Thursday, December 14, 2000

311 Taps Jimmie's Chicken Shack For U.S. Tour, Signs On For Sega Games (MTV)

After helping rock in the New Year with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, 311 has announced dates for an extended North American outing scheduled to start on February 21 in Raleigh, North Carolina.

The band, which is currently in Japan for a brief promotional jaunt, has tapped Jimmie's Chicken Shack to serve as the opening act for the upcoming tour, and 311 plans to warm up for the U.S. trek with a few dates in late January and early February.

On its way back from Japan, 311 will stop over in Hawaii for a concert at the World Café in Honolulu on January 27. The Omaha, Nebraska rockers will then take a few days off (to recover from jet lag, no doubt) before playing a one-off gig at L.A.'s House Of Blues on January 30.

311 has also signed on to serve as the featured musical performers at the 2000 Sega National Finals Competition being held at the Gameworks center in Las Vegas on February 4.

In addition to the recent tour announcement, 311 just completed a video for "Flowing," the second single from the band's new album, "Soundsystem," which 311 filmed last month with director Marcos Siega.

Also joining the 311-Jimmie's Chicken Shack tour for one date will be Incubus, who will perform at the February 28 show in Winston-Salem, North Carolina -- the day after Incubus finishes its run on the 2000 Sno-Core Tour in Atlanta.

Dates for 311's U.S. tour:

•2/21 - Raleigh, NC @ The Ritz
•2/23 - Orlando, FL @ House of Blues
•2/25 - Jacksonville, FL @ Club Five
•2/27 - Charleston, SC @ Music Farm
•2/28 - Winston-Salem, NC @ LJVM Coliseum (w/ Incubus)
•3/1 - Scranton, PA @ Cultural Center
•3/2 - Poughkeepsie, NY @ Mid-Hudson Civic Center
•3/3 - New York, NY @ Roseland Ballroom
•3/4 - Portland, ME @ State Theatre
•3/5 - Syracuse, NY @ Syracuse University Goldstein Auditorium
•3/7 - Henrietta-Rochester, NY @ Dome Arena
•3/8 - Dayton, OH @ Hara Arena
•3/9 - Auburn, AL @ Auburn University Beard-Eaves Coliseum
•3/10 - Pensacola, FL @ Bayfront Arena
•3/11 - New Orleans, LA @ State Palace Theatre
•3/13 - Columbia, MO @ Hearnes Center
•3/14 - Sioux Falls, SD @ Expo Center
•3/15 - St. Paul, MN @ Roy Wilkins Auditorium
•3/17 - Madison, WI @ Exhibition Hall
•3/18 - Milwaukee, WI @ Modjeska Theatre
•3/21 - Champaign, IL @ University of Illinois Assembly Hall
•3/22 - Kalamazoo, MI @ Wings Stadium
•3/23 - Davenport, IA @ Col Ballroom
•3/24 - Springfield, MO @ Shrine Mosque
•3/27 - Wichita, KS @ Kansas Coliseum
•3/28 - Lincoln, NE @ Pershing Auditorium
•3/29 - Vail, CO @ Dobson Arena

311 Files Suit Against Record Label (MTV)

Shortly after announcing a fall tour with Zebrahead, 311 filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court against its label, Capricorn Records, in hopes of terminating its contract.

The band alleged that the label breached its agreement by failing to provide "major label" marketing, promotion, and support for the group's most recent albums. Specifically, 311 claimed that when it signed with Capricorn in 1992, the label fell under the umbrella of Warner Bros. Records, which distributed Capricorn as part of a joint venture partnership. However, 311's camp claimed that since that time, "Capricorn has bounced between three different record label partnerships and four different record distributors culminating in an unstable atmosphere which has demonstrably been to the detriment of 311's career."

In a statement announcing the lawsuit, 311 leader Nick Hexum said, "We've told the label many times we were unhappy with their handling of our careers. After several years of complaints and Capricorn's unfulfilled promises, we decided we had to take legal action. The band will carry on through touring."

A spokesperson for Capricorn, which also counts Cake, Jack Logan, Big Sugar, 2 Skinnee J's, and others among its roster of artists, could not be reached at press time.

311, Incubus To Hook Up On Joint Tour (MTV)

The merry rock and rap funksters of 311 will team up with Incubus for an extensive tour of amphitheaters and arenas this summer, with the outing tentatively scheduled to begin on April 28 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

311, whose "Flowing" single from is currently number 17 on the Alternative radio charts, is in the waning days of a tour with Jimmie's Chicken Shack (see "311 Taps Jimmie's Chicken Shack For U.S. Tour, Signs On For Sega Games") and will take a few weeks off before offering a preview of its tour with Incubus during a three-date run in late April.

Incubus opened for 311 at a concert in Winston-Salem, North Carolina back in February, and 311 frontman Nick Hexum told the MTV Radio Network that he considered himself a big fan of Incubus' newest record, "Make Yourself."

"The new Incubus record is insane," Hexum explained. "It's gonna be huge, and they're the nicest group of guys. Great musicians, and Brandon [Boyd]'s a great singer, and that's probably what I'm most excited about."

The band recently celebrated its annual 3-11 Day in New Orleans, and Mayor Marc Morial officially proclaimed the day, March 11, as "311 Day" in the Big Easy. The group commemorated the occasion by playing a 47-song, 3-hour and 11-minute set at the State Palace Theater that same evening.

The 311-Jimmie's Chicken Shack outing will roll into Wings Stadium on Kalamazoo, Michigan on Wednesday night and is now scheduled to conclude on April 3 at the Hollywood Palladium in West Hollywood, California.

The tentative itinerary for the 311-Incubus summer tour:

•4/28 - Charlotte, NC @ Center City Festival
•4/29 - Dallas, TX @ Starplex Amphitheater
•4/30 - Austin, TX @ Auditorium Shores
•5/20 - Chicago, IL @ World Amphitheater
•5/23 - San Diego, CA @ Cox Arena
•5/24 - Phoenix, AZ @ Mesa Amphitheater
•5/26 - Santa Barbara, CA @ County Bowl
•5/30 - Seattle, CA @ Paramount
•5/31 - Spokane, WA @ Riverfront Amphitheater
•6/2 - Salt Lake City, UT @ SaltAir Pavilion
•6/3 - Denver, CO @ Fiddler's Green
•6/4 - Omaha, NE @ West Fair Amphitheater
•6/5 - Kansas City, MO @ TBA
•6/6 - St. Louis, MO @ TBA
•6/8 - Detroit, MI @ Pine Knob Music Theater
•6/9 - Columbus, OH @ Brewery Amphitheater
•6/10 - Washington, DC @ TBA
•6/11 - Cleveland, OH @ Nautica Stage
•6/13 - Wantagh, NY @ Jones Beach Amphitheater
•6/15 - Boston, MA @ Great Woods
•6/16 - Philadelphia, PA @ Electric Factory
•6/17 - Philadelphia, PA @ Electric Factory
•6/20 - Pittsburgh, PA @ Ice Garden
•6/21 - Virginia Beach, VA @ TBA
•6/22 - Atlanta, GA @ Lakewood Amphitheater
•6/23 - Birmingham, AL @ Oak Mountain Amphitheater
•6/24 - Memphis, TN @ Mud Island Amphitheater
•6/25 - Little Rock, AR @ TBA
•6/27 - Baton Rouge, LA @ TBA
•7/1 - Los Angeles, CA @ Irvine Meadows Amphitheater

311 Prep New Songs Despite Label Battle (MTV)

Despite an ongoing legal battle to get out of a contract with their label, 311 plan to record the follow-up to last year's Soundsystem in December, according to the band's management.

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge dismissed the band's suit against Capricorn Records on Monday, ruling it should be argued in Tennessee, the state where the label was based when it put 311 on contract. In the suit, the band said the label hurt its career by failing to provide marketing and promotion for its recent albums, and complained that the company had bounced between three different record label partnerships and four different record distributors.

Co-manager Peter Raspler said 311 plan to refile the suit in Tennessee.

But the suit might be affected by the possibility of more changes at Capricorn. The Volcano label has signed a letter of intent to take over Capricorn, Capricorn Vice President Mike Bone said.

"If Volcano does buy Capricorn," band co-manager Adam Raspler said, "the most likely scenario will be that Volcano comes to us and negotiates a new deal in exchange for dropping our lawsuit."

In the meantime, 311 are working on new material. The band has close to 20 songs in development, including five new ones — "Sick Tight," "We Do It Like This," "Full Ride," "You Wouldn't Believe" and "From Chaos" — it is performing on a 35-date tour it launched October 10, Peter Raspler said.

After ending the tour — their fourth trek supporting Soundsystem — on November 22, 311 again will enter the studio with veteran producer Ron Saint Germain, the man at the controls for the group's 1995 self-titled album, which spawned the hit "Down."

311, Our Lady Peace Take It To The River (MTV)

With its U.S. tour still pending, 311 has just signed on to perform with Our Lady Peace and Angie Aparo at an environmental benefit concert slated for February 26 at the Fox Theater in Atlanta.

Dubbed the "99X Chinese New Year" concert, the event is being co-sponsored by local radio station WNNX, with proceeds going to benefit the Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper Fund.

The Riverkeeper Fund was started in 1994 and is dedicated to advocating and protecting the Chattahoochee River, its tributaries, and watershed -- primarily the 200 miles that run through the north Georgia mountains to West Point Lake.

For more on the Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper Fund and other related causes, be sure to check out the organization's official Web site. (

As for 311, the benefit one-off will come less than a week into the band's planned outing with Jimmie's Chicken Shack, a tour that will start on February 21 in Raleigh, North Carolina.

The Nebraskan band has also just issued a new track, "Flowing," as the second single from its newest album, "Soundsystem," and the song has already ebbed its way into the top 30 of the "R&R" Alternative charts.

311, Zebrahead To Launch Fall Tour (MTV)

The road continues to stretch onward for 311, which will launch its final outing of the year in early October with special guest Zebrahead.

According to 311's management, the bands will spend six weeks on an all-ages tour that will total roughly 35 concerts.

311 has been touring steadily since releasing its "Soundsystem" album last October, most recently returning from several dates in Japan in early August. The band is set to play the Red Rocks Amphitheatre near Denver on September 30 and the giant Smoke Out festival on October 7 in San Bernardino, California, before the official kickoff with Zebrahead at the Warfield in San Francisco on October 9.

In other news, the band has remixed the Black Eyed Peas track "B.E.P. Empire" for an upcoming BEP maxi-single, according to the official 311 Web site. In addition to supplying the music behind BEP's vocals, 311 recorded and mixed the track in its portable bus studio while on the road.

The band hasn't limited recording its future output to its portable facility, as the group spent its August downtime writing, rehearsing, and recording in a brand new studio recently purchased in Los Angeles.

Orange County, California's Zebrahead, meanwhile, is touring to support its just-released new album, "Playmate Of The Year." The CD features guest appearances by members of Lit, Reel Big Fish, and No Doubt, and the 2000 "Playboy" Playmate Of The Year, Jodi Ann Paterson, graces its cover.

The band has released the title track as the album's first single, and the accompanying video, appropriately enough, was shot at the Playboy Mansion. The band is currently enjoying an extensive cross-promotion campaign with "Playboy" that includes the distribution of special CD-ROM singles, appearances with Playmates, and other gimmicks.

