Thursday, January 24, 2002

311 Interview (Random Mag, 2002)

So, here’s the deal. Me (that’s Floor Tom in the third person) and Random newcomer Spiky Pete found ourselves in the impossible position of deciding whether to devote our attention to the World Indoor Bowls Championships or the highly cool P Nut from the highly cool 311.
This is the result of our decision:
FT: Have you been more or less the same line up since word go then?
P Nut: Pretty much. We had a different guitarist for about ten months, but we got Tim Mahoney into the line up even before the first year of being together.
That’s when it started to be really kicking fo r us, down in Omaha.
FT: It must be weird adapting to the different stage you’ve reached in various countries
P Nut: Yeh it is a little weird. As long as we’ve been around we’ve been able to catch onto that, and we’ve realised that that’s just how it is. Its good to know that you have room to grow all the time. I overcame all my dreams I had as a musician.
It’s good to continually set goals for ourselves as a band.

FT: How does this size venue compare to pubs?
P Nut: Besides the intimacy that you get in pubs which is a really good thing, you get to see everyone’s face and they are really intimate in a close way, its just better to be in front of a lot of people. It makes so much more sense for us to come over here and do five thousand people instead of five hundred. We’d much rather open up for Incubus and do that.
FT: In the time that you’ve been going, hundreds of bands have come and gone that play a similar style to you. How do you feel about these bands?
P Nut: It just shows that we saw it coming, you know. We always just wanted to play music that we would want to listen to if we were on the other side of things. We still have that philosophy. We still have that original formula, but we are pushing into new ground with electronic music and dub and rock steady Reggae. Just everything that turns us on, we’ll turn into music on one of our albums in one way or the other. Its funny to see people who just latch onto one thing, like mixing rock with rap, coming and going because 1 they don’t play live or 2 they get such a big hit right off the bat and then they can’t live up to it, so… its been a good thing that we’ve been an underground band as long as we have, even though we’ve sold six million albums. We still have lots of room to grow and it feels good to know that we helped to start a genre of music that is starting to be called hybrid music. Its still always fun. I’m only twenty-seven; I’ve been doing this for twelve years so… I’m ready for fifteen more, no problem. See the rest of the world!
SP: How do you like to spend your time on the road?
P Nut: I take really good care of myself, I’m one of the guys who doesn’t go out and party pretty much at all. I work so hard on stage that when I’m done, I just wanna relax and get my head straight again… I just love playing live, that’s the most important thing to me, its not what happens afterwards, its what’s going on onstage. Not to get too down on the other guys, cos shit everyone’s got to have a good time. I’m just more of a private one-on-one person than got to be surrounded by a ton of people.
SP: So does the band after gig experience get quite hairy?
P Nut: Oh yeh, it can get as hairy as anyone can imagine. The more video cameras that are purchased within the group, the more likely the chances that its gonna get caught on film.
We’ve got some hilarious stuff on both of our home videos, the second one just came out in November.
Its great to go through the tapes and see what sort of debauchery’s been going on, even if I’m not involved. It’s hard to believe… especially in Japan for some reason.
People just let loose in Japan. It’s hilarious.
It’s just a different world, you know. Kind of like being in a cartoon, cos its so futuristic looking.
It got completely levelled in the first half of the century, or of the last century, so everything’s brand new and so mashed together and fast and smokey. People are just locked into their lives so when the Japanese go off, they go all out. We can feel it as Americans, or anybody travelling abroad over there.
Some of the restaurants just get so rowdy, businessmen just screaming and drinking Saki and putting food on their head. It’s a good thing!
FT: So how do the various different countries react then?
P Nut: The last London show we had was excellent, I think there was 1300 people and it was pumping! People were all having a good time.
That’s kind of an exception, our type of music is just becoming accepted over here, more people are into rock and everything and American bands are starting to have really good success over here, so it just makes sense that we are starting to have good shows.
It’s always been kind of rough before that, but since the middle of last year and now, things have been really good over here. The more we come over here, it feels more like home.
FT: It seems in England that the whole focus is shifted off the music; the music industry is sold off the experience that goes with it like the drugs or the pretty little boys and girls they’ve got singing the music. Do you find in America you have a similar sort of experience?
P Nut: Totally! In America right now it seems that it’s just pretty and it just looks good, or it’s just so angry and mean. Its just polar opposites, and the middle is being filled in with bands like Incubus and POD, really thinking bands with good musicians. Its just time for the backlash, it should have come four years ago when N Sync and Backstreet started rolling out the carpet for themselves.
I can’t believe its lasted so long, it just shows how low peoples expectations are for music.
FT: It’s not just that though, its damn good marketing. These people have got a lot of money behind them, and money breeds money.
P Nut: As much as they need, and that’s what they take as well, as much as they can have! Hopefully a backlash will happen, and if it doesn’t it just legitimises music played by good musicians and people that just focus on touring and playing good shows without huge productions… or with medium sized productions.
You got to hand it to Fred Durst, he knows how to create a function, you know a really big celebration.
Even on the early tours, when they had the huge toilet onstage, that was one of their first tours, it was a twenty thousand dollar piece of set equipment and that’s pretty much unheard of… I’m sure it took up a whole truck.
He just knew how to create an event, and if you say you are the biggest thing in the world eventually people are gonna believe it. It’s just funny to see that happen.
I remember like it was yesterday the days before Limp Bizkit and how they just came in and took over cos they strutted it like they had it. Its cool to see people succeed like that, cos it shows how powerful someone’s will can be.
But also the same thing really legitimises what we do; we just travel, we don’t focus on singles much. We don’t have to. If something catches on then great, but if not then we’ll just keep playing in front of two thousand people every night, which is fine with us.
Its actually really cool because there’s still like a word of mouth thing, we aren’t so saturated in the market. I mean you’ll never see a commercial for us on TV, its gotta be word of mouth and if it was the other way around, maybe we wouldn’t have lasted as long. We wouldn’t be able to have had so many albums.
It’s a really good thing, even though it’s a really frustrating place to be.
Maybe Nirvana would have been around a lot longer if they hadn’t have blown up so big, maybe Kurt could have kept his head straight and had twenty albums. And all been genius!
FT: So you’ve just switched labels? Do you actually find with the record labels you deal with that they are happy to stand back and say, well if that’s the way you guys want to do it, that’s fine by us?
P Nut: I think so, and we want as much support as we can have. The position we have in the states is fine, but that’s a whole different story, out here we do need as much print as we can get, and if we can get on TV that would be even better too.
I think people do think like that, cos they’ve seen how we do it in a grass roots way and its looking more and more possible over here, especially with us playing in front of a few thousand every night with Incucbus. We wanna make it so we can come over here and do 1500 seaters no problem on our own, next time and then the time after that hopefully play the Apollo.
We haven’t opened up for a band in seven years. We’ve been doing our own thing, except for one offs and little radio shows. We opened up for the Red Hot Chilli Peppers on the millennium in Los Angeles, we’d open up for them in a heart beat, so we’ve had to change our set list a bit to fit with the Incubus crowd. We are playing some of our slower stuff, and we are waiting to really rock, until the end. So we are starting really slow and then building it up, we’ve seen bands do that for years with us, you know change their set list and do a much more high energy set. Its totally cool to be in this position, because we are learning so much about how good we’ve got it in the states so if we keep coming over and working on it over here and in Europe hopefully we’ll be able to take over and dominate in one way or another!
FT: You’ve got a bit of a who’s who, when it comes to modern music, in terms of bands who’ve supported you… out of all the bands, who have been the most fun or affected you the most?
P Nut: I’d probably say Incubus, cos we’ve been with them the most, we’ve probably done upwards of half a year touring with those guys. That’s a lot in this business. They just have the same philosophy as us, they wanna write good songs and play as much as possible, and if radio happens that’s cool, and if not… I think they are the ones that connected with us the most!
My favourite band, and not to dismiss them at all, would probably have to be the Deftones! They are so revolutionary and they are so awesome live, they are totally one of my favourite bands. They can do no wrong!
And then to see No Doubt sell how many million records? Like thirty million albums worldwide. Right before they opened for Bush is when they started to go really big, and we were lucky to have them opening up when we did. It was cool to see them do as well as they did, they were great people they deserve everything: just like Incubus!
FT: Have you ever actually had one of these support bands booked on to tour and then they’ve blown up at just the right time and you find your audiences doubling because of the support band?
P Nut: We’ve been lucky in that way; we had Incubus when they were first starting to make noise on Make Yourself, and at the end of Science as well.
We know how to pick opening bands, and just like Incubus picking us; they are helping good friends of theirs
The older philosophy was lets see what happens, but hopefully that will change cos we want to break over here, its kind of like our retirement fund!
SP: Do you think modern music’s priorities are in the right place? It seems to be more about money now.
P Nut: Right, but you’ll even hear classical musicians; even if they don’t make much money; just hate being on the business side of it. All they wanna do is just their craft, and they put so much time and money into it they wanna just do it whatever the cost!
I just saw a documentary called Speaking in Strings about a solo violinist who got her pinky cut off, it was really good. It made me kind of happy in a guilty way about where we all stand as musicians and how we’re overpaid as a species, and how there are more important things in life.
Its good to be able to travel and to do what you do, even if you are playing pubs. We are having a great time this tour!
SP: Is touring the best part of being in a band then?
P nut: Yeh, its like I said, how long would we really have lasted if we just concentrated on radio heads? I don’t think we write songs like that, I think we write classic songs but… I don’t know, it’s just different to the persona of the people who listen to the radio. We let things evolve we don’t just write something and put it on tape, and if its gonna be something we like, its gotta be unique!

