Singer and guitarist Nick Hexum has gotten into the holiday spirit with KROQ's Almost Acoustic Christmas a number of times.
So it's no surprise he will again be gracing the stage with his band 311 this year, as the 22nd annual two-day concert event kicks off Saturday at the Gibson Amphitheatre in Universal City.
Hexum will be sharing the stage that evening with Blink-182, Bush, Chevelle, Incubus, New Found Glory, Social Distortion and Young the Giant.
Acts taking the stage the second night, Dec. 11, include the Black Keys, Cage the Elephant, Death Cab for Cutie, Florence + the Machine, Foster the People, Jane's Addiction, Mumford & Sons, the Naked and the Famous, and Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds.
In an interview, Hexum discussed his band and KROQ's annual event.
Where did you get the name 311?
For a short period there was a different guitarist and he got arrested for indecent exposure, and the code of that crime was 311. We thought it was funny because he was brought home in handcuffs to his parents' (house) naked. So it was a funny story and it's the code for indecent exposure.
Your sound has a mix of genres. How would you describe it today and how has it evolved?
It keeps evolving and it's hard to know where it's going to go next. When people say "I can't wait to see where you guys go next," I'm kinda like "Yeah, me too." There are always new influences to incorporate in the music. If you had to pick one ingredient, we're a rock band. It's kind of a garage-band setting, but we take our instruments seriously like jazz players. We love reggae, we love hip-hop, electronic music, heavy music, it's all in there and whatever you listen to is going to come out in your writing. We've always felt that anything goes, whatever we like we can put into our music and it's that creative spirit that keeps us interested.
You guys released your 10th album in July. Which has been your favorite?
Well, the magic of for the first time, to go into a big studio and be on a label to record your debut album - I mean, that's a high of excitement that I don't think you can ever get back. We were so amped all the time to be doing that, it was definitely a great memory. And then different albums have had kind of a breakthrough feeling that we're really excited about.
Who writes the music?
I think it's been a collaborative effort. Some songs will be written by one person, other songs will be written by a couple people putting different riffs together. I think for me, I get better results if I try to write the words and the music at the exact same time. So that's kinda lately what I've been doing, but then there's also quite a bit of collaboration on the album so it's kinda tough to make a generalization of how it goes.
I read you end each show with the quote "Stay positive and love your life." Where did that come from?
It was just something that I said as sort of a parting well wish to the fans back early on. And then I put it in a lyric on the "Transistor" album. It was just nice parting words for our fans and we've always had a positive, I wanna say hippie, kind of ideal to us about bringing people together through music and being more on the positive side of things and appreciate what you have. And that's all kinda summed up in that little phrase.
What can people expect from your performance at KROQ's Almost Acoustic Christmas?
Well it's going to be a fun show because so many of the bands that we've been friends with forever are on that bill, and I mean it's really a killer, classic lineup. Only people that have been playing music that long can have the kind of performances that you're going to see that night. Because it's a radio show, you're going to hear the songs that have been on the radio and we'll just do a nice sampling of our entire career. It's definitely going to be a fun night.
This isn't the first year you've done it. What keeps you coming back?
Well, you know, we are on our own label and to maintain our relationship with KROQ. I mean, they were the first station to play us - our first single in 1993 was "Do You Right" and they played it on their own before anyone else did. So we have about an 18-year relationship with them and it's nice to know the programmers there by name and when you have a new song now they will give it a fair shot. So it's a relationship that we keep going.
Do you have any special holiday traditions?
You know, our family is growing quickly. We have two young baby daughters at home and I think this will be the first time they are old enough to really appreciate it, so it's going to definitely be a special Christmas.