Friday, December 16, 2005

311's DTOM walks in the Footsteps of Pantera (MTV)

SAN DIEGO — The original plan for 311's eighth album was to pair producers Ron Saint Germain and David Kahne, but when the latter signed on to helm the next Strokes album instead, 311 turned to the next best thing: themselves.

"It's still two great producers: Ron and 311," bassist P-Nut joked backstage at the recent San Diego Street Scene.

311 co-produced their last two albums as well, but with the just-released Don't Tread on Me the band focused more on returning to its roots than pushing the envelope (see "311's Nick Hexum Cures Post-Election Depression By Diving Into New LP").

"We kind of go through this cycle of one album really trying to reinvent ourselves, which is albums like Transistor and Evolver, and then other albums where we don't try to overthink it and we just let it flow, and that's where we're at with this one," singer Nick Hexum explained. "We actually recorded this album in a third of the time that it took to do Evolver, so it's really a fun summer album with uptempo grooves, the reggae and the rock."

Highlights include "Frolic Room," about Hexum's favorite Hollywood Boulevard dive bar, and "Speak Easy," which features P-Nut on a fretless bass. And there's also a few diversions.

"We've got the slowest 311 song ever, called 'Solar Flare,' which is a scathing political rap that [vocalist] S.A. [Martinez] puts over a really slow, heavy thing," Hexum said. "And then there's also a really fast one called 'It's Getting OK Now,' which is [guitarist] Tim Mahoney channeling Dimebag Darrell [Abbott of Pantera]."

"It's a challenge because there's, like, a really fast [guitar] run," P-Nut added of the latter. "Me and Nick and Tim are all doing it at the same time, so we think we're Van Halen or something for a second. It's great."

The first single is Don't Tread on Me's title track, a reggae jam reminiscent of "First Straw," off the band's Greatest Hits '93-'03.

"I just love the phrase 'don't tread on me,' and it usually has political connotations, but in this particular song, it's not a political song, it's more about feeling frustrated and feeling volatile and just needing some space," Hexum said. "It's a very personal song. But then titling the album Don't Tread on Me and the artwork, there's a few pretty scathing political comments made on there. We didn't want to go all political, but I think in this day and age you kind of need to say what you think about things 'cause it is such a crisis situation."

Hexum has spoken out against President Bush and the war in Iraq (see "311 Singer Nick Hexum Hits The Road To Send Bush On His Way"), and those issues are addressed on the album.

"What's made us such a success over the expanse of time is that we give people a break from all of that, but nowadays we do have to say something about it," P-Nut said. "S.A. and Nick have such right ways of going about it. Instead of just being frustrated and focusing on that, it's about solving problems and being a little upset about what's going on. I don't think anybody really feels in control, and that's one of the scariest things, and how do we deal with that comes out really well."

311 just shot a video for "Don't Tread on Me" with a team called Colourmovie, who filmed the band in front of a green screen for the entire shoot. "They are going to be superimposing all of this really weird atmosphere that we're going to be performing in, so it'll be a surprise to both you and us to see how it turns out," Hexum said.

In the meantime, the band just launched a tour with Papa Roach and Unwritten Law that will last through mid-September (see "311 Take Papa Roach And Unwritten Law On Their Road Trip").

"What I really like about the package is that Unwritten Law was first a straight hardcore band and now they've gone more modern rock, and Papa Roach was like a rap-rock band and they've gone more melodic rock, and I love to see bands that have a second wind and dare to expand their horizons," Hexum said. "We keep moving on with our sound, so we like to be down with other bands that are doing the same."

A college-market winter tour, a spring trek and a summer 2006 tour are also in the works, with the spring dates to include a massive festival March 11 in New Orleans for the band's own annual holiday, 311 Day.

"We found out recently that the past 311 Day [festival] had over 60 percent people from out of state coming there, so obviously it's a destination people like to go to," Hexum said. "And why not go to New Orleans?"

311's Nick Hexum Cures Post-Election Depression By Diving Into New LP

LOS ANGELES — "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."

That oft-quoted line from Charles Dickens' "A Tale of Two Cities" is how 311 singer Nick Hexum described his autumn, in which he and brother Zack hit the campaign trail in support of John Kerry (see "311 Singer Nick Hexum Hits The Road To Send Bush On His Way").

"The month of October we were so optimistic and we felt so good about what we were doing, and it was an extreme disappointment after the election," Hexum said. "But you know what? I've moved on, and I've just immersed myself in our new album, our eighth album, and it's coming along well, actually."

311's as-yet-untitled follow-up to Evolver will mark yet another turn for the band, which will develop the funk/reggae hybrid it explored on "First Straw," one of two new tracks recorded for a greatest-hits compilation released last summer.

"Our past reggae hits, like 'Amber' and 'Love Song,' have been kind of sleepy and mellow, but I want more danceable, funky reggae," Hexum said. "And then we'll still have the hard rockers in there and the never-heard-before styles. We're just gonna continue the evolution. True 311 fans enjoy the journey.

"I don't mind when people say, 'I love your old stuff,' 'cause that's good enough," he continued. "But I love it when people say, 'I love your latest stuff,' 'cause they're really listening with an open mind. You're obviously gonna have a certain amount of young spunk and energy on your first couple of records that you never exactly get back, but that's why you gotta keep progressing."

Hexum said 311 are looking to U2 for inspiration. "My favorite stuff is like Achtung Baby, Zooropa and even their last album," he explained. "You have to be able to evolve and keep moving to remain relevant. If you're just trying to keep recreating whatever was your first success, then that's a sell-out move, 'cause you're just making a business out of it. We're artists. We really try to stay true to our hearts and make music for our hearts and kind of ignore the marketplace. Even if funky reggae isn't what's on the radio, that's what we're gonna do 'cause that's what we're into."

David Kahne, who produced "First Straw," will return to the fold, along with longtime 311 producer Ron Saint Germain.

"David's done three albums with Paul McCartney, he did Sugar Ray and Sublime, he's a composer, he plays every instrument, so that's fun for me to have someone that can really come and help with that part of it," Hexum said. "And then we've got Ron, who's like the master-engineer-mixer guy. It's kind of a dream team of two producers working together, so it's gonna be kind of a first for us. Hopefully they get along!"

So far 311 have written about 10 tracks and are just waiting for their producers' schedules to clear up. In years past the group has played special shows on March 11 (last year's five-hour extravaganza was recently released on DVD), but 311 will skip their self-declared holiday in 2005.

"We're not doing 311 Day because we don't want to delay the release of the album," Hexum said. "We wanna make sure we get out an album in time for our big summer tour, 'cause that's the best, playing outside. And we'll probably do a fall tour and then do a big 311 Day in 2006. Really, to play a five-hour show takes a lot of conditioning, it takes a month of rehearsals and then at least two weeks of warm-up dates to be really physically ready for that — your throat, your calluses, everything."

Not that he has any regrets from last year. "It was one of the greatest sights of my life, 'cause the fans were up on their feet, rockin' out for all five hours and 68 songs," he said.

311's Next Single for Don't Tread on Me

DEVORE, California — 311 have yet to select Don't Tread on Me's second single, and they don't seem too concerned about it.

"I don't really care because in the past it's always been our third single that kinda [takes off]," singer Nick Hexum joked backstage at KROQ-FM's Inland Invasion on Saturday. "The second one's a wash. We're just getting warmed up."

Even so, you have to have number two to get to number three, and 311 can see the follow-up to "Don't Tread on Me" going in a few different directions.

"I think we're gonna leave ourselves open until it's real obvious," said Hexum. "It could be another uptempo one like 'Don't Tread,' or there's a couple of chill, more reggae kind of ballads."

311, who are celebrating their 15-year anniversary, will decide before returning to the road October 19 for a fall tour of mostly college towns. The band is also debating openers for the outing, after taking Papa Roach and Pennywise on a summer tour that just wrapped.

During their monthlong break, Hexum is planning to finish mixing and mastering some tracks he recorded with his brother, Zach Hexum.

"When we went on that political tour supporting Kerry [last fall], a few songs stuck out [because] the way we played them was really cool," Nick said. "So right when the tour ended we went into the 311 studio and recorded six or seven cool covers. I don't know how they will ever come out, but they're just kinda supporting the liberal agenda that me and Zach subscribe to. 311 will always be my main thing, but it's fun to do something you believe in."

Before wrapping the summer trek, 311 staged a few food drives for victims of Hurricane Katrina and will continue helping throughout the fall.

"We can give as much as we can, but to give these people houses again is the ultimate, number-one thing," bassist P-Nut explained. "My brother's an architect, and I'm gonna try to find some low-cost way of [rebuilding] or at least looking into that."

In 2000, 2002 and 2004, 311 staged massive concerts in New Orleans on March 11, better known to fans as 311 Day. Before the hurricane hit, the band was planning to return to the UNO Lakefront Arena in 2006 (see "311's Don't Tread Walks In Footsteps Of Van Halen, Pantera").

"The good news is that the venue does still exist — it never got flooded, it didn't get really damaged," Hexum said. "The question is if the infrastructure in the city would be ready to have that many people. And so we're just trying to think really positive because we loved that city before and now it makes us love it that much more, knowing what's going on there. It'd be such a cool thing to be like, 'Business as usual, back again, you can't take us out.' "

311 will stay on the road well past March, until the end of next summer.

"We're always kinda trying new things, so it takes America a little while to understand what we're doing," Hexum said. "We just have to be more patient, and that's why we're spreading the whole promotion of this album out longer. We're doing four tours to support this album rather than just expecting it to blow up out of the box. That's not gonna happen with us. We're not cookie-cutter enough to blow up that quick. At least we like to think so."

Before their fall trek, 311 will play a free show October 15 in the parking lot of Los Angeles' Dodger Stadium.

311's fall tour dates, according to Jive/Zomba Records:

•10/15 - Los Angeles, CA @ Dodger Stadium Lot
•10/19 - San Diego, CA @ Soma
•10/20 - Santa Barbara, CA @ Santa Barbara Bowl
•10/21 - Las Vegas, NV @ House of Blues
•10/23 - Sacramento, CA @ Freeborn Hall
•10/26 - San Francisco, CA @ Fillmore
•10/27 - San Francisco, CA @ Fillmore
•10/28 - San Francisco, CA @ Fillmore
•10/30 - Portland, OR @ Roseland Theater
•11/1 - Spokane, WA @ Big Easy
•11/2 - Bozeman, MT @ Valley Ice Garden
•11/5 - Champaign, IL @ Assembly Hall
•11/6 - DeKalb, IL @ Convocation Center
•11/8 - West Lafayette, IN @ Elliott Hall
•11/12 - Lewisburg, PA @ Gerhard Fieldhouse
•11/13 - Allentown, PA @ Memorial Hall
•11/16 - New York, NY @ Hammerstein Ballroom
•11/17 - New York, NY @ Hammerstein Ballroom
•11/18 - Portland, ME @ Cumberland County Civic Center
•11/23 - Lowell, MA @ Tsongas Arena
When Scott Stapp and members of 311 got together in a Baltimore hotel on Thanksgiving, it wasn't exactly a cordial holiday celebration. In fact, according to 311's Doug "SA" Martinez, it was quite the opposite.