Here's how the "Soundsystem" fall tour itinerary shapes up to date:

•9/30 - Morrison, CO @ Red Rocks Amphitheatre
•10/7 - San Bernardino, CA @ National Orange Show
•10/9 - San Francisco, CA @ The Warfield
•10/11 - Las Vegas, NV @ Hard Rock Hotel - The Joint
•10/13 - Grand Junction, CO @ Two Rivers Convention Center
•10/16 - Sioux Falls, SD @ Sioux Falls Expo Center
•10/17 - Columbia, MO @ Blue Note
•10/18 - Omaha, NE @ Sokol Auditorium
•10/19 - Omaha, NE @ Sokol Auditorium
•10/20 - Joplin, MO @ Joplin Memorial Hall
•10/22 - Kansas City, MO @ Uptown Theatre
•10/23 - Dallas, TX @ Bronco Bowl
•10/24 - Austin, TX @ Austin Music Hall
•10/25 - Houston, TX @ Aerial Theatre At Bayou Place
•10/28 - New Orleans, LA @ Voodoo Music Festival
•10/30 - Lake Buena Vista, FL @ House Of Blues
•10/31 - Atlanta, GA @ Tabernacle
•11/1 - Myrtle Beach, SC @ House Of Blues
•11/3 - New York, NY @ Roseland
•11/4 - Philadelphia, PA @ Electric Factory
•11/5 - Boston, MA @ Avalon
•11/6 - Hartford, CT @ Webster Theatre
•11/8 - Indianapolis, IN @ Egyptian Room
•11/9 - Cincinnati, OH @ Bogart's
•11/10 - Columbus, OH @ Newport Music Hall
•11/11 - Cleveland, OH @ Agora Theatre
•11/12 - Chicago, IL @ Riviera Theatre
•11/14 - Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue
•11/16 - Missoula, MT @ Adams Event Center
•11/17 - Bozeman, MT @ Montana State University
•11/18 - Boise, ID @ Boise State Pavilion
•11/20 - Salt Lake City, UT @ SaltAir Pavilion
•11/22 - TBA

311 Sue Label, Announce Tour (Billboard)

311 is suing Atlanta-based Capricorn Records, alleging that the label breached its agreement with the band by failing to provide marketing, promotion, and support for the group's albums at a "major label" level. Filed Monday (Aug. 28) in Los Angeles Superior Court, the suit seeks termination of the band's recording contract with the label, based on "mutual mistake" and "frustration of purpose."

A spokesperson for Capricorn had no comment.

The band claims that since it signed with Capricorn in 1992, the label has moved through three record label partnerships (with Warner Bros., Mercury, and then the Universal Music Group after it acquired Mercury), and several distributors, "culminating in an unstable atmosphere which has demonstrably been to the detriment of 311's career."

The suit also alleges that Capricorn caused "irreparable harm to [311's] musical career," when it drew up the band's recording contract and "used its superior bargaining power and knowledge to structure the terms... in an attempt to monopolize [311's] career," by forcing the band "to spend extended periods of time on the road... coupled with the short time between the recording commitments" in the band's contract.

Within the suit, the band says that as of Friday (Sept. 1), it will no longer "be performing services under the agreement."

311's last release, 1999's "Soundsystem," debuted at No. 9 on The Billboard 200 and featured the single "Come Original," which hit No. 6 on Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks chart. The 1997 album "Transistor" fared even better, debuting and peaking at No. 4.

In total, the band has sold approximately 5.5 million albums in the U.S., according to SoundScan. Its self-titled third album, released in 1996, accounts for the majority of those sales, at 3 million, followed by "Transistor" (855,000), "Music" (1993, 580,000), "Grassroots" (1994, 540,000), and "Soundsystem" (425,000). 311's 1998 "Live!" album has sold 170,000 copies.

"We've told the label many times we were unhappy with their handling of our careers," 311 frontman Nick Hexum said in the statement. "After several years of complaints and Capricorn's unfulfilled promises, we decided we had to take legal action. The band will carry on through touring."

To that end, 311 has announced a six-week U.S. fall theater tour with Zebrahead supporting. The run will kick off Oct. 7 at the Warfield in San Francisco, following two festival appearances: Sept. 9 at the Red Bull Rock 'n' Air Festival at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colo., and Oct. 7 at Cypress Hill's Smoke Out Festival in San Bernardino, Calif. The tour also includes an Oct. 28 appearance at New Orleans' annual Voodoo Music Festival.

The band, formerly based in Omaha, Neb., is preparing for the tour at its recently acquired Hive Studios in Los Angeles, and working on new material. According to its official Web site, "the band has been staying busy writing and rehearsing five days a week. Already they have nearly 10 new song ideas."

Wednesday, December 13, 2000

311 File Suit Against Record Label (Rolling Stone)

Members of 311 filed a breach of contract lawsuit Monday against Capricorn Records, claiming their record label is jeopardizing the band's career by failing to provide them with major marketing, promotion and support for the group's most recent albums.

According to singer Nick Hexum, 311 hopes to terminate their contract because Capricorn has failed to compromise with the band "regarding any of the concerns we've had. Basically," he said, "it's irreconcilable differences.

"There's always been quite a bit of friction between us and Capricorn," he continues. "We've always kept our disputes with Capricorn private. We're musicians and would prefer to only discuss our music. We didn't even want to [file the lawsuit], but when someone refuses to compromise with you, then your hands are tied."

At issue is Capricorn's changing partnerships with its distributors, which caused 311 to be bounced around from label to label (actually, between three different label partnerships and four different record distributors). When 311 first signed with Capricorn back in 1992, the label had a joint venture agreement for distribution via Warner Bros., an arrangement that ended after the release of 311's 1993 debut, Music (which sold 525,000 copies). Capricorn then linked up with Mercury Records in 1995, and the following self-titled album hit No. 12 on the Billboard pop chart and sold 2.7 million copies. However, Transistor, the band's 1997 follow-up wasn't as successful, moving 855,000 copies.

Nearly two years ago Mercury was swallowed by the Universal Music Group, which brought Capricorn under the label group's large umbrella. 311's suit contends that when Capricorn voiced its desire to dissolve ties with Universal the distribution group became unwilling to expend much energy on Capricorn artists. Subsequently, 311's most recent effort, 1999's Soundsystem, has sold a mere 430,000 copies.

Capricorn's arrangement with Universal officially ends at the end of the month. According to Hexum, Capricorn has lagged on finding a new distributor and the band wants out. "We've written them a number of letters to that effect, and we've told them a couple of times that it wasn't working out, and that we wanted to be let off the label."

It's not just the prospect of being without distribution that bothers the band -- it's also how distribution has been procured in the past. 311's suit contends that the band, considered the label's most successful, has been used as a "bargaining chip" to get past financing, which, even then, has been scarce. As a result, "[Capricorn] has fired or otherwise lost most of its remaining staff and has lost its second and third most successful bands, Cake and Widespread Panic ," 311's suit reads. "Put simply, [Capricorn] continues to spiral towards failure, and [311] cannot withstand the damage to their careers and livelihoods by being pulled down with them."

Although 311 signed the contract in California -- which would allow them to take advantage of a California law that limits personal service contracts to a maximum of seven years -- a clause in the original Capricorn recording contract says that the agreement is governed by the laws of Tennessee. Regardless of which state's laws are applicable, 311 say that they will no longer honor the contract with Capricorn after Sept. 1.

"Our music is going to continue," Hexum says, "no matter the outcome of this lawsuit, through touring, and we're going to keep making and recording new music. We're hoping through this lawsuit to get more control of our careers, which will ultimately make creating our music for enjoyable for us, and therefore more enjoyable for our fans."

A spokesperson for Capricorn had no comment on the lawsuit. 311 kicks off their tour with Zebrahead Oct. 9.

311 Give Up 411 on Next Album (Rolling Stone)

Since 311's tour wrapped with Incubus a short while ago, the band has already written a whole new album, filed a lawsuit against their label, Capricorn Records, and built a recording studio. "We had a real busy summer," singer/guitarist Nick Hexum laughs.
And just because the band is already on tour again (this time with Zebrahead, which kicked off Oct. 9), the recording pace isn't about to relent. Hexum says that he's taking the studio on the road to fine-tune songs for the band's next album, which they hope to have finished shortly after the tour wraps Nov. 22.

"I've done that before on our past two tours, and that's where a lot of the songs get started," he says. "We did a remix with Black Eyed Peas -- we had them come and re-do the vocal, all on the bus. It was pretty crisp, because we've got Pro-Tools. Recording is more portable than it ever was before. You don't need a $200,000 mixing board to record an album anymore."

So far, he says, 311 have written nineteen songs in all, nine of which already have the vocals finished. Working with producer Ron Saint Germain again (who manned the boards for the band's self-titled breakthrough in 1996, also known as the Blue album), Hexum says this latest album, the band's sixth, with Germain's aid, is a "real return to the balls-to-the-wall approach to our first couple of albums."

"It's a natural progression," Hexum says. "We've always had such an exploratory attitude about these things. We've done weird, esoteric dub styles, real dreamy kind of things, and maybe some kids want some stuff like that, but we've gotten back to that place where we're writing hard and fast, hip-hop, not as much reggae on this album, almost none, plus funk, punk, metal, rap and one ska song for good measure. It's really all about the energy and letting more energy flow through it."

So far, there is no album title, but working song titles include "You Get Worked," "From Chaos," "You Wouldn't Believe" and "We Do It Like This." Some of the songs will be debuted on tour, but only a few, bassist P-Nut says, because "it's kind of walking a fine line between giving the fans what they want, what they expect, and throwing too much of a curveball. We always kinda write songs that take a little bit of understanding before you can really get it, so we're just going to ease them into the set slowly."

Though legal questions remain whether 311 can actually release the album, since their lawsuit against Capricorn is still pending, they're trying not to let that distract them from continuing the course. Instead, Hexum says the band's focus is just on letting the songs evolve, not how they'll be released. "When you play a song live, it goes to its most rocking level ever," he says. "We try to let that take place before we record the song, so we would be smart to bust out as many new songs as the crowd seems into. There's nothing better than giving it to them live."

311, Pennywise Rock Out Colorado Extreme Sports Festival (Rolling Stone)

There almost wasn't any air at Red Bull Rock 'N' Air, an extreme sports music fest held at Red Rocks Saturday in Morrison, Colo., outside Denver. But though the ski and snowboard competition, one of the event's main attractions, was canceled just before doors opened, the remaining exhibitions and concerts by 311 and Pennywise more than made up for the lack of gravity-defying snow sport.
The night before the event, organizers had turned 150 tons of block ice into snowflake-like shavings via a woodchipper and loaded the "snow" onto a colossal wooden ski jump and landing. The jump was built on an eighteen-foot scaffolding over part of the amphitheater stands, stopping right in front of the stage, to afford a close up view of both the concert and the athletes. This, organizers said, was partly what set this soon-to-be-annual event apart from other sport and music fests.

But overnight, the snow's weight caused the scaffolding to start to collapse, and by morning, a routine safety check determined that the jump was "structurally unsound." Organizers then re-arranged the event's schedule of remaining events, pushing back door time for several hours. The added wait and cancellation of the snow sport frustrated waiting attendees, some of whom had driven as far as from California and Pennsylvania for the sold-out event. The twenty athletes who were to compete were disappointed as well, though they got to divvy up the prize money, scoring about two grand each. "I didn't get to jump once," said free-skiing contender Shane McConkey. "It's a bummer. And the jump looked so cool . . . We did all this and we didn't even get to chuck our meat."

At the fifty-foot vertical ramp in the Core Village in the parking lot, pro skaters and BMX bikers added extra time to their exhibition, and they did not disappoint. Though most of the vert riders and boarders displayed an amazing amount of grace and agility, skate vet Tony Hawk stole the show when he successfully struck a front side 900. The trick -- a two-and-a-half midair rotation -- has been Hawk's signature ever since he made skateboarding history at last year's X Games when he executed the world's first 900. Hawk had never executed the move perfectly, always landing with his knees bent or in a squat. But this weekend he nailed the maneuver as he landed standing up.

"This is a new beginning for me," the Carlsbad, Calif., skating legend said. "I've never stood up after that extra spin. You have to shift your weight so it sends it to a different axis, so you're not so top heavy. And you never know until you're in the middle of it if you can do it. You have to start spinning without the intention to land. You have to do it without fear."

"No fear" could've also been the slogan for Pennywise's set, shortly following the skate/vert exhibit, since the band toyed with dangerous security situations, taunting the audience to break down the barrier between them and the stage, and finally inviting so many onto the stage during "Bro Hymn" that the band members were impossible to spot in the swarm.

