violence in this country, and music is getting blamed for actions of certain individuals.

P: Entertainment is getting blamed all the way around. It's crazy, but there's also a certain amount of truth in it, for sure. I always ges trying to lean to the other side, 'cause it's my business. But just recently I'm starting to accept the truth in the argument. I don't think it really controls people, though. It does if you're weak in the head, I suppose, but that's gonna happen anyway. It's just sad that people rely on it so much that it does have a chance to seep in and control your thoughts and your destiny, in some cases.

N: We also realized there's a lot of tension and confusion associated with the millennium, and especially since we've sort of been away from the limelight for a while, it seems like there's a more hostile environment in popular music today. We see our tour as a mission to spread positivity and be an alternative for kids, more hopeful. I know that we're not gonna be able to single-handedly change the world, but we can be there for other people who want something a little more positive.

MTV: Do you have any thoughts individually about the new millennium?

P: I'm not all that affected by the odometer switching over, but everyone's feeling it. Everyone is excited about it. It's tense.

N: I've heard the paranoid theories of civil unrest because people don't have their money and stuff like that, but I find that to be all unrealistic. What I do think is gonna happen is that people will panic a bit, and there will be some slight freaking out, but it's gonna mostly be hysterical in nature. It won't be based in actual things happening. It'll just be out of fear.

P: I think I'd be scared to be in New York. [Laughs] If any mayhem is gonna happen, it's probably gonna be here.

MTV: Back to your tour. Is it good to be back on the road?

N: We're having a blast. I mean, we've just been laughing.

MTV: You must have missed it.

N: Taking a break, from a business standpoint, isn't the best idea, but we wanted to kind of fade from the scene. And then to just re-connect with your love of performing, and the whole feeling of seeing a whole mass of people all connected as one organism, rocking together up and down, is pretty awesome.

MTV: Was there any reluctance to come back? Dealing with videos and fans, and...?

N: I never really had that big of a problem with it, because our fans are so cool and the connection that we make with them is so deep. It's cool. I love the fans that we have, and the more the merrier.

P: Yeah!

N: I mean, we're not like "Entertainment Tonight" famous, and I really don't have any desire to get that famous, because, you know, we like to lead normal lives. Not famous where everyone knows you.

P: Whether they like you or not. All the people that know us like us, which makes it a lot easier. [Laughs] [RealAudio]

N: That's sweet. I never thought of it that way before.

MTV: What's the story behind the single, "Come Original"?

N: That song's about just really expressing whatever is in your heart and really being honest with your music and not just going with whatever trend is around. When we first started out in '93, there was a prevailing sort of attitude in grunge, sort of like, "I'm dumb, I'm ugly, nobody likes me." Which people should express in their music if they feel that way, but it seemed a lot of people were just going with the Nirvana attitude that had been set up, and we were this positive, rap-rock-reggae band that wasn't really fitting into any format. We just thought we'd stay with it and eventually, hopefully, maybe it would come back around to us, which is exactly what happened. [RealAudio]

MTV: Any feelings on pop music dominating the scene right now? At least, that's what people are buying.

N: Well, A&R people had a much bigger role in the old days, because A&R meant "artists and repertoire." You bring your singers songs to do -- not a lot of singers even wrote their own music -- and all those pop bands are sort of just a reoccurrence of that. But I think more critical listeners want to hear songs that artists wrote themselves, that they're singing, and songs where the artists are really making that emotional connection with the music.

I just don't think you can have that connection when you're singing a song for New Kids on the Block, a song written by someone else. It just won't ever have the same impact as Pearl Jam, or someone really speaking from the heart.

MTV: Who's moving you at the moment?

N: The new Incubus record is insane. It's gonna be huge, and they're the nicest group of guys and great musicians. And Roni Size's new project called Breakbeat Era. It's awesome. NOFX is a great rock and roll band. Black Eyed Peas, Outkast, great hip-hop like that.

P: Tom Waits' new album rules! You have to be in the right mood for it. You probably should start a fire, sit down, get greasy. Oh, yeah, and "Tougher Than Tough," a history of Jamaican music. Oh, it'll knock you down. It's fun to go back to the '70's and see what I missed and listen to all the Curtis Mayfield and all the roots reggae that I never got. I just love that, and the production style that goes into both of those styles. Mayfield really influenced a lot of reggae, and it's just so cool, and there's actually some reggae artists that cover some of his songs. It's just the perfect marriage. It's like Dread Zeppelin! [Laughs]

N: That's a weird association. It's like Dread Zeppelin?

P: Perfect.

MTV: I think we'll end on that note.

Variety provides plenty of spice at concert by 311 (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

It's a tribute to just how trendy the hybridization of pop that a band like 311 can draw on four or five genres at once and come away sounding exactly the way you'd expect a commercial alternative rock band to sound in the age of one world, one music, one record collection.

