Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Love, unity keep bringing 311′s fans back (Palm Beach Pulse)

Saturday night reggae/rock band 311 played Mizner Park Amphitheater in Boca Raton. Opening for the band was local guy DJ Soulman.

311 formed in 1988 in Omaha, Neb., but officially burst onto the scene in 1995 with their self-titled album and a song called “Down”.

I was still in elementary school then, but I’ve been hooked on 311 ever since. Their lyrics, melodies and amazing musical ability are hard to ignore. With a mix of alternative, reggae, rap, and rock (I’m confident there are some other genres that could easily apply) and their message of love and unity, 311 draws a crowd as diverse as the music they play.

Their show Saturday was no exception.

The band opened the show with the song “Beautiful Disaster” and continued on to play two sets – never wavering in their talent or energy.

One of my favorite parts of any 311 show is the group drum solo, where all five guys bang along together, drum-line style.

311 finishes out this leg of their tour with 10 more dates and a break before picking back up again in the Spring of 2012 to spread their message of unity and positivity.

And, as we saw Saturday, the band will personally call you out if you forget their message. One concertgoer was chastised by lead singer Nick Hexum for acting less than positive to others in attendance.

After all, 311 does say “Be positive with love. Just see the good in everybody.”

They play venues in our area regularly, so they’re definitely worth checking out the next time they’re in town.

In the meantime, there’s quite a number of 311 CDs to choose from to get your 311 fix. Their most recent album, Universal Pulse, was released this year and brings their album total to 10 studio releases, four compilations, four EPs and one live album.

311 to Support 'Universal Pulse' at The National (

After more than two decades of shaping their reggae-infused rock sound and amassing a faithful fan base, when 311 headed to the studio to record this year’s “Universal Pulse” album, their approach was clear. 311 fans should hear what they love about the band in their new music as easily as they have with their earlier work.

“The focus, more and more, is just nurturing the audience that we already have and not necessarily bucking the trends—it’s more just kind of ignoring them,” said bassist Aaron “P-Nut” Wills, speaking from Los Angeles. “Playing more and more from our heart, trying to just squeeze out what we think our people want to hear from us, not this unseen audience of shadow figures that may or may not appreciate what we do.

“Why augment our creativity to fit into someone else’s sensibilities? We would rather just rock our people and have it spread word-of-mouth from them.”

After forming in 1988, 311’s recorded legacy began with 1990’s indie-label “Dammit!” album. Kicking off a string of gold or platinum albums with ’93’s “Music,” they hit a commercial peak with ’95’s “311,” which spawned radio favorites “Down” and “All Mixed Up.” With each album from that point having reached the Billboard top 10, P-Nut considers what he feels has led to the band maintaining their strong following over the years.

“It definitely starts, and probably ends, with the philosophies within, how people can connect with our solving-problems attitude,” the bassist mused. “It’s easier to smile than make things more difficult for yourself. If you’re going to put effort into both you might as well put the positive spin on it. In that way we’re not for everybody.

“As we were growing up and we were hearing all this angst music that we loved, as we were putting the band together it was like, ‘Wow, that’s not really us. We’re enjoying this. We’re having fun being alive,’ and we just kept with that attitude. It’s easier for us to see the light instead of digging to the dark.”

The biennial event known as 311 Day is coming up in 2012. Starting in 2000, the band began celebrating a holiday of their own every other March 11, with 311 playing for hours to crowds of thousands. The shows were initially staged in New Orleans, but due to scheduling issues the site has since moved to Las Vegas. While enthusiastic about the event and what Vegas has to offer, P-Nut can’t help but be wistful when recalling its Southern origin.

“The bars on Bourbon Street, without prompting from anybody—band, management, fans or otherwise—would start playing our music the night before the show and name drinks after songs. It was made for New Orleans, and the fact that we can’t do it there is a real kick in the balls, if you will.”

