Thursday, December 16, 2004

Sweaty fans give 311 a 10 at Omaha's 150th (Omaha World Heralder)

A huge handmade poster spotted at 311's concert Friday night summed it up fittingly: "We'll Follow U Anywhere!"

Music fans came from Chicago and across the street to see rock band and Omaha natives 311 tear it up at Memorial Park.

Between 25,000 and 30,000 fans packed the park near 60th and Dodge Streets for the free concert, part of a three-day celebration to mark Omaha's 150th birthday.

Rachel Carmichael and Amy Corona arrived at 6:30 a.m. to stake out a spot near the front of the stage. The women, both in their mid-20s, drove from Chicago to see their favorite band, 311.

Like other fans who arrived early to claim prime viewing spots, the Chicagoans spent the day lounging on lawn chairs, soaking up the sun, reading magazines and chatting with other early-bird arrivals.

Carmichael wore a T-shirt that read "Nick Is My Rock God," referring to 311's lead singer and guitarist, Nick Hexum.

"Nick is what inspires me to be positive," she gushed. "I would do about anything for him."

And that includes proudly showing off the 311-inspired tattoo near her rear end.

Though Carmichael has been to six 311 concerts, she did not want to pass up a chance to see the band play a free show in its hometown.

Shortly after 6 p.m., Hexum's younger brother, Zack, kicked off the night with a set of tunes from his debut album. His set was followed by music from Omaha rock band Grasshopper Takeover.

Though fans clapped enthusiastically for the opening performers, it was clearly 311 they wanted to see. While waiting for the band to take the stage, some fans chanted "Three-eleven! Three-eleven!"

After a brief introduction by Mayor Mike Fahey, the hometown heroes, now based in Los Angeles, took the stage at 8 p.m. and the crowd erupted in cheers and applause.

"It's a perfect summer night for a concert in the park," Nick Hexum told the crowd before 311 launched into "Come Original" from 1999's "Soundsystem" album.

Throughout the band's two-hour set, Hexum - wearing a red Nebraska T-shirt - and his bandmates worked the crowd into a sweaty frenzy. Fans danced, jumped up and down and crowd-surfed to 311's music, a blend of rock, rap, funk and reggae.

The band's set included such tunes as "Rub a Dub," "All Mixed Up" and the recent No. 1 hit single, "Love Song."

Though the concert attracted mainly teens and twentysomethings, there was a mixture of people from all walks - businessmen, babies and baby boomers.

"I think it's a great party atmosphere," said 48-year-old music fan Ricky Fulton of Omaha. "This band here is an example of some of the great talent we have in Omaha."

Fulton's wife, Mary, said she also was enjoying the festive atmosphere.

"If I was a little younger, I'd be down there dancing," she said while standing near the park's monument up the hill from the stage. "It's more of a free-for-all down there."

Omaha Police Lt. Tim Conahan said two or three people were arrested for fighting with security guards around the stage, and police dealt with a half-dozen "extremely drunk" concertgoers.

It was a hectic but bearable night at the Red Cross tent a few hundred feet from the stage, said Red Cross worker Nicole Fuller.

Fuller estimated that medics in the tent had treated about 100 people by the end of the concert at 10 p.m.

Most suffered from heat-related problems early in the evening when the sun was still hot. By the end of the show, Fuller said, medics had treated at least as many with minor injuries from being in the huge crowd.

At least two people were taken to the hospital, one with heat exhaustion and one with an ankle injury, said Fuller, adding that neither problem seemed serious.

While his parents kept their distance up the hill, 18-year-old Joel Fulton braved the throngs of concertgoers dancing near the stage.

"It's great," Fulton said. "Everyone's here to see the band that grew up in Omaha."

Omaha 150! Birthday

311, the internationally known rock, rap and reggae group whose members are all originally from Omaha, will come back to the city where it all began to perform a free, outdoor concert at Memorial Park. The concert will kick-off the city’s official 150 th birthday festival weekend on Friday, July 16 from 6 to 10 p.m. Additional weekend activities include the Family Reunion Picnic, Omaha Symphony concert and riverfront firework display on Saturday, July 17 and the 15O! Family Festival on Sunday, July 18.

"This community wide birthday celebration is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said Mayor Mike Fahey. "Omahans will celebrate their past, present and future with a weekend full of events and I am pleased native Omahans 311 are returning to kick it all off at Memorial Park on Friday evening."

All five members of 311 grew up in Omaha in the 1970s. Nick Hexum, Tim Mahoney and Chad Sexton attended West Side High School. P-Nut and SA Martinez went to Bryan High School.

“We were so thrilled to be asked to be part of Omaha’s 150th birthday,” said Nick Hexum, 311’s lead singer. “We have always wanted to play in beautiful Memorial Park and this is the perfect opportunity. We want to invite everyone who likes good-time-summer-rockin music to celebrate with us in Memorial Park. The show will be appropriate for all ages so come one, come all.”

311 has developed a worldwide following for their distinctive sound and high-energy concerts. The band has released seven LPs with six singles reaching Billboard’s Top Ten Modern Rock Chart. 311’s cover of “Love Song” by The Cure is currently ranked #8 and is featured in the sound track for the movie “50 First Dates.”
311’s self-titled third album has achieved triple platinum sales and their sixth LP “From Chaos” is certified gold. The group’s most recent recording “Evolver” was released in July 2003.

"The chance to perform at Memorial Park for Omaha’s 150th birthday is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Adam Raspler, 311’s manager. “I know it means a great deal to the members of 311 and their families in Omaha.”

Kids Travel 1,500 Miles To See 311 (Omaha Channel)

OMAHA, Neb. -- How far would you travel to see your favorite band?

A group of Connecticut teens showed up in Omaha last night, drawn to the opportunity to see their favorite band -- 311 -- for free. The band with Omaha origins will play Friday in Memorial Park to kick off Omaha's 150th birthday celebration.

The teens packed up a car and drove from Connecticut -- a 1,500-mile trip. They brought their CDs, T-shirts and one of the group brought a bass guitar he made himself -- just in case they get to meet 311.

"It would be, like, probably the highlight of my life if, like, P-nut signed the bass that I constructed with my bare hands," said Christopher Rucinski.

Friday, Rucinski and his friends showed up the KETV NewsWatch 7 studios and got their wish. P-nut and Nick Hexum appeared on NewsWatch 7 at 11:30. When they left the studio, the teens were waiting to meet them. P-nut signed the guitar.

The group of teens met an Omaha homeowner who let them stay at her house overnight. They had been sleeping in their car.

A weekend celebrating Omaha's birthday begins with the free concert Friday night. People began staking their claims in Memorial Park around 5 a.m. Some estimates call for 40,000 people packed into the park.

311 Performing In City Where It Started (Omaha Channel)

OMAHA, Neb. -- Have you ever been visiting friends in another state, listening to the radio, when a 311 song comes on? You turn it up and say, "Hey, these guys are from Omaha."

Well 311 loves you, too. They'll kick off Omaha's 150th birthday weekend with a free concert July 16. From 7 to 10 p.m. at Memorial Park, on 60th and Dodge streets, 311 will come back to the city where it all began.

The band members grew up in Omaha and developed their funk/reggae/rap/rock-fusion sound locally. They've made seven albums, which produced six Top 10 hits.

