311 (pronounced "three-eleven") is an American rock band from Omaha, Nebraska. The band was formed in 1988 by vocalist and guitarist Nick Hexum, lead guitarist Jim Watson (a member briefly, before being replaced by Tim Mahoney in 1991), bassist Aaron "P-Nut" Wills, and drummer Chad Sexton. In 1992, Doug "SA" Martinez joined to sing and provide turntables for 311's later albums.
311 have released twelve studio albums, two live albums, four compilation albums, four EPs and four DVDs. After a series of independent releases, 311 was signed to Capricorn Records in 1992 and released the albums Music (1993) and Grassroots (1994) to moderate success. They achieved greater success with their 1995 triple platinum self-titled album, which reached number 12 on the Billboard 200 on the strength of the singles "Down" and "All Mixed Up", the former of which topped the Billboard Hot Modern Rock Tracks in 1996. The band's next three albums—Transistor (1997), Soundsystem (1999) and From Chaos (2001)—were also successful, with the first going platinum and the last two going gold. Their 2004 compilation album Greatest Hits '93-'03 was also certified gold. The band's most recent studio album is 2017's Mosaic. As of 2011, 311 has sold over 8.5 million records in the United States.
The band's name originates from the police code for indecent exposure in Omaha, Nebraska, after the original guitarist for the band was arrested for streaking.311's first independent release was the Downstairs EP, which was recorded in 1989 in Nick Hexum's basement. Unlike many of their releases, it had no cover art. It features the song "Feels So Good," which was recreated/remastered in the album Music, and a staple of most of 311's live shows.
In 1990, 311 produced their second independent release, Dammit!, recorded at IEV Studios in Papillion, Nebraska.
In 1991, Tim Mahoney replaced Jim Watson on guitar and 311 released their third independent release, Unity, recorded at Rainbow Recording Studios in Omaha, which was released with greater numbers than Dammit!. While Dammit! only printed 300 cassettes, Unity had 1000 CDs and 500 cassettes printed and was distributed through consignment and also sold at shows. The band began to headline shows in local clubs, such as The Ranch Bowl and Sokol Auditorium.
In 1992, S.A. Martinez, who had been making various appearances with 311 over the past years as a vocalist, was officially asked to join the band. 311 recorded a six-track demo, called Hydroponic, also recorded at Rainbow Recording Studios, and moved to Los Angeles. Within their first few months, 311 was signed to Capricorn Records.
311 considers their first show to be held on June 10, 1990, opening for Fugazi in Omaha, Nebraska, at the Sokol Auditorium.
Music and Grassroots (1993-1994)
Their first major record, Music was released in 1993. The single "Do You Right" received airplay on modern rock stations and reached No. 27 on Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks chart. However, the album failed to chart at the time. Also notable, the album was produced by Eddie Offord, who famously produced Yes and Emerson, Lake & Palmer.
Financing their own tour, the band drove around in an old RV borrowed from Sexton's father, and towed a Volkswagen bus which held their equipment. After tackling a steep incline while en route to an Omaha show, the RV caught fire. The only door out of the vehicle was surrounded by flames so the band jumped through the fire. All of their equipment and possessions were lost, though no one was seriously injured. The band continued their tour, using borrowed equipment.
The following year, they released their second studio album, Grassroots.
Mainstream breakthrough (1995-2001)
In 1995, 311 released the self-titled 311 (also known as The Blue Album). Produced by Ron St. Germain, the album was recorded live in contrast to their previous two albums in which all instruments were recorded separately. The first single "Don't Stay Home" was a modest success, reaching No. 29 on Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks chart. But the follow-up single "Down", which was released 14 months after the album, received heavy airplay on mainstream radio, and the accompanying music video was on MTV's rotation. The song hit No. 1 on the Modern Rock chart. The band made their network television debut on Late Night with Conan O'Brien on August 23. The third single, "All Mixed Up", enjoyed almost identical success, reaching No. 4 on the Modern Rock chart. They also appeared on Late Show with David Letterman playing "Down".
In the following years, 311 continued touring and on August 5, 1997, they released Transistor which debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200, their highest position on that chart. The album went platinum.
In 1998, 311 released Live, a live album from a 1997 performance in New Orleans, Louisiana. 311 also released Omaha Sessions, a compilation album from their early independent releases.
