Tuesday, June 30, 2009

311: "We're Just Happy We Can Still Do It" (Ultimate-Guitar)

Multi-platinum rockers 311 have been hard at work in their own North Hollywood studio, The Hive, with legendary producer Bob Rock (Metallica, Bon Jovi, Aerosmith) for their ninth studio album Uplifter. The band’s first album in close to four years – and their first with producer Bob Rock finally arrives in June at the same time as when the band also hits the road in support of the new album with a Summer trek across the U.S.

Formed in Omaha, Nebraska in 1990, 311 is comprised of vocalist/guitarist Nick Hexum, vocalist/DJ SA Martinez, lead guitarist Tim Mahoney, drummer Chad Sexton and bassist P-Nut and to date have sold more than eight million albums in the U.S alone. The band's celebratory live shows and incessant touring schedule have also earned them a massive and dedicated grassroots following. On the eve of the release of Uplifter, Joe Matera spoke to Tim Mahoney about the new album, working with Bob Rock and how they’re happy to still be making records in 2009.

UG: Uplifter was produced by Bob Rock, aside from production duties, what other ways did Bob contribute to the songwriting and recording process?

Tim Mahoney: It was great working with Bob and we have nothing but nice things to say about him. He’s the greatest guy. It helps that he is also a guitar player too and can also play many other instruments too. And though he’s about 15 years older than me, he’s a little bit ahead of us as far as influences go. Yet he’s more into modern music than I am and he’s more aware of it. And whether it is Led zeppelin or Jeff Beck or anybody in that classic era, he’s into it just as much as I am. And his influence and knowledge of music, when it comes to making records and the whole process of making records, was something that we really enjoyed when it came to making this record. And it was the first time we worked with a producer on a record, who actually came in with us and helped with arrangements from the outset. It was as much fun as we’ve had making a record. I think our fans will hopefully see a growth with us musically. After all, it has been four years since our last record.

When it came to the songwriting process, did you approach it differently to previous albums?

This record was more of a collaborative effort in many ways. Everybody in the band writes music and usually when we get together after having taken a break to write music, we will get together and will all bring our ideas to the table. On this particular record, with the help of Bob Rock, he really got us into a place where communication and collaboration was really very easy and flowed naturally. He was the catalyst for all of that. Though we’ve always been pretty good with communication and putting song ideas together, having him there with us to help and in the capacity of not being a member of the band and being an outsider, where he was able to tell us honestly how it was, really helped immensely. Everyone became more relaxed at putting ideas together and everything just gelled a lot easier. And as I mentioned earlier, this was extremely important especially after it has been four years since our last record. So it made a big difference indeed.

Upon listening to the first single ‘Hey You’, it seems that Bob has successfully managed to merge the band’s heavier elements with its funkier reggae side.

I’m glad you said that because when we first met Bob he told us that what was important to him was to not make an album that sounded like a Bob Rock record. He wanted to take our sound and make it into the best record we could make, to have the most potential sounding record that we could have and to bring that element out more. And I think he tried to make it as palatable as possible especially for people who may have never heard of us before. But for our hard core fans it is no big deal to find us playing reggae and rock and all these other influences. So Bob really did help bring it all together successfully.

Another thing I noticed is that this recording was done all digitally?

Yes that is because Bob prefers using digital technology now and this is the first record that we’ve done completely digitally. We own a studio space in Los Angeles where we work from and we have two tape machines in there. And in the past we did all our albums with analog equipment and only used digital stuff for maybe the vocals where we’d edit vocals and then put them onto tape. And then we’d mix it on tape and everything. So with this new record we were kind of hesitant at first. But the deal with Bob was for us to let go and let somebody else take control and steer the ship so everyone could be more free and focused on just the music. So when we listened back to some of our initial recordings we did with Bob in the beginning, we could hear what Bob was able to do so we gave our total trust to him. We knew he wasn’t going to make a bad sounding record. In the past, we haven’t been able to let go and just focus on the music so to do this time, was great. So it turned out really well and it was interesting to see how Bob worked and how it all turned out with his Pro Tools and stuff. He even mixed the record on his SSL out in Maui at his studio. Since we have a Neve in our studio, this is the first record of ours also that was mixed on a SSL desk.

What guitars did you use for the album?

The bulk of it, honestly, is a 1976 Gibson Explorer which did 90% of the work. Every song has that Explorer on it but some of the overdubs were done with the Paul Reed Smith which I had ever since the first record. It is a Paul Reed Smith Standard 24 fret, custom blue, all mahogany bodied one. I also used a Stratocaster for some of the clean stuff. What is interesting to mention is that while we were recording the album, the David Gilmour Strat had just come out and Bob being a huge David Gilmour fan as am I too, we each went out and bought one and it arrived right before we began doing the overdubs. So I used that Gilmour Strat on some of the stuff too.

And what about the amps you used?

When it came to amps, I used my main amp which is a Diamond Phantom along with a Diamond Spitfire 2. And I blended the two together. I used the high gain channels and blended those together to get the dirty tone.

Is this similar to your live set-up?

Yeah, basically my rig is setup so I can A/B between a clean head and a dirty head. So with the clean tone, I just use the clean channel of the Diamond. That is my main set-up live. For the recording though, I used a 1964 Vox AC-30 and a Roland Jazz Chorus that belonged to Bob and which we used on some overdubs. In fact I recognized it as the same amp that was used on Metallica’s ‘Black’ album as far as getting those chorus-ey clean tones. And there was this other amazing sounding amp of Bob’s too, which I can’t recall the exact model now but I think it was a 50 watt head that went into a 2 X 12” cab. And again we blended that in with the dirty and the clean tones.

So blending amp tones was order of the day?

Yes, any time we were recording guitars, we had at least two amps going and it didn’t matter whether they were dirty or clean. We also had this old Marshall that had been mod-ded by the late Jose Arredondo who used to modify amps for Eddie Van Halen.

The music industry has changed considerably since the band first appeared on the scene. So does it feel good to still be signed to a label and releasing albums?

Absolutely, that’s one of the things we’re definitely really happy about. We kind of trip out a little bit because we’ve been a band 19 years now and here we are today, releasing our ninth studio album. And the fact that we’re still able to play music and to put out records makes us feel really blessed. I think everyone in the band is happier than ever playing together and as time goes on, we really grow and grow and are more inspired than we’ve ever been. So we’re very thankful for that.

The band has adapted well to the ever changing musical climate too.

We’ve been fortunate in that we’ve been able to fit in throughout all the changes. Within six months of our first record there was Rage Against The Machine, Tool’s first record and Grunge was going. And since then, it has changed quite a lot. And to have seen all the bands that have come and gone in that period and to still see us here going out and playing, well, we’re just happy that we can still do it. Especially since, we came from Omaha, Nebraska which is right in the middle of the country. When we moved to Los Angeles, hip hop was just getting really big and so there was that big influence going on too. Then you had Jane’s Addiction and again, Rage Against The Machine and all that cool rock stuff also influencing us at the same time too, so it was all very exciting. And being big fans of music ourselves, we’ve enjoyed everything along the way too.

Since 2000, 311 have celebrated their very own bi-annual holiday on 3/11.

Yeah, we’ve been doing it for every other year for the past ten years now. So with this next one that will be happening in 2010, we’re trying to plan how we can out do all our previous ones. Last time, we had the drum riser rise up like 12 feet into the air; it was very old school KISS style (laughs) and heaps of lasers too. So we’re just trying to figure out ways to top that last one now. And the reason we’ve always done it in New Orleans is because it is a place that is open 24 hours and is a nice destination for culture whether that be music, art, food or whatever and it’s a good place that really works for us on all levels.

You’re about to embark on a summer tour, what can fans expect on this latest undertaking. Are there any surprises in the set list?

We’re currently working on the new songs as on this last small tour that we just did, we only played the new single because since people record the shows, we didn’t want to put too much of our music out there before people could have had a chance to hear the new record. We typically play around 23 songs per night so on this tour, a third of the set list will be comprised of all new songs. So we’ll do eight new ones and the rest of it will be some singles from over the years. The remainder of the set will be devoted to just album tracks that we will mix up every night. I would say about half the set list will change each night and every night.

Fifteen Questions With... P-Nut of 311 (Blender Music Blog)

It must be nice being P-Nut (note: that's not his real name; it's really Aaron Wills). You play bass in a successful band, you're as happy now as you were when you were younger, and mornings include quality time with both the wife and the gaming console. Not only that, but your band, 311, has just released Uplifter, its ninth studio album, on Volcano/Jive. The album debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart. Not bad. When we called P-Nut at his LA-area home early one morning, he was wide-awake and spirited. He was also worried that the interview was a sort of psychological test. P-Nut of 311, we've got some questions for you.

1. How, and where, the hell are you?

I'm doing wonderful. I'm at home, just outside of LA. I just had some eggs and some biscuits, and I was on the bulletin boards at 311.com, and I played a little Warcraft.

2. Pick five words to describe Uplifter.

Crushing, beautiful, delightful, engaging, step-forward-making.

3. What's it like working with [legendary producer] Bob Rock?

It was great working with Bob Rock. With any new person that comes into the studio with us, there's a feeling out period, where you don't know how to take someone's sarcasm, or he doesn't know how to take our sarcasm, so that was kind of fun. There was this awkward period right around this time last year, before we went on a summer tour with Snoop Dogg, and when we got back from the summer tour, it was all engines go. We got right down to work and had fun, and he got us communicating really well. He laid out all of the necessary roads for us to make a good album.

4. Describe your typical onstage clothing.

I'm a comfort-first person. I wear lots of track gear and Lakers clothing. It's bright and it's made to be sweated in. So it's attention-grabbing and wicking, so I don't soak through my clothes like if I was in jeans and a t-shirt. I wear athletic clothes because we're an athletic band.

5. Who's the best-dressed member of 311? You are allowed to choose yourself.

I couldn't say that I'm the best dressed member of 311, though I do spend a lot of time looking at myself in the mirror. It'd probably be Nick [Hexum], because I think he knows that most of the attention is on him, and he works out the most, so his clothes look better on him, so I think Nick would get the prize.

6. What is the most bizarre item on your tour rider?

We don't have anything too bizarre. Back in the day we used to have a quarter ounce of weed on our tour rider and it never got fulfilled! But nothing too weird, just drinks and food. Unlike Aretha Franklin, who gets $35,000 in cash per her rider.

