Friday, August 15, 2008

Camping with 311 (Star Bulletin)

FRESH OFF the North American leg of their Summer Unity Tour, veteran rockers 311 return to Honolulu this weekend to headline Band Camp VI at the Waikiki Shell.

Produced by local promoters BAMP Project, the annual concert will also feature a performance by Augustana and the return of Jason Mraz to the Shell for the second time this year. Former Pennylane lead singer David Tamaoka will represent the islands with an opening set that showcases his talents as a solo artist (see story on opposite page ).
The Star-Bulletin caught up with 311 lead singer Nick Hexum via telephone last month as the band got ready for a Summer Unity Tour stop in Houston, Tex.

QUESTION: In a recent interview with MTV, fellow 311 member Chad Sexton compared the band to the Grateful Dead. Do you agree with him?

ANSWER: I think Chad would probably revise that statement a little bit. The comparison isn't quite right because we don't like 10-minute songs.

I'd say we're more like some classic rock band like Aerosmith or someone like that. We like to jam, but we're not the Dead.

Q: I think he might have been talking about the number of people who follow you guys on tour. What is it about 311 that attracts that type of loyal fan?

A: I think it's got a lot to do with our reputation for a good live show. The word spread, and people finally got around to checking us out.

We're extremely grateful, because we haven't put any new stuff out, and yet we're getting so many newcomers.

Q: The last few months have focused on the Summer Unity Tour, but in April you were able to celebrate 311 Day in New Orleans with the guys. What was it like to return to that city?

A: Yeah, it was our triumphant return to New Orleans. We had a whole lot of fans get together and do a kind of Habitat for Humanity thing, so it had that whole spirit of rebirth going along with a pretty wild party. It was sold out ... I think maybe 16,000 people, maybe more.

Q: Moving on to the new 311 album due out next year. What can you tell us about it?

A: Well, we were halfway done with the album when we decided to take a break and go on tour. That happened kind of by chance, (because) we're primarily a touring band, and the show must go on with our tour every summer.

But it turned out to be a real good choice, creatively, because we've had the chance to play live shows and interact with the fans directly. So we got the opportunity to decide how to augment the first half of the album and really round things out.

Q: So, stopping recording sessions to hit the road didn't disrupt the creative process?

A: No, it really was more of a thing like this is how we have to keep doing it.

We had basically finished the first half (of the album), so we were kind of finished with all of those good ideas and were ready for some new inspiration. It couldn't have been better for our planning.

Q: On one hand, 311 has sold over 8 million albums over the last 15 years. But the music industry has changed dramatically during that same period of time; has the band been forced to change its approach towards recording new material?

A: We're trying not to think about that too much. The head worries about what people are going to like, while the heart is about what moves us.

We just try to make music that we like. My philosophy is get our music into peoples' heads and the rest will take care of itself.

Q: It's an election year; four years ago, you were on the campaign trail in support of Sen. John Kerry. Will you do the same for Sen. Barack Obama in 2008?

A: No. I've just really simplified my life. I think I was used to taking on too many side projects, producing and political. Now, I'm just putting all efforts into this new album.

But, I've had a chance to meet Obama. He was so inspiring and friendly and down to earth ... it was a pretty powerful moment for me.

Q: Do you have any fond memories of performing in Hawaii?

A: The very first time I ever bleached my hair, Gwen Stefani did it for me when we were playing on a co-headlining bill (with No Doubt) on Oahu. That would have been like, 1995 or 1994.

We have very, very fond feelings for Hawaii, and we're kind of bummed that we can't get over there more often.

Q: Any final thoughts?

A: There's been such a renaissance in excitement and energy, so I'm excited to see what this new album's gonna bring. I really think we're catching our second wind as a band and we're ready to reach new heights.

Monday, July 21, 2008

311 Goes With The Flow (Consquence of Sound)

Backed by the fluorescent glow of their lit up logo and of cheers and chants uttered by the diehard fans filling up about half of the 25,000 person capacity Nissan Pavilion, 311 took the stage as part of Washington, D.C.’s stop in the 2008 Summer Unity tour. Within seconds the opening chords of “Down” rang aloud, kicking off a trademark 311 performance – 80 minutes of greatest hits and free-flowing raps, of dueling guitar solos and turntable infused rhythms, of head banging and crowd surfing, and in the end, of a band stuck between the glories days of old and a tired act, delivering a broken record of styles and sounds.

Like so many others, 311 introduced me to the glories of rock, the anticipation of CD releases, and my first experiences of just how crazy a pit can be. Eventually, as I grew older and tastes changed, the five piece outfit from Omaha, Nebraska became more of a guilty pleasure and reminder of what used to be. Still while the days of Transistor on repeat have come and gone, I do find myself, every so often, reliving days of old, and cranking up the speakers just before that one perfect chorus.

But when it comes to 311 live, neither aging, nor changing taste buds can resist the opportunity to see the adrenaline punch sounds of rap ‘n roll up close and personal. For as many summers as I can remember, and as was the case again yesterday, July 21st, a stop to band’s closest tour date was part of my “to do” list.

The scene at Nissan Pavilion on the scorchingly hot Sunday afternoon was typical of your standard 311 show. Tailgating was the prevalent pre-show activity as most opted to dabble in the activities of underage drinking and Frisbee rather than catch the set of Joe Sumner, son of Sting, and opening act Fiction Plane. As the clocked approached 7:30, most began to make their way into the venue, leaving a mess of empty bottles sprinkled across the gravel parking lot.

Right on time, 311 compadre and billed co-headliner Snoop Dogg took the stage. Backed by a band ranging from eight to twelve members in size and a gigantic marijuana leaf hanging above, the 36-year-old, California born rapper entertained fans with a 45 minute set filled with “What’s My Names” and “Drop It Like Its Hots.” While a bit overly repetitive and glutted with shameless self-promotion, Snoop Dogg’s performance was certainly compelling and received well by a venue full of folks mostly clamoring for the band scheduled to take the stage next.

Just seconds after the last beats of Snoop’s set echoed out of Nissan Pavilion, the rain began to pour over the packed crowd making up the venue’s lawn seating. But all was forgotten, all scrambling stopped, all cries for cover hushed when Nick Hexum, SA Martinez, P-Nut, Tim Mahoney, Chad Sexton made their way onto stage. Those in the pit erupted, while those protected by the barrier of seats, responded with equal enthusiasm.

The 1999 radio-approved “Come Original” and “Do You Right”, a single off the band’s 1993 debut, Music, followed as 311 began to make their way through the Greatest Hits so many present that night had come to know and love. In fact, nothing about last night’s performance was different than any other 311 show. The hits flowed one after another. The familiar chords of “Homebrew” circulated the clamoring crowd, while the opening bass solo of “What Was I Thinking” appeared almost like clockwork.

And that was the problem. Everything was the same. Every solo could be anticipated, every call for a “jump” from Hexum was expected, even Chad Sexton’s mind numbing drum solo on “Applied Science” has been an after thought. Sure, tunes like “Beautiful Disaster” and “Creatures (For a While)” will always be a highlight, regardless of the number of times you’ve heard them played, but when fans know what will appear in the encore even before the band is finished performing their main set, when the live renditions of songs become as familiar as the recorded ones, the thrill only last so long.

Last night, 311 neither debuted new material from their upcoming album, nor played anything from their most recent one, 2005’s Don’t Tread on Me. Instead, they went with the flow, performing the same hits in the same way as they always have. While the diehards, overcome half by love and half by intoxication, might not notice at first, eventually, when your concerts become as predictable as your album, even the biggest of fans can’t help but notice.

