Saturday, December 14, 2002

7 Random Questions with P-Nut (Ink 19)

311 are notorious for their inspiring, positive music and energetic live show. They are currently touring in support of their sixth full-length release, From Chaos. Almost every show on this tour has been played to a sold-out audience, and rightfully so. 311's live performance is absolutely mind-blowing. I can assure you that you will never see anything like it. Since their debut album, Music, in 1992, 311 have garnered a massive cult following. In today's music industry, there is no other band with such a positive sound and message. With all that in mind, I decided I would bother bassist P-Nut by asking him to answer seven of the most random questions I could think of. Here is what he came up with...

In the form of a fairy tale, tell the story of 311. It must begin with "Once upon a time..." and end with "...happily ever after."

Once upon a time there was a group of guys, who didn't know each other, but they all loved music. They all loved music so much that together, they had to be. So one day, after a couple of failed attempts, they were together for the rest of time. But they had no record contract, but the talent emitted from the quintet was not to be denied. And after moving to the land of no snow (thank goodness), they found a contract laying on the ground, signed it (before reading it) and boom, 311 had just begun their truly professional rise to underground success. Music can mean lots of different things to different people, but when it's played from the heart, everyone with an open ear will live happily ever after.

In the form of a mathematical equation, describe your sound.

If you could be struck by any natural disaster and survive, what would you pick and why?
I would like to be struck by lightning -- that's got to feel pretty cool.

Go back through the years... your first kiss and your first show, how are they different? How are they similar?
I was nervous for both, [but] my mouth was drier during the first kiss.

Have the tragic events of the past several months affected your spirituality and/or beliefs? If so, how? Do you feel 311's music has a role to play in what is now being deemed "America's new war"?
The recent tragedies have just made me happier to be in a positive band that makes people feel better, instead of just venting for venting sake.

Aside from your musical career, what would you say is your biggest accomplishment in life?
Meeting my wife (and marrying her) would have to be my favorite accomplishment in life.

And now for the final and perhaps "deepest" question... If 311 were a breakfast cereal, what kind would you be and why?
We would be the "never the same bowl twice" cereal, because we've always been more than a one trick pony.

311 to Tour in Spring (Rolling Stone)

311 and openers Hoobastank, both currently touring with Incubus in Europe, have lined up a stretch of spring dates that kicks off February 28th in San Francisco.
The tour includes a stop in New Orleans on March 11th for a "3-11 Day" show, a tradition now officially recognized by the Mayor of New Orleans that the boys started there in 2000, when they played for, appropriately, three hours and eleven minutes.

311 is touring in support of their sixth studio album, From Chaos, released last summer. Hoobastanks' self-titled debut was released in November.

311 and Hoobastank tour dates:

2/28: San Francisco, Warfield Theatre
3/1: Bakersfield, CA, Bakersfield Civic Auditorium
3/2: Las Vegas, House of Blues
3/4: Orem, UT, McKay Events Center
3/6: Vail, CO, Dobson Arena
3/7: Fort Collins, CO, Moby Gym, Colorado State University
3/9: Dallas, Bronco Bowl
3/10: Houston, International Ballroom
3/11: New Orleans, UNO Lakefront Arena
3/13: Sunrise, FL, Sunrise Musical Theatre
3/14: Orlando, Hard Rock Café
3/15: Myrtle Beach, SC, House of Blues
3/16: Raleigh, NC, The Ritz
3/17: Charlotte, NC, Grady Cole Center
3/18: Atlanta, Tabernacle
3/20: Norfolk, VA, The Boathouse
3/21: Washington, DC, Nation
3/22: Pomona, NJ, Stockton College Sports Center
3/23: Philadelphia, PA, Electric Factory
3/24: Lock Haven, PA, Lock Haven University
3/26: Portland, ME, State Theatre
3/27: Hartford, CT, Webster Theatre
3/28: New York City, TBA
3/29: Durham, NH, Whittemore Center Arena
3/30: Worcester, MA, The Palladium
4/1: Cleveland, Agora Theatre
4/3: Detroit, State Theatre
4/4: Chicago, The Aragon
4/6: St. Louis, The Pageant

311, Hoobastank Bond For Int'l Tour (Billboard)

Funk/pop quintet 311 and modern rock act Hoobastank have just kicked off the international leg of a lengthy tour, the U.S. portion of which is now confirmed. The stateside trek will begin Feb. 28 in San Francisco and conclude April 6 in St. Louis. Incubus is also on the bill for the international dates but will not be a part of the U.S. portion of the tour.

The March 11 stop at New Orleans' UNO Lakefront Arena should be a standout on the jaunt, as the city's mayor, Marc H. Morial, has proclaimed the date as "3-11 Day." The group plans to play an extended show in honor of its day, mixing plenty of rarities in with its usual set. According to a spokesperson, the show will feature "special guests and surprises."