Have you ever ASKED for $35,000 on your rider?

No, but maybe we should learn from the master!

7. What's the worst rock n' roll injury you've had?

I'm more of a basketball injury kind of guy. I was going up for a layup, going through the lane, and I got hit as I was going up in the air, lost my footing. I got low-bridged, as they say. I broke my thumb three days before we did the "Amber" video shoot. So if you look at the "Amber" video, where normally I'd be smiling and having a good time, because I like being on film and video sets are fun, instead I'm straightforward and scowling.

8. What's your favorite city to play and why?

New Orleans. It's one of those few cities in America that has soul. San Francisco and New Orleans have the most tangible soul. Cities that actually have a personality that you could sit down and have lunch with. New Orleans is perhaps the wild side of it, whereas San Francisco might be the intellectual side of it.

9. Do you have a least favorite city to play?

Not really, because of the crowd we attract. We've always focused on being positive and enjoying ourselves, and the music reflects that. The only thing I don't like to see is when there are meatheads in the crowd, standing on the outside of a pit, just shoving people. That's no way to conduct yourself at a 311 show. Or shitty security, overstepping bounds and getting too amped up for no good reason. It's the way people act, more than any one city in particular.

10. What's the single greatest day you've had as a member of 311?

The day I met my wife at a show: September 4, 1993. The Varsity in New Orleans. A great place, one of the few places that really take care of bands when they're in that baby phase. You come in and you're treated like you belong, as opposed to, "Put your shit over there, and don't complain about the chicken and light beer."

11. What venues are special for you?

The Fox Theatre in Boulder. Also, the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, which is the only seated place I'd like to name. That was just an amazing show back in the day. We should really go back there and play. It was just fun and... regal. I remember my mom saying that she saw Gone With The Wind there!

The Sandstone Amphitheatre in Kansas City is amazing. That's where I saw the first Lollapalooza tour as an audience member, and then three or four years later, we were playing a headlining show there. Lakewood, also in Atlanta, is amazing. There's something special about the people in Atlanta—they know how to have a good time. The UNO Arena in New Orleans is fantastic for the same reason. And we've had some really good shows lately in Portland and Seattle, where we've played parks. There's something great about the Northwest.

12. What's your most extravagant hobby?

Um... I'm deferring to my wife. [Mumbling occurs in the background] Hmmm. I just bought an electric car, a Tesla Roadster. So I guess driving around is my most extravagant hobby! You come home, you plug it in, it's faster than a Porsche GT3, and it looks amazing.

13. Is Shaquille O'Neal the real musical deal?

He can be. I think he has strokes of that. He's definitely a man who's creative, and caught in the moment, and is just a big kid. These are all elements of a good musician. He's not someone to take himself too seriously. At the show we played with him in Irvine, he went out in the crowd and tried to crowd surf. A three hundred pound, seven feet man should not be trying to crowd surf in any crowd, unless the crowd are all professional wrestlers! He came out of the crowd with a bloody lip, and was loving every minute of it.

Musicians want to be athletes and athletes want to be musicians. It was a beautiful meeting of the minds.

14. American Idol: Do you care?

Hell motherfuckin' no! I couldn't care less, and I think it's one of the reasons that aliens are going to come down and wipe us off the planet.

15. Which P-Nut is having more fun: the mid-'90s version or the 2009 version?

Hard to say. The mid-'90s were really fun, and selling a ton of records is fun. But I'm smarter, and more comfortable in my skin now, and I'm really looking forward to the future. I guess it would be a tie! I appreciate the past, but I'm really looking forward to the future. I think our best songs are ahead of us, and I think our biggest international breakthroughs are also in front of us. There's something great about being able to tour consistently, as we've done since then, so I don't have any complaints. I just look forward to breaking new ground and continuing to have a good time rocking the world.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

311, Ziggy Marley – Live @ White River State Park (Stereo Subversion)

Love was in the air. Literally. A banner hanging above the stage reading “LOVE” set the feeling for the Unity tour’s stop at The Lawn at White River State Park in Indianapolis June 21. The Expendables, Ziggy Marley and 311 provided a sonic buffet, as each group played a plethora of styles, giving fans a heaping helping of peace, love and music.

The Expendables, from sunny Santa Cruz, Calif., played a half hour set of rock fleshed out with punk, reggae and 80s music. The band begged the audience to stand and rock, but the sweltering heat of the day was weighing too heavily on the crowd. “Sacrifice (Reprise),” “Down, Down, Down” and “Ganja Smugglin’” succeeded in getting fans near the stage hopping on their feet. The Expendables played tight instrumental compositions laced with hazy vocals. The guitar work was the sweet part of the show as Geoff Weirs and Paul Bianchi played their singing distorted guitars in tandem throughout the set. Their style carried a heavy reggae influence as the band’s grooves drifted through the clamoring throng of people pushing to get a good seat for Ziggy Marley.

Ziggy Marley’s performance proved to be a refreshing musical change of pace in the middle of two other louder acts, giving the audience a break from rock and a chance to savor the silky smooth and carefree sounds of reggae. Marley, with his charcoal dreadlocks hanging from his head like a well-groomed willow tree, played his beat-up green, red and yellow Telecaster for most of the show. He opened with “Dragonfly,” fleshed out with various island percussion and chilled guitar work, aptly setting the tone for the rest of the set. Classics like “Got to Be True to Myself” and songs from his newest album Family Time, dotted the set list, showing that Ziggy can innovate, while still staying in the realm of reggae.

Like his father Bob Marley, Ziggy uses his music to convey a message. Before playing “Love is My Religion,” Ziggy spoke with the audience about his views on religion and that no matter the audience’s religious views, love was something everyone could embrace. His “LOVE” banner draped across the top of the stage emphasized his statement. At the conclusion of his set, Ziggy left the stage as threatening grey clouds dissipated while the sun sank into the White River – almost as if his music calmed an impending storm.

As night drew nearer, the stage began to transform. A metal arch that supported at least 25 lights surrounded a large screen at the back of the stage that projected flashes of colors and images. A six person light crew sat high above the stage ready to control the light show that would ensue.

When 311 took the stage, they performed hit songs right away to get the crowd jumping, saving their newer material later in the show. “Come Original,” “Flowing,” “Applied Science” and “Creatures” were some of the most noteworthy classics of the evening. The variation in the band’s music was refreshing from the reggae infused “Amber” to the rap/rock tune “Jackpot,” giving the audience a change in style nearly every song. Singers Nick Hexum and SA Martinez displayed a plethora of vocal styles, sometimes singing tight harmonies while other times spouting off aggressive rhymes. Hexum, wearing a white jump suit, even played some crushing guitar riffs on “Beautiful Disaster.” His lofty vocals echoed through the venue as Martinez supplied a bit of scratching on a turntable.

What was most pleasing about the show was that the band’s songs were tight and well-rehearsed. Songs from the band’s newest album, Uplifter fell a little flat, especially after the audience’s head banging subsided when they played unfamiliar tunes. The band still was still unfazed, playing more well-known tunes after newer songs to get everyone moving again. During their performance, 311 didn’t solely rely on showmanship but musicianship as well.

Guitarist Tim Mahoney isn’t a shredder or virtuoso by any means but does have a style that relies heavily on silky phrasing wrapped in a sea of effects controlled by a huge pedal board at his feet. The band broke up the set further by performing a five piece percussion number where all members beat drums in a tribal style and threw drumsticks to each other on stage. The exhibition concluded with drummer Chad Sexton pounding out an impressive display of intricate rhythms that were teaming with a plethora of percussive textures. The hidden treat in the show was bassist P-Nut’s solo where he showcased his virtuosic slap technique. Easily the most technically impressive musical solo of the night, the bassist received roaring approval from fans at the end of his demonstration.

Although 311 are still testing the waters with their newer material, they are still a band that puts on a heck of a live show. Even an audience member who threw two shoes on stage couldn’t throw the band off as they blazed through their extensive back catalog of music. The band still relies on their old musical tricks from the ’90s but demonstrated that they can still forge new ground and can indeed play their instruments. Fans will be pleased to hear a mixture of new and old 311 material, while non fans will enjoy the light show and great musicianship from a band that’s proving they can still rock.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

311: No more 'business as usual' (Eagle-Tribune)

311 has made its fans wait a long time for a new CD, with its most recent release, "Don't Tread On Me," having come out in 2005. But singer Nick Hexum said the long gap between albums was the best thing the group could have done for its music and its future.

"Having a significant break at the end of 2006 was vital, because a philosophy I really believe in is, if you want to become a better musician, become a better person," the singer/guitarist said during a recent phone interview. "I needed to go through a bit of personal growth.

"Sometimes the best way to make progress with music is to actually work on yourself, the way you communicate with people and your own personal issues that have nothing to do with music," Hexum said. "So it's been a definite period of growth for everybody."

In an interview last year, Hexum had explained that by the time touring behind "Don't Tread On Me" wrapped up, the group felt as if it had been on the album/tour, album/tour treadmill for too long and hadn't been able to step away from its work routine to experience everyday life.

So in 2006, the band decided to take a break. That break wound up stretching into 2007, when 311 regrouped for its Unity tour, which has become pretty much of an annual summer event. This year's Unity tour, with Ziggy Marley as the main supporting act, kicked off this month.

It was after that 2007 run of dates that 311 began work on its forthcoming CD, "Uplifter." By that time, it was clear that the group was coming into the project eager for musical exploration and willing to accept outside input.

"In retrospect, 'Don't Tread On Me' feels a little stagnant," Hexum said. "We realized that it was time to shake things up. We didn't want to just hurry and make another album. We wanted to really make sure we were taking a huge step forward, because it's about quality, not quantity."

Hexum said a key step in the process was choosing Bob Rock to produce the new CD.

Rock came into the project urging 311 to set aside any preconceived notions of its sound and how the group should write and record songs. Hexum said Rock was active in suggesting changes to song arrangements and in helping 311 discover new ways to approach its sound.

"Seeing as this is our ninth album, invariably, bands are going to get into certain sorts of ruts and grooves of ways that they're used to doing things," Hexum said. "And he (Rock) came in and it was like, 'I don't care how you guys used to do things. Let's try a new way.'"

To say that Hexum is excited about "Uplifter" would be an understatement.

He said that in some respects, it recalls the more rap-rock oriented sound of early 311 albums like "Music" (1993) and "Grassroots" (1994). But at the same time, it's a guitar-oriented album with a definite rock dimension and lots of melody.