311 and Snoop Dogg get cozy (The Virginian-Pilot)

311 is making its annual summer rounds. This year, the band shares the bill with rapper Snoop Dogg. We know what you're thinking. Snoop Dogg? Really? We were stumped, too.

311 (pronounced three-eleven) embraces many styles in its music - rock, funk, reggae, punk - but rap isn't one of them. Yet Tuesday, they'll be together at the Verizon Wireless Virginia Beach Amphitheater.

When 311 DJ and singer S.A. Martinez called us from a town near Chicago, we asked him about the lineup. "Dude, Snoop is so cool.... Historically, we have packaged with acts that vary from one musical spectrum to the next.... It's power in numbers."

Plus, Martinez gets a kick out of the mixed crowd. "I love playing for our fan base, but I also love playing for fans who have no idea who we are."

While we had him on the line, he filled us in on other 311 news.

After the summer tour, the band plans to wrap up its ninth studio album, its first since 2005. This time, 311 is working with Bob Rock, who has produced music for Metallica, Aerosmith and Motley Crue. "We want to break the mold and do something different. It's a breath of fresh air," Martinez said.

The album is scheduled to drop next spring.

Since the guys got together in 1990, the music business has changed a lot, but the band thrives on adapting to new sounds. "One of the hallmarks of our band is that it's open to growth.... It's a natural extension of being alive," Martinez said. "We've always just looked at it square in the face, and it's always been a welcome challenge."

311 has come a long way since its days on the Omaha music scene. "Who would have thought five guys from Nebraska were going to be in this for 18 years? The odds were against us enormously," Martinez said.

Shortly after the guys hit the scene, a fire destroyed their equipment. When they released their debut album, "Music," in 1994, their sound was drowned out by the Seattle grunge scene. Radio didn't take notice until a year after their third release, "311," which sold more than 3 million copies and had the hits "Down" and "All Mixed Up."

"Somehow, we managed to find our way and find our niche and really make magic out of a molehill," Martinez said. "We're a lot like a tasty bottle of vino after a number of years. It just keeps getting better."

Snoop and 311 Got it Rolling (Boston Globe)

It was kind of hard to figure out how it all happened.

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311 and Snoop Dogg

At: Comcast Center, Friday
Punk-rock hipster kids with nipple piercings, camouflage cargo shorts, and back tattoos didn't quite seem like rapper Snoop Dogg's target demographic.

It made more sense seeing the sea of people spaz out as soon as guitarist Tim Mahoney let the menacing first chords of 311's anthem "Beautiful Disaster" rip through the Comcast Center Friday night.

It was definitely 311's crowd. Snoop was a multiplatinum co-headliner on the bill, trying to make his hits accommodate.

With classics like "Gin and Juice," "Ain't No Fun," and "Deep Cover" weaving between newer hits like "Drop It Like It's Hot" and "Sexual Eruption," it wasn't too difficult. He also had Kurupt and Daz Dillinger with him, toeing the line between guest performers and backup dancers.

Plus, in a really twisted, Ben Folds-covering-songs-off-"The Chronic" kind of way, Snoop has managed to transcend race the same way Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan have. Granted, Snoop was onstage with mammoth Nation of Islam-looking security guards; a diamond microphone that made it look like he was rapping into a pimp cup; a skull cap covering his braids; his crazy uncle Junebug dancing across the stage; and his uncle Rio wearing a tiger-skin sequin suit, singing hooks like an old Motown singer. Hanging above all the action? A big marijuana leaf.

Even if it didn't make sense in theory, it came together in action. 311 is an institution on a summertime touring circuit, and Snoop's catalog was built for summer. The fun overpowered the awkwardness.

Snoop's live band managed to neatly transform most of his songs into a near-rock set, just asking for chaos by throwing in the House of Pain classic "Jump Around," then later on trying to get the same crowd to snap dance.

"Hold on," he said. "I don't want y'all lookin' all unorganized now."

Honestly, that pot leaf is probably what brought Snoop and the crowd together. They were definitely the type to wave their lighters in the air, not their cellphones; the illuminated orange dots spread to the back of the amphitheater.

After 311 had torn through the happy slam-dance song "Do You Right," "Love Song," and "All Mixed Up," Chad Sexton let loose on a drum solo that made Snoop's set-ending crash session sound less epic.

While lead singer Nick Hexum grabbed a new shirt, stage hands brought more drums out so that all five members could drum as one for a sort of dark and intense makeshift Taiko drum session. It was easily the highlight of the night, even if bassist Aaron "P-Nut" Wills lost one of his sticks trying to keep up.

The band barely came up for air in its 90-minute set. The only time it did was when Hexum said the group was finally coming out with an album after three years and that "we want to see if we can get everyone in here to jump to the beat."

After the whole House of Pain experiment earlier in the evening, Snoop had to be somewhere saying, "Good luck."

Thursday, July 17, 2008


311's a killer upbeat, reggae-inspired, rock band With a huge following, a loyal fan base and a positive almost cheery outlook that fans can't get enough of. They've gone out of their way over the years to ensure their shows are for their fans, the best example was when they did the 68-song set on 311 Day in 2004. That's unheard of for bands to do, so when they came out and did that 68 song set, the fans went crazy! they sound just as good as they do on the radio up close and personal! Every album is something new and exciting and it's not just one song that kicks ass, it's the entire album! 311 is one of those bands that never leaves you disappointed and that's why their so kick ass!
Today I got to interview SA Martinez (vocals & DJ) and here's what he had to say..

JuicyBands: What do you guys usually do on the tour bus to pass time?

Martinez: We watch a lot of movies. Chad always brings a lot of early '90s, late '80s movies with people like Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger, we’re all really into those. We just chill, in fact we just watched that movie Tombstone not to long ago.

JuicyBands: Tombstone, never seen it; how is it?

Martinez: It’s cool, I liked it. We’ll probably watch it again before we’re done touring, you’d like it, you’ll have to check it out.

JuicyBands: That’s awesome, I’ll have to check that out for sure. The last album you guys came out with “Don’t Tread on Me” was absolutely phenomenal, It kicked ass and everyone in every age range loved it! I heard you guys are working on a new album, how’s that going?

Martinez: Thanks, we were all really happy with the way that album came out. It was actually my favorite album we’ve released so far. The new album’s coming along, we’ve been touring non-stop since our last album was released back in 2005. We decided to take some downtime to clear our minds so to speak, we really got into it and ideas just kept on flowing. We started working with a new producer and the guy’s amazing! He goes by Bob Rock, the guy’s phenomenal and working with him is one of the best moves we’ve ever done. He’s produced albums by Matalica, Aerosmith, Motley Crue and so many other talented artists out there. He definitely knows what he’s doing, so we’re all really excited!

JuicyBands: That’s awesome! I’m so excited for you guys, I can’t wait to hear it. Do you guys have an idea of when it should be coming out?

Martinez: We don’t have a date set in stone but it shouldn’t be to much longer. We have 10 songs for the new album written and finished. Everything’s recorded on those songs except for guitar. Drums, bass and vocals are done on most of the songs, so we just got to mix and master and it’ll be ready to go.

JuicyBands: This will be the 8th album 311 has came out with, every album’s new and fresh, how excited are you guys about the new album?

Martinez: We’re stoked, we’ve really put a lot of thought into this one and I can’t say enough about our producer Bob Rock. It’s gonna be awesome!

JuicyBands: Will you guys be giving your fans a sneak peak of the new album and playing some of those awesome new songs you guys have been working on, on the road?

Martinez: We've talked about it. I don't know if we've come to a conclusion. My gut feeling is we probably won't, but if it leaked closer to the release date, and it was proper audio leak, it would be fine with us.