311 is touring in support of last year's "From Chaos" (Volcano), which debuted at No. 10 on The Billboard 200. Hoobastank's self-titled Island debut climbed to No. 72 on The Billboard 200 this week; the single "Crawling in the Dark" is No. 17 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Tracks chart.

Here are the 311/Hoobastank U.S. tour dates:

Feb. 28: San Francisco (Warfield Theatre)
March 1: Bakersfield, Calif. (Bakersfield Civic Auditorium)
March 2: Las Vegas (House of Blues)
March 4: Orem, Utah (McKay Events Center)
March 6: Vail, Colo. (Dobson Arena)
March 7: Fort Collins, Colo. (Moby Gym at Colorado State University)
March 9: Dallas (Bronco Bowl)
March 10: Houston (International Ballroom)
March 11: New Orleans (UNO Lakefront Arena)
March 13: Sunrise, Fla. (Sunrise Musical Theatre)
March 14: Orlando, Fla. (Hard Rock Cafe)
March 15: Myrtle Beach, S.C. (House of Blues)
March 16: Raleigh, N.C. (the Ritz)
March 17: Charlotte, N.C. (Grady Cole Center)
March 18: Atlanta (Tabernacle)
March 20: Norfolk, Va. (Boathouse)
March 21: Washington, D.C. (Nation)
March 22: Pomona, N.J. (Stockton College Sports Center)
March 23: Philadelphia (Electric Factory)
March 24: Lock Haven, Pa. (Lock Haven University)
March 26: Portland, Maine (State Theatre)
March 27: Hartford, Conn. (Webster Theatre)
March 28: New York (venue TBA)
March 29: Durham, N.H. (Whittemore Center Arena)
March 30: Worcester, Mass. (Palladium)
April 1: Cleveland (Agora Theatre)
April 3: Detroit (State Theatre)
April 4: Chicago (Aragon)
April 6: St. Louis (Pageant)

311, Hoobastank Pair Up For Spring Trek (MTV)

311's spring tour with Hoobastank, which launches next month, will include a very, very special holiday show in New Orleans.

No, not Valentine's Day. Not Saint Patrick's Day. We're talking 311 Day, and for the second time in three years, the hip-hop-reggae-rockers will celebrate their self-declared March 11 holiday in the Big Easy, complete with a proclamation by New Orleans Mayor Marc H. Morial.

Circus performers and other surprise guests are expected at the concert, which will be an extended show with rare live items on the set list. Hotel packages are being offered in New Orleans for out-of-town guests, 311's spokesperson said.

The 311/Hoobastank tour is so far set to begin February 28 in San Francisco and end April 6 in St. Louis. Peter Raspler, the band's co-manager, said more dates are likely to be added to the beginning and end of the outing.

311 are promoting their sixth studio album, From Chaos, and their fresh-on-the-shelves second home video.

Singer/guitarist Nick Hexum, singer/rapper S.A. Martinez, guitarist Tim Mahoney, bassist P-Nut and drummer Chad Sexton filmed a video last week at Crystal Cove in Laguna Beach, California, for "Amber," the third single from From Chaos. The surfer-themed clip was directed by surf-video directors the Malloy Brothers, Raspler said. The song and video are due in February.

Hoobastank, who launched a European tour with 311 and Incubus Monday, are supporting their self-titled major label debut, which includes the single "Crawling in the Dark".

311/Hoobastank tour dates, according to 311's spokesperson:

•2/28 - San Francisco, CA @ Warfield Theatre
•3/1 - Bakersfield, CA @ Bakersfield Civic Auditorium
•3/2 - Las Vegas, NV @ House of Blues
•3/4 - Orem, UT @ McKay Events Center
•3/5 - TBA
•3/6 - Vail, CO @ Dobson Arena
•3/7 - Fort Collins, CO @ Moby Gym @ Colorado State University
•3/9 - Dallas, TX @ Bronco Bowl
•3/10 - Houston, TX @ International Ballroom
•3/11 - New Orleans, LA @ UNO Lakefront Arena
•3/13 - Sunrise, FL @ Sunrise Musical Theatre
•3/14 - Orlando, FL @ Hard Rock
•3/15 - Myrtle Beach, SC @ House of Blues
•3/16 - Raleigh, NC @ The Ritz
•3/17 - Charlotte, NC @ Grady Cole Center
•3/18 - Atlanta, GA @ Tabernacle
•3/20 - Norfolk, VA @ The Boathouse
•3/21 - Washington, DC @ Nation
•3/22 - Pomona, NJ @ Stockton College Sports Center
•3/23 - Philadelphia, PA @ Electric Factory
•3/24 - Lock Haven, PA @ Lock Haven University
•3/26 - Portland, ME @ State Theatre
•3/27 - Hartford, CT @ Webster Theatre
•3/28 - New York, NY @ TBA
•3/29 - Durham, NH @ Whittemore Center Arena
•3/30 - Worcester, MA @ The Palladium
•4/1 - Cleveland, OH @ Agora Theatre
•4/2 - TBA
•4/3 - Detroit, MI @ State Theatre
•4/4 - Chicago, IL @ The Aragon
•4/6 - St. Louis, MO @ The Pageant

311's Stoney Rock (High Times)

Starting with thir debut album, music in 1992, which featured the weed anthem's "Hydroponic" and "My Stoney Baby,"and continuing with their memorable contribution to the first Hempilation album (a cover of human rights'"Who's Got the Herb"), 311 placed themselves on the front lines in the battle to overturn America's six decades of senceless marijuana prohibition.