"It's more danceable, but then there's more heavy, and then there are these shredding guitar solos," Hexum said. "Then there's some kind of reggae grooves, even a little bit of world beat, something that we haven't really messed around with much. But Bob turned us on to some North African guitar textures that make an interesting little appearance in the bridge of one song."

The reggae-ish grooves work their way into songs like "Hey You" (the CD's bouncy first single), while the band rocks out on "India Ink" and "Never Ending Summer." The band puts a little funk into the relaxed rocker, "It's Alright," while "Golden Sunlight" is one of several songs that finds 311 venturing into sweetly lit pop territory.

Hexum is also confident that 311 — which also includes SA Martinez (vocals/deejay), Chad Sexton (drums), Tim Mahoney (guitar) and P-Nut (bass) — did some of its best songwriting on "Uplifter."

"I think that we achieved, we had really 12 breakthroughs," he said. "We have 12 songs on the album, and all of those feel like breakthroughs to us, where in the past we might have a few breakthroughs on an album, and then the other songs, we'd be like, 'Well, that's just kind of like business as usual.' Well, now we're at a place where we don't accept business as usual."

Fans may very well hear a large chunk of the new material in 311's set on the Unity tour this summer, although Hexum also said the group will include familiar songs from its back catalog and perhaps a few rarities.

"We know that (the new) songs are really going to work live," he said. "We might end up playing the majority of it, which is very refreshing to have a record that we're that excited about."

Friday, June 19, 2009

Unity Tour headed for the Amphitheatre (Tampa Bay Weekly)

TAMPA - 311 with special guest Matisyahu brings the Unity Tour 2007 to the Ford Amphitheatre on Wednesday, July 18, 6:30 p.m.

Tickets are $37.50, general admission dance floor; $35 and $25, reserved seats; and $20 festival lawn and available at the Ford Amphitheatre Box Office, online at www.livenation.com and www.ticketmaster.com, and all Ticketmaster locations, including FYE and Spec's Music, or charge by phone by calling at 813-287-8844 or 727-898-2100.

311 return to the road, and they are fired-up and ready to make this an amazing summer tour. Formed more than 15 years ago in Omaha, 311 are pioneers of mixing rap, reggae, funk and metal to create their own unique blend of vibe music.

The band is composed of five self-described “friends for life” (singer and guitarist Nick Hexum, singer S.A. Martinez, guitarist Tim Mahoney, drummer Chad Sexton and the bassist known only as P-Nut) whose common link was a passion for both music and life. It was this philosophy that eventually brought them together to make music with a positive message behind it.

They have sold millions of albums and even had a video certified platinum, all serving as a strong testament to the unique relationship 311 has with its fans.

“When we first started the band, we were always sure something good was going to happen,” said drummer Chad Sexton. “And we’ve never gone backwards in any way since.”

Hailing from Brooklyn NY, Matisyahu brings his electrifying fusion of reggae and rock with an unbelievable energy and positivity. When Matisyahu emerged with his debut album, Shake Off the Dust ... Arise, in 2004, his musical persona seemed to some a novelty. Here was a Hasidic Jew, dressed in a black suit with a broad-brimmed black hat worn over a yarmulke, and sporting a full, untrimmed beard, who nevertheless performed toasting raps about the glories of traditional Judaism over reggae beats in a dancehall style directly from Jamaica, punctuating his performances with stage diving.

It may have seemed like a joke at first, but Matisyahu was serious, and he began to attract press notices to go with the enthusiastic audiences that packed his concerts. Breaking big on the scene with his song "King Without A Crown", Matisyahu delivered an original, uplifting, powerful performance. Matisyahu toured around the country and prepared a second studio album produced by Bill Laswell. The final product, Youth, appeared in March 2006 and was nominated for a Grammy in the category of “Best Reggae Album.”

Thursday, June 18, 2009

311's Uplifter Debuts at #3 (VentVox)

311’s celebratory live shows & incessant touring schedule have earned them a massive grassroots following nationwide. Since its inception in 2004, 311’s annual summer headlining amphitheatre run, Unity Tour, has become one of the largest annual modern rock tours of the summer. Support acts on the past five Unity Tours have included Snoop Dogg, The Roots, Papa Roach, The Wailers, O.A.R. and Matisyahu.

Uplifter is the band’s first studio record in three years and was produced by the legendary producer Bob Rock. As the title suggests, the band’s new album is an uplifting collection of 311′s trademark blend of rock & reggae, elevated dynamic musicianship and big anthemic choruses. The deluxe edition of Uplifter includes a special DVD documentary, The Road to 311 Day, directed by Wayne Price. The documentary includes interviews, backstage footage and live performances, following the band and their fans for weeks leading up to the 3-11 Day concert event in New Orleans in 2008.

311 have released five Gold, one Platinum, and one Triple-Platinum-certified albums, a live album and three DVD’s (one Gold, two Platinum-certified). Five of their releases have reached the Top 10 on Billboard’s Top 200 Albums Chart. Six singles have gone into the Top 10 on Billboard’s Modern Rock Chart including the #1 hits “Down,” “Love Song,” and “Don’t Tread On Me.” To date band has sold over 8 million units in the U.S.

Combining 311’s signature rock-reggae sound and inspired lyrics, the band is excited to release their next single “It’s Alright”! Take a gander of the song right here.

UNITY TOUR 2009 w/ Ziggy Marley and The Expendables:
06/16: Cleveland, OH @ Time Warner Amphitheatre
06/17: Columbus, OH @ Lifestyles Communities Pavilion
06/19: Detroit, MI @ Freedom Hill
06/20: Cincinnati, OH @ Riverbend Amphitheatre
06/21: Indianapolis, IN @ The Lawns
06/23: Saratoga, NY @ SPAC
06/24: Boston, MA @ Comcast Center
06/25: New York, NY @ Central Park Summerstage
06/27: Holmdel, NJ @ PNC Bank Art Center
06/28: Washington DC @ Nissan Pavilion
06/30: Philadelphia, PA @ Penns Landing
07/01: Virginia Beach, VA @ Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
07/03: Charlotte, NC @ Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
07/04: Atlanta, GA @ Lakewood Amphitheatre
07/05: Raleigh, NC @ Walnut Creek Amphitheatre
07/07: St. Louis, MO @ Verizon Amphitheatre
07/10: Phoenix, AZ @ Dodge Theatre
07/11: San Diego, CA @ Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre
07/12: Irvine, CA @ Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre

311 sends fans message: 'Stay positive; love your life' (Stamford Times)

The album is new but the rest remains the same for 311.

Same lineup, same head-bobbing sound that's impossible to fit into a neat musical category, same aggressive spring and summer tour schedule, same energetic live performances and same message to their fans: "Stay positive and love your life."

Since the early 1990s, the five-person alternative rock/reggae/funk/rap band from Omaha, Neb., has built a loyal grassroots following by complementing a relentless agenda of live shows with just enough studio albums to keep the music fresh. The band, now based in Los Angeles, has nine albums and has played at least 60 live shows during each of the last five years.

311 (three-eleven) released its ninth studio album, "Uplifter," earlier this month. It debuted this week at No. 3 on the Billboard 200, trailing only new releases by Dave Matthews Band and Eminem. The first single from the album, "Hey You," peaked at No. 3 on Billboard's Hot Modern Tracks.

All this while, the band is in the midst of its Unity Tour 2009, which features Ziggy Marley and The Expendables as the opening acts. This latest whirlwind coast-to-coast tour (29 shows in 60 days) brings them to Central Park on Thursday, June 24, when they play a show to benefit the park's Summer Stage.

"It makes you super-charged as an artist to play in New York City. People in New York City have seen things a thousand times, so it's a challenge to put on a good show," said P-Nut (real name Aaron Willis), the band's bass player. "New York is great. It's one of three cities that has a real and tangible soul in the U.S. -- San Francisco and New Orleans being the others. It's just fantastic to feel that energy.

"I can't wait to play the Summer Stage," he added. "Five thousand people in a tree-lined area -- it will be amazing."

311 gives back that energy to its audience. Many a music critic has said a live 311 show is a "must see." Every other March 11, the band holds 311 Day in a major U.S. city. The day includes five hours of live 311 music.

P-Nut said one of the reasons 311 has been able to grow such a large, loyal base is the message in the band's lyrics and shows. Instead of lyrics that incite anger, express extreme political views, degrade women, or make no sense at all -- messages so common in today's rock/rap world -- 311 stresses a positive attitude (although their early albums were also associated with a pot-smoking culture.)

Lead singer Nick Hexum ends 311 live shows with "Stay positive. Love your life."

"I love working this group of guys and waving that flag (of being positive)," P-Nut said. "That's part of our message and that's what makes the personalities in this group special. We realize how important the pieces are. We appreciate where everyone is coming from and we all come from a different space. That's been the point."

In addition to distinct personalities, each member brings unique playing skills to the band. Drummer Chad Sexton played in the drum corps in high school, a background that leads P-Nut to describe Sexton's playing as "perfection and execution."

Nick Hexum is the lead vocalist and writes the majority of the lyrics and music. Crowd favorite SA Martinez supports Hexum's vocals, but also sings lead on many songs. He also plays turntables. "Their harmony is so together," P-Nut said of Hexum and Martinez. "It just feels good."

Guitarist Tim Mahoney "just keeps getting better," according to P-Nut.

P-Nut, a self-proclaimed "anything goes type of guy," is known for his funky slap bass technique, but is equally adept at keeping the rhythm slow for 311's anthem-type songs, such as "Amber" and "Love Song" (a The Cure remake).

"I love that the guys give me a little time during the shows to do my thing," P-Nut said. "My solos are controlled chaos -- well, may just chaos. It's just fun."

311 released its first album in 1993, but didn't make a lot of noise nationally until its third album, 311, was released in 1995. That third release, also known as the Blue album and now triple-Platinum, included singles "Down" and "All Mixed Up," which have become 311 mainstays.

With their fan base growing, 311 threw what P-Nut described as a curveball, with its third release "Transistor," a 21-song album that veered creatively from their first three albums.

"We have long-term fans that want us to be a creative as possible," P-Nut said. "We also have fans who like the radio songs. We're lucky to have both."

Several gold and platinum albums later, 311 is now touring in support of its new "Uplifter" album. The band immediately incorporated several songs from the album onto its concert setlist.

"We're putting our Uplifter foot forward," P-Nut said. "This is a new era."