JuicyBands: So you guys have been touring with Snoop Dogg..that’s crazy but at the same time it’s different, new and exciting; how’d that come about?

Martinez: We go with anything [laughs]. It's easy to really pair us with any genre of music. We've done the H.O.R.D.E. tour, we've done hip-hop packages, we've even done the reggae groups. Thankfully, we have that luxury. It makes it easy in a way. It's easy because our style of music is varied. Snoop came along because... honestly, it just came out of the blue. We were talking with Ben Harper for a second, and the Black Crowes, and then Snoop came along, and promoters really saw it happening. His agent and our agent were just kind of gelling and talking. It’s been quite an experience and it’s really cool.

JuicyBands: You get to spend the summer hanging out with Snoop, how awesome is that?

Martinez: It’s killer, really awesome! I don't think many kids from my high school can say that they’ve spent the summer with Snoop, but we’re like, yeah…we did. [laughs]

JuicyBands: [laughs] That’s just how you guys roll, you guys are officially the coolest kids in school. That’s definitely really awesome! People are into so many different types of music these days and one thing I’ve noticed is whether they be into hip hop, rock, country or even ska, they’re still really into 311. You guys have established a gigantic variety of fans that love you guys to death. How was performing at the Rothbury festival, did you guys have a blast?

Martinez: Yeah, it was awesome, we had a great time. We definitely extended some of our songs for that show. We have a variety of fans and we’re so thankful for that, that's why we pair so well with ... you name it. Our fan base is wide and varied, and it just reflects the music. We have such a great fan base, and it's a great thing to be a part of because it's natural. It wasn't created. None of these things are created, great bands and their followings; all together sharing the stage, it’s awesome.

JuicyBands: That’s really awesome, there’s no greater compliment then to have a subculture spring up from your music. How do you guys figure out what songs you’re going to play at each show?

Martinez: We'll go out on tour and we'll have 80 or 90 songs ready to play any night. We'll play a different set every night. Some songs will be in most of the sets. Not all the radio singles, but a good portion of them will make it into each night's show. Then we'll rotate them, take suggestions from the forum on our Web site, ask the audience what they want to hear; we try to keep it fresh for the band and the fans because we'll have a lot of fans that come to multiple shows. These days fans are so connected, and they know what's going on as it's going on, so you have to do your best to keep it fresh and unique because that is what separates the men from the boys. It's easy to play the same set every night, and a lot of bands do it. And I understand it. It's a trap that you set up for yourself, but we switch it up and it keeps us excited and the fans happy.

JuicyBands: Thanks so much for the interview, you're so awesome and you guys kick ass! Best of luck to all of you.

Martinez: Absolutely, anytime, thank you.

Concert Review: The Unity Tour featuring 311, Snoop Dogg, and Fiction Plane (StarPulse)

Opening the Unity Tour was England's Fiction Plane. While fans are still learning of this band, the Unity Tour has given them mass exposure to American audiences. After opening the entire North American tour for the first leg of the Police reunion tour, Fiction Plane has received some well-deserved accolades from audiences around the country. Another tidbit of information is that bassist and lead singer, Joe Sumner, is the eldest offspring of Gordon Sumner, better known as Sting. Joe's appearance as well as his voice are reminiscent of his father, but he has his own talents to offer and heads up an excellent live band. His bass guitar skills are apparent, while guitarist Seton Daunt plays with flashes of soul and brilliance not normally found in such a young artist. Drummer and sole American Pete Wilhoit is a virtual drum machine, playing with power and speed when necessary. Together, these guys can rock the house.

The band opened up the show with their latest single, "Death Machine," in which they discuss a certain American president and his current war. And it's not a pretty picture ("Don't look so smug when we're at war / You're not the boss you're just a whore / You keep yours shoes so clean / F*** you and your death machine…").

A respectable crowd had gathered at the foot of the stage to welcome Fiction Plane, proving that they are building a fan base. "Cigarette," from their poppier first record "Everything Will Never Be OK," is a harsh anti-smoking, ex-girlfriend-inspired tune which was well-received ("Girl you smoking cigarettes / Rancid poison on your breath / Taste yourself you smell like death / To love you I must drink my meth"). "Two Sisters," the first single off their second album "Left Side Of The Brain," closed the show, with Sumner giving us a Rock God jump off the tower speakers.

Next up was the infamous Dogfather of Rap, Snoop Dogg. His well-known grand entrance was enough for a standing ovation from the throngs. Something new I learned about Snoop was his Canadian heritage. I had no idea. I learned this because of the gargantuan green maple leaf hanging above the drummer. Strangely, this was about the time the "fog" machines began pumping out smoke from the audience. Crazy.

He was very conversational with the audience, making many requests, mostly to the female fans in the crowd…if you get my drift. One high point for me was their cover of the Tom Tom Club's "Genius Of Love," possibly performed due to the influence of the Grandmaster Flash sample of the same song some years ago.

Although the vast majority of fans were there to see 311, Snoop Dogg was given much respect and put on a great show with a posse to rival that of Lawrence Welk.

By the time 311 took to the stage, the sold-out crowd was primed. By now, they had heard the alt. rock of Fiction Plane and the rap/hip hop of Snoop. Now it was time to hear those genres, in addition to reggae, funk, metal, and punk all rolled into one. 311. The Omaha natives were among friends here in Kansas City, jut three hours away from where it all began.

From their first song, "Beautiful Disaster," the band had the crowd in a frenzy. Sharing singing duties, as usual, were Nick Hexum and SA Martinez. The band played most of their hits as well as many other selections that kept the crowd on their feet and jumping for much of the show. Driving the band was the rhythm section of drummer Chad Sexton and bassist P-Nut who showed off their excellent musicianship. Lead guitarist Tim Mahoney exhibited why 311 is unrivaled in their surf-punk-reggae stylings.

Some of the more well-known songs performed were "All Mixed Up," the reggae tinged cover of the Cure's "Love Song," "Come Original," "Don't Tread On Me," and the wonderfully smooth "Amber" ("Brainstorm, take me away from the norm / I got to tell you something / This phenomenon, I had to put it in a song / And it goes like…Whoa, amber is the color of your energy / Whoa, shades of gold displayed naturally").

To close out the first set Hexum announced, "This one is for all the hardcore 311 fans!" The band then tore into what seemed to be an ode to their fans with "Down" ("We've changed a lot and then some some / Know that we have always been down down / And if I ever didn't thank you you / Then just let me do it now").

During "Applied Science," drummer Sexton was joined by the other four members of the group all on stand-up drum kits. This "extended drum solo" thrilled the fans and showed the diversity of talents in 311. It was a marvelous detour from the norm.

The three-song encore showed us again what a green concert this was with "Who's Got The Herb?" Although 311 has not released a studio album since 2005's "Don't Tread On Me" (a new release should see the light of day next year), they still have the unique ability of selling out concerts. This type of following from a dedicated fan base is rare these days and 311 let their fans know how much they appreciate it. The Unity Tour is one of the must-see shows of 2008.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Press Pass with 311

It's been nearly four years since category-defying band 311 has released an album, but fans expecting to hear some of the new songs during this summer's tour will have to wait until the record's release in early 2009 to listen to the new licks.

While the band has already recorded about half of the tracks for their new album, bassist Aaron "P-Nut" Wills says the band will refrain from adding them to their setlist while on a 34-date, three-month tour with Snoop Dogg.