They hit the stage rapping to heavy guitars last night at the Coca-Cola Star Lake Ampitheatre, treating the crowd of 9,349 to an opening block of "Hive," "Freak Out," and "Misdirected Hostility."

It was all very Red Hot Chili Peppers without an actual tune to hang a groove on until they dipped into the title track of their latest effort, "Transistor." It got an odd beat that you really can't dance to (at least at first), but the song is a well-deserved hit boasting some of the band's most accessible hooks, from the opening riff to the slow reggae ending.

It's hard to imagine Nick Hexum, a white guy, pick up a Jamacian accent from his parents or friends growing up in suburban Nebraska. Still, it was very effective in pulling the newer, more reggae-inspired material over. He credits the Clash to turned him onto reggae as a child, and it showed on the two most intriguing cuts they played from their newer album, "Light Years" and "Prisoner."

"All Mixed Up," a stand-out from the band's self-titled breakthrough, built from a Red Hot Chili Peppers funk-guitar groove to a lazy feel good chorus as a disco ball dropped from the ceiling and splashing the crowds with streams of light. A heavier hit from their last album, "Down" drew the biggest response of the evening.

The set was a mix of hip-hop, metal, reggae, disco, funk, and arena rock (on the drum solo anyway). There was even a point in which the guitarist, Timothy J. Mahoney, appeared to be channeling Jerry Garcia. There wasn't a whole lotta soloing going on, though Mahoney and Hexum did a cool twin-guitar lead on another reggae cut from the new one, "Beautiful Disaster".

Hexum didn't have much to say, but when he did talk, he knew just what to say to whip up the crowd into a frenzy, inviting them all jump up to the beat together.

Monday, December 13, 1999

311 Heads Into Studio With Hugh Padgham (MTV)

After releasing a concert album, "311 Live," late last year, 311 has just headed into the group's Hive Studios in Los Angeles with producer Hugh Padgham to start work on a new record, the follow-up to 1997's "Transistor."

311's label, Capricorn Records, says that the new album is tentatively due out in October, and that Padgham, noted for his past work with the Police, Sting, XTC, Paul McCartney and David Bowie, will share production duties with Scotch Rolston, who has had a hand in 311's last two studio efforts -- including its 1995 self-titled breakthrough.

Prior to the start of this week's sessions, 311 frontman Nick Hexum hit the studio himself to cut a remix of Lenny Kravitz's "Thinking of You," a track from "5," at the request of Virgin Europe. No word yet on what the remix was commissioned for, but it seems likely that the track will turn up on one of Kravitz's upcoming overseas singles.

311 Turns It's Own Knobs (MTV)

311 is gearing up to release its next album, "Soundsystem," which sports some heavy-duty production help from Hugh Padgham.

Padgham, who has produced Sting, the Police, Melissa Etheridge, and XTC, among others, gets the main producer credit on "Soundsystem," while 311 singer-guitarist Nick Hexum will be listed as co-producer. Hexum told the MTV Radio Network that although Padgham was manning the mixing boards, the group members were doing their share of button-pushing as well.

"On this record, more than ever, we were in there working, turning the knobs ourselves," Hexum said, "rather than just going into a recording studio and pointing at something and saying, 'Make that a little more treblely or more low end,' and [using] these weird esoteric terms about 'crunch' and stuff. This time we went in there and made it happen ourselves, 'cause we really learned how to use all the gear." [RealAudio]

"Soundsystem" is due in stores on October 12, and the band will be on a theater tour through early December (see "311 To 'Come Original' For Fall Theater Tour"), and 311 will be on a theater tour through early December. Here's where you can catch them:

•10/3 - Ventura, CA @ Ventura Theater
•10/10 - Portland, OR @ Roseland Theater
•10/13 - Salt Lake City, UT @ DV8
•10/19 - Omaha, NE @ Sokol
•10/20 - Lawrence, KS @ Bottleneck
•10/21 - Kansas City, MO @ Uptown Theater
•10/22 - Columbia, MO @ Blue Note
•10/29 - Birmingham, AL @ Five Points South Music Hall
•10/31 - Atlanta, GA @ Tabernacle
•11/3 - North Myrtle Beach, SC @ House of Blues
•11/4 - Winston-Salem, NC @ Ziggy's
•11/5 - Norfolk, VA @ The Boathouse
•11/6 - Washington, DC @ Nation
•11/12 - Worcester, MA @ The Palladium
•11/15 - New York, NY @ Irving Plaza
•11/22 - Pittsburgh, PA @ Metropol
•11/24 - Detroit, MI @ St. Andrew's Hall
•11/25 - Cleveland, OH @ Agora Ballroom
•11/26 - Columbus, OH @ Newport Music Hall
•11/27 - Cincinnati, OH @ Bogart's
•11/30 - Baton Rogue, LA @ Varsity Theater
•12/1 - New Orleans, LA @ House of Blues

311's Nick Hexum Gets Busy With Side-Projects (Rolling Stone)

Despite having put the finishing touches on 311's forthcoming Soundsystem, singer-guitarist Nick Hexum isn't about to kick his feet up. The frontman has been busy remixing (No Doubt's "Marry Me" and a track for British DJ Carl Cox) and co-producing (Grasshopper Takeover, Libra).