Poking fun at the unused snow jump -- still a few feet from the stage -- guitarist Fletcher Dragge riled up the crowd with jokes about being "structurally sound," urging crowd members to find other means to launch themselves in the air. "This is where we get sued," he joked. "But fuck it, let's have a good time." "Shit, no, we didn't say that," singer Jim Lindberg quickly added, trying to do damage control.

Lindberg and Dragge made much use of their stage time to rail on corporate product pop and other ills of society, but didn't resort to juvenile gags or heavy political poses to do so. Instead, they turned the show into Punk Ed 101, taking the opportunity to educate the largely teen audience about bands from Black Flag (from their shared hometown of Hermosa Beach, Calif.) to Nirvana (via a vehement rendition of "Territorial Pissings"). And though the anarchist-themed "My Own Country" and "Society" are especially appropriate during the election season, Pennywise opted to emphasize with their between-song banter the songs' Nietzschean aspects, about living by one's own rules rather than bowing down to established belief systems. And then, immediately after saying something thought-provoking, Pennywise would blast back into a melodic gust of buzzing guitars.

Where Pennywise's set was meant to incite as well as be insightful, 311 brought the crowd down to a less demanding place with their party-time cross-genre musical mix. No insurrectionary asides here, just laid back rhythms and grooves that shifted easily and quickly from ska to hip-hop to dancehall to funk to metal and back, with glistening minor chords and delicate melodies.

Instead of saying much other than the usual "Wassup?", frontmen Nick Hexum and S.A. Martinez communicated to the crowd mostly through their dance moves, Hexum smooth and fluid, Martinez herky-jerky and exaggerated. Their vocal styles, too, were just as opposite, as the two alternated between Hexum's melodic funk crooning and Martinez's quicker raps. Most of the largely self-referential songs ("All Mixed Up," "Down") from 311's middle period were a collage of style that went down easily, but also blended too easily with each other. But their newer material, like their earlier songs, kept a harder edge that suited the band better.

The focus on pure rhythm became most evident during what seemed like a Chad Sexton drum solo that mutated into a drummer's circle of sorts, as the rest of 311 came out and did drum rolls along with their bandmate. Sexton kept the underlying, complex beat going as the others took it into synchronized new directions. It sounded somewhat tribal, if not primal, and made the rest of their music seem somewhat tame by comparison. If only they could hold onto that essence and spirit, and somehow allow that to translate into their more mellow material, then putting them on an "extreme" bill would really make sense.

311 dazzles fans with funk reggae show (Deseret News, Salt Lake City)

311 with JIMMIE'S CHICKEN SHACK at Saltair, April 1; one performance only.

Not even eight months ago, 311 rocked Salt Lake City with an energetic and intimate show at Club DV8. Well, the funk/reggae/rock band took a larger audience to the brink when it made a stop at Saltair Saturday night.The 3,200 music fans waited patiently for the lights to dim, and once they did, it all went down with contagious energy, rocking tunes and a dazzling light show.

Guitarist Timothy J. Mahoney, DJ/vocalist S.A. Martinez, vocalist Nick Hexum, drummer Chad Sexton and bassist P-Nut -- collectively known as 311 -- opened their set with the chewy rumble of "Freeze Time," from the new album "Soundsystem."

Up next was "Freak Out," which was followed at some point by "Come Original."

Mahoney's guitar cut cleanly through the mix as Hexum's vocals rode the crest of P-Nut's and Sexton's percussive lines. Martinez, when he wasn't scratching off funky cuts on the turntables, was out in front bobbing and chatting.

New tunes such as "Large In the Margin" and the cosmic "Flowing" were mixed with older tunes as "Omaha Stylee and "Light Years." The ultimate crowd-pleasers, however, were earlier cuts -- "Down" and the reggae splattered "All Mixed Up."

Another nice surprise was the smoking "Who's Got the Herb?"

Throughout the evening, colored stage lights highlighted the band with pink, yellow, green and blue hues. And during the musically intense segments -- such as Hexum's drum solo -- the lights went into super speed-strobe mode.

Jimmie's Chicken Shack riled up the audience with its eclectic form of funk-rock.

The band -- vocalist Jimi Haha, bassist Che' Lemon, guitar Double D and drummer Sipple -- cranked out such romps as "Let's Get Flat," "Trash," "Lazy Boy Dash" and a righteous remake of Nine Inch Nails' "Sanctified."

There was a time when Jimmie's Chicken Shack's set lacked a bit of luster, but once Haha started chanting the chorus for "Let's Get Flat" (". . .Everything I knew was just a lie. . ."), he and the audience got the excitement back on top.

The combination of 311 and Jimmie's Chicken Shack brought a throng of excited mosh-hungry fans to the forefront Saturday. And there's no doubt when 311 returns to Saltair on June 2, the fans will be there waiting to bounce to the beats.

311 is back in the big venue (Deseret News, Salt Lake City)

After a year of touring smaller nightclub venues, 311 has returned to the larger theater gigs.

"The smaller shows were so much fun," said 311 guitarist Tim Mahoney during a phone call from Kalamazoo, Mich. "The only problem we had was people not getting into the shows. The good thing was the energy everyone felt in those tight quarters."The Los Angeles-based 311 -- Mahoney, vocalist/guitarist; Nick Hexum, vocalist; SA Martinez, DJ; drummer Chad Sexton; and bassist P-Nut -- will return to the Salt Lake area and play at Saltair on Saturday, April 1. The show will begin at 7:30 p.m. with special guest Jimmie's Chicken Shack.

The last time 311 stopped in Salt Lake City was October, when the band cranked out a gig at Club DV8. "That was a fun show," Mahoney remembered. "And now we're coming back to play for more of our fans."

For almost 10 years, 311 has been giving young music listeners a taste of upbeat, optimistic tunes. And the band has always felt it needn't worry about sticking with one particular musical style.

"We always had the attitude that we could play anything as long as it sounded good," Mahoney said. "We're all fans of hip-hop, reggae and rock. We never thought much about the style. We just wanted to play music that we loved to play."

Mahoney -- who cited Kiss, Grateful Dead, Motley Crue, Santana and Van Halen as some of his major influences -- said that when the band recorded its new album, "Soundsystem," band members made it a point of learning how to use the equipment themselves.

"We moved all of our equipment into our recording studio (the band's own studio, known as The Hive)," said Mahoney. "We felt it would be beneficial for us and our music. It was a fun investment."

During this leg of the tour, 311 has been cranking it up with Jimmie's Chicken Shack.

"They've been fun," Mahoney said.

Jimi Haha, lead singer of Jimmie's Chicken Shack -- yes, the first names are spelled differently -- said the tour has been awesome.

"It's great to be on the road with 311," Haha said during a phone call from Wichita, Kan. "They're a bunch of cool guys."

Haha said Jimmie's Chicken Shack's philosophy is just play what feels good.

"We really didn't have a musical goal," said Haha, who cited the Beatles, the Beach Boys, Black Sabbath, Bad Brains, Bob Marley and the Grateful Dead as some of his influences. "We constantly go into things, and we don't know where we will emerge."

Haha said his band -- which consists of guitarist Double D, bassist Che Colovita Lemon and drummer Mark Stipple -- faced the usual challenges of being an up-and-coming group.

"Everything you could imagine," Haha said with a laugh. "We did survive the label switches and label mergers. I think we survived because we played our live shows to get through the thick of it."

That same grass-roots attitude is something that Haha doesn't want to lose, even when the band's single, "Do Right," has been buzzing around MTV.

"The success wasn't an overnight thing that changed our lives," Haha said. "We're just not at home as we were in the past. I mean, I'm still living with the same four roommates that I've lived with on-and-off for the last 10 years."

One nice trip for the band has been the TV gigs. Jimmie's Chicken Shack has been featured on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" and "The Donny & Marie Show."

"When we were on 'Donny & Marie,' it was cool," Haha said. "We grew up watching the first 'Donny & Marie Show.'

"Donny's a cool guy. He actually listened to the record and asked in-depth questions about the production of it. Man, he really is 'a little bit rock 'n' roll.'"

311: (Stage) Diving into the Net (Star Polish)

Dropped into the scene with no geographical demarcations, my first thoughts would have been, “LA on a Friday night? New York on a Saturday?” There was nothing about the electricity of this crowd to suggest Hartford on a Monday. Mastering this ceremony is 311, the show just one of 200 performed yearly by the Omaha born, LA-based funk-rock-reggae band. This number would seem to provide legitimate temptation to take it slow one night. But after give-it-all shows in major markets around the country, 311 showed no signs of fatigue in this small New England venue; just a burning determination to rock their audience. Hard. It’s this perpetual cycle of energy between the band and their fans on which 311 thrives.

There was once a time when a band’s online presence was not expected by fans. This was exactly when 311 established a home in cyberspace – a place to keep the energy flowing even when off-stage. “It was such new technology that the record label didn’t give us any support,” recalls lead singer, Nick Hexum. “It was all completely done on our own money.” Ten years ago, the only chance a fan had to connect with an artist she admired was jumping on stage during a performance or through a handwritten letter (and the dream of getting a response). But technology has changed the fan/artist dynamic forever and 311 is reveling in the advances. P-Nut, bassist, proudly recalls the band’s foresight, “We just knew that something that anybody in the world can access with a phone line has got to be a good marketing and communication tool.” Nick backs P-Nut, “Basically we understood that a lot of the things that are happening with the web are ideas that you start not because they’re going to be profitable now but because you’re establishing a promotional thing.”

Throughout their ten-year career, 311 has ensured that they are as technologically advanced as they are musically. Numerous upgrades to have resulted in a website that succeeds in shrinking the gap between artist and audience. The recent implementation of “Ultimate Bulletin Boards,” inspired by, flings open the doors of communication. As the self-appointed community representative, P-Nut uses the boards to keep the rest of the band in touch with what fans are thinking. “Even though lots of other bands had websites,” says P-Nut, “we still consider ourselves to be one of the first to use it to communicate with our fans.” P-Nut actually spends time talking to fans on-line! He explains, “the website allows us to be ourselves. I can answer emails at my own leisure. If someone yelled a question at my face after a show, that’s not really being me. I have to protect myself. But when I can sit down with a computer and answer questions, I can really be objective and not skew words.”

Nurturing a fan base composed of the most technologically evolved generation in history has 311 collaborating with web developers determined to keep them one step ahead of the next best thing. Peter Raspler, half of 311’s brother management team – Adam is part two -- asserts that “311 likes to stay on the edge by having an advanced website with cutting edge features. It helps the band keep up momentum.” Collaborators are not chosen arbitrarily on Planet 311 -- the requirements are tricky. Says P-Nut, “we like having people that are as excited about what they’re doing as we are excited about the music that we’re creating . . .when we meet designers or video directors . . .we just need to see that spark in their eye to know that an artist will create something true to themselves and that will be the best thing [for us].”

The newest addition to the high-tech world of 311 and the love child of both the boys in the band and their fans is 311 Radio. Created by New York-based web firm MusicVision, this specialized web radio streams songs from every era of 311’s career plus artists hand selected by each band member. 311 Radio is one of the only “artist radios” available online, offered by the band as a gift to their fans – a place to access non-stop, commercial-free 311 tunes while indulging in a sneak peek into the minds behind the music. The band even obtained a license from their label permitting them to override the rigid guidelines of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, allowing listeners access the entire catalogue of 311 Music. Sprinkled throughout the mix are songs by some of the very artists that have inspired the band throughout their lives. Showcasing the unique musical tastes of the five personalities that make up 311, recent band picks include: Chad Sexton, drums – Portishead, Bob Marley; Tim Mahoney, guitar – NOFX, Jerry Garcia, SA Martinez, vocals/scratching – The Jacksons, Common, Nick Hexum, vocals – The Clash, Lauryn Hill, P-Nut, bass – Outkast, Tom Waits.

“Being able to give the artists that have turned us on and made us want to be musicians respect on a 24 hour basis is pretty cool,” notes P-Nut. “Regular radio is just not specialized enough . . .everyone has to listen to the same shit . . .we want to expose our fans to things that they might not get a chance to hear,” adds Hexum. From his managerial vantage point, Raspler observes that the Radio “sends messages that diversity is good, respecting different genres is good, keeping an open mind is good.”

