Weekly Wire
Memphis Flyer Married To The Band

Who would have guessed that the members of 311 are workaholics?

By Mojisola Oladehin

JUNE 26, 2000:  It's 1:15 p.m. on a rather gloomy day in Wallingford, Connecticut. Members of 311 -- Nick Hexum on vocals and guitars; SA Martinez on vocals and turntables; drummer Chad Sexton; bassist P-Nut; and guitarist Tim Mahoney -- are well-rested and a few minutes away from doing a sound check. They performed the previous night to an almost sold-out crowd in New York, with opening acts Incubus and 2 Skinnee J's.

"It was a good show," Mahoney says. "It looked like it was going to rain all day but it held out all right for us."

It's nearly been a decade since 311 hit the music industry with their good-vibes, attracting a devoted population of music lovers to their energy-packed shows. The band describe themselves as a "funk-slap bass mixed with the dancehall and hip-hop beats and punk guitar." Mahoney explains that the mix of elements in their music is drawn from the group's vast assortment of musical tastes.

"We write songs that we enjoy," he says. "We're not so much concerned about the different genres. It happens more naturally because we all listen to different kinds of music, from reggae to jazz, hard rock and hip-hop. We like all those different kinds of music so it just comes out in our songwriting."

That said, Mahoney admits that 311's newest and sixth record, Soundsystem, leans toward a certain sound. "Coming from Transistor [311's last album, which went platinum], Soundsystem's definitely more rock-style," Mahoney says. "Transistor was very experimental for us -- our most experimental kind of record to date. We wanted to make Soundsystem more raw -- just simplified almost -- just a guitar, bass, drums, vocals, turntables -- just raw, not a lot of overdubbing or extra parts or anything like that."

After a year in the studio the boys have produced in Soundsystem a 13-song album that is everything from reggae-ish ("Leaving Babylon") to the more funky and rocking ("Livin' & Rockin'"). Above all, the songs promote 311's signature "positive energy" stand.

"That's what we want to do -- influence people in a positive way with our music," Mahoney says. "Music has a great effect on peoples' lives. It's great. It's actual sound waves bumping into your ear or your body or whatever."

This leg of the Soundsystem tour ends in early July. After that, 311 has a laundry list of future projects. "We're going to Japan for a couple shows in August, and then probably in October/November, we're going to go out and do a short tour," says Mahoney. "Right when we get off the tour, we're planning to record [a new] record at the end of the year. So we're going to work on new music and get it recorded at the end of the year sometime and hopefully it'll be out in the spring."

What that means for the members of 311 is a lot of together time. Mahoney laughs, "We're around each other all the time -- like a bunch of married people, like a five-person married unit."

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