On Thursday night, Martinez, bassist P-Nut and drummer Chad Sexton were sitting in the lounge of the Harbor Court Hotel with their wives, watching a Los Angeles Lakers basketball game. Suddenly an "out of his mind" Stapp entered the lounge, and from there things got ugly.

"He was acting out of control, looking for attention and being loud and obnoxious. He walked up to the bar, took a shot of whiskey and then slammed the shot glass down on the bar, and it shattered everywhere," Martinez told MTV News. "Then he got into it with some patrons and all of a sudden he's walking up to us and telling us how much of an inspiration we were to him. And it was nice, but we had all just eaten our Thanksgiving dinner, and he was drunk, so it got really annoying really quickly.

"After a while he went back to the bar and was looking for attention. And then a few minutes later, he came back to the table where my wife was, sat down across from us and wanted attention," Martinez continued. "So eventually, since [no one] was forthcoming, he said some disrespectful things towards my wife and I set my glass down and asked him what he said, and then Chad came over and said, 'Don't talk to her that way,' and Scott got up and Chad followed him."

Martinez said things quickly escalated from there, as Stapp turned and "sucker-punched" Sexton in the face — inadvertently hitting Martinez's wife in the process.

"And all of a sudden it was on. I threw a punch and hit Scott. He went down. Then Chad came over and hit Scott too," Martinez said. "At that point we held Scott down until hotel security came to break it up. Then the police arrived, escorted Scott to his room and then told him to get out of the hotel."

A spokesperson for Stapp did not return MTV News' requests for comment on the altercation, and according to the Baltimore police department, no charges have been filed. The melee left Martinez with a fractured knuckle on his right hand, which he fitted with a soft cast the following day. P-Nut reopened a surgery scar in the fight, though Martinez isn't exactly sure how that happened.

"Everything happened so quickly, man. Like stuff was getting knocked over, and that's maybe how P-Nut got hurt," he said. "I mean, I haven't been in a fight since probably third grade, so the whole thing was pretty surreal. It was out of control. Scott was enraged. And as we were holding him down, I felt really bad for him. I was concerned for him ... But at least the Lakers won."

311 Prepping New Album For July

Modern rock act 311 will release its next studio album, "Don't Tread on Me," July 26 via Volcano. According to a post from vocalist Nick Hexum on the band's official Web site, songs tipped to make the final cut are "Solar Flair" ("a super slow and heavy rap rocker") and "It's Getting OK Now" ("a fast punk song"), as well as "a handful of reggae-influenced tracks."

"Don't Tread on Me" will be the follow-up to 2003's "Evolver," which debuted at No. 7 on The Billboard 200 and has sold more than 323,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. A 2004 "Greatest Hits" package fared even better, selling more than 469,000 units.

311 has begun lining up dates for a summer tour, which will run from July 27 to Sept. 18. A handful of shows will feature Papa Roach and/or Unwritten Law, and 311 is also confirmed to appear July 30 at San Diego's Street Scene festival.

311 Pushes New Album To August

Although originally expected before the end of the month, 311 has settled on Aug. 16 as the release date for its eighth studio album, "Don't Tread on Me." The Volcano/Jive set will be preceded by the title track as the first radio single, which the label is aiming to impact airwaves around July 25.

Singer SA Martinez says "Don't Tread on Me" has a "great melody with a dope rhythm underneath. Slightly skanky, but in a good way. Catchy, aggressive at times, and never a dull moment. Classic 311."

"The title track is about emotional volatility when you feel like your freedom is being encroached upon," adds singer Nick Hexum. "[Bassist] P-Nut wrote a sweet dub breakdown for this one."

The 11-track album reunites the band with Ron Saint Germain, who produced 311's self-titled third album. Released in 1995, that Capricorn set served as the band's mainstream breakthrough, spawning the enduring modern rock radio tracks "Down" and "All Mixed Up."

Also tapped for the album is the song "Speak Easy," which Martinez says was lyrically inspired by the beliefs of natural scientist/psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich. "His belief is that any emotion we carry, we must let out," he says. "Otherwise, this said emotion will sit within us and manifest itself in ways which may not be good for our health," he explains. "We create blocks that turn into physical symptoms that initially were emotions we denied ourselves from experiencing. It makes a lot of sense when you think about it."

Other cuts include "Solar Flare" (Martinez: "This has to be one of the dopest songs we've put together."), "Waiting" (Martinez: "If the Beatles happened to venture to Jamaica instead of India, this song might have happened.") and "Long for the Flowers," which is based on "Grifters," an outtake from the band's 1997 album "Transistor" that has been reworked and re-recorded.

"Don't Tread on Me" is the follow-up to 2003's "Evolver," which debuted at No. 7 on The Billboard 200 and has sold more than 324,500 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. A 2004 "Greatest Hits" package fared even better, selling almost 485,000 units. That set included a cover of the Cure's "Love Song" that reached No. 1 on Billboard's Modern Rock airplay chart.

311 will spend most of the summer on tour, opening their run with a July 27-28 stand in Santa Cruz, Calif. The 40-date outing will close Sept. 17 at KROQ Los Angeles' Inland Invasion show in San Bernadino, Calif. Most shows will feature support from either Papa Roach and Unwritten Law, or both acts on some dates. Also on the itinerary is a July 30 set at the San Diego Street Scene festival and an Aug. 20 slot on the Amsterjam bill at New York's Randall's Island.

Here is the full "Don't Tread on Me" track list:

"Don't Tread on Me"
"Thank Your Lucky Stars"
"Frolic Room"
"Speak Easy"
"Solar Flare"
"Long for the Flowers"
"Getting Through to Her"
"Whiskey and Wine"
"It's Getting OK Now"
"There's Always an Excuse"

Here are 311's summer tour dates:

July 27-28: Santa Cruz, Calif. (Catalyst)
July 30: San Diego (Street Scene)
Aug. 1: Anaheim, Calif. (The Grove)
Aug. 2: Tucson, Ariz. (Anselmo Valencia Amphitheatre)
Aug. 3: Mesa, Ariz. (Mesa Amphitheatre)
Aug. 5: Las Vegas (The Palms Hotel Casino)
Aug. 6: West Valley City, Utah (USANA)
Aug. 7: Morrison, Col. (Red Rocks Amphitheatre)
Aug. 9: Council Bluffs, Neb. (Westfair Amphitheatre)
Aug. 10: Columbia, Mo. (Amphitheatre at Mizzou)
Aug. 11: Chicago (Charter One Pavilion at Northerly Island)
Aug. 12: Kansas City, Mo. (City Market)
Aug. 14: Columbus, Ohio (Promowest Pavilion)
Aug. 15: Cincinnati, Ohio (Riverbend Amphitheatre)
Aug. 16: Cleveland (Tower City Amphitheatre)
Aug. 17: Sterling Heights, Mich. (Freedom Hill)
Aug. 19: Mansfield, Mass. (Tweeter Center)
Aug. 20: New York (Randall's Island; Amsterjam)
Aug. 21: Old Bridge, N.J. (Raceway Park)
Aug. 22: Atlantic City, N.J. (House of Blues)
Aug. 24: Philadelphia (Penn's Landing)
Aug. 25: Virginia Beach, Va. (Virginia Beach Amphitheatre)
Aug. 26: Bristow, Va. (Nissan Pavilion)
Aug. 27: Atlanta (Hi Fi Buys Amphitheatre)
Aug. 28: Memphis, Tenn. (Mud Island)
Aug. 30: Pelham, Ala. (Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre)
Sept. 1: Jacksonville, Fla. (Metro Park Amphitheatre)
Sept. 2: West Palm Beach, Fla. (Sound Advice Amphitheatre)
Sept. 3: Tampa, Fla. (Ford Amphitheatre)
Sept. 4: Pensacola, Fla. (Civic Center)
Sept. 7: Baton Rouge, La. (River Center Centroplex)
Sept. 8: Corpus Christi, Texas (Concrete Street Amphitheatre)
Sept. 9: The Woodlands, Texas (C.W. Mitchell Pavilion)
Sept. 10: Austin, Texas (Austin Music Hall)
Sept. 11: Dallas (Smirnoff Music Center)
Sept. 13: Norman, Okla. (Lloyd Noble Center)
Sept. 14: Albuquerque, N.M. (Convention Center)
Sept. 15: El Paso, Texas (County Coliseum)
Sept. 17: San Bernadino, Calif. (KROQ's Inland Invasion)

311 Plans Free Shows, Fall Tour

With its summer roadwork ending over the weekend, 311 has confirmed the majority of its fall U.S. tour. The run will get underway Oct. 15 with a free Honda-sponsored show in the lot of Los Angeles' Dodger Stadium. After a few rehearsal days, the tour begins Oct. 19 in San Diego with dates through late November.

A mix of theaters and colleges are on the list, with eight stops still to be determined at deadline, including a "special Halloween show," according to the band's official Web site.

The free L.A. show is part of a Civic Live! series of events Honda is throwing around the country to promote the 2006 model. It began over the weekend with a Staind performance in New York, with tickets distributed to registrants online at

Upcoming shows include Hot Hot Heat, Von Bondies and Plain White Ts Saturday (Sept. 24) in Chicago; Damian Marley and Pitbull Oct. 1 in Miami; and John Legend and Common Oct. 29 in Washington, D.C. Also on tap is an Oct. 22 event in San Francisco with an artist to be announced.

311 is touring in support of its latest album, "Don't Tread on Me" (Volcano/Zomba), which recently debuted at No. 5 on The Billboard 200.