The band's name has morphed. At their first gig in Omaha June 10, 1990, they called themselves the Fish Hippos. Soon, they were 311, the police code for indecent exposure.

311 Dishes out 411 with Summer Tour (liveDaily)

Alt-rockers 311 have locked down plans for a new greatest-hits album and a summer U.S. tour.

Dubbed the 2004 Summer Unity Tour, the outing starts in mid-June, and is scheduled run through early August. Medeski, Martin & Wood and The Roots will support on most dates, though The Roots will be the lone show-opener on several stops; details are shown in the itinerary below. Ticket on-sale dates are locked down for many of the shows, and registered users of the band's website have access to online pre-sales. Details are posted at the band's website.

Included in 311's itinerary is a free performance in the group's hometown of Omaha, NE, part of Omaha's 150th birthday celebration. "We were so thrilled to be asked to be a part of Omaha's 150th Birthday," frontman Nick Hexum said in a statement. "We're very proud of our Nebraskan roots and we feel it's always given our band a uniquely Midwestern attitude. 'Work hard and appreciate your blessings!' That's what we say."

311 Announces Summer Tour (antiMusic)

311 have announced a summer tour for North America in support of their best of CD, "Greatest Hits '93-'03," which is set for release on June 8th through Zomba Records. The disc will include hits from the band’s catalog along with two new tracks.

They will hit the road on June 18th in Santa Barbara and spend most of the summer on the road before the tour wraps up in Florida on August 1st in Tampa. The Roots and Medeski Martin & Wood have been booked as the support acts.

You’ll have to wait a bit longer for the new DVD of the “311 day” concert (taped on 3/11/04) to hit the stores. It is expected to be released in the Fall.

311 North American Tour Dates:

06/18 - Santa Barbara, Ca - County Bowl
06/20 - Berkely, Ca- Greek Theatre
06/22 - Long Beach, Ca - Long Beach Arena
06/23 - Las Vegas, Nv- Orleans Casino
06/25 - Salt Lake City, Ut - Usana Amphitheatre
06/26 - Morrison, Co- Red Rocks Amphitheatre
06/28 - Sioux City, Iowa - Tyson Center
06/30 - St. Louis, Missouri - UMB Bank Pavillion
07/01 - Chicago, Ill- Tweeter Center
07/02 - Detroit Lakes, Minn- 10,000 Lakes Festival
07/03 - Milwaukee, Wis- Summerfest
07/06 - Cincinnati, Oh- Riverbend Amphitheatre
07/07 - Detroit, Mich- DTE Amphitheatre
07/09 - Philadelphia, Pa- Penn's Landing
07/12 - Pittsburgh, Pa- Chevy Amptitheatre
07/13 - Columbus, Ohio Germain Amptitheatre
07/15 - Kansas City, Ks- Sandstone Amphitheatre
07/17 - Omaha, Ne- Memorial Park
07/19 - Cleveland, Oh- Tower City Amphitheatre
07/20 - Wallingford, Ct- Oakdale Theatre
07/21 - Gilford, NN- Meadowbrook
07/23 - Boston, Mass- Tweeter Center
07/24 - Holmdel, NJ- PNC Bank Arts Center
07/25 - New York City, NY- Jones Beach Amphitheatre
07/27 - Charlotte, NC- Paladium Amphitheatre
07/29 - Virginia Beach, Va- Virginia Beach Amphitheatre
07/30 - Washington, D.C. - Nissan Pavillion
07/31 - Atlanta, Ga- Hi-Fi Amphitheatre
08/01 - Tampa, Fl - Tampa Amphitheatre
High energy rock with spoonfuls of funk, jazz, hip-hop and reggae filled the USANA Amphitheatre Friday night. The 311 and Roots show was everything the fans wanted and more.

Not only was there a lot of grooving tunes, but there was a lot of grooving by the people in the audience.

The band — vocalist Nick Hexum, DJ/vocalist S.A. Martinez, drummer Chad Sexton, guitarist Tim Mahoney and bassist P-Nut — rocked the house with the opening number "Freak Out."

Backed by a board full of chase lights, which spelled out words or created black-and-white designs, the band cranked out some heavy bass lines and raging guitars. All that was spearheaded by Hexum's cool, mellow vocals and Martinez's punctuated raps.

Adding to the energy were four panels of neon-light-like bars that changed from blue to red during each of the songs.

The sound was mixed well. Bass, drums, guitar, vocals and scratching turntables were heard clearly.

Older favorites such as "Come Original" and "All Mixed Up" from the albums "Soundsystem" and "311," respectively, had die-hard fans showing their true colors. And the new song, "First Straw," lifted from the band's new "Greatest Hits" album rewarded the audience with the signature 311 hustle.

"Visit," from "Music," and the heavy reggae slide of "1 2 3" from "Grassroots" were other crowd pleasers in the set. "Beyond the Gray Sky," "Stealing Happy Hour" were received with hearty shouts and ear-piercing screams.

The band's set was loose enough for spontaneity and tight enough to find the jazz and reggae fills.

"Freeze Time," "Beautiful Disaster," "Sever" and a remake of the Cure's "Love Song," which is featured on the soundtrack to the Adam Sandler movie "50 First Dates," had the audience bouncing in the aisles.

Throughout the show, Hexum and Martinez roused the crowd while Mahoney picked out some impressive fills and fret-board running leads.

P-Nut, the nimble one, seemed to float in light waves as he kept bass rhythm with Sexton's dance easy, yet syncopated rhythms. At one point Sexton led the rest of the guys in a hard-hitting percussion segment, which was reminiscent of a Japanese Taiko drum celebration. While Sexton kept time on his set, roadies brought out four additional floor toms and cymbals and set them in front of the others. And being good sports, they pounded out, in time, with Sexton's footstamping routine.

Hip-hop, jazz, rock and country were the flavor of The Roots, who opened the show with vigor, attitude and musicianship. The group even teased the audience with bits and pieces of "My Favorite Things" in a guitar solo and a soulful rendition of the late Waylon Jennings' "Theme from 'Dukes of Hazzard.' "

For 10 years, 311 has entertained fans across the globe. And there's no sign of the band stopping anytime soon.
When 311 got together in the early 1990s, there was no plan of attack.

"We were just five guys who loved music," said drummer Chad Sexton during a phone call from his home in Los Angeles. "We knew we wanted to play music, and knew we had dedication to attend practices and try to get better."

Ever since Sexton was an infant, he had been bombarded with music.

"My parents had musical instruments everywhere," he said. "By the time I was 3 I had my own drum set."

In the '80s, Sexton sought out the usual musical suspects of classic rock.

"I took in a lot of Led Zeppelin, Rush and Kiss," he said. "But then I was also drawn to rap and hip-hop. Public Enemy and Ice Cube and Prince were others I really got into. And then that whole new music scene with Jane's Addiction and Faith No More and the Red Hot Chili Peppers really caught my attention."

Those bands also caught the attention of guitarist/vocalist Nick Hexum, vocalist/DJ SA Martinez, guitarist Tim Mahoney and bassist P-Nut.

"We all got together because of music and we're still here," said Sexton. "We all have our strong points when it comes to playing music and musical ideas, and I think that's why we've been together for as long as we have."

For 10 years, the band has celebrated sold-out performances across the United States. And Sexton said one of 311's strongest followings is in Salt Lake City.