SP: Where do you see yourself going now?
P Nut: just the same thing.
We just filmed a video for Amber, which I think is our twelfth. It was on the beach in California, no big science fiction special effects going on, just sun and light and fire and music. Hopefully that’ll catch on; we are not living and dieing on it though!
We are planning on touring, at least for half of the year, then we’ll decide what we are doing. Maybe we’ll go and record our seventh album, if not in the summer by the end of the fall.
SP: I think playing the dates you have with Incubus, you’ll probably get more airplay. People will be aware of you!
P Nut: Right, even just getting our foot in the door is something that we want in Europe and this is how we are gonna do it, because playing pubs you don’t really get anyone talking about it. People do rely so much on the print.
This was a good move for us, even though we are tired and we’ve been touring for almost a year on this album. It was an easy decision to make.
FT: And unfortunately you are probably gonna have to come back quite soon on your own. Is that something that does play on your mind?
P Nut: It does, especially since I got married in May in 2001. Haven’t really been home at all since then, but that’s ok; she knew what she was getting into.
I will home to record the album sometime this year, that means I’ll be home for at least four months, but then I’ll be gone another year!
Its tough! I fly her out as much as I can. I met her out on the road so she knew exactly what was going on. We’ve been together for five years now, its no surprise to her!
SP: Any plans for family?
P Nut: Definitely, as soon as things slow down a bit. As soon as I can be there for the first year of the kids life, and as much of the pregnancy as I can be there for too. Ideally, I’d wanna take off two years. Luckily everyone else is a little older than me, so hopefully them wanting to slow down touring will coincide with me wanting to start a family.
Having seen all the things we’ve been through I can see it lining up perfectly, I’m not stressing and neither's she!