Clutching a huge spliff before their nov 21 show, bassist and designated band spokesman P-Nut noted," This is a total dream come true.i'm thinking of all the friends back home that would kill to be here. It's nice to play on a festival with steel pulse, them being legends and us being reggae fans all around."

Touring europe to promote their seventh album, From Chaos (Volcano), P-Nut claimed to be so tired he spent the day in the hotel playing video games instead of visiting coffeeshops. Asked to explain 311's longevity , he said, "We're not afraid to experiment with ideas and challenge each other as musicians and individuals. As time goes on, the more we listen to drum & bass and harder rock like system of a down and try to fuse those two,which are things that we have dealt with before, but to an even more extreme."

311's performance was a crowning acheivement for one of the era's great stoner bands.they smoked spliffs and raged with unusual intensity. Lead singers/rappers Nick Hexum and SA Martinez traded vocals, bouncing around the stage as P-Nut hopped on one leg thumping his bass, guitarist Tim Mahoney blasted solos and drummer Chad Sexton shifted rhythms from hard rock to hip hop to reggae.
Afterwards,drenched in sweat, P-Nut commented, "I think we hurt some people. This is another fantastic notch on the belt, thanks to High Times."

"It was definatly the stoniest crowd we ever played for," Sexton said as he inhaled a foot-long torpedo filled with high grade dutch pot and nepalese hash. "And SA got high on stage." Martinez is the only band member who doesn't smoke.

"Everyone was kind of on the same wavelength," Mahoney smiled. "I was high going into the show. We got SA and some other people up to our same level's good to see a couple of the non-smokers light up a little."

Who's got the herb? 311

From the Beatles to the Vandals With Nick Hexum (Counter Culture)

counterculture: 311 have a very unique sound, fusing rap, rock and reggae with a very positive vibe. You don't seem to sound like anyone else out there.

Nick Hexum: Thank you. We definitely have strived for originality. The shitty things is, that no matter how original you are when you first come out, someone's going to say you sound like someone else. In the early 90s, all over the radio was Pearl Jam and Nirvana . . . some really good bands, but we needed some funk or some hip hop or some reggae and other elements that weren't just like classic rock. So at that time we really wanted to bring some new elements in.
Seeing Incubus do so well is great, because they've got it right on. They've hit the nail on the head: Great melodies, innovative grooves, cool lyrics, but still with interesting rhythms, and with hip hop elements that make it modern, and not just classic rock. But there's good and bad in the genre.

cc: Do you hear any of your own sound in Incubus?

NH: They would probably say that they used to listen to us quite a bit, and we've been touring with them for like, five years so I would say that I'm as influenced by them as they are by us. Just as the Stones and Beatles would check each other out. I've been a huge fan of their last two albums.

cc: They really seemed to have raised their game on the last two albums.

NH: Yeah, I think they've simplified their stuff. Some of it was really complex, like Primus-y early on, and they got more simple with just good tunes on the Make Yourself album, and they're continuing on with that. They're going to be huge for a long time, I'm sure of that.

cc: Amongst the current crop of rock and metal bands it seems only yourselves, Incubus and possibly P.O.D. have an upbeat positive outlook, as opposed to being wrapped up in teen angst.

NH: Other than Incubus, maybe the positive vibe hasn't really sold as well in the past year or two, but in the long run that was the message behind any really great artist. Like The Beatles is more a sense of unity, like All You Need Is Love or whatever.
I think the teen angst thing; people are going to kind of grow out of it. There's always going to be someone representing teen angst, but if you make a career out of teen angst, then when you get older you can't really legitimately claim it's the same frustration. I'm glad that we're not pigeon-holed as that, because that can't last.

cc: So what are you pigeon-holed as? As far as tours are concerned, you seem to skate between different genres . . . you're on with Incubus and Hoobastank today, you were at the Extreme 2001 punk tour last year . . .

NH: Yeah, and we've done tours with Cypress Hill and The Pharcyde. We've done the Horde tour which is like a hippy jam band tour with Blues Traveller and stuff like that, and we did the Warped tour in the States this past summer. That's something we really get off on; not sticking with one certain crew. There maybe a downside to that, because maybe we slip between the cracks, but it keeps it interesting for us to have so many different influences, and since we listen to a lot of different music and play a lot of different styles . . .
I'm sure when we're on the Warped tour some people may think a little bit of our music is too metal or heavy, but really like some of the more punk reggae stuff like Beautiful Disaster. There's going to be something for everybody, and something not for everybody.

cc: So with all this different music you're exposed to, what do you listen to when you're not playing with 311?