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

311 release Uplifter Album (MusicRemedy)

"Uplifter" the 9th studio album from multi-platinum rock band 311 debuts at #3 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums Chart. It is the band’s highest ever album chart debut. 311 is comprised of Nick Hexum (vocals, rhythm guitar), SA Martinez (vocals, turntables), Tim Mahoney (lead guitar), P-Nut (bass guitar) and Chad Sexton (drums).

Combining 311’s signature rock-reggae sound and inspired lyrics, the band is excited to release their next single “It’s Alright”!

311’s celebratory live shows & incessant touring schedule have earned them a massive grassroots following nationwide. Since its inception in 2004, 311’s annual summer headlining amphitheatre run, Unity Tour, has become one of the largest annual modern rock tours of the summer. Support acts on the past five Unity Tours have included Snoop Dogg, The Roots, Papa Roach, The Wailers, O.A.R. and Matisyahu.

Uplifter is the band’s first studio record in three years and was produced by the legendary producer Bob Rock. As the title suggests, the band’s new album is an uplifting collection of 311's trademark blend of rock & reggae, elevated dynamic musicianship and big anthemic choruses. The deluxe edition of Uplifter includes a special DVD documentary, The Road to 311 Day, directed by Wayne Price. The documentary includes interviews, backstage footage and live performances, following the band and their fans for weeks leading up to the 3-11 Day concert event in New Orleans in 2008.

311 have released five Gold, one Platinum, and one Triple-Platinum-certified albums, a live album and three DVD’s (one Gold, two Platinum-certified). Five of their releases have reached the Top 10 on Billboard’s Top 200 Albums Chart. Six singles have gone into the Top 10 on Billboard’s Modern Rock Chart including the #1 hits “Down,” “Love Song,” and “Don’t Tread On Me.” To date band has sold over 8 million units in the U.S.

press quotes
“...Uplifter may very well be 311's most epic record." - Artist Direct 2009

"311 retains all of its well-known earmarks: rock-meets-reggae james, smooth harmonies, positive lyrics and memorable hooks." - Relix Magazine 2009

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Q101 Block Party Review (Illinois Entertainer)

Mother Nature made a lot of people happy Sunday night, as she gave Q101, 311, and a whole slew of music fans a perfect night of weather for Q101’s annual “Block Party.” The not-quite-sold-out crowd enjoyed a beautiful summer night of quality live music, and judging by the endless “haze” that floated above them, a few other things as well.

Omaha natives 311, hitting the road in support of their latest releas Uplifter, took full advantage of the weather and the “happy” crowd, as they blazed through a 90-minute set of their rock-rap-reggae hits. The band appropriately opened the show with recent single “Never Ending Summer” (their unofficial nominee for 2009’s summer anthem), and then wasted no time turning to their classic crowd-pleasing mid-’90s hits “Beautiful Disaster” and “All Mixed Up.” In fact, throughout the night, they very carefully alternated between their new songs and the classics, which actually fit together nicely. They also managed to nail the perfect combination of laid-back tunes (“Amber,” “Beyond the Grey Sky”) and big rockers (“Hey You,” “Come Original”).

The biggest hits included new single “Jackpot,” a song basically written for live shows with its built-in shouts of “Get up, everybody jump,” and classic closer “Creatures,” which rocks way more live than it did as the lead single off Evolver. The three-song encore ended with the always satisfying “Down,” which was dedicated to “all the old-school 311 fans.”

Frontman Nick Hexum and his sidekick rapper SA were spot-on all night, proving that removing 311 from the studio doesn’t take anything from their sound. Hexum’s charisma shone through his vocals and his command of the crowd, and all in spite of his odd look (full-on faux-hawk, and white T-shirt with white jeans). There weren’t really any surprises, other than Chad Sexton’s drum solo turning into a “drum quintet” when the rest of the band joined him on their own mini-kits, and Hexum’s stage-dive-flip at the end. P-Nut gave his typical impressive bass solo, and the rest of the band basically stayed out of the way so Hexum and SA could wander the stage singing and rapping.

While Q101 made a wise choice in nabbing 311 during their re-emergence for this year’s Block Party, one could question their choice of openers. Ziggy Marley was the “big name” opener, but his set was no-surprises, no-filler, all-message straight-on reggae. Naturally he covered a couple of his father’s biggest hits, including “I Shot the Sherriff,” but even that didn’t seem to engage the bored crowd. Blame it on the no-nonsense reggae stylings, or maybe on the haze that was kicking off the night and getting everyone nice and relaxed.

The other openers were local Chicago act The Insecurities, who won a contest to land a spot in the show, and made the most of their opportunity with a solid set, and The Expendables, who were basically a poor-man’s version of 311, borrowing lots of reggae-rock out of their playbook.

Friday, June 12, 2009

311's Uplifter: The Band's New Album and the 2009 Summer Unity Tour (Suite101.com)

311, a unique reggae/rock/hip-hop hybrid, released on June 2nd their latest album, Uplifter. Celebrating their new music and the summer season, the band is now touring.
Produced by Bob Rock under the RCA/Jive Label Group, Uplifter displays the next step in 311’s evolution. Simple, yet complex, buoyant and electric, this newest album contains the work of collaborating artists, focused, adept, and attuned.

Plus, well-worth the value, the extended version CD includes two stellar tracks and an 83 minute DVD documentary, The Road to 311 Day, directed and edited by Wayne Price.

311’s Sound
311 is an amalgam of genres, combined to form an original sound. The band takes the positive energy from reggae, rock, hip-hop, and other areas to create their own brand of invigorating music. With Uplifter, vocals, guitars, bass, drums, piano, horns, and electronics blend and wave together, forming the sounds of summer.

On the new album, Nick Hexum and SA Martinez fuse their voices to form a cosmic, musical alloy. Both sing individually and in harmony about themes such as music, creativity, positivity, the moment, and appreciation. Along with several remarkable solos, Tim Mahoney provides guitar riffs ranging from the sonic to the serene. P-Nut’s intricate bass lines bubble and thump with resilience. And Chad Sexton’s drum rhythms drive and guide the songs through an array of transitions and swells.

New Tracks on Uplifter
Like other 311 albums, this album sustains itself throughout. Uplifter contains no bad songs. It begins with the album’s first single, “Hey You,” an upbeat track testifying to the power of music. The fourth track, “Golden Sunlight,” builds in intensity, takes flight, and soars. And the energy continues to mount with infectious tracks such as "India Ink," “Never Ending Summer,” and "Something Out of Nothing."

However, 311, true to form, contrasts their momentum with mellower songs. Listeners can relax to the lighter melodies found in tracks such as “Two Drops in the Ocean” and “My Heart Sings.” Ultimately, the pacified songs synthesize with the more aggressive to provide a dazzling spectrum of sound, contained within a complete and satisfying album.

311 Day Documentary
For about an extra six dollars, fans can purchase an extended version Uplifter CD that includes two bonus tracks and a DVD documentary, The Road to 311 Day. Pairing the package with the CD, the band encourages fans to continue supporting the waning compact disc medium. Two crisp tracks and an entertaining documentary make the purchase worth while.

The Road to 311 Day gives viewers a glimpse of 311 on the road and backstage. Weaved throughout are live songs from 311 Day 2008 in New Orleans. Between songs viewers see the antics and rituals involved in touring and preparing for 311 Day. The documentary presents the culture of 311 fandom, and band interviews provide insight into 311’s music and philosophy. Sexton’s live drum solo surging with the full-band drum line particularly stands out amidst the musical montage. The sequence caught on tape in itself is worth the entire documentary.

The Summer Unity Tour
To celebrate and spread their new music, 311 is now touring America until July 12th with the Summer Unity Tour. The tour consists of 311, Ziggy Marley, and the Expendables, spreading vibes from city to city for two months. Expect the shows to be different, though, because 311 modifies the set of each performance to provide every audience with a unique experience. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster.

While 311 continues playing songs from their older albums, this summer tour is a great vehicle for them to play their new material for wide audiences. The crowds likely will enjoy the new tunes. Like a fine wine or a master craftsman, 311 over the years has steadily improved. Uplifter is the next step in the band’s extraordinary musical journey, and it sounds like they are headed in the right direction.

Skys Clear for a Dynamic 311 show at USANA

The sun came out near the end of Ziggy Marley's set. Before that, a chilly rain drizzled onto the nearly sold-out audience at the USANA Amphitheatre.

It began slowly during the path-clearing string of songs played by the Expendables. The band, hailing from Santa Cruz, Calif., set the tone for the evening with its own blend of reggae rock that got the audience primed and pumped for the one-two punch of Marley and headliner 311.

The audience members gave a lot of love to the Expendables, who played "Wide Awake," "Sacrifice," "Bowl for Two" and a new tune "Positive Mind."

Marley's set had the audience rocking to reggae in the rain.

Uplifting and celebratory jams such as "Tomorrow People," "True to Myself" and a cover of "Jammin,'" which was his father Bob Marley's signature song, were played with glee.

The sun showed up during "Look Who's Dancin'" and stayed out through "Black Cat," "Love Is My Religion" and a quick-step arrangement of his dad's "Is This Love."

The two openers set the bar, but 311 pushed it off the chart.

The band — vocalist Nick Hexum, vocalist/emcee S.A. Martinez, guitarist Tim Mahoney, bassist Aaron "P-Nut" Wills and drummer Chad Sexton — get better with age.

For nearly 20 years, 311 has been cranking out its blend of rock, funk and reggae for its fans. And Salt Lake has always been a hot spot.

Kicking off the dynamic set was a new tune "Never Ending Summer," culled from the band's new album "Uplifter." The piece was followed by "Beautiful Disaster."

Hexum handled the lead vocals like a fine-tuned vocal juggler, while Martinez added flair and immediacy with his complementing raps.

More new songs from the new CD "Uplifter" included "Mix It Up," "Daisy Cutter" and "Something out of Nothing."

Still, 311 also knew fans were there to hear some older rockers such as the chatty "Come Original," "Freeze Time" and the moody "Amber."

As in years in the past, one of the adrenaline rushes of the evening came with Sexton's drum solo during "Applied Science."

The rousing rhythms were highlighted by the other band members, who helped the groove by pounding their own set of floor toms and cymbals.

The guys tossed drumsticks to each other across the stage and ended the number by throwing sticks into the crowd.