311 has found that the energy they give to their fans through their site comes right back to them. Fans who request songs on the Radio assist in the development of current work. “We’re playing some of our new songs live while we record the new album,” notes Hexum, “and the radio requests and message boards tell us what people are reacting to, what direction we should go in for the second half of the album.” And from a clear business perspective, Raspler admits that the information shared through the website “helps ticket sales by keeping the kids informed and excited.”

Cyber success, however, has not clouded 311’s understanding of the Internet as a tool - one that will only take you as far as you work it. “Even if your music is online, people aren’t going to listen to it for no reason. You have to create a demand by playing shows and handing out flyers to get people to your site,” reminds Nick. Following their own advice, 311 recently handed out thousands of postcards promoting a special Thanksgiving Radio broadcast of their 10-year Anniversary Concert. The week’s broadcast registered thousands of new visits to their website. P-Nut acknowledges the efficiency of the Net; “bands can stay in their home town and shop their tape around through email. We had to move to LA to be found. We sent out discs to every radio station and every record label that we could think of and it worked for us. But use the Internet to do it. We spent a lot on postage.”

Korn, No Doubt and Incubus are just a few of the acts that have opened for 311 before achieving mainstream success. A keen eye for spotting original talent, endless touring and the willingness to experiment with new sounds and technologies have garnered 311 lasting respect from the music industry. With a new album due out mid-2001, the band is continuing to make music on their terms. “Today there’s a weird dichotomy in [mainstream] music,” points out Hexum. “You either have agro metal or brainless pop. The amount of people in the middle making good old melodic rock music is pretty few. There are a lot of trends, but the only thing that’ll last will be true musicianship and melodies.” P-Nut appeals to upstart musicians, “test your limits. Do something new. You need to hit them in a spot that they’ve never been hit in before . . . that’s when a real imprint gets made and imprints like that last forever.”

311: An Interview with Tim Mahoney

The imagination is antithesis to physical limitation. Strolling through daily life, humans are constantly confined by flesh, weighed by thought, and serve as victims to the oppressive forces of gravity. Bound by logical influence of modern education mixed with illogical emotion, the mind often serves as buffer between fantasy and reality, forever deciphering and categorizing various occurrences. By standard, we are told to believe that the tangible is proven and therefore exists, and by default the invisible lives only under false disguise. Yet it is what we do not know that drives us. It is the unseen that is intriguing.

Be it cold whispers from closed shutters or suspicious auroras in Roswell, we share a cultural allegiance to the invisible. The mere chance of connecting with the infinite unknown is a dream shared by many, and shows through in all of our art forms. With a history dating back beyond Mesopotamian and Dravidian societies, our attempts at contacting other forms of life through music, literature, and painting have been timeless.

When 311 added their interesting blend of reggae, rock, and hip-hop to national airplay with their self-titled third release, in 1995, their triple-platinum success was painted with references to these infinite possibilities. While more infatuation then dedication, their reaching out merely exemplifies the evolution of human searching.

"Thinking about things that exist outside of the earth, I try not to say I know anything," says guitarist Tim Mahoney. "It just seems that the possibility is greater that things exist outside of our planet. It's interesting to think about. There's so many conspiracy theories, and it's good that people are thinking there is more than what we now see. It's just our curiosity, but I'm just as curious about going inward and being an inward astronaut, because there's just as much to learn inside. I try to keep my mind totally open to any possibility."

This open-minded approach has helped Tim lead these groove masters to international stardom. Intense spiritual reflections combined with essential elements of rock and roots dub music, 311 became a household name when "Down" was on constant rotation in the country's largest radio stations. Two albums later, in celebration of their latest release, Soundsystem, the boys from Omaha are enjoying further success via "Come Original." Reaching this level of acknowledgment without compromising can be difficult for bands to be truly creative. yet 311 have built a career on being consistently diverse, finding a niche on radio where it once seemed none existed.

"As long as we've been together, we've just been playing music the way we play music without worrying about the business," Tim says. "We've been fortunate enough to always have artistic freedom and control over our music. We don't really try to fit in, but it's difficult because we don't fit a lot of radio station format at times. We're just trying to create good music and keep it spiritual.

"A lot of times the most spiritual music isn't the most mainstream, whether it's jazz or reggae or blues. We just write music that's true to ourselves. All the business is second to the creative process."

This integrity has kept 311 alive since their roots were laid on high school stages in 1988 in Omaha, NE. Influenced heavily by reggae musicians like Peter Tosh and Bob Marley, jazz cats such as Bill Evans and John McLaughlin, rock idols like Jimi Hendrix, and hip-hop outfits De La Soul, Cypress Hill, and The Pharcyde, 311 have been able to create original rhythms borrowing from all these styles.

While this is all apparent on record, one need only to see them live to ingest the true energy transferred. Currently on tour in smaller venues with two recent nights at Irving Plaza, they are happy to get back to the intimacy shared outside arena life.

"We just want our shows to be a celebration - people gathering, listening to music, just coming to enjoy themselves and have a positive experience," Tim states. "We just travel around and have little celebrations each night, and have a release of good energy. "The energy just flows back and forth, and it amplifies so much greater the smaller the place is, so we're really enjoying playing these sized venues."

Originally trained on trombone in his grade-school band class, Tim picked up the guitar shortly thereafter. Waywardly reminiscent of his old muse, the six-string instrument quickly became the voice with which he spoke. Moving with his posse to Los Angeles after exhausting all resources in Nebraska, the band patiently watched their recognition grow after each show. Soon they were opening for the bands that influenced them, eventually headlining major showcases.

While Tim's personal style was developed through jazz and reggae experimentation, hip-hop grabbed his attention early on.

"The drum beats and the production of hip-hop really grabbed me," he says. "Besides all the sociological aspects of it, of course. It's a cool evolution of music. There is many tribal aspects and intelligent social commentary, as well as just looking at it as sound without the lyrics."
Advocates of the technological expansion of music through digital means, 311 have spent the majority of their career experimenting with sounds, be it Tim with an envelope filter or co-vocalist S.A. Martinez on the turntables.

Transistor was an extremely successful dive into alchemizing dub reggae rhythms with rap and rock. Soundsystem, while more straightforward, still exhibits various space grooves and roots echoes throughout. Tracks like "Leaving Babylon," a Bad Brains cover, delve back to organic Jamaican influence, while "Livin' & Rockin'" employs futuristic breakbeats. "Flowing" begins with a melodic aura that makes one feel as if floating through the music of the spheres; a light, serene journey reminding one that life is about the trip itself, not necessarily the goal.

311's dedication to open-mindedness serves as an example to the general tide of American culture today. While we have seemingly moved backwards in terms of interpersonal relations, highlighted by racial tension and an influx lawsuits and divorce hearings, our technology is expanding at speeds unfortunately uncontrollable. The Internet has saved our economy while offering endless new job and business opportunities, and is restructuring the music industry as well. Songs like "Evolution" point to this movement in hopes that we use our electrical skills for progressive actions.

"The web is great because of the alternate forms of communication we can have with each other," notes Tim. "It helps people get different angles on news, rather than having to rely on only three or four networks. But the whole process is up to humans to have good intentions with everything involved.

"Recording has evolved as well, so that now you don't have to have a record deal to make a great sounding CD. With digital, a band can make a record in their home and sell it over the web, and charge per copy. It will be interesting to see how all of this evolves in the future."
After 11 years, 311 are showing no sign of slowing down. Five studio albums, one live disc, and endless singles fill record store shelves. Their live intensity is unmatched, and their commitment to avoid mediocrity is a powerful inspiration to many of their fans. As the millennium clock dwindles, we are on the brink of another step of our own evolution. This will be a personal process shared among our physical and spiritual community. Regardless of outcome, it is apparent that changes will occur. Be it technological catastrophe or deeper reflections by our inner astronauts, there is a climax being reached, offered by an influx of artists and musicians.

Once worried, Tim sees this as another step, one to be handled as it occurs. The guitar will continue to speak for him as great as any voice can project. As for the worries, he'll leave that for somebody else.
"I hope that people realize that 2,000 years is relative to human history on earth," he says. "People get so caught up in thinking that they are the most evolved species in the universe and don't realize that humans created time, created this whole Y2K syndrome. I mean, is there even one clock that has the exact time? For a little while I was totally paranoid about it, now it just makes me laugh."

Bassist P-Nut talks music, film, and pet Weimaraners (IGN for Men)

It's the police code for indecent exposure. You know, the stuff that streakers, flashers, and drunken frat boys do.
311 is also the chosen nom de soniference of 5 guys from Omaha, Nebraska . Anyone not even remotely familiar with 311 (Nick, Tim, Chad, SA, P-Nut) has obviously been residing in a total vacuum. This is a muy popular band whose diverse mixture of ska, reggae, funk, rap, and rock have won them a legion of loyal fans the world over.
IGN For Men's Senior Editor Spence D. recently caught up with the band's master of the low-end, P-Nut, and chopped it up about dogs, 311 music theory, and film.

P-Nut: Sorry I'm late. I had pictured it on my gravestone that I was always on time, but it's gonna have to be 99-out-of-100 times that I'm on time. I do my damndest, though. I was out walking my dog, if you can believe that.

IGN For Men: What kind of dog do you have?

P-Nut: I've got a 13-month old Weimaraner.

IGN For Men: Right on. You know what's so weird is that I've been starting to see a lot of those poppin' up. It used to be that you just saw them in the William Wegman photos.

P-Nut: Yeah, they're startin' to pop up pretty much everywhere.

IGN For Men: Yeah, it's like all of a sudden they're the popular dog. It's like I'd never really seen them out and about until this year.

P-Nut: Yeah, I didn't either, before I got one. Then I started noticing them all around, probably because I had one at that time, too. But also, they are startin' to just become popular pets.

IGN For Men: So what prompted you to get a Weimaraner?

P-Nut: Well, I have a gray house, a gray truck...what else is gray? I just kind of surround myself with gray. Like all of my cars have been either gray or silver. I think it's kind of like a safety thing for me, so I wanted a gray dog to protect the rest of my gray stuff.

IGN For Men: I bet it could work like camouflage, too. You know, somebody is sneakin' up to jack your gray car and all of a sudden from out of nowhere jumps this gray dog. Pretty clever, like urban camouflage.

P-Nut: Exactly, something like that [laughs].

IGN For Men: I got some questions that were thrown to me by our readers, which I took the liberty of reworking into my style and I've also got some of my own questions to ask, as well. But I guess the most obvious question is that we all know that Omaha, Nebraska isn't really known as a bastion of pop (or traditional) culture...

P-Nut: Oh, well I don't know what you've been reading! [laughs].

IGN For Men: I don't mean to stereotype the mid-west...

P-Nut: Oh it's true though. Stereotypes are there for a reason.

IGN For Men: True. Now, with the exception of Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom,I can't think of any other significant contribution, other than you guys in 311, that Omaha has made to pop culture. 311 and Marlon Perkins, that's my generalization of the contributions to popular culture made by the city of Omaha in the last several decades. ..

P-Nut: Right, but we're in good company, at least.

IGN For Men: True, true. My question is, how the hell did you land on your ska-rock-rap-funk hybrid way the $%&* out in the middle of nowhere America?

P-Nut: I mean, I guess it comes from people not telling us that we couldn't. You know, people not being inundated with so many bands and so many different styles of music. There was either cover bands, which would make all the money in Omaha because that's what people wanted to come and see and hear; people performing songs that everybody already knew. Those bands were pretty much instantly successful on the local scene in Omaha. But we didn't want to do that. So we started makin' our own music. We were just these punk kids and no one told us that we couldn't do reggae and rock and, you know, what was 'grunge' at the time, which is now just 'modern rock.' Just taking all the things that we loved and things that were hard to play, too. Not easy things, 'cause we're all pretty accomplished musicians, even before we all got together we were pretty damn well rehearsed. So when we did get together, we wanted to do something really new on the technical side and the melodic side.

IGN For Men: Did you and SA perform in your high school band?