NH: When I'm up and I want energy I'll listen to something hard and fast like System Of A Down or NOFX, but then when I need some cheering up it'll be The Beatles or there's a guy in LA, real underground but real cool, called John Brion. He's more known as a producer. He did Fiona Apple and Aimee Mann, but he's a really cool songwriter.

cc: Back in the mid 90s when I first heard your stuff, particularly All Mixed Up, I was really hoping you were going to come over and tour, but it never happened. Now you've changed record labels, you've done Extreme 2001, you did a small headline tour, and now you're back here with Incubus . . .

NH: We're really trying to make a new effort to become known over here. A lot of it has to do with marketing and the labels and the radio. And it seems like the radio situation is fairly tight here. So we're really hoping that this tour will plant some seeds in people's heads. So we'll just have to put on the best shows that we can and sort of see what happens.
There was one tour that we cancelled because our guitarist had a hernia, in '97, and that was when we were apparently starting to pick up some momentum, and that was probably a fuck up. We probably should have rescheduled that, but the way things were at the time, we were burnt out and just needed some time off.

cc: So the tours that you have been doing, where maybe the kids are being exposed to you for the first time . . . how are you finding the response?

NH: It seems to go well. From show to show it's different. The Glasgow show was awesome - everyone was rocking out in the whole place. It's different to go from years and years out headlining shows that were packed with fans that were really excited, to playing for new people who don't know that much about you. You've got to get used to a different level of energy coming back out of the audience, but it makes it that much more fun when you do see that you're getting some people moving. And we're going to play some different songs tonight. It seems the crowd wants to jump if we give them the right tempo to do that.

cc: Are you playing Flowing tonight?

NH: Maybe we should. I think that's a good idea cause it's very English to me, y'know that sort of bouncing tempo. To me it sounds kinda like London Calling or something like that. I love that song. Definitely that kind of direction is something we're heading towards. Even though there was a fair amount of rapping on this current album, sometimes I do it and I just feel like . . . I'd much rather be singing. I think our next album . . . if there are raps, they'll be short raps.

cc: Now you've said this before at various stages in your career. What does SA [Martinez - co-vocalist] think when you say things like this?

NH: His vocal part in Champagne is singing, and he listens to as much melodic music as I do. He used to be the real rap guy, making all these rap mix tapes, but not lately. Lately he's going to steer an interview back towards his Smiths collection more often than any rap influences. So he's cool with that. Some people would say; so SA's the rapper and Nick's the singer, but that's not how it is. We've always both done both.

cc: Who were your influences when you were growing up?

NH: The first band that blew my mind were The Clash when I was 13. Every one of their albums I just wore out. After that it was Bad Brains and the next phase of American punk like the Descendents - stuff like that. Then there was alternative music like The Cure. Then when I heard the Chili Peppers, that kind of changed things - just to have that level of energy combined with funk was a cool revelation. When I first moved to LA in '88, that was the shit to me. I'd talk to people and go; are you into the Peppers, are you into Bad Brains, are you into Fishbone? They were the founding influences of the 311 sound, and it just kind of moved on from there. The first Cypress Hill album came out and it was like this stoney pot influence that was all the rage in LA. When the whole band moved there in '92, we were really into that, and A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul. And still the rock, like Nirvana or whatever. And they'll always be revivals of the classics whether it's Led Zeppelin or old jazz singers like Billie Holiday or something like that.

cc: Your first time in LA must have been kinda Guns 'n' Roses, LA Guns era . . .

NH: It was exactly that. Just Guns 'n' Roses everywhere. I worked at Guitar Centre on Hollywood, which was like the centre of rock 'n' roll hair bands and all that shit . . . and it was pretty humorous really. The thing I was running up against is that I had more of a background of alternative music - which was really alternative at the time, y'know stuff you couldn't hear on the radio. R.E.M. at the time was very underground, and I grew up on The Clash and stuff like that. So coming out to LA, and all these ads in the papers said 'big hair a must, and looks and attitude' - it was all about phony things . . . so it was kinda disappointing.

cc: What's the most enjoyable tour you've been on?

NH: In 2000 we had a really great summer tour with Incubus supporting us, doing outdoor sheds. They were just blowing up, and we were doing real well too. I brought out my own bus, and we'd have huge parties in there every night - just pack the bus with like 30 people - mostly beautiful women - it was nuts!

cc: With 311's name coming from the police code for indecent exposure, there was something very karmic about you playing with The Vandals last year, with having Warren from The Vandals running around naked every night.