Hank3 (or Hank Williams III) recently told this writer that country music is one field where fans are more likely to grow old with the artists they care about. While their music falls well outside of that genre, P-Nut still easily sees a parallel with 311 and their fans.

“We definitely continue to hold our audiences well, as well as (311) constantly refreshing it, so we’re getting the best of both worlds by dumb luck and the nature of the band. It’s cool to see it passed from generation to generation—older fans bringing their kids, those kids playing songs that their parents hadn’t heard. It’s pretty amazing, and it’s really nice to be able to pay attention to the whole thing through Twitter and our website and the Internet.”

For 311, it's still all about the show (The Bulletin)

Norwich, Conn. — If you ask the band 311 how hard it is to stay true to what earned you fame and fortune, they’ll tell you it’s not that difficult at all.

“It’s always been about the show,” said 311 bass player P-Nut. “It’s been the focus on our whole career for 21 years. We don’t have as much energy as we used to, but we can probably play our instruments better.”

Known for their combination of rock and funky electronic beats, P-Nut and 311 will put on the show they’ve been known for at 8 p.m. Saturday at Mohegan Sun Arena with special guest DJ Soulman.

“If you do anything as much as we play our instruments, you’re gonna be pretty good at it,” P-Nut said.

311 joined forces with Sublime with Rome during the summer for the Unity Tour, hitting amphitheaters across the country, drawing thousands in Atlanta, Boston, West Palm Beach, Denver and more. The tour was in support of its latest album, “Universal Pulse,” released in July.

“I don’t think we’ve hit that 2,000-show mark yet,” he said.

The band has had eight of its 10 albums reach the Top 10 on Billboard’s Top 200 Sales Chart, and nine singles break into the Top 10 on Billboard’s Alternative Chart, including “Down,” “Love Song,” “Amber” and “All Mixed Up.” “Universal Pulse” debuted at No. 7.

“We’ve been lucky enough to have a bunch of radio singles and all that, and gain a larger audience through a dying medium such as radio,” P-Nut said. “But it’s always been about the show.”

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

311 Brings Electrifying Live Performance to Mohegan Sun Arena (CT Post)

311 once blew the roof off the Ed Sullivan Theatre in New York City.

It was 1996, and the rap-rock outfit, buoyed by the success of its multi-platinum-selling self-titled third album, rocked "Late Show with David Letterman" with a rip-roaring performance of "Down."

Fifteen years later, the quintet from Omaha, Neb. -- comprised of vocalist/guitarist Nick Hexum, vocalist/DJ Doug "SA" Martinez, guitarist Tim Mahoney, bassist Aaron "P-Nut" Wills and drummer Chad Sexton -- hasn't come close to duplicating the commercial success of "311."

And while its record sales have dipped, enthusiasm for the band's live performances has not: 311 still plays to tens of thousands of fans every year.

"At one point, things got to be huge and a little out of control," Wills said of the band's mid-'90s success. "The radio attention comes and goes, but the live show is always No. 1."

Fresh off the heels of the release of its 10th studio album, "Universal Pulse" (ATO Records), 311 takes the stage at Mohegan Sun on Saturday, Dec. 3.

In a recent interview, Wills, who has been with 311 since its formation in 1988, discussed the band's shortest album yet, its penchant for positivity and the enduring popularity of its live shows.

Q: With 10 records worth of material under your belt, how do you guys decide what songs to include in your setlists? Are they pre-determined or totally off the cuff?

A: There are times when we feel like we should play what people know, so we can remind them of who we are. But they're at a 311 show cause they know who we are! I feel bad for people who've been to 50 shows and have heard "Beautiful Disaster" 50 times. Now, we see how far we can take it. Anyone coming to these shows can expect some rare stuff. This is a band that really stretches its legs out. We try to play as many songs as we can and we mix in some really interesting stuff in the process.

Q: That's right. I heard you guys once played 60 songs at a 311 Day show in New Orleans. It's interesting because your new album, at just eight songs, is really paired down and concise.