Not a drop of rain fell during 311's set. In fact, the clouds moved east and left the sky above the USANA Amphitheatre clear enough for the stars to shine. And the crowd members warmed up by dancing the night away.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

311: Keeping it Real, Focused and Positive

In the past few years there have been a ton of bands from the early 90's who have reunited or re-booted their careers, some for better and some for worse! 311 has not lost any band members, did not break up and they don't flat out hate each other!

Since hitting the scene 19 years ago 311 have kept their focus on two things: positivity and unity! "We really love the music making process...the 19 years have just floated by. I guess being together for this long is quite an accomplishment vocalist/guitarist Nick Hexum states matter of factly." "Our first priority is the music, making good music. That's the glue that holds us together...we also do our best to keep communicating with each other. Once communication between band members breaks down that's it, they are finished...our ability to communicate and our focus keeps us from becoming a dysfunctional family." Make no mistake, in a society of insane reality TV where being the bad guy is a good thing and American Idol cookie cutter performers, 311 are a bit of an oddity, and that just might be a good thing. When asked to describe what keeps him inspired to make music with his band, Nick casually states, "you have to keep nurturing your inner music fan...I'm always thirsty for new music. That kind of spirit inspires me to want to create. The moment making music turns into a job you are screwed! You have to keep nurturing that Jr. High kid in you...the kid that always wants to hear new music...making music for me is a never ending journey and that kind of mindset really keeps things exciting."

The "journey" that Nick explains certainly includes the 311 fan base. The band could possibly be described as the Grateful Dead of alternative rock and not just because both bands share a love for a certian "herb". Their fans follow them from town to town and they can sell out a summer tour without releasing a disc (311's latest disc Uplifter will be out June 2nd)! When asked how the band has been able to have such a deep connection with their fans, Hexum breathes a heavy sigh and states humbly, "I think it has just come from the positive nature of the band and the positive nature of the shows. We really try to get the audience into our shows...I mean we take this seriously...everybody practices their instruments and their parts on their own...we want to make sure we can be the best players we can be and put on the best show" Hexum pauses for a bit and then adds, "Another aspect of this is the audience...when we sound check it's boring because there is no audience...sound check is like just a soliloquy. The actual show is an ongoing conversation with our audience and we feed off that energy...that's how the bond has been made...at this point our fans don't see 311 as just a band...for them coming to our shows is a way of life...it like a belief system." This bond between the band and its fans led to a ton of scrutiny about just where the name "311" came from. The numbers are actually the police code for indecent exposure (a band member was caught literally, with his pants down in public). Early in their career a rumor spread that the numbers symbolized an allegiance to the Ku Klux Klan (K is the 11th letter in the alphabet). Hexum and the band vehemently denied this rumor. "How anyone could think that a multi-ethnic rock/rap/reggae band would be down with the Klan was just insane!" The scrutiny ended up paying off for the band and established a sort of holiday for the group. Hexum explains, "I think about fifteen years ago we played a show in New Orleans on the 11th of March. Everyone started to assume that, that was where the name came from. We thought maybe it might be cool to do this...to come to New Orleans every year on this date and play a big show...it just became this huge thing...every year the show got bigger and bigger. All of our fans would hit New Orleans and literally take the place over...its amazing...it's become a cultural phenomenon!"

The unity between the group and their fans finds its way easily into their lyrics and while 311 is not an overtly political band, Hexum has lent his name to a few causes. In 2004 Nick and his brother went on a tour to support then Presidential candidate John Kerry. It was on this tour Hexum had to make a speech right after a young senator from Chicago with a funny name; Barrack Obama! "Yeah it was nuts. In 2004 I did this tour with my brother to raise awareness about a few issues during the election on behalf of the Kerry campaign. I had to make a speech at one of the stops and at the time, Senator now President Obama spoke before me...it was rough! I think I started my speech by saying no one should have to follow that guy!! I got a chance to talk to him afterwards and while I had no idea four years later he would become our next President I did know at the time that he was what the country needed." When asked if this past election inspired him Hexum replies enthusiastically, "yeah it really did! The election was a great moment to see...I had become estranged from my country for a while so it was great to see it happen...I mean I am involved in politics and some issues but 311 over all is a non-political band...we don't want to alienate anyone. All races, ages, are invited to the party...we honestly believe that music is a universal language...we have a song on our new disc that has a line in it where we say a song could end a war. It may sound a bit hokey but we really believe that, and that spirit of unity is what 311 is all about, not focusing on the charts...our fans truly believe we are a philosophy and a way of life. This keeps us positive and focused on the big picture of making music."

Hexum sounds excited and he has reason to be. His band has their latest disc "Uplifter" their first in four years dropping soon, they are heading out on tour this summer and Hexum is gearing up to be a father for the first time! "This is something I wanted to do...I feel like I have babies being born all around me so I have been picking peoples brains about being a dad...for me this really brings about a new sense of purpose...I'm very excited!"

Excitement, focus and unity! These are the things that have kept 311 together. In a music business where the skinny jeans, a dashing hairdo or a three panel judge can make or break you 311 rely on a positive vibe and their conversation with their fans to keep them going...it's a welcome breath of fresh air indeed, let's hope the journey and positivity keeps on pushing forward.

It's all about unity for rap-reggae band 311 (MLive)

By dubbing its summer jaunt "The Unity Tour," Nebraska-bred 311 is symbolizing its message of positivity and love, said singer/DJ SA Martinez.

"It's something that encompasses what we're all about," Martinez said, calling from Alabama, where the band was set to perform. "We try to bring acts that obviously fit that bill. We've had The Wailers. We've had Matisyahu out with us. This year we're bringing Ziggy Marley. It's kind of a concept for us: music is one of positivity and forward-thinking love. 'Unity' seems to fit that bill."

This year's Unity Tour is slated to hit Freedom Hill in Sterling Heights on June 19. It'll be the first metro Detroit gig by 311 in two years, Martinez said.

"Shows in Detroit are always great," he said. "We do really well in Michigan. It's one of our better markets for sure. We're looking forward to going back this year. Last year we did Rothbury, so we didn't hit Detroit."

With its rap-reggae hybrid, the band 311 - which also includes drummer Chad Sexton, vocalist/guitarist Nick Hexum, bassist P-Nut and guitarist Tim Mahoney - is touring in support of its ninth studio album, "Uplifter," which hit stores June 2. 311's first new album in four years, "Uplifter" marks the act's debut collaboration with producer Bob Rock. With Rock's heavy pedigree (Metallica, Motley Crue), one might think the musical focus was pushed in a louder direction.

"He brought out something in us that maybe wasn't highlighted before," Martinez said. "But it fits with our previous work. It definitely has the signature 311 style to it. But I'd say there's maybe a little bit more meat on the bones this time around. I'm really interested to hear what the fans have to say about it, once they get it and digest it and have time to reflect on it and let it sink in. I think they're really going to be pleased with it."

Carrying a funky reggae vibe, the first single, "Hey You," is receiving its fair share of airplay.

"The single 'Hey You' is pretty indicative of the album as a whole," Martinez said. "There's a lot of songs on there that fit right alongside that song. It's going to be an album our fans are going to dig."

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

311: A Band For The Fans (Real Detroit Weekly)

Nick Hexum, the vocalist and rhythm guitar player for 311, is just waking up after devouring some breakfast. “It’s very surreal,” explains Hexum, his sleepy tone seeping through the phone, “because even though it’s noon [in Seattle], it’s totally dark out.” And even though Uplifter is 311’s 14th studio release, the group is still shining a light through the darkness of banal mainstream sounds with crunchy choruses and their classic one-two vocal delivery, funky bass lines (courtesy of P-Nut) and “uplifting messages.” Real Detroit recently spoke with Hexum about the live tightness of 311 and the growing family of fans they've acquired throughout the years.

How have you seen the live show progress from when you guys were just starting out to having clocked in nearly 19 years as a band?
In the past few years, the set is turning more into a real show because the communication of the band has been really good, and we talk about making sure we have a lot of exciting moments in the show … the drums being one of them. We always put at least one extended improv section to kind of show off the jam band side of what we do, which is one of many sides, but it is something that we enjoy even though we are more rockers at heart. We also have other memorable moments, which might be a bass solo, or a drum solo. We’ve changed the drum line to have a bunch of new parts in it for this year. We just really talk a lot about if we were in the audience, what we would want to see. We are there for the audience — not that the audience is there for us. We keep the goal of being entertaining whereas some other musicians get lost in their own desires and the show becomes too indulgent.

And, in that same regard, are you witnessing a fanbase that is growing up with the band or one that is perpetually high school and college aged?
There definitely is somewhat of a turnover. We keep a certain amount of the fans that are our age, but you need younger people because no one is going to go as completely nuts like someone high school or collegiate aged. It’s just that your brain is open, you know? We always have a special place for the bands that we went crazy for when we were in our teens.

311 and Ziggy Marley at the Santa Barbara Bowl (Santa Barbara Independent)

Any concertgoer would agree-it was an evening of veritable rock and reggae perfection on Friday night at the Bowl. The Summer Unity Tour kickoff show was awash with cliches-the full moon came out, the clouds were ominous, and the overall tone of the night rang something like, “peace, love, and rock ‘n’ roll.” At the crux of it all was 311 and their ever-so-eclectic lineup-this year, the hip-hop-funk-rock-reggae band decided to bring Rasta master Ziggy Marley along on their annual coast-to-coast ride. And the audience, beer cup in one hand and el diablo sign in the other, could not have been more stoked.

Ziggy Marley, along with his band and their instruments, were a vision in red, green, and gold as they took the stage at sunset. With his hands on his waist and three-foot-long dreads swaying, Marley commanded the platform where his father recorded his final performance back in 1979. Unable to resist Marley’s alluring feel-good presence, fans bobbed their heads and clapped their hands to the dub beat as Marley sang songs about crying for justice and staying true to oneself (“Justice,” “True to Myself”). Marley (who is believed to sound most like his late, great dad) also got the crowd on its feet with his almost-as-good renditions of “I Shot the Sheriff” and “Is This Love.” Before clearing the stage to make way for the evening’s headliner, Marley made sure to throw out his closing pleas for peace, one love, and pronouncing love was his religion during “Love Is My Religion.”