"We always look forward to coming there," he said. "The fans are so enthusiastic and they always give us a warm welcome."

Last week, the band released its first greatest-hits album, "Greatest Hits '93-'03," on Jive Records. Sexton said he was a little apprehensive about it.

"I always thought when a group released a live album that meant the band was on the verge of breaking up," said Sexton. "That is not the case with us. We've always had a 'greatest hits' line in our contract. So the record company decided now was a good time.

"I was hesitant about putting the album together," he said. "But when were doing it — choosing and remastering the songs — I heard all these songs back-to-back in a way that I didn't before. It was humbling to me because they sounded really good. I had to stop for a minute and reassess myself when I realized that we had all these songs on the radio."

Sexton said the band is happy where it is musically.

"We have all the creative control in our songs," he said. "We are fortunate enough to play music for a living and we are able to experiment."

Experimentation, said Sexton, is why the band continues to play.

"It keeps things fresh for us and the fans," he said. "We started out as a funk-rock band and then found ourselves heading into hip-hop rock. Then we went a little further and did some reggae rock and then added some jazz riffs and things like that. There are so many things we have yet to do and we just keep coming up with different ideas for the band."

Nick Hexum Collabs with Rookie (Rolling Stone)

Four years ago, Daniel Victor, a twenty-one-year-old aspiring musician from Windsor, Ontario, hatched an idea to cold-call his favorite artists and somehow convince them to work with him. By the time he was done, musicians from 311, Our Lady Peace, Switchfoot, Mogwai and Shudder to Think were among those who took part in the project, dubbed Neverending White Lights.
"I e-mailed whoever I had to -- their Web master, their manager, sometimes their fans site," says Victor, who produced and played all the instruments on the resulting record. For all his efforts, Victor was shocked when he began getting responses.

311 singer-guitarist Nick Hexum called his cell phone when he was in line at a movie theater one day. "He was like, 'This is what I'm going to do with this song,' and he was trying to sing to me over the phone,'" Victor recounts. "I knew right there that I had something." Soon after, he was invited to Los Angeles to work with Switchfoot singer-guitarist Jonathan Foreman, with whom he wrote material for NWL as well as "On Fire," a track on Switchfoot's 2003 breakthrough, The Beautiful Letdown. Others who have since contributed to NWL include Our Lady Peace's Raine Maida, Finger Eleven's Scott Anderson, Mogwai, Shudder to Think's Nathan Larson, Velvet Teen's Judah Nagler, Hum's Matt Talbot and Creeper Lagoon's Sharky Laguana.

"I was intrigued when Daniel first approached me because we had similar taste -- I have always been attracted to darker-sounding music," says Maida, whose management now handles Victor. "NWL provides a soundtrack for the days when your stars just don't line up." Maida has since emerged from the studio to perform with Victor at Toronto's Mod Club.

Scott Anderson, who had performed with Victor before, did the same. "Dan writes pretty sad stuff," he says. "When I listened to the track he sent me, I fell in love with it pretty quick. I used what I had around me to [add to] the song: depressing long-distance calls, homesickness and a Chicago winter. Dan wrote a soundtrack to my surroundings, and I wrote him back."

The resulting album is titled Neverending White Lights: Act 1 - Goodbye, Friends of the Heavenly Bodies, and is slated for release sometime in 2005. Hopefully, Victor confesses, it will serve as a platform for a solo album: "I wanted NWL to be an introduction to who I am on a bigger scale, rather than put out something that would go unnoticed."

311 Sets Winter Road Rally

Modern rock act 311 will return to the road for a short slate of tour dates beginning Feb. 20 in Anaheim, Calif. The band's official Web site lists nine shows with three open dates to be determined.

The last confirmed show falls on March 11 -- or 3/11 -- a day the band has in the past celebrated with special shows for its fans. As in 2000 and 2002, 311 will perform on that date in New Orleans, with this year's show booked at UNO Lakefront Arena for the second time.

"Get ready for another 311 Day extravaganza," bassist P-Nut says on the band's site. "This will be a whole new experience, not just a dump truck load of songs, but songs of which you have only heard a few times live, or not at all. So get ready, this will be one for the memory books."

The 2002 show boasted a circus-like atmosphere with trapeze artists, fire-eaters, confetti and balloons. With 59 songs performed in nearly four hours, it is believed to be the longest set of the band's career. "We've already started preparing [for the 2004 concert], two months early," vocalist Nick Hexum adds. "We figure if there is one show that is for the true fans, this is it."

P-Nut also says that the band has been talking about filming the show "and making it sound as good as it can." Although a DVD project and/or audio release seems likely, no details were available at deadline.

Members of the band's "The Hive" online fan organization will have pre-sale access to tickets for the show beginning Thursday (Jan. 22), with general ticket sales set to begin Jan. 31. The band's Web site also offers information on special rates at New Orleans-area hotels in conjunction with the concert.

Pre-sales are already underway for most of the confirmed dates on the tour; at deadline only a March 3 Las Vegas concert and March 9 Tulsa concert are already on sale to the general public.

Like 311's 2003 summer and fall Unity tours, the winter trek comes in support of the band's latest Volcano album, "Evolver." Released in July, the set debuted at No. 7 on The Billboard 200 and has sold nearly 275,000 copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan.

As previously reported, 311 has covered the Cure's "Love Song" for the 1980s-themed soundtrack to "50 First Dates." Hexum produced the track, as well as contributions by Seal and Jason Mraz for the set, due Feb. 3 via Maverick.

The new version of "Love Song" will also be included on a 311 best of collection due June 8. A video was recently shot in Huntington Beach, Calif., and features a cameo by Cure drummer Lol Tolhurst.

Here are 311's upcoming tour dates:

Feb. 29: Anaheim, Calif. (The Grove)
March 1: San Diego (RIMAC Auditorium UCSD)
March 3: Las Vegas (House of Blues)
March 4: Tuscon, Ariz. (Rialto Theatre)
March 5: Albuquerque, N.M. (Sunshine Theatre)
March 6: Las Cruces, N.M. (Pan Am Center)
March 8: Wichita, Kan. (The Cotillion)
March 9: Tulsa, Okla. (Brady Theatre)
March 11: New Orleans (UNO Lakefront Arena)
March 13: TBD
March 14: TBD
March 16: TBD

311 Taps Roots, MMW For Summer Tour

311 will take to the road next month on a U.S. tour slated to run through the beginning of August. Along on nearly all dates will be the Roots, with Medeski, Martin & Wood on board for about half of the trek. The tour kicks off June 18 in Santa Barbara, Calif., the sole show that will feature the Ataris as the opening act.

Dates are confirmed through an Aug. 1 show in Tampa, Fla., although the band's official Web site reports that the tour will wrap Aug. 5 at an as yet unconfirmed location. The site also lists pre-sale opportunities for members of the band's "The Hive" fan club and public on-sale dates.

In the midst of the run, 311 will headline a free July 16 show in the band's hometown of Omaha, Neb. Details of the event, to be held in the city's Memorial Park, will be unveiled Sunday (May 1) at

"We're very proud of our Nebraskan roots and we feel it's always given our band a uniquely Midwestern attitude," singer Nick Hexum writes on the band's site. "This show is for the great people of Omaha. The show will be appropriate for all ages so come one, come all. Heck, bring the dog (on a leash!). It's going to be a blast!"