NH: Exactly. They're just a hilarious fucking band. Their songs are really funny, and it's cool to see English people getting into them cause they're just really underground in the the States. The Vandals and Pennywise and NOFX are the fathers of the situation, and then you've got the the younger bands, the ones that make all the money; like the Blink 182s and the Sum 41s. But I guess that's a parallel situation with what's going on with our band, with the second generation like the Linkin Parks just selling so many more albums. But that's alright; at the end of the day it's not going to be about money, it's about how you feel, what sort of mark you've left and your legacy. Helping to invent and break a genre is something that's more valuable than cash.

311's Nick Hexum plans 'Beautiful Departures' for Next Album

Despite the somewhat unexpected success of 311's latest single, "Amber" -- a reggae-frosted love ballad that stands out from nearly every song on the charts these days -- the band has already begun work on the follow-up album to last year's From Chaos, with an eye on releasing the new collection sometime early next year.

The quintet has been demo-ing new material over the last couple months, and are now rebuilding its L.A. recording studio, with plans to lay down new tracks for what will be the group's seventh studio album after the completion of its upcoming summer tour with Jay-Z (allstar, June 14).

311 has always strived to challenge itself and its fans with a variety of moods and styles on each of its albums, and the band's newest material will certainly follow that tradition, with a new emphasis on capturing the emotion of the song.

"For us it's always a balance between wanting to make songs that are breaking through to new territory, and making songs that are straight-ahead rockers that are good for the live setting," says singer-guitarist Nick Hexum during an exclusive interview this week at 311's Hive studio.

"We've always tried to play new styles, and to play very tightly," Hexum says. "But as for emotional release, that's not something that has always been a priority for us. Now we want to make some really beautiful departures. I just think as we play more that we're expanding our musical vocabulary."

As previously reported, 311 will co-headline the upcoming Sprite Liquid Mix Tour with Jay-Z, beginning August 20 at Jones Beach outside of New York. The tour will also feature N.E.R.D., Hoobastank, Nappy Roots, Talib Kweli, Ozomatli, Quarashi, De La Soul, Mos Def's Black Jack Johnson Project, and more.

311 will also embark on a week's worth of headlining club dates as a warm-up for the Sprite tour, beginning Aug. 10 in Fresno, Calif.

311's Nick Hexum Turns Chaos into Clarity (Hard Rock Cafe) Your band has a free-spirit image. Stepping away from the norm, doing what makes you happy. How do you stay away from the pack when there are so many copycat bands out there?

Nick: "Brainstorm...take me away from the norm...." Those are the opening lyrics to the song "Amber." I guess that kind of sums it up. You have to just let things happen naturally. Whether it's songwriting or whatever. Hopefully a brainstorm or a revelation will lead you in the right direction. We've always done things our own way...and we've been together and happy for over 11 years. In your "From Chaos" lyrics, you say "From chaos comes clarity, I tell ya." How do you personally transform your chaos into clarity?

Nick: I think you have to learn by experience and sometimes that means going through hard times to reach better times. If you can go through a difficult time and look back and learn then you reach some sort of clarity about the whole experience. Right now who are some up-and-coming bands that you're totally impressed with and want your fans to check out?

Nick: We have Hoobastank on the road with us right now and they're a strong up-and-coming band. How are you going to celebrate the 2nd annual "311-Day" (March 11) this year? Do you have any traditions that you would like to start?

Nick: We're doing a special show in New Orleans and we're planning to play our longest show ever. Probably close to 50 songs. We'll bust out a lot of rare our hardcore fans are psyched about that. We also have some special surprises planned. Some crazy circus acts and stuff. It's going to be the most insane 311 show so far. We plan to top it every year. If you could send one of your band mates into outer space to save the Earth from aliens plotting to attack, who would you want to go and why?

Nick: We'd probably have to send Chad because he claims to be an perhaps he could reason with them. Or we'd have to send SA because he listens to radio talk shows about aliens and reads about them and stuff. He also writes a lot of lyrics about aliens and space so he should be pretty well prepared to encounter them. Other than playing in 311, how do you creatively express yourself? What are your other passions?

Nick: I'm passionate about music, life, family, friends, movies, technology......I also have a small clothing company called Ginsing where I design shirts. When I have free time I also produce and do re-mixes for other bands.

Come Original

Like the rest of us, 311's Nick Hexum has had it with rap-rock.

Tracing the origins of rap-rock isn't as easy as you'd imagine. That's because there's considerable debate among the chroniclers of rock 'n' roll as to who the primordial rap-rock band was.

Was it the Beastie Boys? Urban Dance Squad? 24-7 Spyz? KoRn? The supposed authorities just don't seem as if they're ever going to agree on who we can thank for the rap-rock genre.

Is it really important? Why, of course it is. Rap-rock is on its last legs, folks -- at death's door, if you will. Overexposure can be terminal. We'll need to know when rap-rock started, so we can include that information on the cenotaph's inscription once the genre finally burns out.

Like so many others in the industry, 311 frontman Nick Hexum can see the dark plague rolling in on rap-rock and wants out. He's going to turn his back on the genre, despite the fact that rap-rock has been his band's bread and butter since 1993 when Music was released through Capricorn Records.