At around 8:30 p.m., 311 frontman Nick Hexum emerged from backstage in an all-white ensemble. Steadfast fans filed into each seat of the Bowl and crevice of the pit and were delivered, as promised, a show that was one of the band’s best in years, proving the veteran rockers’ endurance both in showmanship and musicianship. This time around, 311 primarily offered up tracks from Uplifter, their first album in more than three years (and their ninth one to date), which they noted was about how music saved their lives. Playing a no-fail setlist brimming with billboard hits (“Beautiful Disaster,” “Come Original,” “Amber”), Hexum and company carried out a nonstop performance until their 10 p.m. curfew. At one point, all but drummer Chad Sexton ditched their respective instruments and grabbed their own drums, performing a five-minute percussion set that impressed even the most critical spectator in the crowd. Despite being together for more than two decades and touring what seems like every year, the alternative rock band have still got it. Their sound may be all too familiar, but their shows still manage to mix it up, pleasing die-hard enthusiasts time and time again.

Show Samples the Many Flavors of Reggae (Noozhawk)

Santa Barbara has long had a love affair with reggae music in all of its manifestations. From traditional Caribbean melodies and the English ska revival to today’s amalgamation of surf punk, hip hop and reggae dub music, local, national and international stars of the genre have filled the city’s venues with mesmerized fans for decades.

The tradition of reggae at the Santa Barbara Bowl goes back to before I arrived in the city in 1977. In 1979, Bob Marley played a legendary show that most of us in attendance will never forget. YouTube is full of video clips from that day. The tradition continued Friday night, when the 311 tour brought three distinct interpretations of the reggae genre to a large, appreciative and diverse crowd.

Opening act The Expendables was the most energetic of the group. The band, the first signed by Slightly Stoopid to its new record label, Stoopid Records, plays a high-energy, surf-punk blend of reggae. Fronted by madman vocalist and guitar player Geoff Weers, he led the tight rocking band into several frenzied, 1980s-tinged guitar war jams during its short set. Formed in Santa Cruz in 1997, it may well be the next big breakout band of the genre.

In a much different, far more traditional reggae tone came Ziggy Marley. One of the legendary Marley family sons of Bob Marley, he carries his father’s torch with great respect and clarity. Mixing his own songs with his father’s hits, such as “I Shot the Sheriff,” the Jamaican tradition of reggae is fully revealed.

It’s hard not to like Ziggy Marley, with his upbeat banter and beaming smile. His songs of struggle for freedom and redemption, steeped in the African mysticism of legendary Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie and the Rastafarian religion, strike a universal chord for humanitarian justice. Ziggy Marley has a special affinity for children and always tries to do a special show for them wherever he visits. Santa Barbara was no exception, with a surprise show just for the area’s Boys & Girls Clubs.

Headliner 311 is no strangers to the Santa Barbara Bowl. When the band appeared on stage with an explosive 21st century, giant LED light show, the venue quickly filled to near capacity with ecstatic fans. Launching straight into some of its biggest hits, the band played nonstop during its 90-minute set.

311 (pronounced three-11), a band from a musical nowhere (Omaha, Neb.), has been making music for more than two decades. It began by tenaciously touring with little money, support or record sales. With relentless self-promotion, it finally made a mainstream breakthrough in 1995 with its self-titled album, 311. The band hasn’t looked back, with almost all of its subsequent albums charting in top spots on the Billboard 200, and no less than six hit songs charting in the Billboard Top 5.

The bands’ raw energy was batted about the stage by their talented and diverse performers, mixing hip hop, surf punk and reggae into a pleasing new flavor of the ever-changing stew of reggae music. A beaming and bubbly crowd happily stumbled out of the Bowl, as the 10 p.m. curfew approached.

Ten Questions with 311 (Athen Blur Magazine)

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Sunday, June 7, 2009

311 brings Marley in Unity Tour: Music at USANA

This tour is called the Unity Tour, and it wants to bring people together. People, that is, other than the starting lineup of the Orlando Magic.

The funk-rock band 311 tours on the Unity Tour every summer, and the mini-festivals showcase how music can be universal and not divided into genres. Last year, 311 brought rap star Snoop Dogg on tour; this year, reggae star Ziggy Marley is on the diverse bill.

Not so universal is the support of NBA basketball teams, as the members of 311, from California, are die-hard fans of the Los Angeles Lakers, who are competing in the NBA finals this week vs. the Orlando Magic.

Unfortunately for 311, Game 4 is scheduled for June 11 -- the same night the Unity Tour comes to Usana

Amphitheatre. Thank the music gods for DVR.

Tim Mahoney, guitarist for 311, said in an interview that the band's prediction before the finals was that it would be the Lakers against the Cleveland Cavaliers, not the Magic. The band's roadies, Mahoney said, were all from Ohio, and they would mess with the band's laminated tour badges. The badges featured Laker star Kobe Bryant -- until, that is, roadies superimposed the image of Cavaliers star LeBron James.

Basketball aside, 311 is touring behind its recently released album, "Uplifter," its first album in four years and its 14th since its first release in 1990. It was the longest gap ever between 311 albums, just because the band loves touring every summer, Mahoney said.

Fans listening to "Uplifter" might be surprised at the harder-rocking sound, influenced by producer Bob Rock, who is well-known in the industry for his work with Metallica and MAtley CrA 1/4e. "We like heavy, clean guitars," Mahoney said.

311 asked Marley join the tour because the band is full of reggae fans -- you can hear the influence of reggae in the bass and electric guitars.

Marley, 40, the oldest son of the late reggae icon Bob Marley, is touring to support "Family Time," a children's album, which is a first for him. He decided to record it after hearing what his children were listening to and being disappointed in the lack of educational value. "We're trying to reach children and inspire them, and give them more substance in what they are listening to," he said in an interview.

Besides the party and social anthems Marley is known for, he also wants to play some cuts from his children's album when he is in Utah. "Our [fans] will find the child inside them, imprisoned," he said.

As for sports, Marley was more diplomatic, saying he likes both the Lakers and the Magic. In fact, his favorite sport is soccer, and he is already booking hotels and flights for next year's soccer World Cup in South Africa.

Perhaps devotion to sports is as universal as music.

Friday, June 5, 2009

311 maps Unity Tour dates with Ziggy Marley

Alt-rockers 311 have announced dates for the 2009 edition of their annual Unity Tour, which will feature support this time around from special guest Ziggy Marley.

The 25-city Unity trek kicks off June 5 in Santa Barbara, CA, and runs two weeks into August, concluding back where it started, near the California coast, with appearances in San Diego (8/11) and Irvine, CA (8/12).

The summer dates will come in the wake of the group's impending spring headlining run, which kicks off April 15 in Tucson, AZ, and chugs through the South and Midwest for a month, a 19-city slate that winds down May 15 in Springfield, MO. Dates for both of the twin tour legs are included below.

The band worked with veteran hard-rock producer Bob Rock (Metallica, Motley Crue) on "Uplifter," its ninth studio album. The set, the group's first new studio set since 2005's "Don't Tread on Me," is due in stores June 2.

"He just brings out the best in 311," lead singer/guitarist Nick Hexum said about working with Rock in an interview with LiveDaily last year. "He doesn't try and put a signature sound on anything he does. He just tries to really accentuate the strengths of the band."

Ddespite Rock's musical pedigree, fans should expect more than just straight-ahead rock and roll on the forthcoming set, Hexum said.

"We were getting more and more into reggae," he added. "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."

311's album added to summer tour (Deseret)

SA Martinez, vocalist for 311, said his band knew the new album "Uplifter" had to be good, because the band's last studio album, "Don't Tread on Me" was released nearly five years ago.

"All of us (band members) have a life away from 311," Martinez said during a phone call from the tour bus near Bakersfield, Calif. "And we do tour each summer, but we've got an ever-growing fan base who is hungry for new music. So we knew we had to make this album as good, if not better, than our last."

To do so, the band recruited producer Bob Rock, who has brought bands such as Metallica and Bon Jovi into the multimillion-dollar spotlight.

"We wanted to get a high-caliber producer to get us to where we needed to be," Martinez said. "Bob brought his experience to the table. He brought out a lot of dynamics to our sound and raised the bar."

The album's first single (and opening track) "Hey You" has already hit the charts. And the video, which premiered on Yahoo! Music has been added to MTV2 and Fuse.

"We want this album to stand up to the old and classic 311 albums," Martinez said.

Since its debut "Music" was released in 1995, 311 — Martinez, drummer Chad Sexton, vocalist/guitarist Nick Hexum and bassist P-Nut (known as Aaron Willis to his family) — have released nine studio albums and one live album.

"The challenge is still the same as it was in the beginning," Martinez said with a laugh. "We try to make good albums that people will notice and we try to tour each summer, regardless if we have new music or not."

The reason for the tour is the fans, he said.

"We have fans who actually schedule their summers around our tours. And they get disappointed when they can't see us."

Also, the band feels like it needs to tour annually to make sure people still know it's active.

"If we miss a summer, we miss a chance to reach out to people," Martinez said.

Since 2004, 311 has called its summer tour the "Unity Tour." And in keeping with that moniker, the band has made sure to tour with eclectic opening acts that complement 311's blend of rock, reggae and funk. The Roots, the Wailers, Matisyahu and Snoop Dogg have all been a part of one 311 "Summer Unity Tour" or another.

This year Ziggy Marley will be hitting the road with 311.

"We've always been lucky in finding killer opening bands," he said. "And it opens up more opportunities to find new audiences."

Thursday, June 4, 2009

311 Brings the Unity Tour Back to the Bowl (Santa Barbara Independent)

For their ninth studio release, the boys of 311 decided it was time to switch things up in a very big way. Following a creative break of close to five years-the longest in the band's almost two-decade history-the five-piece, made up of vocalists Nick Hexum and S.A. Martinez, bassist Aaron Willis, drummer Chad Sexton, and guitarist Tim Mahoney, brought in producer Bob Rock and boldly stepped out of their comfort zone. The result, Uplifter, contains 12 songs that manage to stay true to the band's signature rock-meets-reggae-meets-hip-hop roots, while embracing a whole new world of sounds. Where "Too Much Too Fast" calls to mind the golden age of alt-rock (and draws similarities to the likes of Squeeze), "Something Out of Nothing" charges hard with Metallica-esque drum and bass.

This Friday, just three days after the release of Uplifter, the guys will return to the Santa Barbara for their annual Unity Tour. We recently caught up Martinez to discuss the band, the music, and why the new 311 DVD is keeping their drummer up at night.