The itinerary also includes a July 2 stop at the 10,000 Lakes Festival in Detroit Lakes, Minn. The Roots and Medeski, Martin & Wood will also appear on that day of the July 2-4 event; others slated to perform over the weekend are String Cheese Incident, Galactic, Los Lobos, Maroon5 and John Mayer.

311's latest Volcano album, "Evolver," debuted at No. 7 on The Billboard 200 in July 2003 and has sold 300,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

The band's cover of the Cure's "Love Song," included on the 1980s-themed soundtrack to "50 First Dates," recently spent a week on top of Billboard's Modern Rock Track chart. The new version of the cut, as well as the new songs "First Straw" and "How Do You Feel," will be included on the "Greatest Hits 1993-2003" collection due June 8 via Volcano.

Here are 311's tour dates:

June 18: Santa Barbara, Calif. (Santa Barbara Bowl; w/the Ataris)
June 20: Berkeley, Calif. (Greek Theatre; w/the Roots and Medeski, Martin & Wood)
June 22: Long Beach, Calif. (Long Beach Arena; w/the Roots and Medeski, Martin & Wood)
June 23: Las Vegas (Orleans Casino; w/the Roots)
June 25: West Valley City, Utah (USANA Amphitheatre; w/the Roots)
June 26: Morrison, Col. (Red Rocks Amphitheatre; w/the Roots and Medeski, Martin & Wood)
June 28: Sioux City, Iowa (Tyson Events Center; w/the Roots)
June 30: Maryland Heights, Mo. (UMB Bank Pavilion; w/the Roots)
July 1: Tinley Park, Ill. (Tweeter Center; w/the Roots and Medeski, Martin & Wood)
July 2: Detroit Lakes, Minn. (Soo Pass Ranch; 10,000 Lakes Festival)
July 3: Milwaukee, Wis. (Summerfest; w/the Roots and Medeski, Martin & Wood)
July 6: Cincinnati (Riverbend Music Center; w/the Roots and Medeski, Martin & Wood)
July 7: Clarkston, Mich. (DTE Energy Music Theatre; w/the Roots and Medeski, Martin & Wood)
July 9: Philadelphia (Penn's Landing; w/the Roots and Medeski, Martin & Wood)
July 12: Pittsburgh (Chevrolet Amphitheatre; w/the Roots)
July 13: Columbus, Ohio (Germain Amphitheater; w/Medeski, Martin & Wood)
July 15: Bonner Springs, Kan. (Verizon Wireless Amphitheater)
July 16: Omaha, Neb. (Memorial Park;)
July 17: Indianapolis, Ind. (White River Park; w/the Roots)
July 19: Cleveland, Ohio (Tower City Amphitheatre; w/the Roots)
July 20: Wallingford, Conn. (Oakdale Theatre; w/the Roots)
July 21: Gilford, N.H. (Meadowbrook Farm Musical Arts Center; w/the Roots)
July 23: Mansfield, Mass. (Tweeter Center; w/the Roots and Medeski, Martin & Wood)
July 24: Holmdel, N.J. (PNC Bank Arts Center; w/the Roots and Medeski, Martin & Wood)
July 25: Wantagh, N.Y. (Jones Beach; w/the Roots and Medeski, Martin & Wood)
July 27: Charlotte, N.C. (Paladium@Carowinds; w/the Roots)
July 29: Virginia Beach, Va. (Verizon Wireless Virginia Beach Amphitheatre; w/the Roots)
July 30: Bristow, Va. (Nissan Pavilion; w/the Roots)
July 31: Atlanta (HiFi Buys Amphitheatre; w/the Roots)
Aug. 1: Tampa, Fla. (Tampa Bay Amphitheatre; w/the Roots)

311 DVD Due, Hexums Hitting Swing States

Just as modern rock act 311 releases a concert DVD later this month, principal member Nick Hexum and his brother, singer/songwriter Zack Hexum, will launch a tour of swing states in advance of the U.S. presidential election.

Due Oct. 26 via Volcano, the two-DVD "311 Day 2004/Live In New Orleans" captures the band's March 11 concert, a self-proclaimed holiday that mirrors the group's name and has been celebrated almost annually with special performances. This year's show took place at the UNO Lakefront Arena in New Orleans, and featured a two-set, five-hour performance bolstered by burlesque dancers, stilt walkers and fire-eaters, among other oddities.

The DVD features performances of 64 songs, including favorites like "Do You Right," "My Stoney Baby" and "Down," and rarities such as "Juan Bond" and "Let the Cards Fall." A slew of covers were also played that night, including the band's hit version of the Cure's "Love Song," the Clash's "(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais," and Led Zeppelin's "D'yer Maker."

On Oct. 21, 311 guitarist/vocalist Nick Hexum and his brother Zack will launch an eight-date run with stops in Missouri, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio and Illinois, where they plan to raise awareness about the Nov. 2 election and support for Democratic candidate John Kerry.

"It hit me like a ton of bricks that I wasn't doing enough to help spread the word about the most important election of our lifetimes," Nick Hexum says on the 311 Web site about the Rock for Kerry tour. "I decided I couldn't live with myself if I didn't do everything in my power to help educate voters on what I believe are terrible missteps by the Bush administration and to help inform people about Kerry's clear and concise plan for our country."

Fans can expect to hear 311 songs as well as cuts from Zack Hexum's debut album, "The Story So Far...," released in June via Trauma, as well as a range of "covers from the Beatles, Radiohead, the Pixies, Billy Joel, Bob Marley and the Clash," Nick adds. "And we'll be talking about the election and the need for a regime change in this country."

311 has begun writing songs for a new studio album, according to the band's site, with sessions planned for February and March of next year. The plan will prevent the group from staging a 2005 3-11 Day show.

"This was a difficult decision, because 3-11 Day is a very special event for the members of the band," the site says. "But the band feels that they must focus on the writing and recording of the new album as they work towards a summer album release and a summer tour." The set will be the follow-up to 2003's "Evolver," which bowed at No. 7 on The Billboard 200 and has sold 316,000 copies.

Here are Nick and Zack Hexum's tour dates:

Oct 21: Colombia, Mo. (Blue Note)
Oct 23: St. Louis (Mississippi Nights)
Oct 25: Kansas City, Mo. (Grand Emporium)
Oct 26: Springfield, Mo. (Rockwell's)
Oct 27: Iowa City, Iowa (Gabe's Oasis)
Oct 29: Detroit (Magic Bag)
Oct 30: Cleveland (Odeon)
Oct 31: Chicago (Metro)

311 Eager to Keep Exploring

After releasing "Greatest Hits 93-03" earlier this year and a double-disc DVD due out next week, 311 singer Nick Hexum tells the rock act is just now settling into what he hopes will be a very long career.

"I predict right now, I could see 311 going for 30 years," says Hexum. "And I've always felt like kind of a late bloomer and I think we still very well might have our best work ahead of us. The thing I love about that is most of the bands that we started out with are gone, like Rage [Against The Machine] and Soundgarden. There are very few that stood the test of time. I'd love to be the U2 or something like that of our era, that is making good music and keeps exploring styles and has a lot of integrity and is popular, without sort of overly catering towards trends."