Here are 311's fall tour dates:

Oct. 15: Los Angeles (Dodger Stadium Lot)
Oct. 19: San Diego (Soma)
Oct. 20: Santa Barbara, Calif. (Santa Barbara Bowl)
Oct. 21: Las Vegas (House of Blues)
Oct. 23: Sacramento, Calif. (Freeborn Hall)
Oct. 26-28: San Francisco (Fillmore)
Oct. 30: Portland, Ore. (Roseland Theater)
Oct. 31: TBD
Nov. 1: Spokane, Wash. (Big Easy)
Nov. 2: Bozeman, Mon. (Valley Ice Garden)
Nov. 5: Champaign, Ill. (Assembly Hall)
Nov. 6: Dekalb, Ill. (Convocation Center)
Nov. 8: West Lafayette, Ind. (Elliott Hall)
Nov. 10: TBD
Nov. 11: TBD
Nov. 12: Lewisburg, Pa. (Gerhard Fieldhouse)
Nov. 13: Allentown, Pa. (Memorial Hall)
Nov. 15: TBD
Nov. 16-17: New York (Hammerstein Ballroom)
Nov. 18: Portland, Maine (Cumberland County Civic Center)
Nov. 19: TBD
Nov. 21: TBD
Nov. 22: TBD
Nov. 23: Lowell, Mass. (Tsongas Arena)
Nov. 25: TBD
Nov. 26: TBD
Reggae rock band gets 6,600 fans out of seats and dancing

WEST VALLEY CITY — Reggae-rock band 311 knows how to throw a birthday party.

The lights, sounds and energy of dual vocalists Nick Hexum, S.A. Martinez, drummer Chad Sexton, guitarist Tim Mahoney and bassist P-Nut (born Aaron Willis) — known to their fans as 311 — got the 6,600 concertgoers at the USANA Amphitheatre out of their seats and dancing. It was a celebration, as this year marks the band's 15th anniversary.

Along with the music and lights, the band highlighted its set with some background images that flashed on a digital checkerboard screen behind Sexton's drums.

"Omaha Stylee," "Freak Out" and "Misdirected Hostility" were first out of the gate. "Beautiful Disaster" and a new song, the title track to the band's new album "Don't Tread on Me," shot streams of adrenaline through fans' systems.

Hexum and Martinez paired off with verse and chorus and got the audience singing along throughout the event. And not to be overshadowed, both Mahoney and P-Nut kept the music's dynamics intact. And emotional jams of "Silver," "Summer of Love," and "Freeze Time" rocked the audience.

Down near the stage, the general admission crowd slammed and moshed about while those sitting in seats had a hard time staying in them.

Even fans on the grassy area in back had their own little mosh pit going as those around them made way for flaying arms and bobbing heads.

Vintage 311 grooves, such as "All Mixed Up," "Come Original" and "Creatures for a While," shuffled it up with more new songs, "Frolic Room," and "It's Getting OK Now," which made its live-performance debut at Saturday's show.

One of the highlights was the drum-quartet segment during Sexton's solo on "Applied Science." After the initial syncopated pounding, roadies provided the other four band members some tom-toms and cymbals for a 311 drumline performance. Drum rounds and play-offs had the audience slamming and cheering for more.

The band let the crowd mellow out with the dreamy "Amber" and got the chanting going with "Beyond the Gray Sky."

The group's breakthrough single "Down" was nice rocking surprise, as was "Feels So Good." The two-song encore featured "Flowing and "Do You Right."

Opening the night was the punk bob of Unwritten Law and the explosive metal groove of Papa Roach.

311 appreciates it's SL Fanbase (Deseret)

S.A. Martinez, vocalist for the funk, hip-hop, reggae, rock band 311 says he has a soft spot in his heart for Salt Lake City.

"We've been coming there since the early days of the band," Martinez said by phone from his Los Angeles home. "We've always had a great fan base there. I think in the West, Salt Lake is our largest market, or at least one of our largest markets."

Martinez and his bandmates — guitarist/vocalist Nick Hexum, guitarist Tim Mahoney, bassist P-Nut and drummer Chad Sexton — will return to Salt Lake City to perform and promote the new album "Don't Tread on Me," to be released on Tuesday.

The album, the band's eighth, contains 11 new songs, most of which were written and recorded over the past year. "We had a couple of songs that were left over from the 'Transistor' album sessions," said Martinez. "And one, 'Long for the Flowers,' which was originally called 'Grifters,' was redone and found its way to the new album. We also had one song, 'Waiting,' that we had played on tour last year that was recorded for the album."

"Don't Tread on Me" was a fairly easy album to make, said Martinez. "The only real problem we had was working with the deadline. There came a time when we had so many demo songs we were working on that we had to say, 'No more demos!' And then we started arranging and working on what we had."

Choosing 11 songs from the 17 the band had set aside was also not a huge problem, he said. "We worked on a bunch of songs, and we stopped paying attention to some because they weren't working out. And most of those were discarded.

"But there were some that we were working on in the beginning that I thought for sure would become the album's singles. And for some reason, they didn't work out for the album. We still have them for use on the next album."

For 15 years, 311 has been a professional recording group. And throughout that time, it has seen music trends come and go. "When we started out, the stuff we played wasn't big on the radio. But then there were times when we were in demand. The good thing is we didn't change our style to fit the trend. The music business will always work in cycles. And some years we're it and others we're not. But we don't change to fit."

Still, the guys in 311 never thought the band would be together for more than a decade. "We had some hard times when we were starting out," said Martinez. "But we were young and green. And that's a good thing because we had no idea what we were getting into. I think if we knew how hard it would be back then, we wouldn't have done it. We got into it and as things developed, we took things in stride.

"And since we were so young we had the strength, energy and stamina to do what we needed to do to keep the band alive."

311 Fans Hunger For Live Show (Fresno Bee)

Expect more than a concert Thursday when 311 performs at the Rainbow Ballroom. Expect a community gathering.

It's because the relationship the band has with its fans is one of the rare kinds where people travel to see 311 and build friendships.

And because the band has been locked up in the studio working on its new album "Evolver" (in stores July 22) and hasn't toured since last September, hungry 311 fans are restless.

A glance at the message board on the group's official Web site shows the community of fans is eager for the upcoming tour, of which Fresno is the second stop.

There are posts from fans requesting specific songs to be played at Thursday's show; posts from fans listing the different places they are driving from, such as Las Vegas, Novato and Petaluma; and posts from fans trying to congregate before or after the show.

"We've just been fortunate to have built a fan base," says singer S.A. Martinez. "The one thing that I cite over and over, [is] when we first came out, it took groundwork to build our fan base. It wasn't an overnight thing at all. We were able to hone our craft for two consecutive albums and build a fan base that really has been in place since '93. It's just grown from that; the kids falling in love with us and growing with us. We're always picking up new people on the way. It's just a really cool community."

So cool, in fact, that 311 holds it own 311 Day shows yearly, which serve as a gathering of the community. They usually are held in New Orleans on -- surprise, surprise -- March 11.

This year, the band didn't have a 311 Day because it was in the studio, hard at work on "Evolver."

"You get the hardcore fans from all across the country," Martinez says of 311 Day. "You feel something electric about it."

The group is trying to pump some electricity into this tour by dipping into its catalog to give fans a taste of old and new tracks. The set list changes every night.

There are two reasons: One: 311 has seven albums' worth of material to draw from. Two: The set lists usually make it onto the Internet message board by the next morning. The group has to keep fans guessing.

"It's something that our hardcore fans are going to appreciate," Martinez says. "They're not going to see the same show every night if they go to more than one."

One of the songs that the Internet fans are asking for is "Sweet," off the band's 1995 self-titled album.

"We might [play 'Sweet']," Martinez says. "There're a lot of songs that we'll be pulling out."

Again, have to keep the fans guessing. One of the keys to a good tour. And if there's one thing 311 knows about, it's touring.

"That's how we came to be who we are," Martinez says. "Touring is our bread and butter. It's really what makes or breaks the band. Bands can do really well in the studio, but sometimes can't translate that to the stage. That's one of our strong points. The main attraction to the band is our live show. Our fans love that aspect about us."

311 releases don’t tread on me, dodges storms and gets comfy after 15 years (Marquee)

For more than 15 years the band 311 has been at the forefront of the genre melding craze that has swept through the music industry.

While the band was in the midst of three consecutive sold-out shows at The Fillmore in San Francisco, The Marquee caught up with singer Nick Hexum.

311 was born out of two groups of friends who went to high school in Omaha. “Three of us went to one school and two went to another. Me, Tim (Mahoney – guitar) and Chad (Sexton – drums) were buds, and then we met P-nut (bass) and S.A. (Martinez – vocals) later on,” said Hexum.

After playing in various combinations, in bands such as Unity and Fish Hippos, 311 became official when they played their first gig under the moniker in 1990. Though Martinez wouldn’t become a full-time band member until 1992, he sat in often in the early days. “What was really good about developing in Omaha is that the people of the city were really open-minded about our crazy and unique blend of music. Putting rap with reggae with rock really wasn’t done at the time,” Hexum said.
In their first two years of existence 311 released three records on Hexum’s own What Have You Records label. “I started the label back in 1990 to put out our first three independent records. I was the sole employee, doing everything myself,” he said. The records made their way through the Omaha scene and 311 developed a significant local following.

In 1992, feeling they had outgrown the music scene in Omaha, the members of 311 packed up their lives and moved to Los Angeles to pursue a major label record deal. “One of our Omaha records was just kinda passed through a few different guys and eventually it got to an executive at Capricorn who loved it,” said Hexum. “He wanted to see us live before we signed so we decided to go back to Omaha, where we could draw a packed house. We chose Sokol Hall, where we had played our debut show opening for Fugazi in 1990. The showcase came off very well and they were sold on us.”

Music, 311’s major label debut, was released by Capricorn in February of 1993. About a year later Grassroots hit the shelves and the band began to see some national press. Things were about to explode. “The beginning was slow going for a while, as far as getting on the radio and that kind of thing. We just stuck to our guns and around 1995-1996 radio and MTV came around to us,” Hexum remembered.

Much of the credit for the explosion of 311 goes to the single for the song “Down,” off of the band’s third album, 311 (The Blue Album). The song went to #1 and the album was eventually certified triple platinum. The band had come a long way from its days in Omaha.

The most recent studio effort from 311 may remain focused on the sound that got them started, but also shows the great leaps in maturity that the band and its music have taken. Don’t Tread On Me has enough energy to make people believe it was released by a group in their early 20’s, however the lyrics are tackling much more mature issues. Hexum was proud to say, “The album is about freedom. Personal freedom. Freedom from any kind of oppression — political, religious, or social.”