P-Nut: Umm, S.A. was in the choir, the swing choir. He'd do the little steps and sing a little bit. And I was in the Jazz Band for a matter of months. It was a little too boring for me. It was cool, I mean I really like my teacher, but it just wasn't open enough. It was very, very structured and I thought it would be cool to get into jazz because of all the improv that's usually associated with that style of music, but...

IGN For Men: So you were like Lisa Simpson, busting out with the crazy sax solo that's totally incongruous with the rest of the class, eh?

P-Nut: Yeah, I tried.

IGN For Men: So were you bustin' out with the Jaco [Pastoris] and Mingus bass riffs while the instructor was trying to teach you something else?

P-Nut: Right. And he knew that I was a better player than most of the people in the class, so he'd let me solo every once and awhile and make sure that I stayed within the chord structure, even though I didn't even know what a chord structure really was [back then]. But it was fun, it just took a little too much time away from my personal life.

IGN For Men: I know what you mean, I was in choir and on swim team when I was in high school and both of those activities took up a lot of my free time.

P-Nut: And that's good, but I knew I was gonna be playing music for the rest of my life and I wanted to enjoy my high school years as much as I could, since I was just skatin' through school anyway.

IGN For Men: Speaking of lack of free time, how often do you and the rest of the band practice? And, coming with the double-edged question here...

P-Nut: Ooooh yeah!

IGN For Men: Since this is your livelihood, how do you keep it from becoming a routine 9-to-5 'job'?

P-Nut: Well since we've stayed the same pretty much since 1991 when Tim came in the band, it's just been a building thing. The more we spend time together and since we lived together out in Los Angeles in 1992, 1993, pretty much broke-as-a-joke, you just learn to love who you're with. And we have so much fun playing together and everybody's such an individual and everybody brings such different styles to the table that it's fun for everybody else. We're all pretty strong personalities and egos, but we're open enough to accept what anybody else brings to the table. So in that way, it's a lot of fun and you learn tons of things that you wouldn't have come up with on your own. And since they respect me and I respect all of them back, it's just a perfect marriage of minds. As far as practicing, I make sure my calluses are ready to go, so I don't have to play through blood on a couple of songs. And Nick makes sure that his voice is all warmed up and Chad makes sure that all his chops are ready to go. We do it enough to stay on top of it, but we've played probably like 500 shows now and we're damn well rehearsed at the stuff we do live. But one of the things that we really need to concentrate on is that now that we have probably 80 songs out, is mixing up the set-list. And that is kind of a difficult thing to do.

IGN For Men: Speaking of you calluses, do you tape them up or do you do some Ancient Zen type of thing where you soak your hands in water heated by hot stones? You know how all those Indian tribes run through the forests barefooted and they build up the calluses on their feet? Do you do something like that?

P-Nut: [laughs] I just keep playing. And even though when I play at home I don't play nearly as hard as I do when I play onstage, it's still a good practice and it keeps me warm, per se [laughs].

IGN For Men: I don't play bass, but growing up I was really into Geddy Lee, Chris Squire, Tony Levin, those were the guys that I was just fanatical about. Who are your low-end heroes?

P-Nut: Steve Harris from Iron Maiden. Very, very big [influence]. He was one of the first people that really like stood out as a bass player/composer/personality in a band. Most of the time, like as far as the Led Zeppelin era, Jones was back with Bonham just being the percussive part, and Robert Plant and Page were up in front. They were the lead guys and the rest of the guys were in back. I thought it was really cool that Steve Harris would be leaning up on his monitor, grabbin' people's attention, showing 'em how @#$%&*' great a player he is, and if you look at all the credits on the songs, especially their old stuff, he wrote pretty much everything. Even the solos. He was just cool like that. Even if you don't listen to their music, you can just tell that he's powerful and I wanted to carry that on to the generation of music that I represent.

IGN For Men: I must admit that I missed the whole Maiden voyage, you know, I was never really into their music. "Run To The Hills," that's about the extent of my Maiden experience. I did like the artwork though. The cover of Killers was sick.

P-Nut: Hell yes! It was all about the artwork and the music, the combination of the two. The image that they created was like 'I'm gonna scare the #$%^ out of my parents with this album.' My dad was a preacher and I'd bring home Number of the Beast.

IGN For Men: Wait, your dad was a preacher?

P-Nut: Well yeah, when my folks lived together. He still kind of is, but mostly he just marries and buries people nowadays. But that's all he kind of really did anyway, but he was more active in it [back then]. Now he lives out in New Mexico, which is really cool. He's happy and retired.

IGN For Men: So he doesn't have a problem with your rock-n-roll lifestyle?

P-Nut: Oh no, he loves it.

IGN For Men: Is he your number one fan?

P-Nut: One of them. Tied up there with many other family members.

IGN For Men: Does anybody in the band cook?

P-Nut: Umm, Tim cooks a little bit. I know Chad cooks a little bit...

IGN For Men: But does anybody have like a special dish that they prepare. You know, like 'We're having a potluck party tonight...'

P-Nut:...come check this out!

IGN For Men: Right!

P-Nut: Not really, but my fiancée is a @#$%&*' great cook and she's really into learning a bunch of different recipes and trying new stuff out, so we have people over once in awhile. But we haven't had like the whole band over to eat. But that might be because we don't have a kitchen table yet [laughs].

IGN For Men: Live versus the studio. I once read a quote from you where you remarked that you dig the live experience as it becomes a more collective experience as opposed to the more personal experience of the studio.

P-Nut: When you come out with a product from the studio, it's more set for headphones. That's how we want to mix [songs] so they sound really good on headphones. Of course we try it out in our car systems and stuff to get a perspective, but albums are made to be listened to through headphones. I think that's really cool and makes it a very personal [experience], it's very inside yourself and you can make it whatever it is. But if you're with 2000 people who are all jumpin' up and down at the same time, sweatin' their brains out, singin' the songs word-for-word, that's @#$%^&' badass. It's another peak. You know, I like making albums. I love it, actually. And we get better at it the more we do it, but after playing after about 500 shows and seeing that connection, seeing how powerful it can be when people are watching us create our music, it's so @#$%^&' cool. I wouldn't want to do anything else except for make movies.

IGN For Men: Now you've just said that you wouldn't want to do anything other than make music except for making movies. Are you talking about directing or acting?

P-Nut: Directing.

IGN For Men: What kind of movies would you make?

P-Nut: I would make disturbing movies in which at least one of two people would walk out [of the theater]. No matter what.

IGN For Men: You'd want to do like David Lynch-crossed with David Cronenberg on like crack or something?

P-Nut: Something like that. Those are good Davids. I'd probably be more like Kubrick-meets-Lynch.

IGN For Men: I was also thinking Alejandro Jodorowsky, y'know, the director of El Topo and Santa Sangre.

P-Nut: He's pretty freaky. I like that. I want like some square people to walk out of my movies at least at every show [laughs].

IGN For Men: Now you don't strive for that with 311. I mean you guys don't want people to walk out of your concerts.

P-Nut: No, no. We want everyone to stay for the show.

IGN For Men: But if you made movies you'd want some people to walk out .

P-Nut: Yeah. The cool thing about putting an image up on a screen is that you are hitting people in many, many different ways. It's not just a band performing the music that they want. It's like you get into someone's brain once you put an image up there and you can really $%&* with their heads.

IGN For Men: Yeah, but I think you can do that as a band, too. Especially once you gain a certain level of popularity and garner a sort of cult following. I mean if somebody is out in the audience reciting the words to all of your songs, I'd say that you got inside of their head, wouldn't you?

P-Nut: Yeah, it's true. They're a part of it. But I think, I don't know. Kind of like the headphone experience of listening to the album by yourself. You can make that image whatever you want and it will be different to other people around you. But as a show I think people take it in the same way. I don't know, you could fight both sides of it.

IGN For Men: Yeah, we could sit here for a few hours and ruminate on that, I'm sure. We'd even have to take a break and go get some beers or something.

P-Nut: Yeah [laughs] remember what you were gonna say next!

IGN For Men: Speaking of beers. I managed to catch a glance at your contractual rider and found it interesting that you request 24 bottles of beer, which is then broken down to 6 Sierra Nevadas, 6 Coronas, 6 Anchor Steams, and 6 Pete's Wicked Ale...

P-Nut: Oh 6 Pete's? There's probably a 4-pack of Guinness in there somewhere..

IGN For Men: But that comes out to a six-pack each for four of the guys and the fifth member of the band gets screwed. Is one of you on the wagon? And how did you come up with the beer selection?

P-Nut: [laughs] Well someone always wants something lighter like Corona. And I always want something a little bit more amber like Pete's or even darker like Guinness. It was just trial and error. That's a good mixture.

IGN For Men: It's like the selection that won't really disappoint or piss anybody off then.

P-Nut: Right. There'll be something for everybody. We really don't drink that much at all. Like I'll have a beer on-stage and that's pretty much my favorite time to drink is when I'm actually performing. But you won't see me drinking that much outside of that.

IGN For Men: Why is having a beer on-stage so good? I mean alcohol is a funny thing. I play pretty good pool after about 2-3 beers. And I bowl pretty good after a few beers. But it's that fourth beer that really $%^&$ your game up. I'm sure it's the same way with performing. I'm sure there comes a point when you can just be [too smashed]. The Replacements were pretty much the band from recent memory that could really drink and still play. But were also the band which perfectly illustrated what happens when you drink too much and try to perform live, you know? So does just one beer loosen you up a bit and put you into that performing vibe?

P-Nut: Yeah, yeah. And it just tastes a little bit better when I'm really, really sweaty and my heart's going crazy. And I pretty much, almost always, 9-out-of-10 times if I'm gonna have a beer on-stage it's gonna be Guinness. Which is even stranger because it is such a meal. But it goes down like water when I'm up on-stage. I'll have one, maybe two on a crazy night, and then I'll be kinda $%&*@#! for the rest of the night, between that and bangin' my head and jumpin' around. It's crazy. But I don't over do it.

IGN For Men: I'm more of a Black & Tan fan myself.

P-Nut: That's the way to go.

IGN For Men: Where do you see 311 and the music of the band headed over the next 10 years?

P-Nut: I see us constantly mixing up styles, doin' pretty much whatever we want because we have a very dedicated fanbase, even though with every album we shake off some people who have been listening for awhile and we gain new people. That's kind of a healthy mix, because if it's all the same rabid people all the time and you don't add any extras and you don't shake anybody off then you're not really doing enough, then you're just maintaining a straight line. We're into experimenting, we're into trying new things, we're into stretching our musical capabilities and we're ready to innovate a whole new sound of music. That's what we're out to do.

IGN For Men: Well you've constantly changed your sound and vibe since Transistor up until now. You've dabbled in electronic embellishment and what not. One of our readers, a veritable hardcore 311 fan, pointed out that Sound System goes back to the Grassroots sound a little bit.

P-Nut: A little bit. But you know, you can never go all the way back. And once people start saying that there's gonna be a huge backlash because people feel so strongly about our older stuff, as they damn well should, so we were just trying to have the songs [on Sound System] be ready to be played live like we had for Grass Roots. We knew after doing our first album of music that we'd have to go on the road for a long time. We also knew that after coming off of Transistor that when we made an album that we were gonna want to stay out for a long time and we wanted to write songs that we could play all of them in front of a crowd instead of how trippy Transistor turned out to be. That album was totally made for headphones and Sound System was compeltey made for the stage. It's nice to be able to play both sides of it.

IGN For Men: That's cool. So you went in [to record Sound System] with the intent 'Okay, we did our headphone album, now it's time to do an album where we won't have to take all this techno equipment on the road.

P-Nut: Right, a bare bones record as opposed to 'This sounds great, but how the hell are they gonna do it live?' We didn't even want to have to worry about that [this time out]. And the whole attitude of coming out aggressive and wantin' to play the songs that we had just written, it's cool and it's good for the organization, everyone feels a lot of momentum behind the band and we plan on touring very, very extensively the rest of the year.

IGN For Men: Would you consider yourself a touring machine?

