With sounds treading on a hybrid of rap, funk, hip-hop, and reggae,
the word alternative seems unfitting at best to genre-nize 311.
People of the "Down" generation had their first taste
of the 311 sound with the self-titled release, 311 (1995). But
hardcore fans know the root stems several years back- this wasn't
an overnight success story.
the group started playing in their hometown of Omaha, Nebraska,
in 1990, they've been building a loyal and ever-increasing fan
base. Originally called Unity, the band was formed by vocalist
Nick Hexum, guitarist Tim Mahoney, drummer Chad Sexton, and keyboardist
Ward Bones. With Tim later dropping out, the remaining three set
out to L.A. to land a record deal. With no success, the group
broke up and headed back home. There, Chad hooked up with bassist
P-Nut (Aaron Charles Wills), and the two formed the group Fish
Hippos, later changed to 311. Nick was called back, and the new
group was completed by guitarist Jimi Watson. They played their
first real show opening for Fugazi in 1990.
'91 the group parted with Jim and re-added Tim Mahoney as lead
guitarist. Later band member, S.A. Martinez, often made guest
appearances at their live shows, and was added to the roster in
released three albums on its own while still in Omaha: Dammit,
Unity, and Hydroponic. Unity was the first album the group could
afford to put on CD and was a huge hit locally, selling about
1000 copies. It was the biggest success story of any local band
in Omaha at that time. With that on their hands, 311 set off to
LA to take another stab at the music industry.
was struggling times for the band - living under one roof in Van
Nuys, California, the group soon found their funds depleted and
bills mounting. However in early 1992, the band met producer Eddy
Offord. Realizing their potential, Offord recorded a demo tape
that attracted the likes of label Capricorn Records. 311 signed
on, and Offord engineered and produced the first two Capricorn
albums: 1993's Music, and 1994's Grassroots.
the year, the relationship of producer and band ended in a bitter
dispute, as 311 and Offord went their separate ways. The band
managed to hook up with producer Ron Saint German for their third
major release, 311, or better known as "the blue album".
After nearly six years, 311 had the hit they were looking for
- with its energetic hip-hop/metal verses and catchy sing-along
choruses, the single "Down" became a major modern-rock
hit. "All Mixed Up", a prerelease to Down, was re-released
with success after the flurry of media coverage - 311 was being
dubbed as "the hot 'new' band". Quickly becoming a household
name, 311 went from touring in small venues to playing sold out
one might play them as an overnight success, 311 has gained it's
large following by relentless touring and word of mouth. Often
plagued by the harsh words of critics, the music that is 311 has
remained true to its roots. As lead singer Nick Hexum says it
best - "Rock critics didn't put us here, so they can't take