"It's kind of unfortunate. It would be nice if we could, but I don't know if that's really the point [of the summer tour], to air out new songs," P-Nut says during a recent phone interview. "Playing a brand new song for an audience who hasn't heard it once can be hit or miss and it's kind of like throwing out information a little too early. So we're shying away from it, even though it would be really fun to play those songs."

While the lack of fresh material may be somewhat disappointing to fans, it has not stopped them from swarming to see the Nebraska-born band. 311 has developed one of the most loyal tour fan bases today,

based on a rep for rowdy live shows and a history of hits like "Do You Right," "Down," "All Mixed Up," "Don't Tread on Me" and their cover of The Cure's "Love Song." Earlier this summer, drummer Chad Sexton likened the following to that of the legendary Grateful Dead.

P-Nut attributes the phenomena of their following to their steady diet of tour dates every summer.

"We knew that's when the dead toured, they didn't tour in the winter. That's when people have more free time, so they can travel if they want to come see multiple shows," he says. "It makes sense just given the society we live in. Summer's more easygoing and lends itself to more entertaining possibilities."

One of those "entertaining possibilities" is the presence of hip-hop artist and emcee extraordinaire Snoop Dogg.

"Snoop is the master of ceremonies like no other. He has a good time all the time and you can tell. He creates this really great atmosphere for us to come out and tear the roof off every night," says Wills.

Following the tour, the band will head back into the studio to polish off their as-of-yet-untitled album being produced by Bob Rock (Metallica's Black Album, Mötley Crüe).

Wills believes the break for the summer tour will allow a little more examination of their latest recordings compared to previous all-in-one-shot sessions.

"We wanted to live with the songs for a while rather than just polishing up demos. Give it a full arc instead of it being a point a to point b, let it generate its own personality," he says, stating his early appreciation for some "soulful" songs from frontman Nick Hexum and some heavy-hitting compositions by Sexton he simply calls "money."

"It's kind of a weird way to make an album, but I feel like if it's going to last forever, then you should learn to live with it as an artist for a while."

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

311’s SA Martinez lists his house in Los Angeles’ Los Feliz area for $2.195M

Another member of the rock band 311 is trying to sell his Los Angeles-area home. SA Martinez, who sings and spins 311, has placed his house in Los Angeles’ Los Feliz area on the market for $2,195,000. As we exclusively reported back on June 11, 311 drummer Chad Sexton in April sold his house at 2125 Upper Kress Street in the Hollywood Hills for $1,700,000. We’re still catching up on a few long-overlooked items, including this one, which was first reported by the Los Angeles Times’ Ann Brenoff in her ‘Hot Property’ blog on July 8. Indeed, Martinez placed the 3,145-square-foot house, at 5054 Los Feliz Boulevard in Los Feliz, on the market on July 9, according to the MLS, which suggests that Brenoff was tipped off about this item (in which case, good for her). The other way that one can assume that Brenoff was tipped off? There are details about the property mentioned in Brenoff’s post (e.g., the house’s ‘Tennessee oak-covered patio’ and its ’300-gallon saltwater aquarium’) that appear in no other online listings for the house (i.e., they might appear in a hard brochure for the property, but not in any online information about the property).

In any case, records show that Martinez purchased the house, which sits on a 0.21-acre lot, back in 1997 for $650,000. Built in 1927, the Spanish Colonial-style house has four bedrooms and five baths, along with vaulted ceilings, an updated kitchen, and mahogany accents, according to public records. Outdoor features include a 496-square-foot pool/guest house with Nana wall systems and a circular drive, according to listing information. Deidre over at Luxist made the property her ‘estate of the day’ last Sunday. Check out an online listing sheet for Martinez’s house – complete with photos. It’s not clear yet where Martinez, an Omaha native, is off to. If we find out, we’ll of course share that information here.

Monday, July 7, 2008

311 Are the New Grateful Dead (MTV)

For a band that hasn't released a shred of new material in over three years, funk-rock outfit 311 are certainly busy. They'll be spending much of this summer crisscrossing the U.S. with Snoop Dogg, co-headlining a tour that runs through August 16 in Waikiki, Hawaii, and not surprisingly, tickets are selling fast.

In a world where attention spans are rapidly shrinking, how does a band like 311 — who have successfully toured the states every summer since 2005's Don't Tread on Me — still pack arenas while staying musically dormant? Drummer Chad Sexton thinks he's got the answer.

Sexton said that, over the course of 10 albums, they've managed to assemble a rabid fanbase who've supported the band through thick and thin. They're a loyal bunch, and their devotion rivals that of even the most die-hard Deadhead.

"I think we have the same appeal as a band like the Grateful Dead," he explained. "We have some Deadheads in the band, and when they stopped touring, Phish kind of took over for them, and maybe Dave Matthews Band has some of that same appeal as well. We can jam on our [songs] like those bands, but I'd say we're kind of a band between — and I'm not comparing us to these bands, but just in the level of status and accomplishment, and that they're still together — U2 and Phish. It's somewhere in the middle of that, and we're hoping to define that a little better over the next couple of years. It's a weird phenomenon: We keep playing, and kids are having a great time every summer.

"We've picked up a comparable following, I guess," Sexton continued. "We wanted to make sure we tour every summer, regardless of our records, because we're here to play live music. We don't want to spend a summer getting away from the people."

But 311's fans will wait just so long for a new record, which Sexton said the boys have been working on for the last year, with former Metallica producer Bob Rock at their side. 311 are recording a number of new tunes and, following this tour, will return to their Hive Studios to finish tracking the rest of the LP — which they'd like to release early next year.

"I don't know about other bands, but we get tunnel vision if we just sit around and keep writing and keep recording, so it's very healthy for us to get out and play in front of people," Sexton said. "So far, [the record is] sounding like 311, just with Bob Rock helping us get the roadmaps and the energy of the songs down, in how he's recording it. We've experimented a lot in recent years and shifted this way and that way, and with the current climate out there, with record sales, it could be a coincidence that [our sales] just went down, down, down because of the Internet, or maybe we've been too experimental. Maybe we should get back to the basics — the 311 basics."

To that end, Sexton said the new material's got a Music and Grassroots feel.

"I would think that the last three records were our growing pains," he added. "We figured, 'Why not get back to basics?' We can experiment further with our sound, but we've been doing that for a while now. We forgot to take a look back and say, 'Let's do that again,' because all of a sudden, going back to that original 311 sound is new to us again. Some characteristically 311 sounds come out when we do get back to basics, and we're probably putting our best foot forward with this album. Sometimes it's important to see where you came from. We went back and explored what we did [on those albums], and we're concentrating on that energy."

Before 311 began writing this album, Sexton said they created a list of producers they wanted to work with, and the one name they could always all agree on was Rock.

"We remembered how we felt when we first heard [Metallica's self-titled LP, a.k.a. The Black Album], and he's just so smart," Sexton said, adding that Rock has helped the band be a better band. "One of the things he's helped us improve, and it's hard to put a finger on how it will affect the music, is our communication as a band. And so I would say, if I were to pick — and I'm not being hard on us — but the last three records, maybe the communication wasn't as solid. ... Recording has been a lot easier this time. It's always challenging, but I'm loving what we're getting."

Sexton said 311 hope this summer's trip with Snoop yields some kind of collaboration, either onstage or perhaps recording a cover in the studio. Teaming up with the D-O-double-G would work best on this summer's tour, Sexton said, because 311's forthcoming LP will be the band's most mature effort to date.

"I think people will be surprised by how nice and solid it will sound," he said. "There's something you can't really vocalize or explain about the experience behind what's going on. But I'm thinking people will think it sounds really solid, which comes from being in a band for 18 years."