A: Well, what happened is that we had a batch of songs we threw away. They weren't going anywhere. We could have put out an album that had 16 tracks, but we weren't feeling them. We stopped them in their tracks. The eight songs on "Universal Pulse" are songs we could live with.

Q: Listening to the new album, what amazes me is the positivity that still flows through your music. How do you guys maintain that attitude, even with all the tragedy in the world?

A: It's just who we are, who we've always been. We came out when grunge was all the rage. At the time, it was cool to be pissed. We were kind of a counterbalance between the prosperity of the '90s and the junkies running the music scene. We've always been a glass half full kind of band. We can't get away from that. It's an instinct.

Q: Is there a sense that you guys are taking a more populist, rather than selfish, approach to writing music? Are you making music to keep your fans happy and dancing?

A: It's probably 50-50. We're making music that we love and we're helping people through their problems at the same time. People are always thanking us for putting that message out there ... hopefully, we'll be around for another decade or more, pushing the same ideas, helping people through their problems, enhancing individuality and spirit.

Q: I think you guys can make that happen. After 20 years, you're still bringing thousands of fans to your live shows. What is it about a 311 performance that makes it so enduring?

A: When Capricorn, our first record label, signed us 20 years ago, they said, "You're going to go out on the road and keep doing your live show." That's why they signed us -- because we kick ass live. Any success beyond that, the label said, "will be because of your live show." We might not be selling millions of records anymore, but if you're on stage, sweating it out, making the audience move to what you're doing than you have that success.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Special Post-Thanksgiving Message from Scott Yager and Podcast Interview w/ 311 Vocalist SA Martinez (Campus Socialite)

Happy Thanksgiving everybody! Want to thank everyone who has listened to the show over the past year. I am very thankful for you. I have a great time shooting the shit with the best in the world in music, sports, and comedy. After a short corny message from myself you can check out an interview I did with SA Martinez of 311 from a few weeks back where we talk about their latest album Universal Pulse (which appears on my Top Ten Album of the Year List), what cool stuff they’ve got coming up, how he stays so young and why he sweats so much. Enjoy the show and thanks again for all the support! -Scott

Thursday, November 17, 2011

311 (South Flordia Insider)

Unified for so many years, 311 recently kicked it into overdrive with one of their most chilled out albums to date, Universal Pulse. -interview with Nick Hexum in light of his upcoming show at Boca Raton's Mizner Park.

With the constant chaos that seems to unfold with countless bands, how have you guys managed to work so cohesively over the years?
Nick- We realize that we are so fortunate to be able to do this for a living. While there are stresses and disagreements in any band, we just stay committed to our fans and our music.

A long time ago when you toured with Hoobstank I saw you come out with steel drums and while out of the ordinary it definitely worked. Is that how you guys keep things fresh for yourself and your fans while touring?
Nick- Musical evolution is definitely the best way to keep things fresh. I'm excited to see where our five minds take us next time we're in the studio!

Now your latest album Universal Pulse has just 8 tracks, is that because you have other songs stashed for another album or are you just focusing on other areas?
Nick- Well, we started many songs, but decided just to focus on the best of the best. Quality over quantity.

People in Florida are already amp'd for another go of the Pow Wow festival, which you debuted last year. How did you like it?
Nick- That was an amazing experience. When I watched the video trailer I got overwhelmed by what an amazing thing it was to be a part of.

What projects are you currently working on? (Tours, albums, cover tracks, singles, etc.)
Nick- We have a touring schedule that keeps us really busy. I'm also working really hard on my guitar playing. We've started kicking around ideas for new music.

Over the years you guys have played all over the world, but is there a place that you're still waiting to check off the list? (Not necessarily city or state, but like a sporting event, rainforest, desert, etc.)
Nick- I want to play Manila, Philippines. That's the next place on my wish list.

Lastly, what does the future hold for 311?
Nick- Rock, sweat, funk, and love.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

311 to hit Mohegan Sun Arena on fall tour (Boston Music Spotlight)

311 have announced dates for a fall tour in support of their latest album, Universal Pulse. The Omaha-based rockers will hit the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut on Saturday, December 3. Tickets are on sale now through Ticketmaster for $35.