Having arrived in the mid-1990s as an early rap-n-rock outfit, the Omaha-born, Los Angeles-based band's sound has evolved over into what Hexum calls a "funkier reggae" mix. This is also the path, creatively speaking, the group hopes to continue exploring. The singer points to the single "First Straw" from the greatest hits release as a starting point for the band's next studio project.

With one song, "Waiting," finished and "lots of little parts" ready to be fleshed out, the members of 311 will reconvene in the studio next month with an eye on releasing a new album in summer, to coincide with a mid-June tour.

As previously reported, Hexum is touring with his singer/songwriter brother Zack through swing states in advance of the U.S. presidential election to show their support for Democratic nominee John Kerry. The expected set list from this 10-date tour, which began last night (Oct. 21) in Columbia, Mo., includes cover songs (Beatles, Clash, Bob Marley, Radiohead), tracks from Zack's Trauma debut album "The Story So Far..." and select 311 material presented in more of a punk aesthetic.

"It's going to be an interesting musical experience," says Nick of the trek, which was organized with assistance from music activist organization Air Traffic Control. "For 311 fans, they are definitely going to hear me in a way you may never get another chance to hear. It's a onetime thing. But I'm really looking forward to getting back to 311, which is my bread and butter."

311 singer Nick Hexum hits the road to send Bush on his way (MTV)

311 singer Nick Hexum is following his own advice: Don't stay home.

Stirred by his dissatisfaction with President George W. Bush, Hexum has scheduled a tour of swing states with his brother, singer Zack Hexum, and aptly titled it the Hexums for Kerry Tour.

"It had been bothering me for a while that I wasn't doing enough," said Nick, who is well versed in both of the presidential candidates. "It hit me that I needed to at least devote these last five weeks to getting Bush out of office. If Bush wins, it'll be a sad day, but I'll at least know we did our best towards a plan for world peace."

The Hexums for Kerry Tour will mark Nick's first time hitting the road without 311, which formed more than a decade ago.

"I knew Zack felt the same as me, and I didn't want it to be '311 goes political,' " Nick said. "The rest of the guys were totally supportive. We'd gotten really excited about the new music ideas, so I was like, 'I'm sorry we're putting this on hold, but this is something I need to do.' And they were understanding."

Nick and Zack will share the stage on the tour, alternating between 311 favorites, songs from Zack's recently released The Story So Far and covers from Radiohead, Pixies, R.E.M., Bob Marley, the Clash and the Smiths, among others.

"Stuff from my high school days, but politically themed," Nick said. "We're learning 'Clampdown' from London Calling, which is about fascism, and about how raging patriotism can lead toward terrible things. We're doing XTC's 'Earn Enough for Us,' which is about the middle class having so much trouble. Then we'll also do 'Amber,' because we want it to be an enjoyable music experience."

The experience, however, will be far different than the typical party vibe of a 311 show (i.e. no "happy slam dancing"). "It's more of a listening-type show," Nick said. "It's a bar-band approach. We're not bringing production, we're using house lights and sound, so it's going to be totally stripped down, back to the way 311 toured our first year out. It's going to be an adjustment, but it's going to be fun."

The Hexums have various issues with Bush, but by far the biggest is the president's foreign policy.

"The reason I wanted to get involved is because if Bush is re-elected, it's basically saying what he did was OK, to lead a country into war based on a falsified document that he knew was not true," Hexum said. "If he's reelected, that makes us more of a target. If we get Kerry in there, it says, 'Look, this is a new America. We're going to be hard on terrorists when we know they're terrorists.' "

Nick has little tolerance for Republicans who argue that Bush has saved the Iraqi people from a tyrannical dictator who killed 5,000 Kurds.

"First of all, we've just killed about 15,000 of them doing this," the singer said. "Second of all, if you look at tyrants around the world, there's much more urgent civil-rights crises. If that was our concern, we'd be in Sudan, Burma, North Korea, whatever. The truth is, they'll deny it to the end, but the oil has to have something to do with it. We don't care about other places where people are being oppressed unless they've got something we want."

Hexums for Kerry Tour dates, according to their spokesperson:

•10/21 - Columbia, MO @ Blue Note
•10/23 - St. Louis, MO @ Mississippi Nights
•10/25 - Kansas City, MO @ Grand Emporium
•10/26 - Springfield, MO @ Rockwell's
•10/27 - Iowa City, IA @ Gabe's Oasis
•10/29 - Ferndale, MI @ Magic Bag
•10/30 - Cleveland, OH @ The Odeon
•10/31 - Chicago, IL @ The Metro

311, Roots Hold Jam-Rap Summit Onstage In Long Beach (MTV)

LONG BEACH, California — "Put your hands in the air and wave 'em like you just don't care — now check out this drum solo and scream!"

A few days after Jay-Z surprised music fans by taking the stage at a Phish show, two acts with hip-hop and jam music at their core kicked off a joint tour that not only featured two multidrummer percussion displays, but plenty of guitar and bass solos to boot.

311, who also infuse elements of hard rock and reggae in their sound, are the kind of chameleonlike band that can tour with almost anybody — Black Eyed Peas, O.A.R. and Something Corporate are among their recent tour mates — and the same can be said of the Roots. Put them together and you have acts with more in common than it might at first seem.

The Roots were the first of the two to perform Tuesday at the ill-equipped Long Beach Arena, which opened only one entry door (resulting in enormous lines) and provided a muddled sound system. And while ?uestlove's bass drum often drowned out Black Thought's rhymes, the band still shined in a 70-minute set far different from last summer's Sprite Liquid Mix Tour.

While that show was heavy on the hip-hop, this one had more the vibe of a funk or even blues-band jam session. Black Thought played a minimal role, leading the charge through a few Roots favorites as well as a good portion of "Rapper's Delight," but often took a seat next to ?uestlove's drums to watch his six-piece band go to town.

Guitarist Captain Kirk Douglas (no relation to the actor ... or "Star Trek" character), a new addition to the band, was awe-inspiring during his 10-minute, Jimi-Hendrix-style showcase, and bassist Leonard "Hub" Hubbard played so entertainingly that you hardly noticed he was alone onstage during his solo.

For the finale, keyboardist Kamal Gray showed off his skills, segueing his solo into the classical piano track of Nas' "I Can."

"We're gonna go through the classics," Black Thought said, setting up a medley that featured Beyoncé's "Crazy in Love," N.O.R.E.'s "Nothin' " and Salt-N-Pepa's "Push It."

While the hip-hop covers went over big with the crowd, so did 311's rasta-fied take on the Cure's "Love Song," which the band knocked out early in its two-hour show.

The Omaha, Nebraska, crew opened with "Freak Out" from their 1993 major-label debut and immediately showed their appreciation for the Roots by adding a funk breakdown to the rock tune.

311's set included songs from all seven of their studio albums as well as the new "First Straw," from their just-released Greatest Hits '93-'03. The band delivered a solid dose of their slower material but followed up each one with a more up-beat tune ("You Wouldn't Believe" after "Amber," "Beautiful Disaster" after "Beyond the Gray Sky," etc.).

Chad Sexton's drum solo, which flowed into a drumline routine from the entire band (which one fan dubbed "White Man Group"), came during "Applied Science," which marked a turn in the show toward more aggressive, party numbers.

"This one goes out to our friends in Alien Ant Farm, who are in the house tonight," singer Nick Hexum said, introducing "Unity."