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

311 mix reggae, rock, funk into tight blend (Deseret News, Salt Lake City)

Summer nights were made for a 311 concert. And the band mixed a little reggae, rock and funk together in a tight package Monday.

The word of the night was energy. Some of it was from the stage but a lot of it was in the audience.

When the lights went out, 311 — guitarist/vocalist Nick Hexum, vocalist SA Martinez, drummer Chad Sexton, guitarist Tim Mahoney and bassist P-Nut — stepped to the stage and launched into "Beautiful Disaster."

The band also cranked out "Come Original," "Champaigne" and a reggae version of the Cure's "Lovesong."

With an array of spot and strobe lights, highlighted by a colorful splashing background, 311 pleased the audience not only with songs and audience participation, but with Sexton's blistering drum solo. During which, the rest of the band added their own percussive dynamics on extra tom toms and cymbals.

"All Mixed Up" and "Down," the latter which was dedicated to"old-school 311 fans," sounded as current as they did 10 years ago.

Speaking of old-school. The original gangster Snoop Dogg primed the audience for the funk of 311 with his explosive brand of rap and hip-hop.

His trademark "Gin & Juice" and more current works "Chronic" and "Drop It Like It's Hot" were highlights of his hourlong set. Monologues and freestyle pieces were salted with rap-star profanity as Snoop (born Calvin Broadus) cruised through his set that also included "Ups and Downs" and "Sexual Eruption."

Snoop Dogg's set was preceded by reggae trio Fiction Plane. Although the three sounded more like the Police, only unpolished, the band did get the audience in the mood for the rest of the night.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Rothbury Interview: 311 (Grand Rapids Press)

Last week, I interviewed S.A. Martinez, one of two vocalists for rock-reggae act 311 (he shares vocal duties with singer/guitarist Nick Hexum). When we spoke, the band was working on a new album and getting ready to hit the road with Snoop Dogg. Their Unity Tour, which kicked off a few days after our conversation, includes a stop Friday at Rothbury.

Press: You're working on a record now. How's the new stuff shaping up?

Martinez: The new stuff is the bomb, man. We put the last record out in 2005, then we focused on touring for a while there and didn't worry about writing a new record. We took some down time and had some space and just kind of cleared the mind, so to speak. So when we recommenced with writing, we really got into it, and things just started coming and coming. We've got 10 songs done with the producer we're working with.

Who are you working with?

Guy by the name of Bob Rock (who has produced Metallica, Aerosmith, Motley Crue, etc.). He was on a short list of producers that a rep from our label had put together and wanted us to consider. We met with a few of the guys, and things really just kind of gelled with Bob. His discography speaks for itself. Honestly, I can say I'm not a huge fan of any of those bands (laughs). But that being said, working with him was one of the best moves we've ever done.

He definitely knows what he's doing, and he's brought something out of 311 that's never really been there before. We're all excited.

Where are you in the process, then?

We have 10 songs written. Everything is recorded on those songs except for guitar. Drums are done on all the songs, and bass, and vocals are done on most of the songs.

So mixing and mastering await once you're done with the tour?

Yeah, and then finishing writing. We'll shoot for at least five or six quality songs to complement what we've got.

This will be the 10th record?

Let's see, not counting our live album or greatest hits, I think it will actually be our eighth album.

It's rare for a band to be as productive as 311 for as long as you have been, with basically the same lineup the whole time.

Initially, early on, that was what we had to do to really forge our way in the industry. If a band tours, you have to really tour in support of an album. Early on, we weren't blowing up on radio at all, and our bread and butter was the live show. So we had to keep fueling that fire, so yeah, we put out an album, went on tour, got back, then put out an album again (laughs). We did that for three straight years, then it became every other year for a long time.

This has been the biggest separation between albums because the last one came out in 2005. Now we are at that point where we can tour in support of our catalog. We're becoming a heritage band, so to speak. We can really just rely on what we've done in the past. But it's great now to have some new music in the chamber.

So now you've got the liberty to really spend time on a record.

Yeah, totally. I guess we've worked up to this point where we can do that, thank God. To keep that kind of consistency up, I mean, something's not gonna go right.

Will you be playing new stuff on the road?

We've talked about it. I don't know if we've come to a conclusion. My gut feeling is we probably won't because ... it's been three years since our last record, and I guess we really don't want to see the first material from it on YouTube. It will be more special for us and our fans to at least keep it to a leak right before it comes out (laughs). Hopefully it won't come to that.

Dude, every record leaks.

Yeah, it's the nature of the beast now. But if it leaked closer to the release date, and it was proper audio leak, it would be fine with us.


There is a new model, like take it for free or pay what you want, and it's OK for a band like us, but most bands don't have the luxury to be able to afford to do that. In a way, it works for some bands. But a lot of bands just have to have some kind of monetary supplement there to work.

How did the tour with Snoop come together?

We go with anything (laughs). It's easy to really pair us with any genre of music. We've done the H.O.R.D.E. tour, we've done hip-hop packages, we've done the reggae groups. Thankfully, we have that luxury. It makes it easy in a way. It's easy because our style of music is varied. Snoop came along because... honestly, it just came out of the blue. We were talking with Ben Harper for a second, and the Black Crowes, and then Snoop came along, and promoters really saw it happening. His agent and our agent were just kind of gelling and talking. We're looking forward to it.

You get to spend the summer hanging out with Snoop.

Exactly. I don't think many kids from my high school can say that.

You guys will be playing the Rothbury festival soon. Are you familiar with the event at all?

We have heard of that festival. How many years has that been going on now?

This is the first time.

The first time? I was under the impression that it had gone on for a couple of years. Maybe I was confusing it with 10,000 Lakes or some other festival. You kind of get confused after a while. But if I understand the premise, it's jam-oriented, correct?

Mainly. My sense is that it's going for the original Bonnaroo crowd, considering that Bonnaroo's gone more mainstream in the past couple of years. There's some indie rock and hip-hop there, but it's primarily jam bands. Phil Lesh, Trey Anastasio, Widespread Panic, Dave Matthews...

For that show, we will definitely extend some songs. That's what we'll do for that audience. That's why we pair so well with ... you name it. Our fan base is wide and varied, and it just reflects the music. We have such a great fan base, and it's a great thing to be a part of because it's natural. It wasn't created. None of these things are created, great bands and their followings.

There's no greater compliment than to have a subculture spring up from your music.

How do you feel about festivals in general then? You're playing to a huge crowd, but it's not necessarily people who came to see you.

Yeah, it's always interesting putting set lists together for festivals. We played Langerado last spring, and we were going on right before the Beastie Boys. You give them stuff they're familiar with, and at Rothbury we'll give them that, and we'll give them stuff they're not familiar with because it'll be that type of audience that's into experimental music and extended soloing that's not on the radio.

With a catalog as big as yours, how do you approach building a set list anyway?

We'll go out on tour and we'll have 80 or 90 songs ready to play any night. We'll play a different set every night. Some songs will be in most of the sets. Not all the radio singles, but a good portion of them will make it into each night's show. Then we'll rotate through the catalog. We take suggestions from the forum on our Web site, but we try to keep it fresh for the band and the fans because we'll have a lot of fans that come to multiple shows.