Universal Pulse, the band’s tenth studio effort, debuted at #7 on the Billboard 200 and #2 on Billboard’s Rock Albums chart after its release in July. Produced by Bob Rock (Aerosmith, Metallica), it features lead single “Sunset in July”. With only eight songs to its name, the record barely makes the cut as a full-length album versus a shorter EP. But 311 manages to retain their positive tone in their shortest album yet.

“We’re rocking for positivity,” drummer Chad Sexton said in an interview with Artist Direct this past summer. “We always did that when we were young. We like being happy. We’re fans of happiness, and we like walking that fine line of balance of hard rocking and beautiful. That’s where we think we’re nailing our stride.”

Vocalist Nick Hexum also emphasized the importance of the band’s connection with their fans. “We’re making music for them to listen to and dance to,” he said. “They feed off the energy as much as we do, and that’s the core of what we do. The album was meant to support that rather than the other way around.”

To celebrate 11-11-11, 311 are giving away a free MP3 download of their 2011 concert at Red Rocks. Recorded live on August 16 at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colorado, the complete show is available as a free download on the band’s website for the month of November.

In other 311 news, the band have announced plans for their annual 311 Day celebration. The band will return to Las Vegas next March to celebrate the occasion with two shows at the MGM Grand Arena. Then in May, they’ll host their own Caribbean Cruise. The band will take over an entire Carnival Cruise Line bound for the private island of Half Moon Cay from May 10 to 14. More information on both events is available on the band’s official website.

Monday, November 14, 2011

En Six Flags (WARP Magazine)

WARP Magazine Mexico review calls it "one of the best shows of 2011":

Después de un buen rato de espera en el teatro chino de Six Flags, era de esperarse que la banda que se presentaría esa noche esperaría a que dieran las 11:11 p.m. para salir al escenario, varios años pasaron para que 311 pudiera venir (o que algún promotor tuviera un destello de luz) a México. Lleno casi en su capacidad, el teatro chino recibió a mas de 3,000 personas la noche del 11.11.11, una fecha que como bien dijo la banda, era muy especial para ellos, así que un rato después del acto abridor (un Dj) que calentara motores en el Ajusco en una fría noche, 311 salió al escenario para abrir con ‘Beautiful Disaster’, momento en el que se notó que el 90% de los asistentes realmente eran verdaderos fans de la banda, que aunque fue formada a finales de los ochenta, comenzó su popularidad en los noventa con ese particular estilo entre el rock, reggae, rap y ska.

Siguieron haciendo un recorrido por su historia con canciones como ‘Sunset In July’, ‘Come Original’, ‘Love Song’ (cover a The Cure), que fuera coreada hasta por los hipsters perdidos ahí en el recinto, ‘All Mixed Up’, ‘Creatures (For a while)’, para que entre canciones Nick agradeciera al público y sobre todo mencionar que era una fecha especial para el grupo; siguieron los brincos de parte de la audiencia, recordando esos conciertos en los noventa donde sí se podía saltar al beat de una canción, Doug “SA”, no paraba de bailar en el escenario y hacer el paso del robot, realizaron un set con percusiones y un solo de bajo como buena banda noventera, canciones como ‘Homebrew’ y ‘Amber’ no podían faltar, para cerrar con la rola que los hiciera populares fuera de su país, ‘Down’.

En definitiva uno de los mejores shows de este 2011 en cuanto a buenos recuerdos y buena música.

Friday, November 4, 2011

311 Answers Call To Play Taj & Sun (NY Daily News)

In 1990, a group of white boys from Omaha, Neb. defies the odds and fuse reggae with rap-metal to form the band 311 - the call sign of the Omaha Police Department's for indecent exposure.

They've done very decently ever since. Over 20 years later, Chad Sexton, Nick Hexum, P-Nut, Tim Mahoney, and S.A. Martinez are still touring well into 2012 with their latest CD, "Universal Summer".