You guys called upon Bob Rock to produce Uplifter. How did that vibe with 311's already-established recording style? The thing about it is : we have to realize that there are certain patterns and dynamics that maybe need to change and shift. We had gotten into a bit of a comfort zone working with certain people for the same types of projects over the years, and a lot of bands do that, but it's great to change it up. You get comfortable working with someone, but that doesn't necessarily mean you're getting the best results or that you can't get better results and surpass things that you thought weren't possible. It was the right decision going with Bob, and he really changed things up for us. You hear the results in the record.

Do you feel like the diehard 311 fans will be surprised by what you've done? The album's got something for everybody on it-old fans, new fans, non-fans, whatever. It's going to appeal to a very large cross-section of the music-loving public. I think all of our records have had that accessibility. It's just a having great producer who's able to buff that rock, that's really what it comes down to-just polishing that whole gem of an album making that sucker shine. [Laughs.] You just can't slight anything that's come before; it's all different, it's all timing.

•When: Friday, June 5, 2009, 6 p.m.
•Where: S.B. Bowl, 1122 N. Milpas St., Santa Barbara
•Cost: $40.50 - $47.50
•Age limit: Not available
Full event details

And I know the album is coming with a bonus DVD, which I haven't seen yet. Would you care to tell me a little bit about the movie and its making? [Laughs.] That's a good question because I haven't seen it either. I'll tell you this, Chad saw it and he asked everyone if they had seen it and no one had and he was like, "Watch it." Chad said he watched it right before he went to bed, and after he watched it he said he couldn't go to sleep because he was so pumped.

With nine albums under your belt, how do you put together set lists for a tour like this? This time out we're really going to make an effort to push the new album, and we've never ever done that. We've always constructed the set to comprise elements from every album-and we'll still do that-but we'll be pulling less from previous albums. The thing is, going out next week to support this album, the true test will be next summer. Once people have lived with the record for a bit, then I think you can get a true gauge of where the audience is at. Some of these songs, like "Jackpot" for example, requires crowd participation, and I'm just not sure if it's going to be there that first week. But you don't know.

The Unity Tour always manages to pack such a diverse bill. I imagine it to be like a band of brothers when you guys hit the road. We fight with everybody. [Laughs.] It has to be-you're seeing everybody every day. You know what's funny? The funny thing is we're going out with Ziggy this time and a few years back we took out The Wailers, and we had some : let's just say we had some bitter former members of that Marley entourage. [Laughs.] But it's so much fun meeting all of these people and going out with people like The Wailers and now Ziggy Marley-there's such a legacy and heritage there.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Music: 311 prepares for a summer of change (In Utah this week)

A little over a week before the simultaneous release of a new album and the commencement of their annual 311 Unity Tour, vocalist, S.A. Martinez is waking up from an overnight stay at his brother-in-law's house in Los Angeles to talk to IN. It takes a few minutes of making jokes and laughing at Martinez's efforts to become coherent enough to do a competent interview before he is suddenly awake and full of energy as he discusses the incredible career of 311.

It has been nearly nineteen years since the five members of 311 came together in Omaha, Nebraska and began making music. With their ability to unite rock and reggae with a little bit of hip-hop, 311 earned a rapidly growing fan base that evolved into somewhat of a cult following that is constantly welcoming new listeners into the world of 311.

"We have a unique relationship going on between our fans and the band. Our audience has become cross-generational, becoming a subculture of sorts," reveals Martinez, who goes on to explain that the band thrives on the immense dedication of its fans.

The ability of the band to successfully merge old school fans with new is what has the members of 311 excited to embark upon this summer's annual Unity Tour. The summer tour began five years ago and has included big-name openers like Snoop Dogg, Papa Roach, and more.

"One of the best Unity Tours that we did was with The Wailers. Our overall impression was that reggae and summertime just go together, and we wanted to get that back together," says Martinez.

According to Martinez, it is the desire to bring reggae and summertime back together that led them to inviting Ziggy Marley to be a part of this summer's Unity Tour.

"The lineage that Ziggy comes from, I mean, that's just cool," says Martinez, who for just a moment seems a little awestruck by the son of the legendary Bob Marley.

What makes this year's tour even more unique than its predecessors is the fact that it begins only one day after the June 2 release of 311's ninth studio album, "Uplifter."

Martinez reveals that it has been four years since 311 has released an album, which means that the past four Unity Tours have consisted of songs being played that were recognizable by fans. Martinez says that this year's Unity Tour will be a little different than what 311 has done in the past because the band is going to make a sincere effort to introduce their fans to the new record that, according to Martinez, the band is very excited about.

"It sucks because you can't play everything. Even for the band, we can't play everything in one show that we want to. This year we are going to push the album a little more because if we don't, then we run the risk of becoming a band that is only known for what we have done in the past", explains Martinez.

"On this album we worked with Bob Rock (Metallica, Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, etc.), who is really talented. He is more of a musician and really adapt at song structure. He would identify little nuances that are atypical for 311 records and add another layer to our sound. This is one of the best sounding records for us in a long time. It will appeal to old school 311 fans and new fans because there is something for everyone," says Martinez with pride.

As Martinez continues to discuss the new record and this year's Unity Tour, it becomes evident that 311 is bound and determined to give their fans a kick-ass show.

"We put on a high energy show. That is so crucial and is the key to it all. Our fans love the band and love the music, and that is not lost on us. We do not take it for granted," says Martinez.

Listening to Martinez go on to describe the band's endless appreciation for their fans and their excitement to get out and once again bring together reggae and summertime during their Unity Tour, while simultaneously promoting a brand new album, it becomes obvious that this year's tour is one that will have fans, both old and new, talking for perhaps another nineteen years to come.

311: Unites and Uplifts

June 2 should bring a burst of good energy to any music lover’s ears. The ninth studio recording from 311, Uplifter, promises to be yet another heavy hitter for the Nebraska-bred quintet; this time they were guided by noted producer Bob Rock (Metallica, Bon Jovi).

“From the beginning, we knew that Bob was a perfect match. He came in and shook things up, challenging our patterns of creativity and keeping us inspired so that every track came from the heart,” explains singer Nick Hexum.

One song, “Too Much, Too Fast,” Hexum describes as reminiscent of the British pop genre, with the inclusion of stylish guitar arrangements and keyboards.

Uplifter’s inclusion in the 19-year-old and counting 311 catalog is destined to be one of the band’s most ambitious to date. In addition to being offered in its standard version, it will also be sold as a Deluxe Edition with a special DVD, a vinyl version and an iTunes exclusive track as well.

Finally in true 311 fashion the band will be launching their fifth annual summer Unity Tour.

“No matter what, it always comes back to our fans. We always want to make sure they know how grateful we are to them,” says Hexum.

The Unity Tour has always married different genres of music. Last year Snoop Dogg co-headlined with 311. This year, the electrifying Ziggy Marley and the Expendables take the reins. What a great way to spend a summer, no?

Monday, June 1, 2009

"Uplifter" may be 311's "London Calling" minus the piano (Epinions)

I don’t exactly keep my love for 311 a secret. I’ve seen them in concert ten times, own all their albums, DVD’s, and I always spread the positive vibes the band lays down in their music. 2005 was the last time we saw 311 release an album; four years being their longest break of their careers from releasing anything but they continued to tour and build a feverous following that they’ve become known for. While 2005’s Don’t Tread on Me was not well loved by the die-hard fans, it’s hard to deny that the 311 base has been eager as ever for some new tunes. Uplifter is looking to show all of the naysayers wrong by providing some positive music with a more mature well-thought out spin on their style. A change in producers from their prior three albums, 311 chose to work with the famed Bob Rock to lend a heavier interpretation of the band’s sound; but it’s safe to say that the lighter moments are intact here, and more beautiful than ever.

Opening with the radio sensation: Hey You, the band gives you a fairly representative taste on what’s in store for the rest of the album: an “uplifting” sound that moves into various changes of styles with a rocking chorus, reggae-inspired verses, and a dreamy bridge that will enthrall anyone who’s listening. It’s clear what kind of sound the band was looking for when making this song their lead single and lead-off track for the album.

As SA’s first verse in the song indicates:
“I've got one wish for this music to be an uplift
And I need an uplift to deal”

The band wants you to forget all those negative news stories we’ve been bogged down with over the last few years, and the negativist society we live in to simply enjoy a musical voyage. This is an excellent choice for an opening song of an album with a similar message.

The following track, It’s Alright has the potential to build on Hey You’s success as it combines a mellower 311 sound with a classic rocking chorus. The song moves along very well to a catchy beat, and the bridge to this one is another one to cherish. Bassist P-Nut has a funky breakdown in the bridge and only lends itself to a calypso verse from Nick and SA’s vocals. Let’s just say that: “One song could end a war” will be my new favorite lyric for a while.

This album has some of 311’s heavy tunes on it as well. India Ink certainly has hard hip-hop inspired verses with an unbelievably catchy and melodic chorus (and it has a sitar in the bridge…that automatically qualifies the song as awesome). Jackpot is another song that was almost certainly built for the 311’s live show; I simply cannot wait to hear this one live. These two songs are enough reason to make me believe that 311 has not moved away from their harder roots, or to think that their younger, more hard attitude is gone because that’s simply not true. Not to mention Neverending Summer which is a song about the band touring and how great it is really exemplifies the energy that can be found at a 311 show, more specifically in the summer. I consider these two three to be amongst the best of the higher-energy 311 songs in their catalogue. While these are certainly highlights on Uplifter, one other hard track Something Out of Nothing seems to miss the mark for me although I’m sure I’ll never hear the end of it from some 311 fans. This is not to say that it’s a bad song; the chorus lacked a good hook in my opinion. I also feel that it was lost in a sea of amazing songs in this package and it’s very easy to overlook this track.

But some of the albums most amazing moments will be found on the softer side of the band’s sound. A trio of song s that I have loved after several listens include: Too Much Too Fast, Two Drops in the Ocean and finally the closing track to the album (for the standard edition anyway) is entitled: My Heart Sings. Let’s start with Too Much Too Fast; a track with an influence from The Smiths in the way that the song moves along with its smooth rhythm. Two Drops in the Ocean is simply a beautiful song. This track really highlights 311’s ability to take their listeners to different places each and every album. It’s a song that if I had seen it on another album, it wouldn’t have been in this wonderful of a form. I feel that the sounds found in all layers of this song are beautiful. From the “ooooh” in the background during the verses, to the angelic voice SA can have in a softer song like this, I find myself loving this song more and more each time I hear it. Tim Mahoney’s guitar sings during the breakdown and leads well into Nick’s final verse. There are always one or two songs on each 311 album that prove the band is capable of creating simply amazing music. This would be one of those examples. Golden Sunlight also shines as a beautiful departure that exemplifies the range this band has to deliver a beautiful rock song.