These days fans are so connected, and they know what's going on as it's going on, so you have to do your best to keep it fresh and unique because that is what separates the men from the boys. It's easy to play the same set every night, and a lot of bands do it. And I understand it. It's a trap that you set up for yourself.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Live Review: 311, Snoop Dogg

At the Irvine stop of 311's 2008 Unity Tour, Snoop Dogg's set was a little bit country, a little bit rock and roll and a lot of gangsta rap. For nearly an hour at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre (Live Nation), Snoop Dogg proved why he remains rap's most forward-thinking "P.I.M.P." His set swayed from stoned, soulful rhymes about "gettin' down" to classic, pistol-poppin' O.G. anthems. After a montage of footage from classic gangster movies, "Big Snoop Dogg" busted out on stage with "Next Episode." It was the perfect opener, because the crowd immediately started singing, grinding and, of course, smoking. He did a Crip-slide across the stage, spitting each verse flawlessly, matching his vocal cadence to Dr. Dre's classic beat. Next up, Snoop and his full band fired off "Hell Yeah." The song's crunchy guitars matched Snoop's edgy lyrics, and it could've started a mosh pit. "Staxxx In My Jeans" also maintained a metallic edge, as Snoop showed that he's gangsta enough to rock.

After inciting an "I wanna get fucked up" chant, Snoop kicked it old school on "Gin and Juice," which led to the biggest sing-a-long of the night. Even though the jagged guitars and raw distortion showed Snoop's rawk side, he still knows how to please the girls. He smiled and exclaimed, "Nobody cares about the ladies like Snoop Dogg does," before jumping into "I Wanna Fuck You." Midway through the song, Snoop's saxophonist churned out a jazzy solo that wouldn't have been out of place on a Miles Davis record, but strangely, it suited Snoop just fine. Snoop even took the time to show props, pointing at the saxophonist through a haze of smoke on stage. "That's That Shit" and "Sexual Eruption" also targeted "the beautiful ladies in the crowd." Snoop commented, "I'm not much of an R&B singer. That's not my bag, but I want to give you ladies something that makes you feel good." Live, Snoop pulls off the sexy songs with an undeniable charm, as he keeps dancing, and The Snoopadelics keep grooving.

The biggest surprise came when Everlast hit the stage for a spot-on rendition of his country collaboration with Snoop on Ego Trippin', "My Medicine." The twangy guitars complimented Snoop's voice, and the new cut elicited big cheers. Following it up with the classic House of Pain jam, "Jump Around," didn't hurt either, and Everlast's appearance was much welcomed. Snoop masterfully proved to be the simultaneously violent and mellow "G," brandishing razor sharp rhymes that cackled like Beretta shells during "What's My Name?" Snoop still has a throne in the hip hop palace.

Meanwhile, 311 brought the house down. At first glance, the bill seemed like a weird pairing—the long-running alt rock-funk quintet with a penchant for positive lyrics and one of gangsta rap's finest. It doesn't sound like it should work, but it's one of the best jaunts happening summer. 311 stirred a veritable melting pot of influences and sounds. They didn't say much in between songs, because their music said it all for them. They started their two-hour set with breakthrough single "Down," and immediately the audience became transfixed.

Because each band member is so distinct, 311 harness a classic rock energy on stage. Guitarist Tim Mahoney shreds funkified grooves, equally channeling Jimi Hendrix, Dimebag Darrell and John Frusciante all at once. P-Nut's bass rumbles when it needs too, but it primarily keeps the grooves popping. Meanwhile, drummer Chad Sexton paints the rhythmic backdrop with his kit. Vocalists SA Martinez and Nick Hexum command the stage. They hold down the hooks like seasoned pros, bouncing off each other with a palpable chemistry, while never crisscrossing or colliding. A stew of punk, funk, metal, alt-rock and hip hop, 311 simmers.

311 also know how to please a crowd. The set was comprised of hits spanning their entire career. "Come Original" and "Amber" were rooted in spacey reggae, while "Freeze Time" and "Do You Right" saw the band riffing with metallic prowess. 311 excel when they slow it down, because each element comes through vibrantly. The Cure cover, "Love Song," saw Nick's pristine melody soar to heights of sonic ecstasy. Meanwhile, Tim's guitar echoed with a sensual tone, and the notes slid right off his fret board. Also on this particular song, SA's dual vocals were engaging, complimenting Nick perfectly. "Beyond the Gray Sky" kept things mellow, but the soulful playing didn't diminish the crowd's interest. Older fare like "All Mixed Up" and "Feels So Good" stilled sounded fresh. However, the set's late highlight, "Flowing," allowed the band to let loose on stage, as they didn't stop moving for a second. The guitar volley between Nick and Tim on "Beautiful Disaster" bordered on sublime, and set-closer "Creatures (For Awhile)" perfectly capped off the night.

Snoop said three words at the end of his set that summed up the night, "Peace, love and soul." Everything else could be forgotten for three hours, and we were all able to have a good time with two of music's most reliable acts.

Friday, June 27, 2008

311 brings rock, soul, reggae to Salt Lake (Deseret News)

Salt Lake City has always been a hot spot for funk-rockers 311, said SA Martinez, one of the band's emcees.

"The fans out there are second to none," Martinez said during a phone call from his home in Nebraska.

"When we go west, and to me, Utah is west, it's one of the first stops we make sure we do. There is a unique excitement there for the band. And we have to play there."

For nearly 18 years, 311 has brought its blend of rock, soul and reggae to fans around the world, touring with such acts as No Doubt, the Roots, Matisyahu and Korn, to name a few.

This year the band — Martinez, drummer Chad Sexton, bassist Aaron "P-Nut" Wills, guitarist Tim Mahoney and vocalist/guitarist Nick Hexum — will hit the road with Snoop Dogg.

"When we first started doing this, we would have never believed that Snoop would be on the road with us," said Martinez. "In fact, we never really saw it coming."

Even when 311 played New York's AmsterJam festival in 2005 with the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Snoop, it didn't occur to anyone in the group to ask Snoop to join a tour.

"It just kind of happened over the past three years," said Martinez. "I think that's what makes this job choice enjoyable — there's that unknown variable that shakes things up."

Still, it's also that unknown variable that keeps the guys in 311 on their toes.

"While we had ideas of what we wanted to be as a band, we didn't set particular goals," said Martinez. "We all feel if you do that, you also set yourself up for disappointment. Longevity of a band lies heavily in the hands of fate or chance.

"Throughout our career, we've seen ups and downs. And it's a very different landscape than when we first started," he said.

Back then, the Internet was in its early stages. There was no MySpace, and MTV played more music than reality shows, said Martinez. And radio today isn't as friendly as it was.

"It's still an uphill battle for a band," he said. "And while the Internet is a great tool for bands, it also creates more competition. Anyone can set up a MySpace page and put their music on it." And, he noted, it's hard to get on the radio, because stations are being run by people who don't understand music.

"We're lucky to have started when we did and to have the loyal following that we do."

311's last studio CD, "Don't Tread on Me," was released in 2005, and Martinez said it is time that was corrected. "We've been working on a new CD and have 10 songs down."

The yet-to-be titled CD will be released sometime next year, said Martinez. "We'll do this tour and then return to the studio to fix and tweak things."

This time around, the band is working with producer Bob Rock, who is best known for his work with Metallica, Bon Jovi and Nina Gordon.

"He was on a short list that was made by someone in our management," said Martinez. "The band never thought about him, but when his name was mentioned, we felt he could do it.

"We do like working with young producers, but Bob has a lot of experience. We had no idea what to expect, but we met with him and decided he was the one.

"He is not an imposing figure, physically, but his knowledge about music, sound and arrangement is amazing. He's worked with Metallica for Pete's sake!"

311 Gears Up for a summer with Snoop Dogg (OC Register)

Brendan Benson and bluegrass? Cult tunesmith Jon Brion and the new Robert Plant & Alison Krauss collaboration?

These are the makings of the next album from the blunted groove merchants who gave us "Down" and "All Mixed Up" and "Amber"?