They will be at the Trump Taj Mahal on Dec. 2 ($45 a ticket) and at Mohegan Sun on Dec. 3 ($35).

311 translated its regional sucess to international recognition with several key albums, including "Music" (1993), "Grassroots" (1994), and the self-titled "311" (1995 aka "The Blue Album"), which sold over 3 million copies in the U.S. The CD reached No. 12 on the Billboard 200 chart and spawned hit singles "Down" and "All Mixed Up."

Some fans may frown that "Universal Summer" has only eight tracks, but, as P-Nut says, the band decided to sacrifice length for quality. "Time Bomb" and "Wild Nights" are prime examples.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

311 - Universal Pulse (Little Rat Bastard)

Since their debut in 1993 have been chugging along putting out tunes the have amassed them a fiercely loyal fan base and landed themselves a few hits along the way. I was first introduced to 311 by my good friend Mark “Dead Mark” McCarty when he blasted ‘Grassroots’ out of his ’85 Chevy Chevette everywhere we went for about a month straight in 1994 or thereabouts. The music hooked me immediately, from the ska/reggae influence, to the hip-hop segments provided by S.A. Martinez, but mostly it was the smooth melodic delivery of lead singer Nick Hexum that really made me take notice. I immediately picked up ‘Grassroots’ and the latest at that time self-titled CD and played them for everyone I knew. This was an awesome new sound and needed to be heard.

Now some ten albums into their career 311 is back again with ‘Universal Pulse’ and what I love most about this record, like almost all their records, is that it is exactly what you want from 311. They are not randomly changing things up to fit in with current radio trends or drasticly changing up their line up. No, 311 continue to drop solid albums in the style that they have pioneered and built over the past almost two decades. ‘Universal Pulse’ is by far that shortest full-length release from 311, and it does tone down the island influence a bit more than before, but it is still half hour of perfection that is well worth listing to.

Sometimes you need to change things up to stay relevant or too sell to the masses, 311 has got a winning formula that just doesn’t quit. Go check it out for yourself and try and tell me I’m wrong.

Track Listing:
1.Time Bomb
2.Wild Nights
3.Sunset In July
5.Count Me In
6.Rock On
8.And A Ways To Go

July 19, 2011 - ATO Records

311 Going Strong (The Vignette)

311 is an Omaha-based rock band. They have sold over 8.5 million albums worldwide.

311 are known for their passionate fan base and epic live shows. They are playing The Midland Dec. 6. Vocalist/rhythm guitarist Nick Hexum recently wrote in to discuss opening for Fugazi, 311′s songwriting process and the mindset that has kept them going strong for over 20 years.

For more info on 311, check out

What did you enjoy most about the early days of the scene in Omaha?
We had weekly all ages shows on Monday nights at the Ranch Bowl. The Ranch Bowl was a now-defunct entertainment center where we cut our teeth and learned how to rock a crowd. That was a blast.

Do you remember your first show together?
Sure, opening for Fugazi at Sokol Hall was the ultimate launching point for us. 1,000 kids ready to mosh!

How do you approach live shows differently than your studio work?
The trick is to keep live shows and studio work somewhat similar. It’s important to bring that passion and energy that we have live into our recordings. We’re getting better at that.

Do you have a favorite motto or quote that you live by?
Stay positive and love your life.

Are there any artists or albums that you always find yourself listening to?
The Beatles.

You easily mix musical styles together, creating a sound that is all your own. How does your creative process work when songwriting?
Sometimes people bring in fragments and sometimes people bring in completed songs. We’ve learned to open up and let each other in our songs more which helps them develop to the best they can be.

311 has been together for over 20 years. What have been the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome in your career and lessons you’ve learned from being together so long?
Learning to accept not getting your way is really important. When you’re in a band you have to surrender to democracy and have faith that the group as a whole will do the right thing even when it’s not to your liking. It always works out in the end!