It's not that Hexum doesn't want to go down with the rap-rock ship. More than anything, he's revolted with how stagnant and mundane the whole thing has become and thinks a change is in order.

"I was talking to [KoRn frontman] Jonathan Davis yesterday, and we were just discussing that we're both pretty much over the rap side of rap-rock," says Hexum, the lyrical force behind the Omaha, Neb.-based five-piece. His band's unique sound blends elements of dance hall and reggae dub with Chili Peppers-style funk, street-wise hip-hop, and churning, hard-edged guitar rock.

"We're ready for songs again and singing and melody, but still with like mad balls to it and power and energy."

Hexum says that, while on tour in Europe with Hoobastank and Incubus, he rediscovered the classics, spending his down time listening to post-Rubber Soul Beatles.

"I had this like really intense sort of Beatles study that I'd set up for myself, where I put every Beatles album on my iPod," says Hexum, whose personal influences include Bad Brains, Fishbone, The Clash, and The Smiths. "And then, I had this book, which is basically the story behind every Beatles song. And I would learn these songs on my acoustic guitar, because these chord changes, these melodies, these lyrics, they're just so inspiring."

Hexum says he'll be heading into the band's studio in little more than two months with the rest of his 311 chaps (guitarist Tim Mahoney, vocalist and turntablist S.A. Martinez, kitman Chad Sexton, and bassist P-Nut), to start work on the band's next record, a record that'll take the band into different territory.

"I would just say that if I'm writing from my heart, it's going to be more tunes than raps," Hexum says.

That's not to say 311's next record is going to be Yanni, says Hexum -- just different. "I just want it to be a little deeper," he says, in much the same way 1997's highly experimental Transistor was.

"I don't think we've made our best record yet," Hexum continues. "I think there's going to be a personal and creative growth we go through. We'll totally find our niche, and it's going to be full of melodies and harmonies, rock and more mellow moments and dynamics. Maybe it'll be the next album, maybe not. Either way, I'd like to think that the next evolution is coming for 311."

Fred, I hope you were paying attention.

A Hot Ticket in Their Hometown (Omaha World Herald)

The native Omahans who make up rap-rock group 311 have been touring since June, traveling three times to Europe, once to Japan and several times across the United States - yet there's something in Omaha that nothing across the globe can beat.

"As always, I've got to have my favorite pizza - La Casa pizza," said drummer Chad Sexton. "There is absolutely no pizza like it anywhere."
Sexton and his band mat3es plan to hit the pizza joint when they return to their hometown this weekend for a private Creighton University concert Friday and a sold-out show Monday at Sokol Auditorium.
The show marks the first time 311 has played Omaha in a year and a half. At the time of the band's last performances - two shows in October 2000 - the band was preparing to head into the studio. Since then it has released "From Chaos," the band's seventh album and first since 1999's "Soundsystem." It is the first on Zoo/Volcano Records.
The label just released the album's third single, "Amber," and the accompanying video, which is airing or scheduled to air on MTV, MTV2, VH1 and Much Music.

"The thing that's different with 'Amber' for us is we're finally making it to Hot AC and Modern AC stations," Sexton said. "All the time we get played on modern rock or alternative rock stations. By now all the alternative rock people have come out to see us. But it's kind of new to these pop radio stations, and I think they are liking what they are seeing."

Sexton said there are several reasons the single is being marketed to different radio formats. But, he said, the band isn't the impetus in that decision.

"Everyone that hears 'Amber' really likes it, and it's the type of song that could fit on a pop format," he said. "The label has done a wonderful job of marketing it for that."

When the band was younger, it was more persistent about having a say in which singles to release, he said. But as band members have matured, they have realized the benefits of letting label representatives handle that part of the band's business.

"We don't want to be in control of everything to the point where it runs us into the ground. We realize we're with great people," he said. "At this point we're very trusting."

It hasn't always been that way.

In August 2000, the band sued its label at the time, Capricorn, alleging that the label's bouncing among three record-label partnerships and four distributors created an unstable atmosphere that hurt 311, the label's best-selling act. After Zoo/Volcano Records stepped in to buy Capricorn, the band dropped the lawsuit in a deal that promised better promotion of 311.

Sexton described the new relationship with Zoo/Volcano as "100 percent different - definitely better."

"This part of the tour is going great. We're selling lots of tickets. We've sold out a lot of our shows. But for a band like us that isn't like a Backstreet Boys or a Linkin Park, it's just really incredible that we can go around and pull 4,000 people without having a big radio hit."

Aligning with one of today's hottest rock acts hasn't hurt either - the band opened for Incubus in 311's best European tour yet, Sexton said. (Incubus' April 25 show, which does not include 311, at Pershing Auditorium in Lincoln also is sold out.)

After 311's spring tour wraps up, the band plans to spend the summer writing and rehearsing new material it will take to the studio to record late this year, Sexton said. The new material should be even more radio friendly, he said.