Well, they're at least one element, anyway, says Nick Hexum, lead singer and chief songwriter for the rap-rock-reggae-etc. outfit 311.

"Those harmonies on the Plant & Krauss record are just beautiful," he gushes. "I'm more into stuff that people might not associate with our band - like power-pop, these bands that are pretty much sons of the Beatles. There's one down-speed song we've done for the new album that I think is closer to 10cc or Supertramp.

"We like to keep the ingredients that influence us very eclectic - that's what keeps our music changing. Some people think they can master music, but that's when you know you're lost. We know that we really know only a little, and that we'll never be done."

It has been three years since 311 put out its last album, however, and it'll be close to four by the time its next one arrives. Which may explain why, even as the Omaha-born band prepares to head out on its largest tour ever, in a co-headlining stint with Snoop Dogg that pulls into Verizon Wireless Amphitheater Saturday night, Hexum is brimming with talk about where the group's nearly two-decade evolution is leading these days.
For starters, this ninth studio set (which he hopes will be remixed in winter and released in spring) is bound to be a big booming thing - that's what you get when you enlist longtime Metallica producer Bob Rock, who most recently revitalized another survivor of the '90s alternative boom, the Offspring.

"He's such the master of arena-rock and singalong choruses," Hexum says, "so he's got our minds thinking of that already." Production has been deliberately halved, the summer outing with Snoop serving as a breather. "It gives us a chance to step away from what we've already done, and remind ourselves of what's working live, so we can get a dose of that energy."

Feeding off that would seem obvious - for as many hits as 311 has coughed up, the quintet (including vocalist Doug "SA" Martinez, bassist Aaron "P-Nut" Wills, guitarist Tim Mahoney and drummer Chad Sexton) remains first and foremost a touring force, one of few acts of its era to still be expanding its live audience regardless of how its records fare.

Perhaps that accounts for the increased eclecticism in the studio: When you've got nothing to lose, what's the harm in throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks? Especially when you don't think very highly of the last record you put out.

"I don't feel 'Don't Tread on Me' (2005) is quite up to the standard that we hold," Hexum admits. "Certainly there have been times in 18 years together when our attention has slightly drifted. But there's a renewed hunger and excitement now - we're not anywhere near done. We look at bands like U2 that have this sort of renaissance, when they find their groove again, like on "Achtung Baby" and "Zooropa" - and we think, 'Why not us?'"
Still, Hexum says the band doesn't harbor illusions that the next disc will be an instant smash.

"It's pretty nuts: If you had two charts side by side, one of them would be how well we were doing with radio, and that would be up and down and up and down. But then the other one would be touring - and it'd just be a steady line going up.

"When you consider that our record sales have fallen off at least as much as the industry as a whole has, people would assume that we'd be back playing clubs. So the fact that we're doing this tour, and each one seems to get bigger than the last, it kinda leaves us stumped in a way. It's some sort of magic that we have been us and the fans, and between the five of us. I've had a lot of failed relationships over these past 18 years, and to have this one with the same guys is amazing.

"It's the goose that keeps laying golden eggs, and we're not gonna kill it anytime soon."

Friday, June 20, 2008

311 Discuss Summer Tour & New Album (Planet Verge)

It’s time for 311’s annual summer tour and this year the band is hitting the road with Snoop Dogg! The band discusses their success and upcoming album below.

Read on and then head over to where PV is the featured Music Critic!

311 Q&A: Answers by Nick Hexum (vocals/guitar), SA Martinez (vocals/dj), P-Nut (bass).

311 is once again headlining amphitheaters this summer. In recent years, 311’s live concert draw has grown larger than ever, with many shows drawing crowds of 10,000 people or more. How does the 311 touring machine continue to get bigger and stronger over the years?

NICK: I think our shows continue to grow because of the special connection that we have with our fans and that our fans have with each other. We’re extremely grateful that so many people want to come to the shows and we’re deeply committed to putting on an exciting show every night.

SA: I think our growing concert draw is a reflection of our growth as a band over the years. What we’ve been experiencing in recent years is the bridging of the generations. Some of our fans who have been with us for a long time are now sharing their musical connections with their younger siblings or even with their kids. And historically bands that have stayed together over many years tend to attract new fans as younger generations come of age and discover the music for themselves.

P-NUT: Our shows keep getting bigger for two reasons. First off: we tour every summer and because of that, it’s become an annual event that people don’t want to miss. People know we’ll be coming and plan accordingly. Also, we have the best advertising agency in the world, OUR FANS. The people who tell their friends to come to a 311 show to have a great time have given this band longevity. We thank them for that.

311 always brings out impressive, diverse acts on tour from The Roots to Matisyahu to Papa Roach to The Wailers (and years ago Incubus, No Doubt & Korn). This summer Snoop Dogg and Fiction Plane join the bill. How do you feel about 311 and Snoop teaming up for the summer journey?

NICK: We couldn’t be happier about it. We’ve been fans of Snoop for a long time. He has managed longevity in the hip hop world which is extremely rare. The pairing comes at a great time for 311 because the pendulum has swung back towards raps and dope beats in some of our music – so this summer will be a blast!

SA: The 311 and Snoop package is just a natural progression for both acts. We’ve always had diverse acts open for us because of our diverse musical stew (mixing rock & reggae & hip-hop). I think our fans will love seeing Snoop, and I think he’ll definitely widen his fan base because of the match-up.

P-NUT: 311 and Snoop will be a legendary pairing that shouldn’t be missed by anyone who likes musick and goodness.

What can 311 fans expect on this summer’s Unity Tour?
NICK: Copious amounts of fragrant funk and rock and relaxed reggae. We tailor each set list to go with the vibe we are feeling, so each night is a unique experience.

SA. 311 fans can expect what they always expect from a 311 concert experience – a GREAT SHOW! I think our reputation speaks for itself.

P-NUT: Fans can expect to be have the times of their lives. (no refunds for having no fun).

311 has been writing material for a new album for a tentative Spring 2009 release. Has the band approached writing and recording this new album any different? What direction do you see the new songs going?

NICK: The new songs build on themes that we have started before but take them leaps and bounds further. I cannot think of a time that we have worked as hard for so long on a collection of songs. Personally, I have been expanding my knowledge of theory and learned many new jazz guitar chords so the textures are getting more complex without losing the catchiness and groove of our previous stuff. One thing we have been mindful of is writing grooves that make people want to dance. The songs are going to be great live and also interesting to just listen to on headphones.

SA. I think this album is going to be a benchmark in our career. It has come together so far like no previous 311 recording. Everything continues to evolve.

P-NUT: We are making sure this album is a fully thought-out and realized piece of creativity for all to enjoy.

311 will be recording the new album with esteemed producer Bob Rock (Metallica, Bon Jovi, The Cult, etc). How is that relationship with Bob going and what do you see Bob bringing to the new album?

NICK: Bob brings a fresh point of view to our music. It’s the perfect fit. There have been countless times where Bob makes a suggestion and the bandmembers look at each other and say, “Why didn’t we think of that?” He’s an amazing engineer that is getting the best tones, but he’s also very much a song guy.

SA. Bob’s great. He’s able to hear what belongs in the song and what is cluttering it.

P-NUT: This recording experience (so far) has been great because of having Bob at the controls; nice to learn from a new master. Bob makes sure everyone is giving their best.

311 just rocked another sold-out 3-11 Day show in New Orleans. 14,000 Tickets were sold to fans in all 50 U.S. states and 12 different countries. The band played for 5 hours (63 songs). What makes that show so special that it brings your fans together from all over the world?