And finally for the closing track: My Heart Sings. Since 311 has chosen to put a slower song as the closing track for the previous two albums, I was a bit disappointed that it would be three in a row as My Heart Sings doesn’t exactly sound like a song that would get the pit going at a concert. After I got over my hang-up about what kind of song should close an album, I take solace in the acoustic guitar under Nick’s vocals in the opening verse and reggae rhythm throughout. It works as a perfect closer to the album. One member on the 311 Bulletin Board compared this song as what 2001’s Amber could have been. I certainly see it being embraced as such if enough people give it a listen though it does not have the radio appeal that the former song did. Being that as it may, it’s more mature than Amber and really sounds like the band wrote it eight years later with that much more experience behind them.

Now to justify the title of my review: If you go back and listen to The Clash’s London Calling, you may not hear Uplifter, but it’s so clear to me that at this point in 311’s career. This is their London Calling so to speak. While their previous albums have had different sounds that ranged from the heaviest to the softest songs, I feel that you have their most eclectic, inspired and in some ways (not all) musically mature album to date. London Calling was sonically the biggest album The Clash ever recorded, it was filled with so many different styles of music that all worked in a single package. They go from Jimmy Jazz, to Hateful and back to Lover’s Rock within the same 19 song collection. 311 takes us on a similar voyage with It’s Alright to India Ink to more beautiful songs like Two Drops in the Ocean and My Heart Sings. This is a wonderful collection of songs. While 311 has always been known to change it up several times in a single album, Uplifter has a consistency to it that creates its own overall tone. I realize it’s a controversial opinion but I feel that this has the opportunity to be a true classic. Time will tell if it holds up; this is the true test of any album of course. Check back here in a year or two as I may revise my opinion to see if this collection of songs still keeps me hooked as it does today.

The Deluxe Edition comes with a documentary of the 3-11 Day 2008 concert in New Orleans as well as two bonus tracks that both work as tacked on songs at the end, but they don’t fit the flow of the album. As with many b-sides by 311, fans are scratching their heads as to why they were not kept in the album. I Like The Way and Get Down are two prime examples of this. I happen to really like both of these songs and find them to be great additions to what Uplifter was trying to achieve. I also feel that if they were shoehorned in between tracks 1-12 of this album, it would have disrupted the flow of the cohesive sound the band was going for. For what they are though, they’re very good tracks indeed.

All in all, 311 has another winner in my book. I look forward to hearing some of these songs on tour this summer and as always I look to how 311’s sound could evolve even further with their next release.

Details for Secret 311 Show Tonight! (Beat Crave)

We got some news for all you rambunctious 311 fans out there. In honor of their new album which comes out tomorrow, they will be performing at a secret show, Tonight (June 1st) in Pomona, California at the Fox Theater. Tickets are still available on Ticketmaster, but I would buy them soon.

If you miss this show, they will be playing all around California for the rest of the week…

You can check them out Wednesday in Bakersfield, Thursday on Jimmy Kimmel (tickets may still be available on 1iota.com) and Friday in Santa Barbara. You can still buy tickets for Bakersfield and Santa Barbara, but they’re going fast.

For more details on how to buy or win check out the 311 website.

Interview with P-Nut from 311 (Cincy Groove)

311 have always been a band that’s defied easy description but Uplifter, the band’s latest album, finds the group harder than ever to pin down. What other band releases their riskiest, richest record after almost 20 years together? What other band had its biggest radio hit in the mid-90's but is more popular than ever a decade later, selling out amphitheaters even when they haven't had a new album in almost four years? What other band is so intent on challenging themselves while inspiring listeners to have an open mind? Clearly, there are no other bands that are quite like 311, a band that blurs borders between styles so thoroughly that they wind up blurring preconceptions of what a rock band can be. Uplifter, their ninth studio album, stands as the best evidence of 311’s eclecticism and is, in many ways, the boldest, best music they’ve ever made.

“We have this frontier of music we’re aggressively pursuing and I think we’re making what is our most vital stuff ever. I feel like I’m learning from the crowd each time we play a show. In some ways, it would be appropriate to credit 311 fans on the album. During our last tour, I was writing music every day, taking the excitement from the road and putting it in the songs.” This energy can be heard throughout Uplifter. It’s an album that is as vibrant and exciting as the band’s early albums, but showcases a band with a deep musicality, an album that is positive and bright, speaking to our present. It’s an album filled with good vibes because that’s what emanates from the band. “I think we maintain an attitude of gratitude,” says Nick. “We really feel very fortunate to be able to do this, and that makes us work hard to make sure we’re putting on a really good show every night. We never miss a chance to thank our fans because we’re living the dream.”

Cincy Groove: I see 311's new album, Uplifter, comes out very soon.

P-Nut: Yes it will be out on Tuesday June 2. It's currently streaming on our myspace page, so lots of our fans have their radar tuned to our every little step we make. The fans who have heard it are thrilled with the album, which obviously makes us all very happy.

Cincy Groove: How did you hook up with producer Bob Rock for Uplifter?

P-Nut: Well he lives in Hawaii and we get played on the radio a lot there because of our island vibe that we capture in our music. Bob's wife really loves our music, so when we came calling it made it all that more interesting to him. He probably would have worked with us anyway but it helped that his wife was on our side. We liked Bob right off the bat, he came in from the standpoint of this band has a really great sound and not wanting to change that part of it. He wanted to make our already good ideas, better. We were really happy that we got to work with him and hoping we can work with him again soon.

Cincy Groove: Did you have any guest's on the album?

P-Nut: We had a guy named Adam Merrin come in and do some piano parts. Bob Rock was kind of a guest on the record, even though he didn't really record anything. He sat us down with pretty much all of our instruments and showed us the parts where he had ideas. He would just play for us which was pretty amazing. We also had our friend, Native Wayne, do a vocal intro part on Never Ending Summer.

Cincy Groove: Where did you record the new album?

P-Nut: We recorded the drums at Ocean Way Studios in Burbank, CA where we also recorded our first album "Music" back in 1992. It was fun to work on the first album and the most recent album in the same studio. It really felt like we were coming full circle, and we had a great time working on the tracks we did there. We recorded the vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards at our studio, Hive Recording Studios.

Cincy Groove: What brought about 311 starting their own recording studio?

P-Nut: We knew equipment was getting cheaper and the ability to do more things in house was something that was always on the radar that we wanted to do. We did the 1st album at Ocean Way, then the 2nd album in our living room of our rented house. Our producer at the time, Eddie, helped us establish the mindset that we could do it ourselves. He told us we could be in complete control if we recorded everything ourselves. Nick and Chad have taken over the technical side of recording the music. They are the guys who read the instruction manuals when we get some new equipment in. It's good that they are the ones doing it, the rest of us don't bother with it because it would be like having too many cooks in the kitchen. Our record labels have always been really cool about allowing us to make the art that we want to make with very little tweaking after the fact. We felt we just had to have our own studio, it just made sense. We have had it for 10 years and we are talking about selling it and getting a bigger place. Maybe even building it from scratch, which would be a lot of fun because we could design it exactly the way we would want it and have it forever.

Cincy Groove: When did the members of 311 decide that music was going to be your full time gig?

P-Nut: Well, it had to wait until I was out of high school. I was in between my sophmore and junior year when we did our first show on June 10, 1990 opening up for Fugazzi. It was great playing that show with them, it was learning experience. I graduated from high school 2 months early by doubling up on some classes. The band then moved out to California from Omaha, Nebraska in Feb of 1992. By the time I came back to pick up my diploma, we had our record contract with the infamous Capricorn Records. They told us that we will first build up the fanbase and when radio comes calling it will be on our terms, we aren't going to write songs for the radio. We are going to play music that people like and be patient and when it comes around it will come around big time. They were right.

Cincy Groove: How many shows did you play back in the early days?

P-Nut: We played about 100 shows a year pretty consistently for 4-5 years. It doesn't seem like a lot of shows until you actually try and do it (laughing). Traveling around the country is really the best teacher you can have. It keeps you humble, makes you reflect on things you already know. It also takes you out of your comfort zone and forces you to learn new things. We did 6 months traveling with 2 vans, one for the equipment and one for the band. We then realized how horrible that was , then hired somebody to drive and got an RV with an equipment trailer. We used the RV until it caught on fire. We were pretty excited when we got our first bus, which was a 40 foot Eagle. Those first 2 years we really survived on catering, it was the chicken and light beer days. We barely made enough money to pay for the bus and gas.

Cincy Groove: I was looking over the acts you have been touring with over the years, there are some impressive names on that list.

P-Nut: We never would have thought that Snoop Dog would have wanted to open for us. He put on such a good show, that he made it difficult for us to follow him. We really do look forward to those types of challenges. I think Ziggy Marley & The Expendables will have a great vibe opening for us this year, then we will come out and drop the hammer on the crowd and show them how tough we still think we are (laughing).

Cincy Groove: 311 performs a very unique style of music, what kind of reception did the band get back in the early 1990's in Nebraska when you were starting out?

P-Nut: Pretty luke-warm for the most part. We knew that Omaha wasn't going to be the beginning and the end of us, just where we started. The first couple years of touring with this funk/rock/reggae/hip hop mix going on, brought up some questions from people like "What are you guys doing, can't you just pick and style and stick to it?" People were falling in love in the early 90's with rock and roll again. We all love that as well, but knew we could do something more. We thought lets take what the Red Hot Chili Peppers did, The Clash and Bob Marley and have some fun with it.

Cincy Groove: What do you like to do when you are relaxing at home?

P-Nut: I pretty much have instruments in every corner of the house. I have tons of bass', a couple guitars, upright bass, keyboard, hand drums. Music pretty much is always in my head. I love to read, I also play Warcraft a couple hours a day. I'm a nerd in that way and some others I'm sure. I have 3/4 of an acre right outside Pasadena, CA, I love working in the yard.

Nick Hexum - Vocals, Rhythm Guitar, Programming
Doug "SA" Martinez - Vocals, Turntables, DJ
Tim Mahoney - Lead Guitar
Aaron "P-Nut" Wills - Bass guitar
Chad Sexton - Drums, Programming, Percussion