Don’t Tread On Me comes more than 15 years after their first gig and Hexum is quick to acknowledge one of the secrets of the band’s longevity. Giving a nod to the many bands that broke at the same time and have long since disbanded, he mentioned that all five of them recognize the significance of keeping the important things in life in focus and getting some time apart. “I like to go down to The Keys and fish, and other people have their own different things that they like to do. However, we miss it pretty quick and want to get back to making music together. I feel like we stumbled on something really great with this line-up and I don’t see any end in sight. Right now I wouldn’t change a thing,” Hexum said.

To facilitate his love for fishing and relaxation, Hexum recently gave in to temptation and purchased an island get-away just off Key West. “It is a six-acre island with a 4,000 square foot luxury home on it. It is my absolute dream and I kinda stumbled upon it,” he explained.

Unfortunately, the retreat was ravaged by the recent hurricane that swept through the area just days before Hexum sat down to talk with The Marquee. “It took a pretty bad hit during Hurricane Wilma. It blasted my dock away, and this is such a heavy duty dock that it actually had a heliport on it,” he said. “The storm surge and the waves were just unbelievable. It blasted out some walls on the ground floor.”

In the meantime, Hexum is focusing on the current 311 tour and reviving What Have You Records. “It is a tough process, setting up a new label and breaking new artists, but I really believe in this music.”

The music he is talking about is that of his younger brother, Zack. “Zack is the only one on the label right now and I have kinda decided that if a guy as talented as him can’t make it then I really don’t want to be involved in that side of the business. I am busy enough with 311 and I have enough opportunities to remix and produce other artists,” Hexum said.

Zack Hexum opened for 311 on the first night of their stand at The Fillmore in San Francisco and was warmly received. “A lot of 311 fans have become Zack fans,” Hexum said. “He is a solo artist and his music incorporates elements of Coldplay and The Beatles with an indie feel.”

Fresh off a summer shed tour that brought them to the relatively intimate confines of Red Rocks Amphitheatre, 311 is scaling things down significantly on its current tour, going even more intimate with smaller club venue gigs. It has been nearly six years since the band played the Fox Theatre and Hexum is very excited to be getting back to the intense energy of smaller clubs that he says pushes his band to another level.

311 (RAM)

All five members of 311 grew up in the 1970's in Omaha, Nebraska. Nick Hexum, Tim Mahoney and Chad Sexton lived on the west side of town and went to Westside High School together. P-Nut and SA Martinez lived on the south side of town and went to Bryan High School together.

During high school, Nick and Tim played in a rock band together called "The Ed's". Nick was also in the high school concert jazz band with Chad.

At seventeen, Nick graduated early from high school and moved to downtown Los Angeles in pursuit of a music career. When Nick returned to Omaha for Chad and Tim's high school graduation - the three of them jammed and realized they had a special musical chemistry. They soon added a keyboardist named Ward Bones and called themselves "Unity". In late '88, Nick, Chad and Ward moved to LA and made an unsuccessful stab at getting a recording contract.

Disillusioned with the L.A. scene, Chad soon moved back to Omaha and began jamming with P-Nut and a guitarist named Jim Watson. Months later, Chad persuaded Nick to move back to Omaha and join them. They played their first gig opening for Fugazi on June 10th 1990.

In 1991, they parted ways with Jim Watson and added Tim Mahoney as lead guitarist. At that time, SA Martinez began to make guest appearances with the band - and was eventually added as a full member. 311 was complete (Nick, Chad, Tim, P-Nut and SA).

In 1990 & 1991 the band released three independent records on their own label (What Have You Records). The records were called "Dammit," "Hydroponic," and "Unity." With these records and their solid live show, the band quickly established a following in the Midwest and then set out for the West Coast.

They rented a small house in Van Nuys, California and all moved in together. These were very lean times for the band. Just before disintegrating into total poverty, they were signed to Capricorn Records.

311's first cd "Music", was released with little fanfare in February of '93 (now Gold). The band hit the road in support of the record and was temporarily sidelined when their touring RV caught on fire and exploded on the shoulder of the highway. The fire destroyed all their equipment, clothes, money and personal possessions. Despite losing everything - the band members escaped the blaze with minor burns and injuries. They decided to persevere and they only canceled one show before returning to the stage with equipment donated by fans and friends who heard about the disaster on the television news.

In July of '94 they released their second cd "Grassroots" (now Gold). By this time they were touring the US non-stop. They moved out of the house in Van Nuys - put their stuff into a storage space and literally just lived on the road. They put all their energy into their live show and steadily developed an incredible grassroots following nationwide.

In July '95 they released their third cd "311" and once again set out on tour. By '96 the shows and the fanbase had grown considerably - and the media which had basically ignored 311 until then, began paying attention. In September of '96 (14 months after the release of the "311" album) the song "Down" hit the airwaves and became an across the board success at radio and MTV. "Down" went to #1 on the Billboard Modern Rock Chart and the follow-up single "All Mixed Up" went to #2.

After the success of the "311" album (which is now triple Platinum), 311 released a long form home video called "Enlarged to Show Detail" containing live concert footage, interviews, videos, backstage footage, etc. To make it a unique item, 311 bundled the video with a 5 song EP containing outtakes from the "311" cd. The home video debuted at #1 on Billboards Music Video Sales Chart and is now a Platinum video.

After releasing the home video, 311 went back into the studio to record their fourth cd "Transistor". "Transistor" debuted at #4 on the Billboard Top 200 and is now Platinum.

311's 1997 headlining tour in support of the "Transistor" album drew an average of 10,000 people per night in the US. The band also toured Europe, UK, Australia, New Zealand and Japan.

In September of 1998, 311 re-issued some old material on the "Omaha Session" EP. The EP contains 9 songs from the bands 1989-1991 independent releases ("Dammit," "Hydroponic" and "Unity"). The EP is on the band's original "What Have You Records" label and is only available via the 311 website ( and the 311 Mail Order Merch Catalog.

In November of 1998, 311 released 311 Live - a collection of live recordings from the 1997 US Tour. And in October of 1999, 311 released their fifth cd "Soundsystem" which debuted at #9 and toured extensively in the US and Japan.

In 2000, the band purchased a recording studio in North Hollywood. After making some renovations and bringing in their own equipment, they renamed it "The Hive" (which is also the name of their fanclub). The studio was active in the 70's / 80's. Missing Persons and Adam Ant recorded albums there and most recently it was used as a voice over studio for movies, etc.

In 2001, the band released "From Chaos" which debuted at #10 on the Billboard Top 200 Sales Chart. 311 toured extensively throughout the U.S. and Europe in support of "From Chaos". The first single "You Wouldn't Believe" reached #7 on the Billboard Modern Rock Chart. The second single "I'll Be Here Awhile" reached #15 on the Billboard Modern Rock Chart. The single "Amber" reached #10 on the Billboard Modern Rock Chart and #30 on the Billboard Modern AC Chart. The album is certified Gold.

On July 22, 2003, 311 released their 7th studio album "Evolver" which included the singles, "Creatures (For A While)" and "Beyond the Gray Sky." The band recorded and mixed the album at their own studio, The Hive in North Hollywood, CA. The video for "Creatures (For A While)" was directed by the Malloy Brothers, who also directed 311's video for "Amber". To support the album, 311 embarked on a massive US tour with opening acts such as The Roots, O.A.R., Something Corporate, Medeski Martin & Wood and more.

In 2004, 311 was asked by Adam Sandler to contribute an 80's cover song to his movie "Fifty First Dates." 311 recorded The Cure's "Love Song." 311's version of "Love Song" reached #1 on the Billboard Modern Rock Radio Chart! Making it the band's second #1 hit and their sixth single to crack the Top 10! Nick Hexum also produced four other songs for the movie's soundtrack including songs with Seal, Jason Mraz and Dryden Mitchell from Alien Ant Farm.

On 3-11-04, 311 fans once again invaded the city of New Orleans for a special 3-11 Day Concert. 311 performed a legendary 5 hour set at UNO Lakefront Arena in front of a sold-out crowd of 311's biggest fans. The band played 68 songs including all their classic hits plus rarities and covers (Led Zeppelin's "D'yer Maker", The Clash's "White Man in Hammersmith Palais", The Cure's "Love Song"). The entire concert was filmed and recorded and ultimately released (Oct 26, 2004) as a special 2-DVD set"3-11 Day Live in New Orleans." The DVD includes 64 songs plus a behind the scenes look at the band and their fans. The DVD is now certified Platinum.

On June 8, 2004, 311 released "Greatest Hits (1993-2003)", a definitive collection of 311's top radio singles plus two brand new songs "How Do You Feel" and "First Straw." The album debuted at #7 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums Chart, marking the fourth time that a 311 album has reached the Top 10!

In late 2004, 311 returned to The Hive Studio to work on studio album #8, with producer Ron Saint Germain (Bad Brains, Soundgarden, Tool). Saint also produced the "311", "From Chaos" and "Evolver" albums. The new album "Don't Tread On Me" will be released on August 16, 2005. The first single "Don't Tread On Me" goes to radio on July 26. 311 embark on their 40 date summer amphitheatre tour from July 27 - September 15. Great summer ahead!!!

Chad Sexton of 311 (UGO)

After 15 years, 311 is still rocking with the best of them; not bad for a band that was ruling the college charts in the '90s. I got a chance to talk with Chad Sexton, the drummer and tent pole of the band, about their new album, Don't Tread on Me.

UGO: I heard you guys just had trouble with the tour bus.

CHAD SEXTON: We had a truck driver who was two hours late, so it pushed us back.

UGO: You going to fire his ass?

CHAD: He was a replacement anyway. He doesn't realize there's like 80 people out here relying on him. But yeah, no big deal. We're just beginning the tour and everything.

UGO: How is the tour going so far?

CHAD: It's going great. Lots of excitement out there. We're out there with Papa Roach and Unwritten Law and they're having great shows too. The fans just love our show. Everyone seems to be walking away happy.

UGO: I hear that some fans aren't super happy with the new direction of the music.

CHAD: Yeah, I think it's good. I think it's a new direction for our band. We kind of did this record like we do every other record, just to see what comes out of us and try to make them into songs that have some kind of consistency to them. We think we did a good job; it's a nice package. We spent a lot of time getting fat sounds up on it and everything. We're real pleased with it all around. The quality and the music-writing and the artwork of the record as well, so we're real happy.

UGO: How was it working with [producer] Ron Saint Germain again?

CHAD: It was great, man. He's like a best friend. We know each other so well. He brings a lot of energy and a lot of expertise to the table. Another good project and it's good to be done. We spent a lot of time on it.

UGO: What made you guys want to work with Ron again?