For their encore, after starting with "Creatures (For a While)," Hexum told the crowd that two singers had a major influence on him as a teenager: the Clash's Joe Strummer and Bad Brains' H.R. The latter then strolled onstage to a roar from the crowd (and many confused looks from the younger fans).

"This is H.R.'s song, actually. A lot of people think we wrote it," Hexum said, introducing the weed anthem (and a longtime 311 live favorite) "Who's Got the Herb?" The smell of marijuana then filled the air — another reminder of the similarities between hip-hop and jam bands.

311 rolls out new round of tour dates, contributes to soundtrack

311, which has been on a break since wrapping up its fall tour last year, climbs back on the bus for a late-winter run through the U.S.

The rock/reggae vets kick off their latest round of shows in late February, and dates so far stretch into mid-March. Ticket on-sale dates are set for all of the currently confirmed shows, and registered members of the band's free fan community, The Hive, will have access to tickets before the general public. Dates are shown in the itinerary below, and additional information about the pre-sales is posted at the band's website.
The itinerary includes the 311's annual March 11 performance in New Orleans--officially dubbed 311 Day by the city's mayor--which the band's website says will be 311's "most special event of the year." In past years, the group has played for well over three hours, and its set list has included rarities not usually performed in concert.

Omaha-based 311 is backing its latest album, "Evolver," which surfaced last summer. The album features the cuts "Creatures (for a While)" and "Beyond the Gray Sky."

New music from the group also turns up on the Feb. 3 soundtrack to the forthcoming Adam Sandler film "50 First Dates." The band covered The Cure's "Love Song" for the set, and 311 singer-guitarist Nick Hexum also produced a few additional songs for the movie and soundtrack that feature vocals from Seal, Jason Mraz and Dryden Mitchell.

311 Cover The Cure's Lovesong for Adam Sandler Movie (Yahoo! Financal)

311 fan Adam Sandler recently approached the band and asked them to contribute a song to his upcoming Sony Pictures film "50 First Dates." The movie takes place in Hawaii -- so Adam wanted a soundtrack of classic 80's songs re-created with a reggae-island vibe. For this, 311 covered The Cure's 80's classic "Love Song." A video was recently shot in Huntington Beach, CA for the single which will impact at rock radio January 27. The Cure's drummer, Lol Tolhurst, even stopped by the video shoot to meet 311 and to do a cameo appearance in the clip. "Love Song" will also be included on 311 forthcoming Greatest Hits CD slated for June 8, 2004 on Jive/Volcano Records.

In addition to producing the 311 track, lead singer Nick Hexum also produced four other songs for the movie and soundtrack, including tracks with artists Seal ("Lips Like Sugar"), Jason Mraz ("Melt With You") and Dryden Mitchell ("Friday I'm In Love") contributing vocals.

The soundtrack for "50 First Dates" hits stores on February 3rd and the movie (starring Sandler & Drew Barrymore) will be in theatres February 14th.

As you know, March 11th is 3-11 Day, a day that 311 fans celebrate their appreciation for the group. This year 311 will return to New Orleans to stage their 3-11 Day concert event. The show is at UNO Lakefront Arena, where 311 will perform all of their classics plus lots of rarities, for a full night of music. Last year the band played a whopping 59 songs. This year should be just as special! A list of additional tour dates follows:

February 29 The Grove Anaheim, CA
March 1 Remac Auditorium San Diego, CA
March 3 House of Blues Las Vegas, NV
March 4 Rialto Theatre Tucson, AZ
March 5 Sunshine Theatre Albuquerque, NM
March 6 Pan Am Center Las Cruces, NM
March 8 The Cotillion Wichita, KS
March 9 Brady Theater Tulsa, OK
March 11 UNO Lakefront Arena New Orleans, LA

More dates will be announced shortly.

50 First Dates Premiere (

Between working on the soundtrack to the Adam Sandler/Drew Barrymore romantic comedy, “50 First Dates,” and getting ready for an eight state tour with his band, 311, Nick Hexum’s been one busy guy. Showing up at the World Premiere of “50 First Dates” with fiancée/singer Nicole Kea, Hexum talked about becoming involved in “50 First Dates” and working with Adam Sandler. NICK HEXUM (Lead Singer of ‘311’):

What is the call like when they ask you to do a song for a new Adam Sandler movie?
It was so cool because they were like, "We want to hear your ideas of what would be good for this movie." And the original title of the movie was ‘50 First Kisses,” so I was thinking, "What could be songs about kissing?" That's why I came up with “Lips Like Sugar,” the Echo and the Bunnymen song, and “Breakfast in Bed.” Those were a couple of my ideas for the soundtrack. It was a real thrill because I've never really done anything for a movie. And to be with someone so cool as Adam and so laid back, and a good guy. He came to one of our shows and hung out with us afterwards and it was killer.

What songs did they use?
I did five songs. 311 did one song and I produced four more. I produced Seal singing “Lips Like Sugar,” Jason Mraz singing “I Melt with You.” My fiancée, Nicole Kea, singing “Breakfast in Bed,” the UB40 song, and Dryden from Alien Ant Farm singing The Cure's “Friday, I'm in Love.”

Whose idea was it to have covers and not originals?
I guess that was Adam's idea. He wanted to have songs that he grew up loving. It was a perfect fit for me because in my high school band, we covered so many Cure songs. I was throwing out ideas of Smiths songs and different things. They really wanted the most romantic songs that we could find to go with the theme of this movie, and I think they made a really good match. I'm really happy to be part of it.

How did you match the artist with the song?
I was like who would be the best vocalist to sing “Lips Like Sugar?” Seal. That would be great. Done. Then I was like, “Alright, we need a guest vocalist, we need a reggae rapper.” We got Mikey Dread who used to rap with The Clash. He was a reggae toaster with The Clash. So it was just a dream team for me.

311 Back at Collion (Wichita Eagle)

Since it formed in 1990, the rock band 311 has had its share of success. "Down" went to No. 1 on the modern rock charts in 1995 and "All Mixed Up" went to No. 2.

"You Wouldn't Believe" made it as high as No. 7 on the rock charts in 2001, and in 2003, after releasing its seventh album, "Evolver," in July, the band was asked by none other than Adam Sandler to contribute a song to the soundtrack for his new movie, "50 First Dates."

Not bad for a group of high school friends from Omaha.

Now, 311 is in the middle of a spring tour that will take it to the Cotillion Monday. Opening act will be Zack Hexum, lead singer Nick's little brother, whose debut album "The Story So Far" is due out April 20.

The band's rock sound is heavily influenced by jazz, reggae, funk, even hip-hop. Hexum told MTV last month that the band's biggest kick is touring.

"When we play our show, it's like there's nowhere else our fans would rather be," he said, "and there's nowhere else we'd rather be.

"Everyone's bouncing together and it's like this sort of oneness. There's no question our career's going well when we're out on tour."

Nick Hexum of 311 (Lazy-i)

So I'm talking to a friend of mine at the bar and ask him if he's going to the 311 concert at Memorial Park July 16. My friend joked in response, "Have they decided that they're from Omaha again?"

It wasn't the first time that I'd heard someone accuse 311 of denying their Omaha roots after they moved to Van Nuys, California, in 1992. It's an accusation I've never understood, and neither has 311 frontman Nick Hexum.

