Analogue Music | 311


By Matt Conner

One hundred songs to celebrate 30 years. Then the plug was pulled on us all.

For Nick Hexum, the beginning of these quarantined days came immediately following the biggest celebration in the three-decade history of 311. This past March, the band celebrated 311 Day with a three-night concert event consisting of 100 different songs at the Park Theater at the MGM in Las Vegas. Thousands of fans came together to celebrate the incredible achievement and then... went home to quarantine.

While 311 planned for a year-long celebration, including a tour of all 50 states and a summer swing with Incubus, front man Nick Hexum is at least thankful to have enjoyed a meaningful weekend with fans who've remained loyal for so long. Hexum credits that loyalty and the band's internal camaraderie as the primary components that have allowed for such rare longevity as a band.

With such a passionate fan base and the success of the band's most recent album (2019's Voyager), 311 shows no signs of slowing down. Fans are still flying in from multiple continents, and as long as they keep showing up, we have a feeling that Hexum and company will meet them right where they're at.

Analogue: These days are strange ones for us all, but you went from this incredible event celebrating 30 years and then coronavirus. How has this period been for you personally?

Nick Hexum: First, 311 Day is the busiest time that we have because we had to prepare 100 songs, plus all the pressure, intensity and celebration of the show. After that, we had kind of a blocked out time of rest and recuperation. So that part of it was fairly normal, but then of course, you add the big change of homeschooling your kids. Trying to make it as much of a staycation as much as possible, but you also have to keep the kids learning and get some stuff.

"If you don't take a moment to pause for appreciation, you're missing out and it could have a bad effect on the band if you expect things to come to you." -Nick Hexum

Balancing all of that has been tricky but I think it's going really well. We definitely had some really special times of learning songs with the girls. My daughter has been posting them on my Instagram and that's probably something we wouldn't have normally done. So we're trying to find as many silver linings as possible in this situation.

But there's a huge uncertainty of not knowing when it's going to be safe to have concerts again. That's a little scary, so I just have to keep reminding myself that the band will prevail and everything will be okay. We just don't know how that will look. You have to go with the flow and be okay with unsettled decisions—just take it as it comes.

Analogue: It seemed like the timing of 311 Day gave you guys one of the last great gasps of "normal" before it all shut down.

Nick: Yeah, even if it started a day or two later, it might not have happened. We were definitely right on the cusp. On the first of the three nights, there really wasn't talk of everything being cancelled. Then on night two, things were starting to get cancelled. We were like, 'Well, everybody's here and they've been together and exposed to each other already.' So many people traveled really far from different continents to see the show, so we were like, 'I think the show must go on.' We were really fortunate that there were no virus outbreaks from the show. That would have been devastating.

Then came the feeling that this was it for a while, once it started to dawn on everybody what the future would look like—that everyone was just going to go home and stay until further notice. It added an extra intensity to the already intense emotion of what a 311 Day is, digging really deep to have these really emotional moments, whether it's the video and everything that links up with our shows to make it very emotional and nostalgic and really celebrating the connection we have with each other and our fans and our families, who are there. It's really a time to remember.


Analogue: I want to go back to something because you were able to just casually drop the fact that people came from multiple continents.

Nick: I never want to take that for granted, that level of dedication of people who have been following us and staying that connected in our fan base for so long. You never want to take that for granted so we keep an attitude of gratitude. There's a lot of talk in the band of 'how cool is this?' If you don't take a moment to pause for appreciation, you're missing out and it could have a bad effect on the band if you expect things to come to you. We always try to keep that sense of wonder at how cool it is that we got to do something that we were super-passionate about that we would do anyway as a hobby but that it turned into this community that the fan base has become. We're very glad we got to finish those shows and that we didn't have to disappoint fans who'd traveled so far.

Analogue: One hundred songs sounds insane. I'd love to hear more about the scope of work it takes to get 100 songs ready for a stretch of live performances.

Nick: The preparation for it started in the month leading up to it, where we were doing a few covers like the [Rolling] Stones "Waiting on a Friend" and Bob Marley's "Lively Up Yourself." Then there were other 311 songs that we'd either never played or it had been so long that it felt like we were learning them for the first time.

For me, it's the same thing I did with my kids when we were doing these Instagram videos. I would play a certain song five times a day, so that was a lot of rehearsal where I would rehearse on my own before band practice and then play with the band. I know it was such a good exercise for me as a musician, just with the hours you put into it and finding new frontiers to cross is the never-ending journey. You just have to love the process of it.

The show itself is just the victory lap. The work is in the preparation. I think we definitely found a way to enjoy the preparation and the show itself. But yeah, that's a lot of songs. We just wanted to top ourselves, because we'd never gotten into triple digits. We'd never hit 100 songs before in one event. It was pretty challenging and honestly I didn't have any major fuck-ups. [Laughs] It went pretty well because we had put in the time.

"It's sort of a one-and-one makes three, like we're better together than we could ever be on our own, so let's take care of it and ride it for as long as it can go."

Analogue: When you're digging into old crates, so to speak, do you find new meanings in these forgotten songs?

Nick: Yeah, I think they're open to reinterpretation. Sometimes if I haven't sang a song in a really long time, I'll think, 'Hmm, what was I getting at there?' There was a lyric in the song, for example, on "Make It Rough" that we haven't played in a while. The lyric said, 'I was so good at pretending and denying when things bothered me.' When I sang that for the first time in a few years, I was like, 'Woah, I was getting into something of my psyche that I was just the tip of the iceberg.' It was telling things about my own personality that I would notice. It had a new and fresh meaning to me since I hadn't sang it in so long. It reminded me that you've gotta say how you feel. It definitely was somewhat cathartic to revisit what are basically like old journals or diaries when you read your own lyrics.

Analogue: Thirty years is just such a long time. You've outlived so many others and that's such a rare milestone for any band to achieve. Do you guys talk about together?

Nick: We certainly talk about that a lot like, 'Wow, what a history!' Imagine having a tight group of guys who've been together for 30 years. Just imagine the number of inside jokes that we have. [Laughs] Instantly someone can say some little catch phrase and it will take us back to some completely catastrophic show when everything was messed up and all you can do is laugh. Sometimes we'll be together and start going down memory lane. We'll remember funny occurrences or random characters we crossed paths with or just situations. We do a lot of reminiscing and drudging up old jokes that only add to the noise of the whole thing.

Analogue: Is that core relationship most responsible for the longevity of the band?

Nick: I think there was always an appreciation that we'd stumbled onto something special in the lineup and that it's something to take care of and appreciate. It's sort of a one-and-one makes three, like we're better together than we could ever be on our own, so let's take care of it and ride it for as long as it can go.

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