CHAD: Ron's a really great engineer. He's one of the greatest guys to work with because a lot of the guys are very particular, very secretive and just whatever, but he's just really open. He wants people to learn from him, so we learn so much on each record. He's the best engineer, and we wanted our music engineered and mixed by the best. We think he's on top of his game as far as all of the analog stuff is concerned and we're still doing our records analog, so it seemed like a perfect logical combination again.

UGO: How come the record is called Don't Tread on Me? Have you guys been treaded on recently?

CHAD: We took it from the song title. We wrote a song "Don't Tread on Me" and we wanted to sum up the record that way. It was just a statement, not really directed at anybody or anything. We've had a great life for the last 15 years. We're happy we're still going. It makes a great topic for discussion and we didn't have a better title, actually.

UGO: What made you guys decide to base "Long for Flowers" on your older song, "Drifters?"

CHAD: It was as simple as Nick hearing the instrumental and saying, "I kind of like that song." We wanted to see how it turned out and we think it went well.

UGO: Besides obviously drumming, what do you think your role is in the band?

CHAD: I'm the one that wants the record to be executed personally. I'm kind of a freak. I guess my role in the band is I want to balance it out.

UGO: Do you guys think that rap rock sound was played out by other bands in the past ten years.

CHAD: The change in our direction actually has been a progressive one. It wasn't a left turn because if you go back to our other records you can see that there's less and less rap on each one. We just do it logically and naturally, we're not "hey man, the real style this year is no rap, so we better not do any rap." We don't think that way. We just do an album like we do any album. We just sit down and write it and see what's there and try to make some consistent songs out of it. We all feel a certain way so we talk about it and we just come to a natural conclusion.

UGO: How you all getting along on this tour?

CHAD: Perfect. We've been doing this for 15 years so we're basically fucking married. We really don't have anything to complain about. We're very happy people. We travel in style. The band has disagreements, just like any relationship has disagreements. But the thing about us is we can communicate and come to conclusions and then execute those conclusions. It's all minor shit but some of our opinions are completely opposite in the band. However, we deal with it and what comes out is like a perfectly balanced idea.

UGO: What video games and what movies do you have on the bus?

CHAD: We just picked up that Tombstone movie. I bought a lot of old kind of early '90s, late '80s movies with people like Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

UGO: How about videogames?

CHAD: We're kind of separated on the buses. On the one bus, it's James Bond: Goldeneye and on my bus, with me and Tim, it's NASCAR.

Monday, December 12, 2005

311 = 420, 24/7 (Cannabis Culture)

For over a decade, 311 has been making music full of positive vibrations and potent smoke.

Our interviewee, 311 bassist P-Nut, in the Indica shirt. (center)311 is one the stoniest, most pot friendly bands in the world. For over 10 years they have been busy jamming about pot, love, liberty and enlightenment.
The band has its roots in Omaha, Nebraska; all five members of 311 grew up there in the 1970's. After playing in different groups throughout their youth, they came to their current line-up in 1991.

311 is made up of Nick Hexum on lead vocals and guitar, SA Martinez on vocals and scratches, Tim Mahoney on lead guitar, Chad Sexton hitting the percussion and P-Nut on bass.

Between 1990 and '91, the quintet released three albums in quick succession, titled Dammit, Hydroponic, and Unity. Known for their dynamic live show, 311 toured heavily and steadily established a dedicated fan base.

In 1993, 311 signed with Capricorn Records and released their first CD, titled Music. In 1994 they released Grassroots, and the next year the self-titled 311. They continued touring, and in 1996 the single Down made it onto mainstream radio and MTV, and went to #1 on the Billboard Modern Rock Chart. The follow-up single All Mixed Up reached #2. The 311 album went triple platinum.

In 1997, 311 released Transistor, which also went platinum. It was followed by Soundsystem in 1998, From Chaos in 2001, and Evolver in 2003.

311 has always been known as a pot smoking band with a laid back, pot smoking fan base. Many of their songs repeatedly reference weed and its mighty effects on the mind and soul. Here's just a few samples of their many stoney lyrics:

"Mother nature supreme, step back and dream the hydroponic scene/ Found around, knocked out of bounds, wound into the mind of my stone cloud." Hydroponic

"311's got the herb and you can't avoid that/ And ya do want your hands with a fat blunt sack/ Chill with Indica and Guinness, steer clear of white powder/ Kick it, you sing it in a space, go out to play it louder." Who's Got the herb?

"I am the one who scores the herb/ When we're on the road P-Nut rolls it up/ Throw me a joint on stage what's up/ I will tell a cop that I know my fucking rights/ and we can match wits all night/ For real he said if I had nothing to hide/ Then of course I wouldn't mind if he looked through our ride."
Offbeat Bare-Ass

311 is in the top five as this article is written, yet many people have never heard of them. But hum a tune like Prisoner or Down and most people will 'fess up and say, "OK, I know that one."

One of 311's most appealing qualities is their aura of humbleness, and a drive to try new things musically by thinking out of the box. Their music is a cross between reggae, LA pop, and thought-provoking alternative rock, with a sprinkle of hip-hop for flava.

After a decade they can still connect with their fans in a way few bands do in this age of money-hungry corporates making music that's less about art and more about their wallet size.

At their July 2004 concert in New York, 311 entered to a standing ovation filled with screaming girls and waving fans. The multi-platinum selling band opened with one of the new songs off their seventh album, Evolver, bringing the whole crowd to their feet.

SA Martinez and Nick Hexum harmonized perfectly, like a finely tuned instrument. Nick is the perfect front man for 311 as he commanded the crowd to get up, make some noise and bounce around. The crowd happily obliged.

The rhythm section of Chad, Tim and P-Nut was thick, solid and beefy. 311 showed how a well-rounded professional rock band can perform at their best for almost two hours. The crowd gave back the same energy as the band from start to finish.

311 is a true band for the fans. They still blow the doors off little clubs as well as large amphitheaters and concert halls, which helps keep their integrity level extremely high with their fans. They have sold millions of disks yet don't have that "sell out" feel; it's a cool mixed scene for the fans. Somehow 311 still feels like an underground scene, yet it's not.

Lead guitarist Tim Mahoney gets his groove on.A few days after their New York show, Cannabis Culture was able to interview 311's bass player, P-Nut.

CC: Your show the other night was a totally tight, professional performance as always. You guys always sound right on.

P-Nut: We love to get into the details of our music, and I think that's what stoner musicians do. I think that's what is great about bands that experiment in a responsible way with herbs and psychedelics.

I agree. There's a time and place.

There totally is. That's why we have made such philosophical advances in the last 50 years, because we have had really outgoing visionaries seeking the "Total Unknown."

So where do you guys really stand on pot? I saw a video of one of you guys rolling in buds saying we play for weed a while back.

(Laughing) Right, right.

Do you consider yourself a pot band?

I consider myself a marijuana activist. I've bailed people out of jail, I bailed a friend out of jail actually...

Was it over a dime bag of weed? (laughing)

No, it was over 4,000 plants.

(Shocked) Is that where the album Hydroponics came from?

No, this was around the Blue album era [311's breakthrough album]. We were starting to make a lot of money and some friends of mine got in some trouble for, you know, for being blatant.

Oh yeah.

They were testing the 215 laws in California. He was testing it just for the first time and growing just for a buyer's club and they raided him. He just got out of jail. This was like eight years ago, and he just got out.


He's doing good now. And I bailed a friend of his out, and Woody Harrelson once bailed out my good friend, and I took care of his assistant after a different bust.

Nick Hexum and SA Martinez spew their ganja-fueled lyrics. Do you still smoke on the road?

Oh yeah. Nick doesn't really smoke that much because it's hard on his throat, and SA hasn't smoked since college, but me and Chad and Tim do all the time. Chad doesn't like to smoke before shows, that would be hard, but me and Tim do. We have done it so much together over the years it's like a routine, but I wouldn't lower it to that. It's more like a ritual.

We love it so much. We pay respect to the herb and we treat it in a good way and I think we use the inspiration to help heal the people out in the crowd who are looking for release from stress. I think that's one of the things that has really led to our longevity is that we put a positive spin on things and alleviate stress, just like pot does to your system. Ahh... it's just such a good thing.

We don't like to make a big deal about it, and I think that's what keeps us safe. Cypress Hill smokes on stage every single night. I'll knock on wood for them, because I love those guys, but they have never gotten busted, and that's almost hard to believe. It makes it seem like it's a lot less of a police state than the press would have you believe.

I know you guys just did the Omaha, Nebraska, show for free. How was that?

Well we did not do it totally for free, but it was totally free for the people, it was kind of bankrolled by the mayor of the city and one of the local banks. It was pretty cool, pretty intense. We took a huge pay cut and would have done it for free, but it costs us $30,000 a night just to do a show.

I guess you still have to pay for little things like gas, electricity, employees, security, etc. Everyone forgets about that stuff.

It was a total dream come true. We did it in the middle of the city; it was a place we always dreamed of doing a show, and it was a very unlikely place to put on a show. I think it has been done only a few times by bands like the Beach Boys. It was really intense, we had a lot of fun. It was probably the coolest show we've ever done.


We've played bigger shows, but doing it at home and just getting that many people to come out. People were saying attendance was at 25,000 to 35,000.

That must have been great for you guys.

Yeah, we were really excited about it. I think Nick's got it in his head to pull off another 311 day back home, which I don't see having to twist any one's arm over. It's a nightmare as far as the preparations, but the resolve and the outcome are so huge, it's just fantastic.

311 has never really "sold out to the fans." Even though you have hit songs you've maintained an integrity level that seems really hard to keep. How do you think you've managed to do that?

I think our music lends itself to a more sophisticated audience than your average rock band any day, and even more so than your average pop band. I don't know where 311 fits into these judgments, but we're getting played on top 40 radio and we're now in the top five next week.

311 rocks out in a blur of stoned musicianship.I just watched 50 First Dates, with Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler, and your cover of The Cure's Love Song was in it.

Adam Sandler was really hands-on about us doing a song from a short list of songs that he wanted in the movie. He thought we would be great after seeing us live, so it was really cool. It's nice to see him taking care of his empire, which he's got nothing short of. He's a great Saturday Night Live success story.

I have a question for you from one musician to another. Who do you think is the greatest rock band of all time?

It would have to be Led Zeppelin. The Beatles were great players and composers and everything, but I think if you put the Beatles head to head with Zeppelin at their prime they would have dwarfed them. Pink Floyd would definitely be up there too.

I can't believe you said Zeppelin because that's mine too.