"Someone else from Omaha asked me about that the other day," he said via cell phone last week. "Why would we write a song called 'Omaha Stylee,' which is still a staple of our live show, if we were from LA? When people ask us how we've been able to maintain a certain fan base, we tell them it's because of our upbringing in Omaha. Omaha is a part of us. We wear it proudly."

Hexum recalled how 311 first got airplay in Los Angeles and how the jocks we're surprised that a band that played a style of music that fuses rock, reggae, hip-hop and funk could come out of Omaha. "We never considered denying our Omaha-ness," Hexum added. "It wouldn't work. It's such a part of us. We're just Nebraska boys happy to be able to do what we do.

From that standpoint, 311's concert in the park is a homecoming of sorts to a city the band has never forgotten. Hexum, who owns a house in the posh Hollywood Hills, visits his birthplace two or three times a year including Christmastime. The band had requested a Memorial Park concert years earlier, but was turned down by the city. Then out of the blue, 311 received a letter from Mayor Mike Fahey in care of Hexum's father, who works at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, inviting them to do Friday's show as part of Omaha's 150th birthday celebration.

"We said we'd love to do it," Hexum said. "The crowd won't be our normal audience of hardcore fans. We'll make it more of a show that'll be appropriate for all ages. People shouldn't be worried about bringing young kids. We know we have a reputation among some people as being bad boys, but this night will be an all-inclusive engagement."

Bad boys or good, the band has a rep as hit makers. In addition to Hexum on guitars and vocals, 311 includes fellow Omaha natives S.A. Martinez, who shares the vocal chores, guitarist Tim Mahoney, bassist P-Nut, and drummer Chad Sexton. Formed in 1990, the band quickly garnered a large Omaha following thanks to their high-energy, beat-heavy sound that doesn't encourage -- but demands -- listeners to jump up and down. 311 shows weren't rock concerts, they were sweaty mosh parties where entire crowds bounced to the beat as if on trampolines.

But despite their strong Omaha following, the band packed up and moved to Los Angeles in '92. Ironically, when Capricorn Records showed interest in signing 311, it was their Omaha fan base that sealed the deal.

"Moving to LA didn't get us signed," Hexum said. "When record companies wanted to see us play, we went back to Omaha because we didn't have fans here. Nothing about Los Angeles got us signed, it just strengthened our commitment to music. We were going 'all for one and one for all,' and practiced every single day. It made us better musicians. Only one label was interested in us, and they turned out to sign us. Without Capricorn (Records), the story would be different, but we never entertained the idea of moving back."

311's aggressive stance early on wound up being construed as arrogance among some back home in Omaha. The headline for one article written about them back in '93 summed it up this way: "Sometimes It Pays to Be Assholes." Hexum addressed the band's rep in that story, saying "Folks in Omaha have been great supporting us, but we've been faced with a lot of assholes, too - bands downtown who really wanted to keep us out. We were viewed as young upstarts. People accused us of having such a bad attitude. The fact is, without it, we wouldn't have a chance in hell in Los Angeles."

Hexum laughed when the quote was read back to him. "I think I was using hyperbole to say it like that," he said. "But the music business is so full of disappointment. You have to believe in yourself and have the self-confidence to withstand the constant rejection and be ready to go for more. A lot of people can't get through that. We had to have a strong sense of band self-esteem to convince someone to sign us, and I do think there's a certain attitude and confidence you need just to be a performer.

"I remember that article and that whole reputation thing. It's funny to think that we were once viewed that way. Today, everyone is like, 'These are the nicest guys in the music business.' We know that we're blessed and lucky to be doing what we do, and we let people know that. Back then, we felt we needed to be more outspoken to the point of obnoxiousness."

Fourteen years and phenomenal success have changed all that. The band's sales statistics listed on their one-sheet underscores their place in the music world: Four Gold records, one Platinum, one Triple-Platinum, a Gold and Platinum DVD; more than 7 million units sold in the United States; four albums in the Billboard top-10, six singles in Billboard's top-10 Modern Rock Chart, including two #1's -- "Down" and "Love Song," a cover of The Cure classic from the Adam Sandler film "50 First Dates," which held the top spot just this year.

The first portion of their career is summed up in Greatest Hits '93-'03. Released last month by Volcano/Zomba Label Group, the CD compiles the most popular songs from the band's first seven albums plus two new songs that Hexum says reflect their future direction -- the grinding, heavy "How Do You Feel?" and the laid-back, reggae-flavored "First Straw."

Hexum's future also includes supporting his brother Zack's career. Nick's What Have You record label co-released Zack's debut, Story So Far, in a joint venture with Trauma Records. The two will perform together at Homer's Orchard Plaza at noon July 16, the day of the park concert that Zack will open along with 311 friends Grasshopper Takeover.

"Zack's music is soulful, Beatle-esque, modern classic rock," said Hexum, who's eight years older than his brother. "He's very talented, but it's a long, hard road breaking into this business."

Hexum knows first hand, and says his Omaha roots have given him and his band an advantage in a cutthroat industry.

"I've always enjoyed the business side of the job, especially when it comes to hardcore negotiations where you have to play hardball," he said. "I've never been intimidated. I credit my parents, who raised me and believe I can do anything I set my mind to and told me to not be intimidated by anyone.

"When we moved out to Los Angeles, we said we were the kings of LA. It was a joke, but we were serious, too. We thought we were going to work our way to the top of the heap. I've always felt that Omaha people try harder, and that's an ingredient of our success."

Time to Celebrate: 311 Day in New Orleans

"I don’t really remember whose idea it was," starts Nick Hexum of 311, "but somebody pointed out to us, March 11 – 311 day. You should make a big deal out of it."
And from that simple idea grew one of the biggest parties of the year for fans of 311. Started in 1997, the band has come to New Orleans every other year to play a special concert, performing most every song they’ve ever recorded including favorites such as "Down" and "Amber," along with rarities and cover songs, such as Led Zeppelin’s "D’yer Mak’er."

So the city that boasts the debauchery of Bourbon Street can now also say that March 11 is officially known as 311 Day – a proclamation made by the Mayor of New Orleans.

"I think it’s the band at our peak so far; it’s the tightest and best that we’ve played," says Hexum about this year’s 311Day performance. Captured on DVD and released as 311 Day: Live in New Orleans, the two-disc set contains 64 songs and close to five hours of live concert footage and behind-the-scenes antics with the band.

"It’s like running a marathon," says Hexum of the show, who physically prepares with his bandmates, vocalist SA Martinez, guitarist Tim Mahoney, drummer Chad Sexton and bassist P-Nut, months in advance. Yet when the day finally arrives, the band admits that the adrenaline from the crowd keeps them going long and strong.

"The roar of the crowd was just so deafening, they were so excited," says Hexum of their devoted fans. "I just can’t believe they stayed on their feet for the entire time. It’s one thing when you’re running around stage and dancing, but these people gave back the energy that we were putting out there for the entire time," says Hexum. "It was really moving."

311, a band who most recently hit number one with The Cure cover tune "Love Song," has been serving up melodic funk rock with messages of love and positivity since their 1993 inception. Fans admit that being part of "The Hive" – the name given to the band’s devoted following – is not just about the band’s music, but about a lifestyle. Hexum describes the huge, fan-organized party on the day before 311 Day.