In the meantime, the band, now based in Los Angeles, is looking forward to a quick stop in their hometown.

"We are not fans of the cold," Sexton said. "But we really look forward to the food and, of course, seeing our families."

La Casa is ready for their visit, too, said Victor Hahn, supervisor at the restaurant's Leavenworth Street location.

"I know about their thing with our pizza," Hahn said. "They all like it, but (Chad is) almost on a crusade with it."

A crusade led by a rocker whose band has sold more than 5 million albums certainly helps business, bringing a "cool" factor to the already popular pizza place.

"One of the best things about it is our customer base tends to be a little on the older side because it's people who have been coming here since we opened in 1953," Hahn said. "So it's nice to have younger people saying they like our pizza."

A 311 Profile (At the Shore)

311's sixth album "From Chaos" might not be what you have come to expect from this hard-rocking quintet from Omaha, Neb.

The band, known for its edgy mix of rock, reggae and hip-hop, has been lately invading the radio with some pretty mellow stuff. The ska-influenced "I'll Be Here Awhile" and the ballad "Amber" may suggest that the boys from 311, who all now live in Los Angeles, are softening up a bit.

But guitarist Tim Mahoney points out that 311 fans seem to be digging it. The band is selling out decent-sized venues - like the Sports Center at Richard Stockton College Friday, March 22. On top of that, the radio-friendly tunes are bringing new fans to the band, which has been together for 12 years.

"People are really responding to the new stuff," says Mahoney. "Like always, we're getting more response to the songs that people have heard more. But 'Amber,' which is the current single, has people really going nuts. I start the song on guitar and people start cheering. I think to myself, 'Calm down, I'm trying not to f-k this up here."

Mahoney says 311 didn't try to soften its sound, but the band does try to make some of its music accessible for radio.

"We're always in a weird position when it comes to that stuff," Mahoney says. "We make the record, and all of our songs are from the heart that we really enjoy playing. When we finish up, we try to figure out what songs will fit on the radio. When we finished 'From Chaos,' we realized the modern rock climate has changed a little with the focus being on hard rock.

"For whatever reason, we always seem to be a little different than everyone else out there. So we picked 'I'll Be Here Awhile' and 'Amber' and just hoped radio would play them. We figured maybe people would like a little reggae and ska with all of the hard rock out there right now.

"From Chaos" shows the band at its songwriting peak. While the band still fuses rock, hip-hop and reggae, there are some other surprises along the way.

"We're really big punk rock fans and that comes out here a little more than it has in the past," Mahoney says. "Drum and bass has really influenced us over the last few years. We all have similar tastes, but everyone has their own tangents. It's nice that we can bring all of it together. It keeps things fresh for us.

"I think the album also has a real live feel to it, too. We always find that if we can play and track songs together, and everyone has the energy and is on the same page at the same time, you can't beat that feeling in the studio."

"From Chaos" also continues the band's tradition of staying pretty positive lyrically.

"With all of the angry bands out there right now, I think we're a good alternative," Mahoney says. "Generally, we all have a pretty positive mental attitude. I think we adhere to positive thought, whether it's bringing people out of bad moods with the music or whatever. But overall, I think this is a real good record for us. Every time you make a record, you say, 'This is the best record we ever did.' But when you get back in the studio, you have to hope it gets better."

If you were lucky enough to grab a ticket for the concert, which also features up-and-comers Hoobastank, 311 will offer more than two dozen songs and play at least 90 minutes.

"Sometimes we get into two hours," says Mahoney, who was preparing for a big March 11 (3/11) concert the band tries to perform in New Orleans every year on that date. "It's 311 day, and the last time we played for four hours and 11 minutes. We're trying to top that this year. Last time we did 47 songs. So we have our stamina built up a little. By the time we get to Atlantic City, we should be in great shape."

311, which developed a reputation years ago for jamming out, got away from that a little bit over the last couple of tours, but Mahoney says the band is working back some jams into its set.

"We have a nice handful of songs that we can add to the beginning or ends of the songs," he says. "It's nice to open up on some of the songs. I'm a huge Phish and Jerry Garcia fan, so we've been getting back into that."

Mahoney, 32, remains single like most of his "lifelong friends" in 311 (P-Nut is the only married member). It's that freedom that allows 311 to hit the road for at least 150 dates a year.

"There's something about that Midwestern work ethic," Mahoney says. "I would never trade my upbringing for anything. I do miss my dogs when I travel, but we love being on the road. There's a lot of places I really love playing, especially New York and Philadelphia. "

So now that 311 has conquered the modern rock world, what's next?

"We want to be the first band to record in outer space," Mahoney says with a laugh. "But that's at one end of the spectrum. More realistically, we're just looking forward to our summer tour. There's nothing like touring in the summer."

From Chaos to Evoultion (Pulse Weekly)

311 is the police code in Omaha for indecent exposure. Now stop asking.

