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.