"There was a free 311 party on March 10 in the French Quarter that was just packed. The DJ was playing nothing but 311," describes Hexum. "It was 500 or more fans completely rocking out on the dance floor, singing along with every word. Seeing footage of these people just going crazy to our music and completely losing their inhibitions and being totally swept away by our music was really incredible to me. It brought home how important [the music] is to people."

Although New Orleans won’t be hosting a 311 Day in 2005, Hexum insists that there’s a good reason for it. "We want to concentrate on making our next record," he says with smile. So what’s the inside word on the album slated for the summer of 2005?

"We want the songs to be innovative yet fun, and I want the lyrics to be very personal and revealing," admits Hexum. "We’re trying to find a new hybrid, a new combination of dance hall rhythms, but with funk and a strong emphasis on melody."

Featuring fans that traveled across the country and even across the globe, 311 Day: Live in New Orleans captures the spirit and energy of the band and their fans amidst a festive Mardi Gras atmosphere. One fan captured on DVD seemed to sum it up best when asked, "What are you most excited about on 311 Day?" He simply replied, "Dude – 311’s here!"

311 Day: Live in New Orleans DVD and 311’s Greatest Hits ’93-’03 is currently available. For more information, visit

Sunday, August 22, 2004

311 Eager to Keep Exploring (Billboard)

After releasing "Greatest Hits 93-03" earlier this year and a double-disc DVD due out next week, 311 singer Nick Hexum tells the rock act is just now settling into what he hopes will be a very long career.

"I predict right now, I could see 311 going for 30 years," says Hexum. "And I've always felt like kind of a late bloomer and I think we still very well might have our best work ahead of us. The thing I love about that is most of the bands that we started out with are gone, like Rage [Against The Machine] and Soundgarden. There are very few that stood the test of time. I'd love to be the U2 or something like that of our era, that is making good music and keeps exploring styles and has a lot of integrity and is popular, without sort of overly catering towards trends."

Having arrived in the mid-1990s as an early rap-n-rock outfit, the Omaha-born, Los Angeles-based band's sound has evolved over into what Hexum calls a "funkier reggae" mix. This is also the path, creatively speaking, the group hopes to continue exploring. The singer points to the single "First Straw" from the greatest hits release as a starting point for the band's next studio project.

With one song, "Waiting," finished and "lots of little parts" ready to be fleshed out, the members of 311 will reconvene in the studio next month with an eye on releasing a new album in summer, to coincide with a mid-June tour.

As previously reported, Hexum is touring with his singer/songwriter brother Zack through swing states in advance of the U.S. presidential election to show their support for Democratic nominee John Kerry. The expected set list from this 10-date tour, which began last night (Oct. 21) in Columbia, Mo., includes cover songs (Beatles, Clash, Bob Marley, Radiohead), tracks from Zack's Trauma debut album "The Story So Far..." and select 311 material presented in more of a punk aesthetic.

"It's going to be an interesting musical experience," says Nick of the trek, which was organized with assistance from music activist organization Air Traffic Control. "For 311 fans, they are definitely going to hear me in a way you may never get another chance to hear. It's a onetime thing. But I'm really looking forward to getting back to 311, which is my bread and butter."

Wednesday, July 7, 2004

Bouncin' at Riverbend (Enquirer)

There are the Dave Matthews hippie-dance maneuvers, and there's also the Jimmy Buffett beach-ball workout. But of all the frat-rock calisthenics a Riverbend crowd endures over the course of a summer season, none is as physically demanding as the perpetual 311 reggae-rock hop.

"Let's get this place bouncin'," demanded 311 lead singer Nick Hexum at the start of the band's Tuesday-night concert, and for the next one hour and 45 minutes, the bouncing carried forth, as 311 played a crowd-pleasing, nonstop set that represented the best of the band's last 10 years of hit-record making.

The Omaha, Neb. group isn't the first rock band to bring reggae elements into its sound, but few others have been as successful in doing so. The band might not draw Matthews or Buffett-size crowds, but no style of music (other than metal, of course) fires up a Riverbend audience like 311's Great Plains rendering of the Jamaican beat.

The songs, and the subsequent bouncing, came in two speeds: calorie burn (like "You Wouldn't Believe" and the breakthrough smash "Down") and cool down (like "Beyond the Gray Sky" and the band's recent hit reggae-ish version of the Cure's "Love Song"). Hexum and his bandmates - vocalist/rapper/DJ SA Martinez, guitarist Tim Mahoney, bassist P-Nut and drummer Chad Sexton - easily negotiated the highs and lows and slows and fasts within the set and sometimes the songs themselves, and the shifting speed-and-volume dynamics kept their reggae-rock monotone from bogging down.

The band's two picks for openers also added to the variety. The Roots, a live-instrumentation hip-hop band from Philadelphia, were to crowd-unison head bobbing what 311 was to crowd-unison bouncing. At their top-dollar best, the group came off like a mixture of New York golden-age '80s rapping and James Brown "Sex Machine"-era grooves. At their not so good, the sextet made like overwrought arena-rock heroes, with guitarist Kirk Douglas (and one particular endless guitar solo) the biggest offender.

Medeski, Martin and Wood began the show, and while the acclaimed fusion-organ trio whipped up one or two spells of interesting ebb and flow, most of their set was unadventurous, straight-ahead groove catering more to hippie dancers than jazz heads.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

NIGHT BEAT: 311's best, worst times came early (Review Journal)

The band 311 became a success by performing an easily recognizable sound -- a blend of rap, reggae-rock and turntable spinning. That helped keep the Omaha, Neb., band on the music map for 11 years. And now, the five-piece band is an industry veteran. It even has a "Greatest Hits: '93-'03" album on the market.

"It's a wild feeling" to have been around this long, says singer and turntablist S.A. Martinez, 33. His band headlines the Orleans Arena, with the Roots, on Wednesday.

Looking back, Martinez says the band's best of times and worst of times came together, in the beginning. Among his favorite memories was when 311 opened for 10,000 Maniacs' final tour with singer Natalie Merchant.

"I think there's something about her music that's very genuine in how she delivers it and presents it," he says. "I don't think she's ever released anything I don't like."

Opening for Merchant's band was "kind of, like, part of a rock and roll fantasy," he says. "When we started, we signed with this management. They were called Gold Mountain. And at the time, they managed Sonic Youth and Beastie Boys. And we were, like, `We're gonna be opening for Sonic Youth and Beastie Boys!' And that never happened."

Now, it's musicians in other bands that call 311 an inspiration.
"I think that's great. Obviously, you want to have that type of influence. You don't want to hear, `I hated you guys,' " Martinez says.

As for 311's worst of times, that happened around the time of the 10,000 Maniacs gig, in 1993. The band's RV blew up, forcing it onto the side of the road. The players escaped with mostly minor injuries. Singer-guitarist Nick Hexum had second-degree burns.

"That happened, and subsequently all of our gear burned up. And then our label at the time tried to take advantage of the situation by asking for publishing" rights from the band, he says. "That stands out as a bad time."

Anyway, that's how 311 got started. With a dream and a nightmare.

"Yeah, things have quieted down somewhat," he says and laughs.

Earlier this year, the group showed its staying power by notching another hit with a Cure classic, "Love Song," which 311 cut after fan Adam Sandler asked them to cover it for his comedy "50 First Dates."

Martinez says he's glad 311 ended up with such a good reputation and righteous fans. That's right, they didn't end up like Hootie and the Blowfish, I say.

"Thank God," he says.