P-Nut: Yeah. That's the only way to do it. And it's the only way not to rely on media, which is fleeting. No offense, of course.

IGN For Men: None taken. I know what you mean, though, trying to rely on the media to get the word out about a record and a tour is kinda lame these days.

P-Nut: Yeah, you can trust on it happening to a certain degree, but there's nothing like word-of-mouth as far as a valid source of information. Especially from a friend that you respect. I know you've got a friend that if they told you 'This album is good,' you'd go buy it. Same thing about a show, 'Go see this band live, they'll $%^&*!' blow your mind!' That's what we want to do. And that's why we take it to the street, because that's when that type of advertisement happens. And that's what was cool, I think, about doing our small club tour earlier in the year, was that not everybody in the city could go if they wanted to. Like there was gonna be some people that were left out in the cold. But now, the people that did get to go told all of their friends that couldn't go and even some people that didn't even give a #$%& at the time, how great of a show it was and now we're gonna be playing like 2000-5000 seats a night, so hopefully we'll be able to satiate all the funk crazed kids out there.

311 likes to keep things on positive note (Northwest Flordia Daily News)

The members of 311 don't want to rock the boat.

They just want to rock. And groove. And funk. And dance. And jam. And, well, you get the idea.

In the backward-hat-wearing, male-hormone driven, angst-ridden world of frat boy rap rock now dominating the airwaves of radio and MTV, the five guys from Omaha, Neb., are looking to offer another view for the popular genre that they helped pioneer almost a decade ago, but which is now littered with doom and gloom anthems.

"All entertainers come original. You got to come original. All entertainers hear why," sings frontman and guitarist Nick Hexum on the group's first single "Come Original" off their fifth studio album "Soundsystem," released last October.

"A warning to the crews who think they're hot: If you're not original rockers, you will get shot down by the kids neglecting' your art, the stuff you did. Eventually it gets so bad, puts you to bed," chants the band's other lyricist S.A. Martinez.

An easy jab at the Limp Bizkits and the Kid Rocks of the industry.

"Umm ... There's no hidden dis," Martinez says in a telephone interview. "It's open to interpretation."

Gotcha. Wink, wink.

"Are we immersed in a sea of replicants, hard exteriors and fake gold fronts. Losing yourself in the flavor of the month," Hexum offers in "Mindspin," also off "Soundsystem."

Aside from the combative-natured lyrics on some of the group's songs (which should come as no surprise considering the hip-hop influences laced throughout their musical library), peace, unity and self expression remain the staples for the group's message.

"We were trying to fill a void," Martinez explains about "Soundsystem." "There has to be a counterbalance to all the negativity. It's more of a struggle to stay positive, ya' know. It's a big challenge for a lot of bands."

And what does 311, which also includes Chad Sexton (drums), Tim Mahoney (guitar), and P-Nut (bass), think of the evolution of a sound they helped jump start with their 1993 release, "Music"?

"It's great for the genre to have such success," says Martinez, who adds turntable scratching to the eclectic outfit. "It's a profitable genre."

While the guys in 311, who will all turn 30 this year except P-Nut, who turns 26 in June, don't want to openly bad mouth another artist's work, they will stress a positive vibe for one and all in their music rather than brag about their sexual conquests or encourage mosh-pit behavior closer to sexual assault.

"That just sucks. It's unfortunate," Martinez says changing the tone in his voice. "I'm proud girls feel comfortable coming to our shows.

"It's a great correlation to the bands and the music. You're responsible for what you put out."

And what 311 has put out over the last decade is a combination and cross pollination of reggae, punk, hip-hop, '70s funk and arena rock.

After a series of short-lived bands and lineup changes during and shortly after high school, Hexum, Sexton, Mahoney, who went to the same school, P-Nut and Martinez, who went to a different school, came together as the current version of 311 around 1991. The band got its name from an Omaha police code for indecent exposure.

With a dedicated regional following, built upon aggressive touring and three independently produced records, 311 moved to Los Angeles in 1992.

Shortly thereafter, 311 was signed to Capricorn records and released "Music." The group hit the road immediately to support the record. The tour was briefly sidelined when the band's RV caught fire and exploded, destroying all of their equipment and personal possessions.

For the next four years, 311 maintained a relentless touring schedule, playing about 200 shows per year, stopping only to record 1994's "Grassroots" and the 1995 self-titled or "blue" album.

The band's fan base grew tremendously as people were drawn to the unique sound, boundless energy and powerful performances. In 1996, the band's popularity exploded with the singles "Down" and "All Mixed Up," both off the self-titled album, which reach triple-platinum success.

Quick to feed the rabid fans, 311 released their first home video, "Enlarged to Show Detail."

A Year later 311 put out the ambitious and experimental "Transistor," which reached platinum success, but failed to generate the buzz of their self-titled release.

After a long and successful tour, 311 spent June '98 through June '99 working on "Soundsystem" - the most time they've ever spent on an album - and releasing a 14-track live album in November '98.

"We wanted a more rock oriented record," Martinez says of the band's latest offering. "Something that we could take out on the road and just play. We love playing live. We're real enthusiastic."

Martinez says the band is also cool with its place on the current music scene of pin-up pretty boys and self-indulgent players.

"I don't mind that we're not selling tons of records right now," he says. "It would be nice, but we just don't take it that seriously. We're just happy to have a positive influence eon some people."

The singer is also relieved about not having to follow up another multi-platinum hit record.

"There's less expectations and less pressure. It's great to be in that position, where it's all word of mouth. That's the buzz we want," he says.

The band's current tour, which began in early February, will span over 30 shows, coast-to-coast, in mostly cities not previously covered on the club tour last fall. The opening act will be Jimmie's Chicken Shack.

"We had a blast on the last tour," Martinez says. "We're just trying to give something back to the fans.

"We prefer playing in front of 3,000-5,000 people. That's more in our element because then we're able to feed off all the heat and energy of the crowd."

Martinez says the band already is planning to work on a new record while on tour, which should last until August.

The group will also have a song on the upcoming "Titan AE" soundtrack and is working on their second home video, which should be coincide with the release of the next record due out at the end of the year.

311 To Tour America After Returning From Japan (LiveDaily)

Nebraska-bred alt-rockers 311, currently wrapping up a short series of Japanese dates, will return to North America at month's end to resume the "Soundsystem" tour. Beginning in late February--following shows in Honolulu, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas in late January and early February--an especially grueling schedule will take the band to more than 30 cities in just over a month.

According to the band's official website, 311's spring tour will hit theaters with capacities raging from about 2,000 to 8,000, and most stops will be in cities that weren't on the band's 1999 club tour, which covered well over 60 cities at the end of 1999. Tickets are on sale in most markets.

Jimmie's Chicken Shack will be the opening act for the spring tour, and Incubus will be on the bill for the tour's Feb. 28 stop in Winston Salem, N.C.

"Soundsystem" (Capricorn), 311's sixth-major label album, peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard 200 chart shortly after its release last October. It has since fallen to No. 194 on the chart, but the new single "Flowing"--for which the band shot a video earlier this month--is beginning to garner significant radio airplay.

Tuesday, August 29, 2000

311 Sues Label

Hip-hop-rock band 311 filed a lawsuit against its label, Capricorn Records, on Monday, claiming the company has jeopardized the band's career by denying it major marketing and promotion.
The suit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleges that the label breached its 1992 contract with the band by failing to enter into a joint venture with a major label for almost two years. The band's best-selling album, 1995's 311, which spawned the hit "Down," came out while Capricorn was partnered with Mercury Records.

Since the band joined the label in 1992, it has "bounced between three different record-label partnerships and four different record distributors, culminating in an unstable atmosphere, which has demonstrably been to the detriment of 311's career," according to a statement issued by the band's attorneys.

"Put simply, defendant continues to spiral toward failure, and plaintiffs cannot withstand the damage to their careers and livelihoods by being pulled down with them," the suit concurs.

The band contends that Capricorn can no longer compete effectively in the marketplace due to the firing and departure of key staff personnel, the loss of other acts — including Cake and Widespread Panic — and the dissolution of its relationship with Universal Music Group "as an effective and willing financier and partner."

The band claims to have informed the label about its dissatisfaction with the current relationship repeatedly and were driven to take legal action after Capricorn failed to live up to key promises, including a vow made almost two years ago to partner with a new major record company.

"As a result of defendant's failure to properly market and promote 311 and find another major label partner, plaintiffs' 1999 album, Soundsystem, has not been properly marketed or promoted," the suit alleges.

The band, which kicks off a tour with Zebrahead this fall, is seeking to enforce a California law that limits personal service contracts to a maximum of seven years.

Wednesday, April 12, 2000

311's Nick Hexum Reflects On The Big 3-0

Today is not just any old Wednesday for 311 frontman Nick Hexum. April 12 is Nicholas Hexum's birthday and this year marks a milestone for the singer as he turns 30 years old.

Hexum, whose band 311 released its fifth studio album, "Soundsystem," in October 1999, feels pretty good about where he is after three decades on this planet Earth. In a recent interview with the MTV Radio Network, the singer reflected on all that he has accomplished.

"I've packed so much into these 30 years," Hexum began. "Already I feel like really, rightfully, I should be about 60 for how much I've already experienced. I've always kind of had a feeling that as I got older I was going to find my voice as an artist more, and therefore, get more respect, and accomplish more of my goals."

Despite having already reached multi-platinum heights as the lead singer of 311, Hexum says he continues to look ahead.

"I don't see the past as being my glory times," he explained. "I see the future as being my glory times... and maybe I'm just fooling myself, but it works for me."

311 recently completed a spring tour with Jimmie's Chicken Shack and will head back out on the road for the summer with Incubus starting May 23rd in San Diego.

The Los Angeles-based band will also play two festivals at the end of the month; the Center City Festival in Charlotte, North Carolina on the April 28 and Edgefest in Dallas with Everclear, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Stroke 9 and more on April 29.

Monday, April 3, 2000

311 dazzles fans with funk reggae show (Deseret News)

311 with JIMMIE'S CHICKEN SHACK at Saltair, April 1; one performance only.

Not even eight months ago, 311 rocked Salt Lake City with an energetic and intimate show at Club DV8. Well, the funk/reggae/rock band took a larger audience to the brink when it made a stop at Saltair Saturday night.The 3,200 music fans waited patiently for the lights to dim, and once they did, it all went down with contagious energy, rocking tunes and a dazzling light show.

Guitarist Timothy J. Mahoney, DJ/vocalist S.A. Martinez, vocalist Nick Hexum, drummer Chad Sexton and bassist P-Nut -- collectively known as 311 -- opened their set with the chewy rumble of "Freeze Time," from the new album "Soundsystem."

Up next was "Freak Out," which was followed at some point by "Come Original."

Mahoney's guitar cut cleanly through the mix as Hexum's vocals rode the crest of P-Nut's and Sexton's percussive lines. Martinez, when he wasn't scratching off funky cuts on the turntables, was out in front bobbing and chatting.

New tunes such as "Large In the Margin" and the cosmic "Flowing" were mixed with older tunes as "Omaha Stylee and "Light Years." The ultimate crowd-pleasers, however, were earlier cuts -- "Down" and the reggae splattered "All Mixed Up."

Another nice surprise was the smoking "Who's Got the Herb?"

Throughout the evening, colored stage lights highlighted the band with pink, yellow, green and blue hues. And during the musically intense segments -- such as Hexum's drum solo -- the lights went into super speed-strobe mode.

Jimmie's Chicken Shack riled up the audience with its eclectic form of funk-rock.

The band -- vocalist Jimi Haha, bassist Che' Lemon, guitar Double D and drummer Sipple -- cranked out such romps as "Let's Get Flat," "Trash," "Lazy Boy Dash" and a righteous remake of Nine Inch Nails' "Sanctified."

There was a time when Jimmie's Chicken Shack's set lacked a bit of luster, but once Haha started chanting the chorus for "Let's Get Flat" (". . .Everything I knew was just a lie. . ."), he and the audience got the excitement back on top.