It's like, the best rhythm section ever, the best avant-garde guitarist, and best front man. They were all about experimentation and never doing the same album twice, living on the edge and rock 'n roll.

Yet although it's got a romantic appeal, there is no way to actually go through life like that. The Grateful Dead did it, but I don't think there is any other band that can live on the edge like that and make it last.

The bad part was that Jerry's early demise ruined this massive group movement and following. Your band is beginning to get a scene like that.

Yeah, people have been starting to talk about our band in the last few years as building up a following like that, like we're a phenomenon.

We do 100 shows a year so I guess we are a heavy touring band. I think what makes people want to come out and see us is that it's what we love to do.

I tried hardcore to meet you guys the other night backstage. I had some of Vancouver's finest on me. I tried real hard to give you guys some great stuff, but the girl running the venue looked all freaked out, so I felt weird giving her anything to pass along.

Next time just deal with our people.

Thanks for the candid conversation.

Take care.

311 are currently working on a new studio album, due in the summer of 2005.

Planet Verge Article

Is it emotion? Or music? For 311’s Tim Mahoney, its a grassroots blend of both

I think that’s more important. The music’s always first. It’s not about our image, or other stuff that’s secondary. It’s always the music’s first, and creating quality music and quality records. -Tim Mahoney
“That’s ideal for us. The lyrics these guys are writing, we really do care a lot about music and trying to influence people in a positive way through sound waves. It’s something we take really serious, and it sounds corny to say spirituality and all this and stuff, but it’s true. I think that a lot of our fans are those kinds of people, too. I’m the same way with music and bands that I like, and what music does stuff for me and helps me. It’s more like therapy for me, in a way. I think that’s more important. The music’s always first. It’s not about our image, or other stuff that’s secondary. It’s always the music’s first, and creating quality music and quality records.”
Although Hexum and Martinez are the lyric writing team, Mahoney says, “They always explain how we all feel as a band. We stand behind them and we’re proud of the fact that they always, rather than bitching about a situation, draw light on it, and try to take a positive mental attitude towards things to make a change for the better. They both have that mindset and it’s really reflected in their lyrics. I’m proud. I wouldn’t be able to get up there and rock out if I didn’t believe in what they are saying or feel the same way as them about their lyrics. If they were talking about a bunch of wack stuff I didn’t endorse, we wouldn’t be able to be a band. I’m proud of them for that. It’s easy to not put as much thought into it. Writing music and writing lyrics-I can write lyrics, but I don’t know man, that’s an art form all to itself.”
Through the years, numerous Top 40 acts have gotten their start thanks to 311. “We always joke and say we’re like the springboard to stardom, but I don’t think that’s the case. I think that we’re fortunate to make friends and travel with bands that have gone on and blown up,” shares Mahoney.
Among those bands are the Deftones, Korn, and Sugar Ray. “No Doubt, the first tour they ever did outside of California was opening for us. Then they went on to be huge,” recalls Mahoney. “The Incubus guys, they’re really good guys, I love them. I don’t even think they were old enough to drink when they were opening for us. Some of them were minors, so we were probably breaking the law by providing them with beer. It’s cool. It makes me happy to see all these bands do good.”
It wasn’t until 1996, five years after they began, that the media began to pay attention to 311. Fourteen months after their self-titled album was debuted, “Down” was released as a single and quickly climbed to #1 on the Billboard Modern Rock Chart. “All Mixed Up” scored the #2 spot when it was released soon after. The really big break didn’t come until 2001 with From Chaos, thanks to the single, “Amber,” which reached #10 on the Billboard Modern Rock Chart and #30 on the Billboard Modern AC Chart.
“It’s always been just a slow, steady pace for us,” admits Mahoney. “We’ve just always done our own thing, and the climate is always changing. When our first record came out, it was almost grunge era with Nirvana and Soundgarden and those bands. We’re more proud of our longevity and the fact that we’re still happy playing music together and enjoy making music together and traveling and playing shows together. Although it would be great to have as many fans as No Doubt has, because you want to touch as many people with your music, but all bands are different. We put out these singles, and more recently, the radio has been a lot more friendly to us. At first it was a struggle because any time you have any sort of reggae or rap music mixed in with rock-especially back when we first started, it was really only the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Urban Dance Squad, 24/7 Spies, were the only kinds of hybrid bands.”
Through releasing their first three albums independently on What Have You Records, to playing in front of 10,000 people in Japan, 311 are a true musical success story. They use their public position to help make the world a better place- like taking the Museum of Tolerance out on tour with them, or most recently, donating proceeds of merch sales toward hurricane relief in Louisiana, the state that proclaimed March 11 a national holiday.
It doesn’t matter if they’re the headlining act, or out there opening up for old friends, 311 love what they’re doing and fans love them for that. Mahoney concludes, “A few years ago, Incubus took us to Europe to open for them, so we were kinda reflecting on all that. It’s pretty funny, it’s strange. This is our fifteenth year now as a band, and we’re just as happy, if not happier now. That’s exciting.”

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Don't tread on 311: the band proves it has lasting power (Muhlenburgh Weekly)

A tow truck is removing innocent-looking cars from the Martin Luther parking lot. No, this is not a joke and it is not thievery--room must be made for the tour buses. It is Sun., Nov. 13th and the College's headliner concert for the year, 311, is on campus, and everyone is buzzing and/or chasing their cars down 23rd Street. With Memorial Hall transformed into a concert venue and a locker room converted into a chic, New York City-themed dressing room, madness ensued.

As the opening act, Shootyz Groove (name origin questionable, yet unknown) shook the entire campus (literally) with their hard rock/rap and heavy bass lines, hundreds of concert-goers began trickling into Memorial Hall. The die-hard 311 fans, and basically every misunderstood teenager in the greater Lehigh Valley, were packed against the front barricade. By 8 p.m., it was overflowing and the excitement level was so high that screaming could be heard even after the deafening experience that was Shootyz Groove.

311 consists of Nick Hexum (vocals, guitar), P-Nut (bass), Tim Mahoney (guitar), Chad Sexton (drums) and Douglas "SA" Martinez (DJ). The pop-rock-reggae band has been on the scene for nearly 15 years now--it's about time they came around to good ole' A-town and showed us a butt-rockin' time! Hexum said the band "felt the most welcomed ever" at the College. "(Playing at a college) has a personal touch, to be with the kids and to have the basketball court right there." Now back on the road, the guys think playing on campuses "makes it easier to be away from home when you have to be away from home and the college kids keep us going--young and crazy."

311 opened with "Are You Ready? Freeze Time," and suddenly there were bodies flying all over the place. Crowd-surfing aside, the audience warmed up to 311 immediately--everyone was dancing, singing, clapping and making other inexplicable, cult-like gestures. "Our music is rather cerebral, so you'd expect we'd do well with college students," explains Hexum. Even the band's sound guy was rocking out in what could have just been his boxers. 311 played fan favorites "Come Original," "Down" and "Amber," closing the set off with "Beautiful Disaster," and an encore finale, "Feels So Good."

After 15 years of international success, 311 merely cited their major changes as "a little weight, maybe some gray hairs." They are excited at the constant prospect of new fans, and eternally grateful to their loyal fans who have stuck with them after all of these years and who continue to keep up with the band. "It takes a long time for people to digest the music and for us to build up an undeniable fanbase," says Hexum.

By staying true to themselves and their music, 311 has impressively maintained a steady career as a rock band, and will continue to as long as they have each other and their fans. P-Nut grandly concludes, "Longevity is where it's at." This band has proved its lasting power and continuing abilty to please their crowd and fans through their inspiring music. It is safe to say, they'll be around for a while.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

New Orleans is Special to 311 (ABQJournal)

Given recent world events, being positive is harder to do. But vocalist S.A. Martinez of the band 311 maintains that that is exactly how people can survive the recent tragedies in New Orleans and its surrounding areas.
"There's no question that this is a sad turn of events," Martinez stated in a recent phone interview between shows on the group's current tour, "but I think it's very important for people to keep hoping for the best and quickest recovery possible and keep envisioning a bright future."
The city of New Orleans is special to Martinez and his longtime musical cronies, bassist P-Nut, vocalist/guitarist Nick Hexum, guitarist Tim Mahoney and drummer Chad Sexton.
On March 11 of every year (3/11) the group performs a special concert that draws thousands of the group's fans to the Crescent City. In 2004, the group performed a five-hour set that included 68 songs. The performance was captured on film and released on DVD as "311 Day Live in New Orleans."
"Our first show in Jacksonville (Fla.) (after the hurricane) was a pretty difficult one. Our thoughts were obviously elsewhere," Martinez related. "We were actually supposed to have a day off in New Orleans the day the hurricane hit."
Martinez noted that the group will be heavily involved in any musical benefits that will develop and that its annual March 11 shows will continue if possible.
Currently, the group is focused on a 38-city tour that will come to an end in El Paso on Sept. 15, a day after its scheduled performance at the Albuquerque Convention Center on Wednesday. It is touring in support of the recent full-length release titled "Don't Tread On Me."
This, the group's eighth release, shows a higher level of maturity than 2003's "Evolver," but at the same time holds true to the group's diverse roots.
Since its formation in the early 1990s, 311 has fused together just about every style of music into one cohesive genre that can only be called 311 Music. Its ska/reggae/hip-hop/rock/pop sound is instantly identifiable and this loose aggregate of sounds and styles leads to a diverse fanbase. From the Red Hot Chili Peppers and N.W.A. to legendary punk act Bad Brains, 311's music can trace back to just about any type of music.
"I remember when Nick introduced me to Bad Brains," Martinez said. "He made me a tape of the album 'With The Quickness.' It blew my mind. Since then it has always been a dream to work with (producer) Ron (St. Germain)."
The pair got their wish. "Don't Tread On Me" is the group's second with St. Germain and the group doesn't seem to be searching for another.
"He brings out the best in us and we seem to bring out the best in him," Martinez said. "There's just a mutual respect there that I think is pretty rare nowadays."

Sunday, November 6, 2005

311: A Night at Northern (UnRated Mag)

Omaha's favorite rock sons stopped by De Kalb for a Sunday show during their November weekend in Illinois. With no signs of a Saturday night University of Illinois "Champagne" hangover, the crowd at Northern Illinois University (NIU) was treated to a deep 23 song set that touched on almost every 311 album as they tossed out some "positive vibes" along the way. Grasshopper Takeover (another Omaha group) warmed everyone up before 311 smoked them right out. As the first joint landed at the feet of Tim Mahoney, it was evident that a spattering of new jams and older classics would keep the sold-out floor section jumping for the entire set. In stark contrast to their summer show at Northerly Island (Chicago, IL), the band delivered a collection that sounded more like a 311 iPod on shuffle as opposed to their Greatest Hits '93 -'03 album released in June of 2004.

