Nick Hexum on 311’s tour, the band’s 30th anniversary and more
311 are in the midst of a major tour with special guests Iration and Iya Terra, taking them on the road to over three dozen U.S. cities. The band also will be livestreaming select shows via their streaming platform, 311 Streamsystem. Additionally, they recently announced three shows over Halloween weekend, including an appearance at The Shining’s Stanley Hotel.
In the midst of the run, band frontman Nick Hexum found time to connect with Alternative Press. During the conversation, he spoke of the band’s passion for making music, described the deep bond 311 has created with their fans and took readers behind the scenes of their tour.
It’s hard to believe, but the band recently celebrated their 30th anniversary. In early 2020, they announced a tour celebrating the milestone. The band would have traveled with Incubus and Badflower, stopping in 36 amphitheaters along the way.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the run. During our conversation, Hexum described the period as a major turning point, divided by a “BP and AP, Before Pandemic and After Pandemic.” He further remarked that the break gave him a chance to reevaluate his priorities. “I feel like that was a time to look inward and decide what to do with the rest of my life,” he says.
Even so, Hexum wasn’t content to simply reflect. He and his bandmates developed an innovative streaming platform, allowing them to connect with fans despite the disruption to live music. Hexum also developed a number of personal projects, including the “Do Stay Home” sessions with his family and even workout videos via Twitch.
Now, at long last, the group are able to get back on the road, offering fans a chance to make up for lost time.
The band have also developed a number of streaming opportunities connected to the run. 10 shows will be available for livestream. The innovative streams will feature full live-concert production and soundboard audio, as well as behind-the-scenes footage showcasing life on tour. Fans can also purchase discounted four-pack tickets, merch bundles and more.
Details on the livestreams can be viewed here. Tour dates and our interview with Hexum can be read below.
It’s amazing to think that 311 have been around for 30 years. How does it feel to look back on that milestone?
Our mindset is that getting to do what we love, what we would do anyway as a hobby, to get to do it as a career is such an honor and a privilege. It's really not about how big you can get at one certain time. It's about how long you can enjoy the process of what you love. I am so proud of the longevity and so grateful to our fans who have supported that. We're just turning the page into a new decade. There really is a BP and AP, Before Pandemic and After Pandemic. Everybody's lives are going to have that marker, like when you move to a new town or whatever. It's been an interesting time to take stock and now in this next chapter of life focus on what brings us the most joy, which is writing and performing.
I don’t think many bands could last so long without such a devoted following. 311 is one of those bands I think of as having a truly die-hard fanbase. What does that kind of connection with your fans mean to you?
I get such satisfaction. I get such a kick out of hearing stories of people that tell us that our music got them through difficult periods. To me, that's a human-to-human source of strength that transcends any kind of business arrangement or whatever. I live for that, and I love that so much. On a creative level, to know that we don't have a lot of pressure that maybe some more pop-leaning artists have, where you're only as good as your latest hit. We basically can just make albums for our core, and it doesn't really matter how good mainstream perception goes. That just goes back to saying thanks to our fans who are so dedicated to us. The feeling is mutual. We're dedicated to them as well.
The other thing I’ve been thinking about is what 311 have meant for music. We’re reaching a certain distance from the ‘90s, which saw this explosion of very eclectic artists. It’s really interesting to look back. 311 were definitely ahead of the curve in helping to push rock to a more sonically diverse, musically open-minded place. What made you want to make music like that?
It's hard to say exactly why we are so eclectic and so diverse. I do think in the late '80s, early '90s, I heard these bands like Fishbone, Jane's Addiction, Chili Peppers, Faith No More that were just doing whatever they wanted. With the punk-rock intensity, but not with a thrash sound. It was funk and ska and acoustic and metal. If you just take those four bands right there, there's just so many different styles. All artists are just standing on the shoulders of giants. I have to give props where props is due and say that we were turned on by that hybrid music scene. Then, we took it further in our own direction.
You’re in the middle of a big tour, which comes after more than a year of disruptions to live music. What are your feelings about getting back on the road?
A lot of pent-up demand, both from ourselves and the fans. You just feel this sense of relief, like, "Oh yeah, we're back. We're back to rocking. We're back to seeing the smiling faces. We're back to feeling that love.” I'm glad we came up with different ways to fill the gap with the streaming shows, and I was doing my own series on Instagram. I'd [have] "Do Stay Home" sessions, and then I started doing Twitch stuff. It's good to know that if there's another pandemic, we have a lot of different things to do, but there is no substitute for a live rock 'n' roll. So, it's this huge euphoria.
You mention livestreams. When the pandemic hit, I think some artists took a break or focused on other projects. But you chose to do some really innovative projects in this period.