According to 311 manager Adam Raspler, Hexum's extracurricular activities will be tabled when Soundsystem gets released Oct. 12 and the quintet embarks on a three-month club/theater tour. The Hugh Padgham-produced album will be 311's first studio effort since 1997's Transistor. The first single, "Come Original," will precede the album's release.

In related news, the band's web site ( will get a massive facelift on Aug. 20. Included among the spectacle will be band-contributed information, flash and animation elements, bulletin boards, voting for favorite video, song and album and possibly sound clips from Soundsystem.


311 Hits The Road With new 'Sound' (Rolling Stone)

311, the Southern California quintet who season their rock & roll with reggae and hip-hop, are breaking out of the studio and hitting the road. Their upcoming U.S. tour will begin Sept. 20, and will hit club/small theater-sized venues. The band's fifth album, Soundsystem, produced by the legendary Hugh Padgham (David Bowie, the Police, XTC), makes its way into record stores on Oct. 12.

311's upcoming fall tour:

9/20: Nashville, 328 Performance Hall
9/21: Knoxville, Tenn., Mooses
9/22: Charlottesville, Va.; Trax
9/24: Hartford, Conn., Meadows Music Theater (WMRQ Big Day Off)
9/25: Washington, D.C., RFK Stadium (HFStival)
9/26: Boston, Civic Center
10/3: Ventura, Calif., Ventura Theater
10/9: Portland, Ore., Roseland Theater
10/10: Vancouver, The Rage
10/13: Salt Lake City, DV8
10/19: Omaha, Neb., Sokol Hall
10/20: Lawrence, Kan., The Bottleneck
10/21: Kansas City, Mo., Uptown Theater
10/22: Columbia, Mo., Blue Note
10/29: Birmingham, Ala., Five Points South Music Hall
10/31: Atlanta, Tabernacle
11/3: North Myrtle Beach, S.C., House of Blues
11/4: Winston-Salem, N.C., Ziggy's
11/5: Norfolk, Va., Boathouse
11/6: Washington, D.C., Nation
11/12: Worcester, Mass., Palladium
11/15: New York, N.Y., Irving Plaza
11/22: Pittsburgh, Pa., Metropol
11/24: Detroit, Mich., St. Andrews Hall
11/25: Cleveland, Ohio, Agora Ballroom
11/26: Columbus, Ohio, Newport Music Hall
11/27: Cincinnati, Ohio, Bogarts
11/30: Baton Rogue, La., Varsity Theater
12/1: New Orleans, La., House of Blues


Sunday, December 12, 1999

311 and Fans Rock the 'Neck (Lawrence Journal)

Two looming tour buses and an impossible semi stood outside The Bottleneck Wednesday night as 311 brought positive vibes, a stadium-sized show and a trunk of funk in the tiny venue. The Omaha quintet, who got it's start by relentlessly touring the Midwest, are on a nationwide tour to promote the group's newly released album, "Transistor." The tour focuses on small venues - mostly intimate theatres to medium-sized clubs - giving the band ample oppurtunity to get close to it's die-hard fans.

The Bottleneck show is the tour's smallest gig, but one the bands insists on, because the club was an early supporter of the group. The show sold out in rocrd time - just under six minutes.

Judging by the audience's reaction, they were all rabid 311 fans. The highly pumped crowd sang along to every word, moshing and pogoing with total abandonment.

The band tore through a fiery set of songs, highlighting material from "Transistor" with plenty of classics thrown in for good measure. The group's mixture of influences - from metal to rap to funk to punk - made for an eclentic, entergized show.

Lead sing Nick Hexum traded lines with rapper and turntable master SA Martinez, while drummer Chad Sexton and bassist P-Nut stayed locked in the groove. Guitarist Tim Mahoney filled out the sound with chicken-scratch funk and sheets of thunderous noise.

The group tore into each number with fervor, barely coming up for air before launching into the next souped-up cut. By the shows midpoint, the walls, the floor, and the crowd were soaked with sweat.

After nearly two hours, the band came our for the encore of "Who's Got The Herb?" (easily the most popular number of the night) and a raucous "Feels So Good," inciting the audience to yell "P-Nut, beat that thing" as the bassist wailed away in a Funkestein frenzy.

311 came to Lawrence to pay back the loyal fans who supported the group from the beginning. Those fans couldn't have asked for more.