After giving the crowd a little jam session, the Nebraska guys stepped on stage at around 8:40 P.M. CST and kicked off the show with 'Offbeat Bare-Ass' from Grassroots and then continued to rile the young audience up with crowd-favorite 'Freak Out' from 1994's Music. Staple hits such as 'Beautiful Disaster,' Soundsystem's 'Flowing' and the cover version of The Cure's 'Love Song' did make Sunday's list. At the same time, 'Homebrew,' 'Amber' and even tour title track 'Don't Tread On Me' was left on the cutting room floor. With 2005 being the 15th anniversary of touring, singer/guitarist Nick Hexum, singer S.A. Martinez, drummer Chad Sexton, guitarist Tim Mahoney and bassist P-Nut can mix and match set lists with the best of all touring bands. Going to a 311 show guarantees you a night of amazing guitar playing by Tim, tight vocals delivered by Nick and an amazing display of drumming from Mr. Chad Sexton. This was all the more demonstrated as the guys squeezed their drum solo in after playing From Chaos' 'Uncalm.' Adding to the 311 musical smorgasbord was 'Use of Time,' '1,2,3,' 'Who's Got the Herb?' and the 'T + P Combo.' Just as in their previous Chicago-area stop this summer, the concert did highlight a good portion of August 16th's Volcano release of Don't Tread On Me. From that, fans were given 'Frolic Room,' the S.A. Martinez special 'It's Getting OK Now' and 'Speak Easy.' This, as Nick Hexum noted, " not a song about an illegal drinking establishment. Rather, a song that encourages people to speak their mind."

After Nick's usual dedication of 'Down' to the "old school fans," the Nebraska natives walked off the stage leaving the NIU crowd wanting even more. And, as usual, 311 delivered. Their two song encore consisted of Evolver's 'Creatures (For A While)' and then segued to 'Feels So Good' via a brief P-Nut bass jam. When you end a concert like that, everyone goes home in an electric frenzy. Whether you made the one hour drive from Chicago or took a cold stroll over from your De Kalb dorm room, all paying customers walked out of the Convocation Center knowing they witnessed something that is 15 years in the making and just getting better with age.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

311 - Don't Tread on Me Review (antiMusic)

311 is one of the few 90's alternative rock acts that have been able to not only stay together but remain viable 10 years after they hit the scene. This is one of the band's that could be blamed for rap/rock but don't hold that against them. With Don't Tread on Me, 311 hones that signature sound of rock riffs against a reggae beat and the dueling vocalist approach. They have comfortable moved away from all of the terrible bands they helped to inspire.

Don't Tread on Me doesn't have a single dull moment. Unfortunately the band seems to be stuck on the same beat they employed for that terrible cover of the Cure's "Lovesong". If any compliant can be made against Don't Tread on Me is that 311 is playing it way too safe.

Song's like the title track, "Getting Through to Her" and "Whisky and Wine" seem effortless for this band but also ring out as some of the album's better songs. 311 channels Rage against the Machine for "Solar Flare", the heaviest song on the album.

The overall upbeat, mellow vibe of Don't Tread on Me makes for a satisfying listen all the way through to the last track, the mini-epic "There's Always an Excuse".

No matter how great this record is, it is hard to shake the feeling that 311 is treading water before they move onto something even greater. Don't Tread on Me may be the definitive album to showcase everything 311 is good at, but hopefully it is just the promise of a real definitive album coming up around the corner.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

311 delivers stirring funk-rock (Mansfield Globe)

As one of the funk-rock hybrids that rode to success in the wake of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, 311 never quite equaled that band in terms of record sales or public awareness. But if singer Nick Hexum lacks Anthony Kiedis's sex appeal and bassist P-Nut doesn't have Flea's oddball factor, Friday's performance at the Tweeter Center revealed how the band has managed a successful career while staying mostly under the radar.

A key factor is 311's musicianship. Drawing heavily on not only funk but also Caribbean forms such as reggae, ska, and dub demands a tight rhythm section, and P-Nut and drummer Chad Sexton were easily up to the task. Sexton compensated for hiding behind his kit for most of the show by taking a drum solo during ''Applied Science" that showed off what he had been doing almost invisibly, with the rest of the band eventually joining in to pound on a line of toms and cymbals that had been added at the front of the stage.

The drummer seemed otherwise content to cede the spotlight to Hexum's easygoing singing, P-Nut's stomping around in baggy shorts, Tim Mahoney's slouched guitar playing, and S.A. Martinez's rapping. The band drew from each of its nine albums, paying as much attention to its debut, ''Music," as its latest, ''Don't Tread on Me," and acknowledging its biggest seller, 1995's ''311," just long enough to play ''Down" and ''All Mixed Up."

Nü-metal survivors Papa Roach were practically coheadliners, with an hourlong set and an audience that seemed to have come as much for them as for 311. With declarations like ''This is rock 'n' roll, this is not church, ladies and gentlemen!," singer Jacoby Shaddix drew heavily from the well of metal frontman cliches, but he managed to pull off most of them. During the aptly titled ''M80 (Explosive Energy Movement)," he wandered through the crowd, high-fiving and hugging fans while fiercely screaming out the lyrics without missing a beat.

Unwritten Law opened the show with aggressive but melodic hard rock that hinted at its Warped Tour past while incorporating enough rap, ska, and hardcore to fit in with the headliners.

Monday, August 15, 2005

311's "Don't Tread on Me" (TODAY)

By reuniting with producer Ron Saint Germain on their latest disc, “Don’t Tread on Me,” 311 appears to be looking to recapture some of the magic that blessed the band’s eponymous, triple-platinum album, which Germain produced in 1995.

They’ve succeeded. The title track (and first single) is an excellent tune that throws back to “311’s” infectious hooks and hard rock crunch/reggae power. Surprisingly, aside from this track and the angst-filled “Solar Flare,” most of the tracks are relaxing, softer melodies that are the opposite of the cliched rap-rock 311 championed in early ’90s.

Nick Hexum and S.A. Martinez provide a one-two vocal punch that features a congruent crooning ability many rock bands lack. Guitarist Tim Mahoney, drummer Chad Sexton, and bassist P-Nut have perfected their reggae/rock sound over the years to a tee, as showcased in the songs “Whiskey and Wine” and “Speak Easy.”

The track “There’s Always an Excuse,” which combines elements from every 311 album to date, will win over even the most jaded listener with it’s ever changing harmony. Starting with soft acoustics, peaking with hard rock and pianos, then ending with a bright solo, the track covers more musical ground in five minutes than the band has in 10 years.

One of the most enjoyable tracks, “Speak Easy,” a soft oceanic melody with a Caribbean vibe, comes complete with steel drums and a soothing wah-wah guitar effect that would make Jamaica proud.
—Vincent Cherubino

Thursday, August 4, 2005

Thank heaven, there's 311 (Vox Magazine)

For Tim Mahoney, the Omaha-born lead guitarist of 311, his trip through Columbia will give him a refreshing perspective on why he’s in the rock-star business.
“I always love to play in the Midwest in general because they like to hear the music,” he says. Mahoney knows the power of an appreciative audience — it’s one of the key ingredients in his band’s live show. “The energy we get from the crowd, we use that and then put it back out and it just keeps amplifying.”
On Wednesday, Mahoney and his four bandmates, guitarist/singer Nick Hexum, bassist P-Nut, drummer Chad Sexton and lead singer SA Martinez return to the land most of the group still calls home — the Midwest — to perform at the Amphitheater at Mizzou. The band is headlining a show that will also feature Unwritten Law, Papa Roach and Reel Big Fish.

The rap-rock quintet began building an underground following with its early ’90s albums Music and Grassroots and began a non-stop touring schedule. The group attracted mainstream attention with its triple-platinum, self-titled release in 1995 and has since released four studio albums and a live disc. Four of the band’s albums cracked the Top 10 on the Billboard Top-200 Chart and it has even racked up two number one hits. All the while the band has stayed true to its reggae-inspired sound. 311’s summer tour is to support Don’t Tread on Me, its eighth and latest studio album.
“There’s the same sort of ingredients, but the record is unique to itself,” Mahoney says. “It doesn’t necessarily sound like any of our other records. Every time we record a record, it’s a good representation of where we are at as a band.”
The album’s first single, also titled “Don’t Tread on Me,” shouldn’t be lightly interpreted. “It’s a political commentary and also personal commentary as far as how we stand as a band,” Mahoney says, adding, “It also means don’t f--- with me.”
The guys in 311 have been writing songs since they shared a three-bedroom house upon moving to Los Angeles 15 years ago. Mahoney credits their longevity to their tight bond and love of music. “The Grateful Dead have been doing it for 40 years, and that’s a good inspiration for us,” he says.
Mahoney is still amazed by the songs created by his band’s two main songwriters, Hexum and Martinez. “We still enjoy making music together,” he says. “All we’ve wanted to do our whole lives is play music and be able to earn a living. We just trip out on that.”
In Columbia, 311 superfans like Jessica Vaugier, 22, will be welcoming the band back to her hometown with open arms. A fan since she was a fourth-grader, Vaugier has a tattoo of the band’s logo on her left calf. She says that she has seen 311 in concert 36 times and plans to see the band Wednesday as well as in a few other cities around the country. The band’s hybrid sound and positive attitude appeal to her, as do their live performances, which Vaugier says give her an adrenaline rush. “Expect to have a really good time,” she says. “You’ll leave happy.”
“It’s a very high-energy, crowd-interactive type of event,” says Peter McDevitt, booking manager for The Blue Note. “They’re one of those bands that feeds off the energy of the crowd.” Mahoney describes playing live shows as therapy.
“Hopefully [our live show creates] a bunch of positive energy that gets flooded out in the universe to do some good somehow,” he says. He hopes the show will be a fun homecoming for the band and the audience.

I Want Your Six
Vox accosts performers and music fans with a very sharp pencil and forces them, under duress, to answer six questions.

This week's answers are from Tim Mahoney, guitarist for 311.

1. What is your favorite album?
Bob Marley, Kaya. I have a whole bunch, but that’s the first one that popped in my head.

2. Which album do you wish would spontaneously combust?
Does Lindsay Lohan have an album out? No, I shouldn’t say that because I haven’t heard it. I can’t think of anything that I really hate. All the stuff I listen to I like.