The combination of 311 and Jimmie's Chicken Shack brought a throng of excited mosh-hungry fans to the forefront Saturday. And there's no doubt when 311 returns to Saltair on June 2, the fans will be there waiting to bounce to the beats.

Monday, January 24, 2000

True Originals (Launch)

311 is a hard-working band that cites touring as a key ingredient to its longevity in this fickle commercial market. After a decade of togetherness, these Omaha expatriates continue to hone in on the quirky rap-rock hybrid that they helped push from novelty status to standard fare on the alternative airwaves.

LAUNCH executive editor Dave DiMartino interviewed the band's Nicholas Hexum and P-Nut just as they unveiled Soundsystem, the new disc that follows the 1997 release of Transistor. The band recently acquainted itself with some sophisticated recording equipment and production techniques, the results of which "come original" on Soundsystem. "It's more fulfilling than trying to get someone else to realize your vision," Hexum said of the creative freedom that comes with studio know-how.

And while 311 continues to advance technically, the band hasn't abandoned the optimistic outlook that informs its melodies. "You go around this world one time and you have to make the best of it," Hexum noted of his millennial "mission of positivity" through music. His pal P-Nut was typically offbeat when chatting with DiMartino: the dreadlocked and horn-rimmed bass player mused about bad lyrics ("just deliver them with confidence"), the finer points of Backstreet Boys-ness ("being No. 1 ain't sh-t if you don't have a future"), and being trapped on a desert island with Shaquille O'Neal ("at least if you had to resort to cannibalism, there'd be some good eatin' on Shaq.") Now that's positive thinking.
Video excerpts of the conversation can be viewed in Issue No. 34 of LAUNCH on CD-ROM; an exclusive live performance "Come Original" can also be viewed on the same disc.

LAUNCH: What's the major difference between this record and all the others you've done?

NICHOLAS: The difference between this record and past records is that we really waited for the songs to grow up organically. We took our time, built our own recording studio, brought in our own gear and learned how to use ProTools. We have an old-school 24-track tape machine, as well as all the computer hard drive recording equipment. Just learning to run that was a big learning experience. We were writing songs gradually throughout the recording process, so it really was a more organic experience. Whereas on Transistor, we recorded 30 songs in two months, and this time we did 13 songs in 18 months. We just kind of slowed down.

P-NUT: With the last album, we were coming off a big success and lots of attention and lots of eyes coming our way, and we wanted to do an album that excited our creative spirit and do something different because that's what we always do. Especially after getting all that attention, we wanted to follow a different route. I'm sure we lost some of the younger fans that caught on because of the singles, but that's just how the band is, and if we're not excited about the music we're playing, we won't have fun onstage and it all boils over. On this album we went more for the rock side and we were looking forward to playing all the songs live. On Transistor, we were spending a lot of time in the studio and just kind of making ourselves happy and making music like we were listening to--a lot of dub, more chilled-out. This time we wanted to play every song live and we wanted to make sure people understood that and could understand that when we did play the songs live.

LAUNCH: Why did you choose to work with producer Hugh Padgham?

NICHOLAS: We just wanted to have a producer who was an impartial sort of referee who isn't really connected with the band. We worked with Scott Ralston, our longtime soundman, but this time we wanted someone who would come in with a fresh palette and fresh ears; someone who wasn't the standard Orange County punk/ hip-hop guy. We wanted to expand our horizons. We thought if we could make an album that he really dug we would make more of a musical statement--not just something that was straight for our core audience. We wanted it to be a longer-lasting thing that would reach out to many different people.

P-NUT: When Hugh came along, we pretty much had all the songs and delivered the project. He helped us record everything correctly and worked on melody ideas, and just added an extra opinion to the whole project so it wouldn't just be the same album again. It's always good to bring in extra people, especially a good English lad. It was fun. We concentrated on the recording process a lot. We recorded the album before Hugh showed up once, maybe one-and-a-half times went through everything exactly as how we would. Hugh fine-tuned everything. We made it easy on each other. It was a really good thing.

LAUNCH: You were one of the first hybrid rap-rock bands. It seems that lately, that genre of music is really blowing up with bands like Korn and Limp Bizkit on the scene. Tell me what it has been like to be one of the purveyors of the rap-rock genre.

NICHOLAS: I think it's really cool to see all the hybrid rap-rock groups. I remember when we were on 120 Minutes in 1993 and they were talking about us like we were some new animal that never existed before--it's really cool to see all the hybrid bands finally getting their props. It's great.

P-NUT: Before us there was lots of groundwork laid for this to happen with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, 24-7 Spyz, Fishbone, etc.--everybody knows that those are the guys who started it. We in 311 never claimed to be the originators of rock-rap and if we were, we'd be drinking too much. Now with everybody actually listening to rock-rap bands like Limp Bizkit and Korn, it will just be easier to come out with this album and do the same thing we've been doing all along. And people will be refreshed that we're coming across in a positive way. Not to bad-mouth others, but it 's just so much better to live your life being positive instead of negative and breaking sh-t. And I'll tell that to Fred Durst's face. I look forward to doing so because having a difference in philosophy is good. And it's good to have perspective, to meet in the middle, or at least talk about it; you'll be able to understand where everybody's coming from. And I don't look down on anyone, I'm just happy to be in 311.

LAUNCH: Do you think there is a downside to making it big so fast?

NICHOLAS: I think that most of our fans that we really want to be associated with don't mind if we sell a lot of records. There's a certain elitism that goes with punk that we don't want to be a part of. There are a lot of fans who've been with us through the long haul. I'm sure we've lost a few, but we're most interested in dealing with regular, everyday people, people who are like we were when we were growing up in Nebraska. We were not part of the super elite--any sort of musical scene. Some people say, "You used to be great when you played tiny clubs and nobody ever heard of you." But it's the same spirit; the same music and we're still making music from the heart. And as long as our approach doesn't change, people can say what they want.

P-NUT: We're taken care of, but we're not so well-off that we don't have a lot of hunger still. Even though we're successful we're even hungrier, especially with the trends now and people coming out with music like us. More people are listening to the type of music we've been doing for 10 years now. People are more aware of the styles that are being flexed all around. It's a good thing. It's going to happen more and more. People are demanding it. It's rare that you run into a person that only likes one style of music. It goes along with the short attention span. You want to play every style of music in one song. I think the fans can relate to that.

LAUNCH: With all that happened at Woodstock '99 with the rioting and such, are you glad you weren't one of the performing acts?

NICHOLAS: With the stuff that happened at Woodstock, it gives me more of a motivation and a sense of purpose that there needs to be a band that represents more of a positive attitude and collective spirit than a testosterone rockfest. I think we're viewing our tour as a mission of positivity to offset all the bad news and bad vibes and anger, and all the tension that's going on with the millennium. We want to be something that's hopeful for people. We see it as a mission to be positive.

P-NUT: I'm really happy we didn't play [Woodstock] because I would have felt that on my shoulders too much. And we wouldn't have incited a riot. There's just too many bad vibes going around and I think concerts on that level are played-out anyway. It's been done, and it's not interesting for the people in the crowd because it's like 20,000 bands, 200,000 people. It's too big. That's why we're going out on the road doing clubs--no opening band and we're in control, a lot more downplayed instead of all hyped-up with people turning over cars and sh-t. We don't need any of that.

LAUNCH: After listening to Soundsystem, I picked up on a lot of live elements on the record. How did you achieve that?

NICHOLAS: I think one of our goals that we may have wrestled with was to have songs that were more geared toward the moshpit and were really high-energy. On Transistor we got into more psychedelic stuff with dub styles, etc. [This time] we made sure the songs would really cut it live, and when we rehearsed the songs they were totally rocking, and we'd say, "Okay, that can stay." We wanted faster tempos and songs that were more pumping.

LAUNCH: Who do you look to for advice?

NICHOLAS: One of my oldest friends from first grade has a band called Grasshopper Takeover. He moved out to L.A. recently and we bounce our songs off each other. He gave me helpful compliments and comments as far as pre-production, stuff like, "I hear harmony here, etc.," and that was cool. Also my little brother Zach, he's 22 and an amazing jazz virtuoso. He can play circles around me on any instrument, so I really value his opinion. But he's not into rock. He's into jazz and more intellectual music, so I always want to get his opinion on everything.

P-NUT: That person would be my girlfriend. She'd see me come home everyday from the studio and we'd listen to it. But not being there while it was going on, but listening to it showed me a lot of perspective. She kept me going: "Just keep doing what you're doing, you're on the right track." And that's what I need to hear.

LAUNCH: What do you do in your down time between recording and touring?

NICHOLAS: A lot of my free time was spent learning computer software and digital editing. I make a lot of continuous hip-hop, drum 'n' bass, and jungle mixes that go from one song to the next. And learning how to do fades and remixing other people's music. We've been working hard and learning how to do things for ourselves. We're learning recording skills, whereas in the past, we'd go into the studio and ask others to do it for us. Now we can do the EQs for ourselves and learn the plug-ins for the trippy effects. It's more fulfilling to do it ourselves instead of trying to get someone else to realize your vision.

P-NUT: We were writing the music with the time off that we had. Just rehearsing and taking time off. We took a good four months off before we started this project, just to get our heads straight. We had been out on the road for almost six years straight working our asses off. We toured to get where we are, put out albums every year. It was time to take a break from everything, really concentrate on what we're doing and make it as timeless as possible.

LAUNCH: Tell me about the band's working dynamic. How well do you get along as a band?

NICHOLAS: I'm always amazed by how well we get along. Luckily, since we have five people, we can vote on anything and it will be three-to-two at worst. Sometimes people will say, "I don't care," and we say, "No, you have to vote." I'm always shocked at how well we get along. We've played like a thousand shows.

P-NUT: The thing that impresses me most about 311 is the fact that we constantly change. And that we are as hard as we are on each other as far as writing and performing the songs, gelling with the instrumentalists and vocalists, and making it as tight a package as possible. It's not just a bunch of riffs with some words we thought of at the last minute. It's really thought-out and really solid. We have a lot of fun in the studio even though it sounds like a lot of work. This experience in the studio was great because we took a lot of time. We knew it would come up when it was ready and not to push ourselves. And that was a first in the studio because it's always stress-filled.

LAUNCH: What is more important to you, having a hit single or being a successful touring band?

NICHOLAS: I think that it's not vital for us to have hit singles because we were making a good living before "Down" blew up. We'll be able to tour on catalog and on our albums and the core audience we've built up through touring. It's not crucial, but I've always thought radio was free music for the people. I back that, and there's nothing wrong with that. It can only ruin a band when they try to hard to fit into a certain format. We've always done rap-style rock, which wasn't a format when we started out. We're in a comfortable place where we don't receive a lot of pressure, but we do put a lot of pressure on ourselves to always feel like we're going forward and putting in a lot of work.

P-NUT: Hit singles are not important to us. It's nice, and I'd be crazy to say it hasn't elevated us--because it has. Touring as extensively as we have makes it easier for us to exist without radio or MTV. That's the bonus for all you bands out there. Just go out there and tour your asses off and the kids will follow. Then radio and MTV will follow. Make the kids No. 1. Make that connection with people when they're two feet in front of you feeling your heat. That's the connection. Go out there and pound the music into that kid and then it will be real. It can't be any more real. Radio and MTV are fickle, more fickle than anything. Just know that live is where it's at.

LAUNCH: Which scenario would you prefer: to achieve overnight success or a slow gradual rise to the top?

NICHOLAS: I think that if the band gets a hit on its first album and gets accustomed to a certain lifestyle and doesn't get it on the second album, they may fall into a frustrated spiral and not recover from that. We didn't really have any blow-up hits on our last record, but we had the biggest tour we've ever had. I think it depends--maybe if we'd blown up on our first album there would be more of a risk. But we can tour, and so there's not a time question.

P-NUT: It's something Hollywood has been doing for years and years. Jim Carrey comes out on the scene, has the little show he did doing stand-up, and they eat him alive. You have to reinvent yourself constantly or you'll be here today and gone today, like Chris Rock said. It's totally true. That's how fast things are moving, how short people's attention spans are. Keep learning from the mistakes and the right things. Just grow, adapt, and be yourself!