We wanted to give our crew some work to do, for one thing, because they rely on us. It was great how our stage crew learned all this new technology. There is a lot of technology that goes into doing a good livestream. I tell one of our managers, it's like we told you to go learn Icelandic in four months, and you did it. It was an exciting challenge to do the livestreams. For me, when I was doing the "Stay Home" sessions, [I was] doing uplifting songs with my kids, like "Three Little Birds" by Bob Marley. There was so much fear and anxiety, like, "Are we going to die? Are we going to be broke?" Everybody was just very worried.
To give people a little kernel of hope, that's something powerful that music can do. I wish I would have thought of the Twitch stuff earlier because that was a lot later on in the pandemic. I was like, "Hey, if I do a workout on Twitch, would you guys join me?" It was like "Hell yeah!" That turned into my Saturday morning workout thing that I did for 17 weeks in a row. Then I posted those on YouTube so people can follow along if they want to work out with me. I do a lot of stuff. I do it to the beat and have cool music, so it's different than other workout classes.
Now that you’re touring again, you’re continuing to use the livestream format. Can you tell fans what to expect from these shows?
We've done one so far on this tour, and it seems like the fans at home really loved it. We're changing up the setlist more. A lot of people are getting a whole bundle, so there's going to be a good diversity of songs you'll see from one stream to the next. [We're] digging deeper in the crate. A couple of nights ago, we played songs we haven't played in a long time, like "Still Dreaming" and "Tranquility." More random songs. Our fans has been a little bummed that we have done a couple co-headlining tours and we didn't have as long to play. It was more of a mainstream set when you're going up there and sharing the stage half-and-half with the Offspring or Dirty Heads. Now, you have a little bit more freedom to dig deeper and know that this one's more for our core.
I wanted to follow up on something earlier. You mentioned the pandemic triggered a kind of BP/AP shift. What does AP look like for you?
I feel like that was a time to look inward and decide what to do with the rest of my life. I had some different things going, getting involved in the cannabis business and stuff like that. Now, I realized that basically what I want to do with the rest of my life is spend time with family and write music—and that's it. I think this was a time for me to recognize and reset my priorities. I still love cannabis, but there's only so much time in the day.
311 tour dates:
08/21 – Camden, NJ @ BB&T Pavilion
08/22 – Farmingville, NY @ Long Island Community Hospital Amphitheater at Bald Hill
08/24 – Bridgeport, CT @ Hartford HealthCare Amphitheater
08/26 – Portland, ME @ Thompson's Point
08/28 – Boston, MA @ Leader Bank Pavilion
08/29 – Holmdel, NJ @ PNC Bank Arts Center
09/01 – Baltimore, MD @ Pier 6/MECU Pavilion
09/02 – Virginia Beach, VA @ Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheater
09/04 – Wilmington, NC @ Riverfront Park Amphitheater
09/05 – Charlotte, NC @ Hops & Hogs Festival*
09/07 – Indianapolis, IN @ TCU Amphitheater at White River State Park
09/08 – Lincoln, NE @ Pinewood Bowl Amphitheater
09/10 – Chicago, IL @ Huntington Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island
09/11 – Milwaukee, WI @ SummerFest^
09/12 – Waite Park, MN @ The Ledge Amphitheater
09/15 – Maryland Heights, MO @ Saint Louis Music Park
09/16 – Sterling Heights, MI @ Michigan Lottery Amphitheatre at Freedom Hill
09/18 – Cleveland, OH @ Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica
09/19 – Cincinnati, OH @ The ICON Festival Stage at Smale Park
09/21 – Alpharetta, GA @ Ameris Bank Amphitheatre
09/22 – Jacksonville, FL @ Daily's Place
09/24 – West Palm Beach, FL @ iTHINK Financial Amphitheatre
09/25 – Tampa, FL @ MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheatre
09/28 – Austin, TX @ Moody Amphitheater at Waterloo Park
09/29 – Irving, TX @ The Pavilion at Toyota Music Factory
09/30 – Kansas City, MO @ Grinders KC
10/02 – Morrison, CO @ Red Rocks Amphitheatre
10/03 – Albuquerque, NM @ Isleta Amphitheater
10/05 – Salt Lake City, UT @ USANA Amphitheatre
10/07 – Bend, OR @ Les Schwab Amphitheater
10/08 – Seattle, WA @ WaMu Theater
10/10 – Sacramento, CA @ Heart Health Park
10/13 – Phoenix, AZ @ Ak-Chin Pavilion
10/15 – Irvine, CA @ FivePoint Amphitheatre
10/16 – San Diego, CA @ North Island Credit Union Amphitheatre
10/17 – Berkeley, CA @ Greek Theatre
10/29 – Boulder, CO @ Fox Theater
10/30 – Denver CO @ Ogden Theater
10/31 – Estes Park, CO @ Stanley Hotel
* Iration and Iya Terra not appearing
^ Iya Terra not appearing