NICK: 3-11-08 was one of the greatest nights of my life. There was so much energy and love in the arena. It was overwhelming but only in a good way. Our band has not won a lot of awards and such but this night really reminded us how far we and our fans have come together. It felt like winning a Grammy or something even better. I was so charged by the crowd that I didn’t get tired until ninety minutes after the 5 hour show. Then I ate some pizza and fell asleep. What a night!

SA. 3-11 Day is the best. It’s a lot of work, but so worth it. On everyone’s part – band and fan alike. We all sacrifice for that day but the love that is shared is so important for our growth and continual transformation.

P-NUT: The sheer numbers of the 3-11 Day show makes it so special. People know we are going to put on the show of shows and since it’s every other year, it’s always fresh when we assemble our all star team of songs and fans. And that’s what it’s all about.

How do you see the next handful of years going for the band?

NICK: I expect big things for us. There is an excitement and cooperation in the studio and backstage that is palpable. I believe our fans are going to sense it at the shows and when they hear the album. There is no end in sight for us. We’ve gotten a second wind fueled by our fans, both old and new, that makes us very grateful. Onward we rock!

SA. The next few years, (which will fly by like they all do) I see us continuing our expansion, musically and geographically. We’re going to tour more and share the love.

P-NUT: I see the next years for 311 being about taking the musick to new and expanding audiences. Respect to all 311 fans and lovers of life.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

311, Snoop Doog Pledge Unity on Tour (Billboard)

311 and Snoop Dogg are teaming for the summer co-headlining Unity tour, which will also feature support from rock act Fiction Plane. The outing will begin June 24 in Phoenix and run through Aug. 3 in Austin, Texas.

311's long-running Unity tour has previously boasted support from the Roots, Matisyahu, the Wailers and O.A.R. The group, which is working on its next studio album, is also winding down a spring run this week.

As for Snoop Dogg, he's still riding high after the success of his single "Sensual Seduction" and accompanying album "Ego Trippin'," which recently debuted at No. 3 on The Billboard 200.

Fiction Plane has spent most of the past year opening for the Police across the world. The group will be out on the road in North America with the Bravery beginning April 9 in Fort Collins, Colo.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

311 Bassist Dishes on Drugs (Spinner)

When Spinner caught up with the boys from 311, backstage at the Langerado Music Festival in South Florida, bassist P-Nut recalled going to his own mind-altering first festival -- the traveling version of Lollapalooza -- during his high school days.

"I did my mushrooms for the first time that night, at Sandstone in Kansas City," he said, proudly. The psychedelic experience coupled with the communal spirit of the festival changed the way he perceived music, and in some ways, the world at large. "It's an amazing thing. I don't think it could be for everybody. You have to have a certain amount of intelligence. I think more people should do it ... I really do."

While on the subject of mind-expanding substances -- a topic that goes hand-in-hand with music festivals, of course -- P-Nut reveals that he's a medical marijuana cardholder in California, and that, when the band first relocated to the Golden State, they weren't exactly opposed to taking psycho-actives during performances. "That was f---ing fun, but it was pretty difficult because you're processing things in a different way," P-Nut said. "It's just a beautiful thing." Not to turn music into numerology, but it sounds like it's either 420 or 5150 pretty much 24-7 in 311 land, dude.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

311 breaks up studio work with live shows (LiveDaily)

311 lead singer/guitarist Nick Hexum couldn't be more excited about his band's tour, which is serving as a sounding board for new material for a forthcoming album.

"That's what we do [well] is play live," Hexum said. "It serves the purpose of keeping us connected with the fans, but then just adding a lot of excitement to the music that we're making now. It kind of gives it a kick in the butt. It reminds us of what works live and we reconnect with that. There's a real energy that the live shows have."

311--which also includes SA Martinez (vocals, turntables), P-Nut (bass), Tim Mahoney (guitar) and Chad Sexton (percussion)--is in the throes of recording a new album, its follow-up to 2005's "Don't Tread on Me." The band is pushing the studio work aside for the quick tour, details for which are listed below.

"We're past the halfway point in writing and preproduction," Hexum said. "We've got about an album's worth of material started. We are going to do this spring tour, come back and record half of the album, and then we'll do a summer tour and we'll come back and record the second half of the album. Right now, it's been all writing, rehearsing and preproduction."

The preproduction process includes a "trial run" with uber producer Bob Rock (Metallica). So far, the band has recorded instrumentals with him. After this tour, 311 will return to the studio where Hexum will lay down vocals.

"He just brings out the best in 311," Hexum said about Rock. "He doesn't try and put a signature sound on anything he does. He just tries to really accentuate the strengths of the band.

"I think he definitely did that with [Metallica's] 'Black' album and a lot of just good, live rock-oriented music. So we're pretty excited about that.... Now we're going to have him come back and do a trial run on the vocals side of things. If that goes as planned, we'll firm it up and make an album."

Hexum explained 311 will road test a few songs that are "primed up enough." With the Internet and 311's policy of allowing fans to tape shows, he wants to make sure that prime versions of the new songs are performed.

"Obviously, with the Internet and allowing taping, it's pretty much like once you play something live, it's out there. So, whichever songs we think are ready for public consumption, we'll play them. I would imagine we'd do a couple."

He described the new songs as much more rock-oriented, but added that he's not leaving the reggae fans in the dust.

"We were getting more and more into reggae. Now I think we're ready to get into a heavier sound. It'll definitely be a blend. There'll be some hip-hop and reggae on there. Heavy yet up-tempo is how I would characterize a good chunk of our new stuff."

Included in this tour, which runs through March 31, is "3-11 Day 2008," a festival-type concert held in New Orleans. Hexum is keeping mum on most details, but he did disclose a few things.

"We are bringing out more interesting lighting and staging elements," Hexum said. "The stage is going to have a different look.

"I think the band is at an all-time peak of playing. Bar none. I think it's going to be a really special show, just based on the music and the production side of things. We've also been working on some real rarities that people haven't heard. We've dusted off some 311 songs that we haven't played either ever or in a really long time."

While the band is in New Orleans, it is going to participate with fans in a Habitat for Humanity project to help rebuild the city devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

"We've organized a bunch of fans that are going to be building stuff and raising money," Hexum said. "We're selling some guitars. We're doing a lot of stuff to pitch in there. They need it. There's some really good people down there."

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Song #96: “Down” by 311 (Rizzo Music)

Today we continue with the countdown of the Top Songs of the 1990s with number 96, “Down” by 311. “Down” was released in 1996 and was the first single from 311 with widespread mainstream success. With heavy guitar riffs and rap style lyrics, 311′s “Down” garnered a lot of attention. Coming off their self-title (blue) album, “Down” stayed at #1 on the modern rock charts for 4 weeks and topped out on the Hot 100 at #37. With the help of “All Mixed Up”, the blue album went on to sell over three million copies.

311 is alternative rock back from Omaha, Nebraska. With their rebel attitude and mix of several different styles of music, they were able to maintain continued success over the years. They have released five albums since the blue album and have charted fourteen more singles on the Modern Rock Charts as well as another #1 hit with their cover of The Cure’s “Love Song”. They seem like they are constantly touring around the US and are known for being a great live band. They are planning a spring tour scheduled for this year, and are currently working on their next album. As long as they maintain their loyal fan base, there is no telling how long they will stick around.

The music video for this one is pretty simple. It features all the members of the band just performing the song. They play around with some special effects, including distorting the picture. It also features the band in some sort of mediating state when the lyrics “Keep my feet on the ground / Keep my head in the clouds” are sung. It is a fairly formulaic video and understandably as their first big single. Check it out and be stay tuned for the next song on the countdown.