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.