3. What’s the best live show you have ever seen?
Jerry Garcia Band, but I forget what year is was.

4. What is your favorite make-out album?
How about Al Green’s Greatest Hits? No, can I change it to The Meters? They’re a little bit more upbeat.

5. What band is so last year?
I don’t want to say anything negative against anyone.

6. Build your dream band.
Danny Carey from Tool on drums, Bob Marley on vocals, Jaco Pastorius on bass, Jerry Garcia on guitar and Gregg Allman on keyboards.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

311 finds new direction to its liking (North County Times)

With 15 years as a group under their belts, the members of 311 belong to a veteran band by any definition. But vocalist/DJ SA Martinez sounded more like a musician relishing his first taste of success when asked about the band as it exists in 2005.

"I really think our writing has just, it's really growing, and I think it's something that is only going to get better," Martinez said just before the start of the band's summer tour. "I'm really liking the direction that we're heading in."

That direction is pushing 311 toward a more grooving melodic rock sound and away from the rap-rock hybrid of the group's early albums. Martinez acknowledged some 311 fans aren't embracing the move.

"I know some of our fans think we're becoming too melodic or we're not doing enough rap or whatever," he said. "But honestly, we're just doing what's in our hearts and what wants to come out. I think that really makes us who we are."

In Martinez's view, 311 reached a stylistic crossroads before making 2001's "From Chaos."

By that time, 311 had seen its commercial fortunes level off a bit. Formed in Lincoln, Neb., in 1990, 311 self-released three albums before deciding the group needed to relocate to Los Angeles to pursue a record deal. The move worked, and 311 landed a deal with Capricorn Records. The band's major label debut, "Music," arrived in 1993, but the real breakthrough came two discs later with the 1995 self-titled CD. It yielded major radio hits in "Down" and "All Mixed Up," and sold more than 3 million copies.

Next was the CD "Transistor," which strayed from the group's hard-hitting rock/rap/funk signature to fashion a more relaxed sound, sold only about 800,000 copies. Sales perked up with 1999's "Soundsystem," which produced the hit "Come Original," while moving a step back toward the band's harder sound. But Martinez said by that point, the members —— Martinez, Nick Hexum (vocals/guitar), Chad Sexton (drums), Tim Mahoney (guitar) and P-Nut (bass) —— felt they had reached an important point in their musical development.

The 2001 effort "From Chaos" reflected this mind-set.

"I think we were at a crossroads there, where we were trying to recapture some of what we were known for early on, and then on the other side of that record we let ourselves go a little more," Martinez said of "From Chaos." "Some of the songs toward the end of that record were some of the best songs we've ever written —— 'Amber,' 'Uncalm,' 'I'll Be Here Awhile.' We really just started to say this is really kind of what we want to do, as opposed to let's recapture our youth. Let's embrace the melodies and the things we really want to sing."

Those three songs, which blended smooth-flowing melodies with reggae beats, represented a sign of things to come. The lilting midtempo "Amber" emerged as one of two top 10 modern rock singles ("You Wouldn't Believe," a funk-edged rocker with plenty of melody also was a hit) on the CD.

With 2003's "Evolver," 311 embraced melodic rock even more eagerly, and that shift continues with "Don't Tread on Me." which is one of the band's most focused works.

The reggae element that coated "From Chaos" once again figures strongly in several songs, including the laid-back "Speak Easy," the harder-edged "Frolic Room" and the title track.

But punchy rock is also a primary element on "Don't Tread on Me." "Solar Fire" stands out as one of the freshest-sounding songs, as a hefty rock riff ignites this heavy anthem. "Long for the Flowers" is anchored in a gritty guitar riff that runs throughout the song. "It's Getting OK Now" rides a driving rhythm to lay claim to being the CD's briskest track.

The group will, of course, debut a number of songs from "Don't Tread on Me" on tour. After the band's appearance Saturday at Street Scene, 311 will hook up with Papa Roach for an amphitheater tour.

With 311 coming off what Martinez says are the band's best CDs —— "Evolver" and "Don't Tread on Me" —— he's not only confident about the quality of the live show, but the future of 311 as well.

"I think this really just gives us more life, even down the road," he said. "It deepens our catalog to the point where these songs, I think, are really going to grow on our fans and are just going to be fun to play live. And I think it just points us in the right direction."

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

311 has stood the test of time by playing for its fans (Press-Enterprise)

Survival is pretty underrated. In the "flavor of the month" mentality that has encompassed the music industry, career longevity seems to mean nothing to radio stations and MTV.

These outlets fail to appreciate the musicians who start small and get big, the acts who start at a grass-roots level and flourish from there.

Eight albums into their career, reggae/rock fusers 311 know a little something about that.

"It's a progression on the sound that we've developed over the years," P-Nut says of 311's upcoming CD, "Don't Tread On Me."

The Omaha, Neb., band's second album was titled "Grassroots," which has become its de facto mantra. The band has made a vow to play at least 200 shows in support of each record, something that has garnered it a loyal legion of followers.

"I can definitely see a point in our career where we just start releasing our music independently," bass player P-Nut said. "It's hard to say that you don't need the record company's support, but we feel our fans will support us no matter what."

Of course, the band -- rounded out by Nick Hexum on vocals and guitar, multi-instrumentalist S.A. Martinez, guitarist Tim Mahoney and drummer Chad Sexton -- has sold 7.5 million records.

Its longevity has seen a progression from the frat party soundtrack it was in the mid-'90s to the jam-heavy act it became on its last tour with the Roots and Medeski, Martin and Wood. However, no path is without roadblocks, and in 2003 the group hit a snag with the snarkily titled "Evolver."

Whether it was mid-career doldrums or just a lack of inspiration, the quintet decided to leave the songwriting chores solely up to Hexum. The result was flat and left the band and its fans largely unsatisfied.

"What happened there is that we wanted to see what it was like to put out a record that was from a singular mind," P-Nut said. "Nick's ... talented, but it wasn't really what any of us were hoping for."

Its recently wrapped set, "Don't Tread On Me," due out Aug. 16, marks a return to the collaborative writing process. The group tapped longtime producer Ron Saint Germaine to helm the project. The outcome, though still heavy on the reggae and rock, has a more cohesive and energetic feel to it.

Martinez, who in the past employed the use of turntables to broaden the rhythm section, eschewed them in favor of thickening up the sound with another guitar. He penned two of the tracks on the 12-song release.

"It's not totally different ... but it's a progression on the sound that we've developed over the years," P-Nut said. "The strange thing about putting out records is you never know how well they are going to be promoted. We're happy with it and I think our fans will be, too."

Either way, they're in the music business for the long haul.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

311 Release Don't Tread on Me (Music Remedy)

Volcano/Jive Records will be releasing 311’s 8th studio album Don’t Tread On Me August 16. The album consists of 11 new tracks produced by Ron Saint Germain and 311. The title track “Don’t Tread On Me” will be the first single impacting at radio July 25.

Omaha-bred, Los Angeles-based 311 have released seven studio albums (four Gold, one Platinum, and one Triple-Platinum), a live album and three DVD’s (one Gold, two Platinum). Four of their releases have reached the Top 10 on Billboard’s Top 200 Album Charts. Six singles have gone into the Top 10 on Billboard’s Modern Rock Chart including the #1 hits “Down” and “Love Song.” The band has sold over seven million albums in the U.S.

The band, known for their dynamic live shows, will go back out on the road in support of the new album (and in celebration of their 15 year anniversary) starting July 27 in Santa Cruz with support bands Papa Roach and Unwritten Law in select cities.


“To me, the meaning of the album title, "Don't Tread on Me" is simple - it's about freedom. Personal freedom. Freedom from any kind of oppression - political, religious, or social.”

“The title track "Don't Tread On Me" is really about emotional volatility when you feel like your freedom is being encroached upon.”

“The title track - "Don't Tread On Me" has a great melody with a dope rhythm underneath. Slightly skanky, but in a good way. Catchy, aggressive at times, and never a dull moment. Classic 311.”

“Don't Tread On Me" has us embarking on what I know will be a great journey. More shows, more reactions; being pushed to my physical limits by the egging on of thousands. This collection is as diverse a group of songs as can be written by 311 and we had fun putting it all down. We love being allowed to continue on our musickal journey and we have you, our fans, to thank for our future. Let there be rock!”

“I think we had a lot to say on this new album (themes range from personal freedom and emotional volatility in “Don’t Tread On Me” to life and mortality in “It’s Getting OK Now” to questioned celebration in “Frolic Room” to sexual abuse in “Getting Through to Her” to the politics of fear in “Solar Flare” to the ups and downs of love and personal relationships in “Speak Easy”, “Waiting”, “Long for the Flowers” and “There’s Always an Excuse”) and I'm very happy with the combination of new styles that we've come up with. Overall, this album musically is a little more straight-forward than our last. It's more like what you see at a 311 show; two vocals, guitar, bass, and drums. Evolver had more overdubs and was more influenced by the British heroes of the past. This one is pure America (with a little Jamaican herb!).”

“The new songs are eclectic as always. There are a handful of reggae influenced tracks, but they're more up-tempo and funky than our reggae has been in the past. There's also a fast punk song with a melodic vocal that Tim & SA wrote called "It's Getting OK Now" and a super slow and heavy rap rocker called "Solar Flare". On "Solar Flare" SA's delivery and lyrics skewer people who use fear to stay in power.”

“When we first started rehearsing "Solar Flare", I thought that the vocal needed something with as much attitude as the music was communicating. I kept getting these apocalyptic visions - these you and I against the world scenarios.”

“The true origins of the song "Frolic Room" lie in the fact that Nick has frequented a bar called "The Frolic Room" in Hollywood ever since he's lived in this city. The bar has had 311 songs on their jukebox for quite some time. This new song is basically an insurance policy to reserve a slot on their juke for eternity.”

“I got the lyrical inspiration for the song "Speak Easy" from Wilhelm Reich's belief that any emotion we carry we must let out - otherwise that emotion will sit within us and manifest itself in ways that may not be good for our health. We can create blocks that turn into physical symptoms that were initially just emotions that we denied ourselves from experiencing. I shared this idea with Nick. I told him that lyrically I wanted to hit on the idea of letting out emotion, relaxing and breathing - because breath is life. I sang, "Nice and easy, and your breathing will be pleasing..." and Nick was quick with the rejoinder "..just speak easy and say what's on your mind.”

“After finishing our eighth album, I look back and notice how lucky we are to have been able to make music for a living for fifteen years! This is due entirely to the level of dedication of the fans we have and the bond that we've developed as a band over the past 15 years. We know we're truly blessed.”