In 1999, 311 released their fifth major album, Soundsystem. The song "Come Original" reached No. 6 on Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks chart. The second single, "Flowing", had American Pie's Eddie Kaye Thomas featured in the music video.
In 1995, the band purchased a recording studio in North Hollywood, California, called The Hive. The band has recorded every album at The Hive since 2000, beginning with the sessions for From Chaos, 311's sixth major record release.
From Chaos was released in late 2001. Its first single, "You Wouldn't Believe" featured basketball star Shaquille O'Neal in the video.
Evolver and Don't Tread on Me (2002-2006)
Their seventh major release, Evolver (Produced By Ron Saint Germain), came in 2003. In Summer 2003, 311 launched their inaugural Unity Tour. The tour included openers G. Love & Special Sauce, O.A.R. and Something Corporate.
In 2004, 311 covered The Cure's "Love Song" which became a No. 1 hit on the Modern Rock Tracks chart. It also reached No. 59 on the Billboard Hot 100, their first single to reach that chart. It was featured on the soundtrack for the motion picture 50 First Dates and then a few months later on their own Greatest Hits '93-'03. The compilation featured two new songs: "How Do You Feel?" and "First Straw".
In Summer 2004, 311 kicked off their second annual Unity Tour with openers The Roots and Medeski Martin & Wood.
On August 16, 2005, 311 released their eighth studio album, titled Don't Tread on Me. "Don't Tread On Me", the first single, reached No. 2 on the Billboard Modern Rock chart and No. 7 at Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles.
In Summer 2005, 311 kicked off their third annual Unity Tour with openers Papa Roach and Unwritten Law.
On July 20, 2006, 311 kicked off their Summer Unity Tour, playing 37 shows in 27 states and featuring opening bands Pepper and Wailers. After completion of the tour, 311 announced they would be taking a break, their first official one in over eight years.
Uplifter and Universal Pulse (2007-2011)
In January 2007, 311 stepped back into their Hive Studios with Nick's younger brother Zack Hexum. They recorded a cover of Toots & the Maytals song "Reggae Got Soul" for the soundtrack from the film Surf's Up, which was released on June 5, 2007. 311 is also one of bands that have been able to successfully tour "off-cycle", headlining amphitheaters each summer.
Their Summer Unity Tour in 2007 included supporting acts Matisyahu and The English Beat. In 2008, they featured opening acts Snoop Dogg and Fiction Plane.
In 2009, they had another Summer Unity Tour which featured opening acts Ziggy Marley and The Expendables while in 2010, supporting act The Offspring and opening act Pepper were featured. In 2011, Sublime With Rome and DJ Soulman & DJ Trichrome were the openers on the Unity Tour.
Uplifter, 311's ninth studio album, was released on June 2, 2009. The album, produced at 311's Hive Recording Studios in Los Angeles by Bob Rock, debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200, the band's highest chart position in the U.S. to date. The band followed up the release of the album with tours in Summer and Fall 2009. They have completed their Spring 2010 tour, which included 311 Day 2010, held in Las Vegas, Nevada. A Summer tour with The Offspring began in June 2010. 311 also held a 2010 fall tour.
In early 2011, 311 finished recording their tenth studio album called Universal Pulse at the Hive in Los Angeles, with producer Bob Rock. The album was released July 19, 2011. The album's first single, "Sunset in July" was released on June 3, 2011. Universal Pulse is their shortest album yet, only having 8 songs.
Stereolithic, Archive Compilation, Mosaic (2012-2017)
In another interview, posted by Rock Titan on May 4, 2018, Nick said, "We plan to follow up the last album later this year, because that's what we used to do back in the early nineties. It was like an album a year. So we're gonna just try and kind of get back to that faster output. We'll see what happens." On May 24, 2018, P-Nut was interviewed on Pure Rock Radio's "The Cory Draper Show" and said of the upcoming 13th album, "I think we were starting to beat ourselves up to the point of not making any progress, so we took a little break over the last two weeks." When asked if 311 would have a new release in the summertime that people can look forward to, P-Nut replied, "We were hoping to do that, and it's still a possibility, but I couldn't say one way or the other." In an interview published on June 17, 2018, Nick said: "We feel like we're on a roll right now so we were thinking we might get an album out this year, because we have a bunch of good songs that we've been working on. And then we were feeling a little burnt out, so we could slow down a little bit. So now, when the next release is coming is a bit up in the air, but there's a slight chance it could be in 2018, which would be crazy. In the early days, we were coming out with a record every year. Now, these days, if we keep it within two years, that's awesome." But when asked how things are progressing with the new album in an article published on July 10, 2018, Nick said, "We have quite a few great songs. We were hoping to wrap it up before summer tour, but then we realized we had been working nonstop so we decided to take a few weeks off to enjoy summer and our families." On how it will sound, he said, "We just keep taking everything further. The heavy stuff heavier and the funky stuff funkier."