You can always tell when it’s a 311 song. That funky beat, that distinct rapping, rocking groove that we all couldn’t get enough of back in the early 90s. Who would’ve thought a sound like that could come from Omaha, Nebraska? Ok, you can put your hands down now.

Anyway, with Evolver, the group’s latest album (the title of which is a play on The Beatles’ classic Revolver), 311 takes a more progressive look at things. In other words, it’s not your typical funkdafied 311 record, which may disappoint all y’all diehard 311 fans.

We talked to P-Nut, 311’s funky bassist, and we found out he’s also a huge fan – of the band Ween. Cool, we thought. Now we have something in common besides the whole being a huge rock star thing. [sigh] Yeah, we’re just daydreaming again. Don’t mind us.

PULSE WEEKLY: You guys played a one-off show with Jay-Z last year. Did you party with him at all?

P-NUT: No, he keeps to himself. He’s always surrounded by a ton of people. Nick [vocals] did exchange pleasantries with him and he said it was fun being on tour with us. But I didn’t get a chance to meet him, which I was disappointed about, because he’s a great musician.

PW: I’ll bet you drank a ton of Sprite, since it was the Sprite Liquid Mix tour and all.

P: It was everywhere. If we ever needed any, there was a case outside our bus in two minutes.

PW: What do you usually drink in the summer?

P: I’m a coffee addict, I’ll admit. I always make a pot when I wake up, so it’s my everyday drink. I try to take a day off a week but that’s been happening less and less frequently. And I always have a pint of Guinness onstage when I play. When I’m completely thirsty and hot from playing a show and I can just barely breathe, that stout just goes down nicely. I can take a pint down in a couple of seconds if I really need it.

PW: Rumor has it that you’re also a big Ween fan.

P: They’re great – no limits. I’ve seen them play two times, but it seems like more than that because each experience was so huge. I saw them at a theatre out here; they played for like two and-a-half hours. They played every song I could’ve thought of, and I’m a Ween historian. It was fantastic. Then they started taking requests. I think bands that do that really have a one-up on other bands because they’re ready to do anything at anytime.

PW: Do you ever play requests?

P: We don’t make it as big of a habit as Ween does, but we do every once in a while. Our fans make signs, which is what we tell them to do if they want to hear us play an obscure song. We’re rehearsing tons and tons of obscure songs, which we never really make a habit out of doing. Usually we just concentrate on a core group, maybe like 50, and we’ll play 23 to 28 a night. But this time around, we’re rehearsing like 60.

PW: Is the home video that you guys are putting out going to have any skits on it, or is it just going to be strictly recording footage?

P: I filmed pretty much everything in the studio. There will be the normal behind-the-scenes stuff, but the cool thing is, it’s not like us reenacting recording, it’s how it’s actually going down. It’s also the making of the cover of the album, which is a photograph, and we haven’t done that since we were a band in Omaha, before we were signed or anything. I think it was high time for us to do an interesting, and hopefully classic album cover.

PW: It looks kind of Pink Floyd-ish and abstract.

P: There’s tons of anomalies within the photograph, and kids are already leaping to assumptions about their meanings – but there’s little to none, it was really just an interesting setup.

PW: That’s the fun part though.

P: It is. There’s a whole stream of ideas on our bulletin board that fans are coming up with. It’s really interesting but totally out there. Our kids have a lot of imagination.

PW: Who would you say is your favorite bassist?

P: Alive or dead?

PW: Let’s go with alive.

P: That’s so tough. I don’t know if it would be one person. I would say Dirk, the bass player who used to play for Incubus. He was totally one of my favorites because I think he was semi-raised on listening to 311 albums. It makes it a little bit easier to like his style because I can hear the influence, but he’s not in the band anymore. I love Hoobastank’s bass player; he’s kind of similar to me because he manhandles his instrument, he’s animated onstage. Good things in the future for that band. And the guy from Alien Ant Farm is like the Tasmanian Devil on bass.

PW: I heard Les Claypool is bringing back Primus.

P: That would be great. With all the original members, right? We toured with them on one of their first tours without Tim on drums, and that was a lot of fun, but it was weird – it wasn’t Primus. It was some other band that had two-thirds of the same members with a different drummer. It was fun to watch and I learned a lot but it wasn’t the same. Bands should keep their members, if at all possible, because it’s never the same after one person leaves.

PW: Give me an example of something you guys do on a night out together when you have off.

P: Chad has been getting us to go out and see drum corps performances, which is pretty cool. It’s even more fun to experience it with him because he’s kind of obsessed with it. Watching Chad get excited about it is probably the most exciting thing.

PW: Do you think marijuana is ever going to be legal in America?

P: Our generation is coming to be the people who control those laws, so I guarantee it’s just a matter of time. People are going to wake up and be compassionate, because all we are right now is quick to incarcerate, and nobody learns anything from that. They should shut the hell up and let people do what they need to do in the privacy of their own homes. That’s what America is all about. They could even tax my weed!