LAUNCH: What is the biggest career mistake you think you could make?

NICHOLAS: The biggest mistake we could make would be to do choreographed dance moves--like the Britney Spears/ Backstreet Boys dance moves. We won't be doing that anytime soon!

P-NUT: The biggest mistake we could make right now would be to believe our own press. If you don't have someone from your past or someone who's not in the biz telling you what's going on, you will start living in a dream and you will lose it. That's no way to be. There's an interview with James Brown on CNN from the '80s. He's wearing yellow glasses that he thinks are blocking his eyes and they're closed, and he's not making any sense. And it just seems like--don't get me wrong, James, I love you--you've been living in your head too long and it seems like you don't know what's going on. Everyone's just telling you how great you are, and you are great. But you can't be an entertainer all the time. You've got to be a human being. You've got to be yourself. And if that is who you are, I'm totally wrong, and I apologize, and have a great day.

LAUNCH: How literate are you when it comes to computers and the Internet?

NICHOLAS: I am the one in the band who is known as the one who really embraces the technology. I've become accustomed to taking in information by having two computers running and flicking through my satellite system. I just really love technology and don't think it's anything to fear. It's an amazing communicative tool and I want to keep expanding our website. We just launched a new, much cooler website with motion and 3-D pictures, so you can get in and see the room from different points of view. There's sound on there; I wanted to make remixes of our songs and put them on there for free, and there will be ways to vote for your favorite one. As things get quicker, it will really revolutionize what people do in their spare time. I'm excited about stuff like that and it's a healthy, natural pastime. I'm always into technology.

P-NUT: I think like everybody, the Internet and the computer industry has become a really big part of everybody's life--unless you're traveling so much, or writing a book on an island somewhere. Being able to retrieve info at the speed of telephone cable is pretty fast, and you have access to worlds and worlds of information. But again, you need to be yourself, you can't live in a box--that what you see on that screen isn't necessarily true, and that you have to take everything you see with a grain of salt, especially national news. I do not believe that the MP3 format or the Real Audio or any digital music transference will take over the record companies anytime soon. There's money being lost somewhere. Those freaks that have the time to download our entire album over the Internet are the same people that will be first in line to get the album when it comes out. Those freaks are the same freaks who are our diehard fans who will go out and buy the album. But our manager is ripping his hair out. When it comes down to us, it's not going to bother us, I guarantee it.

LAUNCH: If 311 had a message, what would it be?

NICHOLAS: If 311 had a message it would be the lyric I had on Transistor, which is "One thing I've got to say before sales dive is stay positive and love your life," because that's the core of what we believe. You go around this world one time and you have to make the best of it, see all the beauty you can, and embrace it while you're here.

P-NUT: I would say it would just be a positive thing. We're not running through the daisies and we're not total hippies--even though I have dreads. We're more on the positive tip, having fun; we're definitely into the live show thing. I think we could have existed really well, not in the musical form, but more in the philosophy, in the '70s. We tour our asses off. The reason we took such a big break was so that we could tour as long as we wanted and give it to people in just the way that we wrote the songs.

LAUNCH: What song are you most likely to sing in the shower?

NICHOLAS: That would probably be "All Of Me." That song does something to me.

P-NUT: The song I'm most likely to be singing in the shower could be anything on any given day, but it would probably be a Tom Waits song. Something that is easily sung when you have gravel in your throat, which I often do in the morning. Or something by the Smiths. I caught myself recently singing some Smiths this morning and I was embarrassed by it. But it has to be someone in my range. A baritone. Or there's no use.

LAUNCH: What kind of music do you listen to on long road trips?

NICHOLAS: Currently it would have to be [one of] the new drum 'n' bass bands called Breakbeat Era, a new Roni Size project. I just got an advance tape.

P-NUT: Well, Curtis Mayfield would maybe be the first thing I put on to smooth everyone out before I put on the Melvins to shake everyone up and get them ready for the show. Something like that, something bipolar, something smooth and then something real hectic.

LAUNCH: What kind of music do you listen to during sex?

NICHOLAS: The best song to do it to would be the Adult Favorites station I get on my satellite network. It's a horrible-sounding station, but it's Perry Como, the cheesier side of Frank Sinatra, Nat "King" Cole, Mel Tormé. That's my vibe.

P-NUT: I'm very fond of having sex in silence. In high school I was really into listening to music and hiding some of the uncomfortable noises. I'm much more of a man now and I want to hear those sounds now. It's much more romantic. I think silence is a good thing. I knew a couple in high school who would sing to each other while having sex and that freaked me out. I'd much rather hear breathing.

LAUNCH: What's the strangest thing that's ever happened to you onstage?

NICHOLAS: The strangest thing that I can remember happening to me onstage is looking over and seeing P-Nut throwing up. He got so worked-up, he just barfed and kept playing. He didn't miss a beat. He was so wound-up with energy. This was back in '92 or '91.

P-NUT: I was in New Orleans at a very famous club where I met my girlfriend, who I live with now. There was a girl in front of me rocking out. She was standing in front of me for what felt like a couple minutes, but it was probably only a few seconds; I gave her a swift kick right in the gut. I didn't wound her too bad, but I was full of adrenaline and kicked her down and the whole rest of the show she was just giving me the double fingers. I felt so bad. I went back to the bus and sulked. I felt bad, but I wanted my space back.

LAUNCH: Before you were in 311, what was the best regular job you ever had?

NICHOLAS: I was a waiter in downtown L.A. and I was on the breakfast shift and there was nobody there, and people would pay cash and I could work the tickets a little bit and pocket the money...that was the old days.

P-NUT: One of the best things about my life is that I haven't had too many jobs. The only other job I had was at a Shoney's washing dishes for two weeks. I just wanted a rack case for one of my amps. I knew the manager there and I could do things at my own pace. I saved up my money and quit. Beyond that, I cleaned houses for my mom. She was a real estate agent. I couldn't complain about any of the jobs I had. They weren't that bad and they all were temporary.

LAUNCH: If you weren't in a successful rock band, what would you be doing professionally?

NICHOLAS: What would I be doing if I weren't a rock star? I would be the new leader of the Branch Davidians.

P-NUT: I'd be teaching bass. I was teaching bass in Omaha at age of 15. I had a lot of fun doing that. I would be in music no matter what. I played violin from six to nine. I picked up guitar at 10, then picked up bass at 11. It's a part of my life, I couldn't imagine doing anything else.

LAUNCH: What's the worst thing that's ever happened to the band?

NICHOLAS: The worst thing that's happened to us has got to be the RV fire that we had in '93. Everything burned up; we barely escaped with our lives. We lost our equipment, our clothes, and our cash. But we borrowed some gear and played a show the next night. We tried to turn it into a milestone, like, "If we can get through this, we can get through anything."

P-NUT: Since I don't really brood too much on things like that, I have to pull something out. I don't know...Not too many bad things have happened. There was the RV fire; that wasn't bad, just a roadblock, and that made us stronger as a unit. That would be over for us or the beginning. We just kept on truckin'. It was all we could do and was all we ever had a choice to do. Just jump over it. It's either going to stop you or not.

LAUNCH: Who is your favorite Backstreet Boy?

NICHOLAS: My favorite Backstreet Boy? Probably the one with facial hair.

P-NUT: My favorite Backstreet Boy would be the lack of Backstreet Boys. But I do think it's really cool that there is an onslaught of boy bands out there that totally legitimize 311. They're writing the songs you've heard before. You never go, "Wow, what a great part of the song!" You should stretch yourselves. If I was in the band that's what I'd be telling them. That's why I like being in 311, a musicians-controlled band vs. a manager-controlled band.

LAUNCH: If you were to become a Spice Girl, which one would you like to be?

NICHOLAS: If I had to be a Spice Girl, I would be Scary Spice. She most embodies the spirit.

P-NUT: All those bands were thrown together, including Spice Girls--people will get sick of it, for one. If you don't write original music, people will get sick of it faster. Being No. 1 ain't sh-t if you don't have a future, and if you don't have a future, you're not a musician, you're just a puppet, and that's bullsh-t. I think I dress a little more like Sporty Spice than any of the other ones. Since I don't know very much about them at all, I'd have to say that, as far as attire goes. She's the only one who can sing too, I've heard.

LAUNCH: In your own words, what would you say your life most resembles?

NICHOLAS: Sometimes I feel like the son, Ben, on that show Dr. Katz. Sometimes I'm sitting in my house, I don't know what to do with myself and I relate to the loser son on Dr. Katz.

P-NUT: My life most resembles a cartoon. Whereas anything can happen, a lot of times the shapes don't look normal, the colors are a little off, and the characters are totally absurd.

LAUNCH: In your mind, what is the most stupid lyric you've ever heard?

NICHOLAS: The stupidest song lyric? That would be, "I believe the children are our future" [from Whitney Houston's "The Greatest Love Of All"]. That's the stupidest song. It couldn't be any more obvious or redundant.

P-NUT: That's so hard, because there's a billion dumb lines in a song. If you deliver a bad line without confidence, people will laugh. But if you deliver a bad line with confidence, it will slip by. But who am I to say? I don't have the balls to put myself out in that way. I hide behind my instrument, my hands, and the music I create. I really look up to lyricists because that is being naked in front of millions and millions of people. That would be hard to answer. I'll cop out.

LAUNCH: Which trend or person is on the way out?

NICHOLAS: Hopefully it's George W. Bush. Who's on their way out? Probably the Backstreet Boys.

P-NUT: Management bands. Bands that don't have control. Bands that are non-original. You've got to surprise people even a little, even in the slightest. Do something for yourself--make yourself happy and others will understand. Otherwise you're moving backwards in this universe and you'll be forgotten really quickly.

LAUNCH: Who would make the perfect celebrity love match?

P-NUT: Me and Les Claypool. We're going to make a bass album, a double bass album, and it will be nasty. Really, really nasty and no one will understand it but him and me.

NICHOLAS: Carmen Electra immediately comes to mind. You can't think of a crazier match than Carmen Electra and Dennis Rodman. They need to get back together. They belong together. We're rooting for you, guys!

LAUNCH: If you could push anyone off a cliff, who would it be?

P-NUT: That's a mean question. But I don't know. Just the philosophy behind the boy bands needs to be pushed off a cliff. It's not for me to say if it's good or bad music--that's someone's art, and it could mean the world to someone else. And just because I'm in a different creative realm, it's hard for me to have perspective on that. I think people can see through it, people know they were pushed together: "Hi, this is the guy you're going to be in a band with." And that's bullsh-t. You have to go through stuff with each other to truly bond. I don't see a real bond there, and that bond has been what's kept 311 together through the ups and downs we've been through.

NICHOLAS: I think all boy bands should be pushed off a cliff. We're getting away from bands that play their own songs, and there are so many bands that write good music. There's a weird resurgence in manufactured music, but eventually that makes room for good bands. There will be a backlash. It's just weird that there's all this money being put into this teen thing. But there will be a punk backlash.

LAUNCH: What song are you tired of hearing?

P-NUT: Well, I don't submit myself to too much radio play. I have been lately, because I've been listening for our song to come on because I'm greedy. But I don't know. That's so hard. I don't immerse myself in that kind of music so I don't get to that level of wanting to hate them or not wanting to listen to that song anymore. That's inevitably going to happen if you listen to that music too much, because it has no curves--it's just a straight line. I would lump them all together and tell them to originate next time.

NICHOLAS: I don't want to bust on anyone too much. Pick someone Nothing good's coming to mind.

LAUNCH: If you were stranded on a desert island and you had to resort to cannibalism, who would you want to be trapped with that you would eventually have to eat?

P-NUT: I'd want them to be big so I could eat for a while. That's tough. I keep thinking of basketball players. I'd like to meet Shaq. That would be cool. And there's a lot of good eating on Shaq. You could have Jerk Shaq. Thai Shaq. You could work out the whole menu just on his legs alone. I'd like to really get down with Shaq.

NICHOLAS: I like someone large. I like a real rich steak, like a Monica Lewinsky cut, perhaps. If I had to resort to cannibalism, it would probably be her.