311 : Nick Hexum
From The Beatles to The Vandals

Jump to page:  

counterculture: 311 have a very unique sound, fusing rap, rock and reggae with a very positive vibe. You don't seem to sound like anyone else out there.

Nick Hexum: Thank you. We definitely have strived for originality. The shitty things is, that no matter how original you are when you first come out, someone's going to say you sound like someone else. In the early 90s, all over the radio was Pearl Jam and Nirvana . . . some really good bands, but we needed some funk or some hip hop or some reggae and other elements that weren't just like classic rock. So at that time we really wanted to bring some new elements in.
    Seeing Incubus do so well is great, because they've got it right on. They've hit the nail on the head: Great melodies, innovative grooves, cool lyrics, but still with interesting rhythms, and with hip hop elements that make it modern, and not just classic rock. But there's good and bad in the genre.

cc: Do you hear any of your own sound in Incubus?

NH: They would probably say that they used to listen to us quite a bit, and we've been touring with them for like, five years so I would say that I'm as influenced by them as they are by us. Just as the Stones and Beatles would check each other out. I've been a huge fan of their last two albums.

cc: They really seemed to have raised their game on the last two albums.

NH: Yeah, I think they've simplified their stuff. Some of it was really complex, like Primus-y early on, and they got more simple with just good tunes on the Make Yourself album, and they're continuing on with that. They're going to be huge for a long time, I'm sure of that.

cc: Amongst the current crop of rock and metal bands it seems only yourselves, Incubus and possibly P.O.D. have an upbeat positive outlook, as opposed to being wrapped up in teen angst.

NH: Other than Incubus, maybe the positive vibe hasn't really sold as well in the past year or two, but in the long run that was the message behind any really great artist. Like The Beatles is more a sense of unity, like All You Need Is Love or whatever.
    I think the teen angst thing; people are going to kind of grow out of it. There's always going to be someone representing teen angst, but if you make a career out of teen angst, then when you get older you can't really legitimately claim it's the same frustration. I'm glad that we're not pigeon-holed as that, because that can't last.

cc: So what are you pigeon-holed as? As far as tours are concerned, you seem to skate between different genres . . . you're on with Incubus and Hoobastank today, you were at the Extreme 2001 punk tour last year . . .

NH: Yeah, and we've done tours with Cypress Hill and The Pharcyde. We've done the Horde tour which is like a hippy jam band tour with Blues Traveller and stuff like that, and we did the Warped tour in the States this past summer. That's something we really get off on; not sticking with one certain crew. There maybe a downside to that, because maybe we slip between the cracks, but it keeps it interesting for us to have so many different influences, and since we listen to a lot of different music and play a lot of different styles . . .
    I'm sure when we're on the Warped tour some people may think a little bit of our music is too metal or heavy, but really like some of the more punk reggae stuff like Beautiful Disaster. There's going to be something for everybody, and something not for everybody.

cc: So with all this different music you're exposed to, what do you listen to when you're not playing with 311?

NH: When I'm up and I want energy I'll listen to something hard and fast like System Of A Down or NOFX, but then when I need some cheering up it'll be The Beatles or there's a guy in LA, real underground but real cool, called John Brion. He's more known as a producer. He did Fiona Apple and Aimee Mann, but he's a really cool songwriter.

cc: Back in the mid 90s when I first heard your stuff, particularly All Mixed Up, I was really hoping you were going to come over and tour, but it never happened. Now you've changed record labels, you've done Extreme 2001, you did a small headline tour, and now you're back here with Incubus . . .

NH: We're really trying to make a new effort to become known over here. A lot of it has to do with marketing and the labels and the radio. And it seems like the radio situation is fairly tight here. So we're really hoping that this tour will plant some seeds in people's heads. So we'll just have to put on the best shows that we can and sort of see what happens.
    There was one tour that we cancelled because our guitarist had a hernia, in '97, and that was when we were apparently starting to pick up some momentum, and that was probably a fuck up. We probably should have rescheduled that, but the way things were at the time, we were burnt out and just needed some time off.

Go to top of pageGo to 2 : Influences and legaciesJump to page:  
Latest articles

Alone in the dark: Buffy The Vampire Slayer bows out in style with the Season Seven DVD Collection.

Johnny Knoxville plays him in the movie Grand Theft Parsons, but counterculture speaks to the man himself: Phil Kaufman interviewed.