311's Nick Hexum Reveals Even More Details About New Album 'Stereolithic'

Thumbnail image for nickhexum_jenaardell1.jpg
Photo by Dave Nagel/Jena Ardell.
311 knows a thing or two on how to stay connected with their close-knit fan base of 'excitable ones'. The band hosts destination cruises, bi-annual 311 Day extravaganzas (complete with a five-hour show setlist of rarities), and offers numerous opportunities to receive exclusive offers from the band.

We sat down with lead vocalist Nick Hexum in his private studio to discuss Stereolithic, 311's eleventh studio album, and the band's first fully independent release since Omaha Sessions. The new album will unironically be released on 3/11 (311 Day). Here's what he had to say about the new album, his musical inspirations, fans, and fatherhood.

OC Weekly (Jena Ardell): How does Stereolithic compare to previous 311 albums?

Nick Hexum: I think it's been more of a creative flow with this album than our previous album. With Universal Pulse, I think we had eight really good songs, but you can kind of see when you only have eight songs, it's not really as productive of a time. This time, we have 15 songs. "It's just exciting when a band has little creative re-births over and over again. I feel we're in one now. We have a handful of songs that feel very ground-breaking to me and that--to me--is the most exciting; when you're getting into new territory.

What was it like to work with producer Scotch Ralston again?

One thing that's been cool about having Scotch Ralston back is that he has just become so immersed in this album, where he would be at The Hive going through the hard drives and finding old demos that had just not really panned out for whatever reason, and was like, 'You guys have to do this one'! So there's a few dusting off some old--I guess you would call them C-sides; they're not B-sides because they never were finished. They were just something that got started.

From how long ago?

Well, one of them was once known as "Stealing My Girl", which was a Don't Tread on Me outtake. I think that one is the furthest back. Maybe there are a couple others from that era. A couple of them are from Universal Pulse, but they've gotten completely re-worked, so they're only somewhat recognizable from the older versions. Then of course, the majority of the songs on [Stereolithic] are just brand-new ideas.

What makes working with Ralston so different from other producers?

We've had great experiences working with super established hundred-million selling producers like Hugh Padgham and, of course, Bob Rock; but you've got those guys for the month or two that you have hired them and then they're off doing something else. Scotch has been working on nothing but our album for a year solid. He's one of us. He has our similar level of experience; he's our same age; he started in this business as being an assistant [to Eddie Offord] working on [the album] Music. He's a really super talented guy and he's really diplomatic and delightfully eccentric and weird. (Laughs). He's just a funny dude, so he's a lot of fun to have around.

He's like the sixth band member of 311.

Yeah, he really is; more than there's ever been one.

Did you purposely craft the new songs to translate well live, since live shows are what 311 is most known for?

Yeah. I'd say we've shifted to realizing that the core of what we do is playing live. Seven or eight years ago, we were like, 'We're going to tour and when we can make albums, we'll do that; but it's not like living and dying by the album cycle like some bands are forced into who are in a major label system and that also kind of influences how the music is written, and it is intended to be exciting to play live and have big moments.

There's one particular song [on Stereolithic] that goes through a lot of peaks and valleys. There's been a few--what we call--'epics' over the years like "Sometimes Jacks Rule the Realm" and "There's Always an Excuse When You Need One" and there's one ["Friday Afternoon" on Stereolithic] that goes through even crazier peaks and valleys. I'll let you listen to it later, if you turn off the recorder.

SIDE NOTE: The word 'epic' is totally fitting. . .



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7 comments
311gus
311gus

311 is definetely keeping the alternative rock genre alive. The fact "hard riff rock" is the core of the band is very pleasant to hear. Im thankful 311 keeps it going for us fans to enjoy. Stereolithic is highly anticipated. Approachability of the band has always been great even without having to buy VIP. There have been numerous times they individually come out to thank the fans, sign autographs and take pictures. Ive seen that happen numerous times being a fan since 95 and being to 90+ shows now. 311 has the upmost gratitude for their fans and how important they are to them.

Guslifter

mcarpo
mcarpo

"You guys are definitely one of the most approachable bands in the industry"...if you have $311 to pay for a meet-and-greet. I've been to 30+ 311 shows since 1996 and will always be a fan, but have become disappointed with their refusal to meet fans in any situation other than a paid meet-and-greet. In 2001, I met them at the Warped Tour and they seemed stoked to meet fans; nowadays, though, I've watched them turn down autograph and photo requests, and seen them jump onto their bus and race out of the venue the second a show ends. They're obviously well within their rights to do that, but I don't think that qualifies as "approachable."

e_park
e_park

Excellent in-depth interview, with great questions. Especially loved the confirmation of Scotch essentially being the 6th member of the band. He seems to have done wonders for the band this time around.

jennrose311
jennrose311

I give props to the interviewer. There were  lot of good questions asked and answered! Thanks so much. Cannot wait for Stereolithic!

Drexa_4720
Drexa_4720

Side note, the word "epic" is played out and over-used. Your writing is atrocious.

nixhex05
nixhex05

@mcarpo Yeah, taking pictures and meeting with every single person on each cruise is unapproachable.

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