On July 18, 2018, 311 and The Offspring, who are touring together in 2018's Never Ending Summer tour, tweeted back and forth on their official Twitter pages. 311's page wrote: "Hey @offspring it's one week til the start of our tour. We've got a little surprise for you guys!" The Offspring's page replied: "Hey guys! We're excited to hit the road next week. Ohh no shit we actually have a surprise for you guys too! #NeverEndingSummer" 311's page wrote back: "Haha no way, should we give it to you next Wednesday in San Fran?" The Offspring's page responded: "Actually, we're going to have ours ready for you on Friday! #NeverEndingSummer" And finally, 311's page agreed: "Rad we'll get ours ready for you guys on Friday too." Then, on July 19, 2018, in a Billboard.com article, it was announced that on Friday, June 20, 2018, The Offspring will release a cover of 311's "Down" and 311 will release a "reggaefied" cover of The Offspring's "Self Esteem", which Nick Hexum said is "probably my favorite song of theirs." In the same article, more information was given about 311's upcoming album:Now, meanwhile, 311 has "the bulk of an album written" to follow up 2017's Mosaic, working both on its own and with producer/co-writer John Feldmann. Hexum says the new material is "building on the progressive kind of stuff (from Mosaic), doing intense riffs and being innovative with the guitar work. "Songs like 'Too Late' from the last album kind of signify a direction we're excited about exploring on this one," he says. Nevertheless, Hexum adds, "every song is very different. We keep it all over the place, always with strong melodies, always with reggae and hip-hop and heavy rock influences. It's just fun to keep finding goals and going beyond it." 311 is planning to return to the studio after the tour to wrap things up for a first half of 2019 release. "We were kind of on the fence about whether to really buckle down and crank it out and finish it and send it to mastering," Hexum says, "but we realized that life's not a race. We should just take our time. I think that will only make (the album) better."
On August 14, 2018, guitarist Tim Mahoney was interviewed for Soundvapers.com:Tim tells me, "We've been trying to make sure we don't add too many shows because we want to make sure we get the record done. So right now that might be the last show depending on what we talk about, but the priority when we get off the road will be to finish the new record. It would be nice to get it done and be able to put it out on March 11th. That would be a lot of fun."
I also asked how the writing process was coming along so far. "We've got some really great stuff and probably have more than an albums worth of material. We thought, maybe, at the beginning of this year we'd be able to get it out before we left for the summer tour. But there is just too much good stuff and it just takes time to get it together and get it all to where it needs to be and get recorded. I'm really looking forward to it and I think there's some really good stuff on there that people are really going to like."You can hear the passion when Tim speaks about the process of making a new album. It is obvious that none of this has become stale or tiresome for him. Another aspect of recording is the role of the producer. On the bands last record, Mosaic, the band had two people they worked with, Scotch Ralston and John Feldmann. I asked if they would also be apart of this process for the new album. "John and Nick wrote a whole bunch of songs, so there's a group of songs that they worked on. Then there's a whole other group of songs that Scotch has been involved with. So it's probably going to be a group effort once again." Says Tim.
In an interview posted on August 30, 2018, Tim Mahoney was asked what the new album's title is and replied, "It’s nowhere near that stage yet, but I would imagine it will come out sometime in the beginning of next year. I don’t know if we will do a 311 Day release or something, but that would be around the time it will be coming out. We don’t have a title yet, but it will be here pretty soon." On September 26, 2018, Nick Hexum tweeted:Had a really good band meeting yesterday where we decided on a path to continue the record. We’re super psyched! Not going to rush tho. Sorry that our earlier estimates were a bit too ambitious. Creativity and quality is top priority. Thanks for patience! #311