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Interview with Nick Hexum of 311

Words by Timothy Straw Photos by Brian Bowen Smith / Stephen Lashbrook
Brian Bowen Smith

June 23 marks the release date of the Mosaic, 311’s 12th album since their inception in 1988. We had an opportunity to speak to Nick Hexum (singer, guitar player) about the new record, what’s its like being a touring father and some of what 311 has planned for the future. Their new single “Too much to Think,” is on air now, a reflection of the hustle and bustle of everyday work life and the pressures that life can put upon a person and to find a peaceful escape from the world. “in the verses they sound a
little bit more dark and its kind of about the stress and confusion of modern life and the
chorus is find an escape but, its not like a destructive kind of thing it’s just something we all kind of go through back and forth.” The record itself was produced by Scotch Ralston who has been a long time collaborator with the band.

“Scotch we had the longest relationship with any of the people we’ve worked with as far as studio goes he’s been involved since Music Grass Roots Blue Album at that time he was more of an assistant engineer young guy and so all the way through he’s been involved with most of our albums there’s a couple album cycles where he was working with Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and then the time was right for him to come back into the fold and be our live sound man and then we said you know what he knows us so well and he just kind of starting working on songs and he would
like channel me or channel Ese he would do these impersonations that were like “why didn’t I think of that idea? he sounds just like me” so it was super helpful on Stereolithic to have him really keeping the ball rolling for us with working on all these songs and we were dusting off all these old kinda forgotten about demos or he called it like hard drive gold mining where he went through and found these old songs like Tranquility was, for me, a really great song that had fallen out, it had never gone on anywhere so he helped champion that song on Stereolithic our last album so it really, we just had a lot of great momentum from that experience and it was just obvious for us to go back and to work with him.” Also on board is John Feldmann the singer/songwriter frontman of Goldfinger who has also worked with
bands such as Panic! at the disco and Blink 182. John and Nick have been friends since the two bands used to tour together, there’s a lot about legacy on the new
record and that’s a fantastic thing, the idea that you can grow as a family, past blood and commit it to song is something not always easy to catch but, 311 have done
it here and the result is a record that has no pretention, its as real as life and just as large. Being much more than just a group of individuals 311 also has their hands in some creation of other means of expression. in collaberation with Rock Brothers
Brewing, a brewery out of Tampa, they guys’ have made their very own Amber Ale, named after the hugely popular song the ale is all a part of the 311 life style which also includes various cannabis products.
The Grass Roots Uplifter a disposable/recyclable vaporizer with half a gram of pure CO2 oil. They also throw a 311 cruise every other year, a three thousand people party with tons of bands. On those off years they throw a 311 day which is a sort of convention for all things 311 and the 311 life style.
Regardless to their busy schedules and all the things they have going on in their lives the guys are all involved family men, the song “Inside our Home.” is an exploration of that. “It really is a family song and I guess I always wanted to write a song on that subject but, its hard to find a cool way to say it but, it really came out nicely and its a huge part of out lives you know, all the guys in 311 are married and four of us
have multiple kids so you know things have changed for the better.” I couldn’t be more excited for an upcoming record, with all the talent behind these songs “Mosaic” has the
potential to be 311’s biggest album yet which is no small feat. The songs that we had a chance to hear were nothing short of fantastic. An extra shout out to
the guys for talking with us, Mosaic out this June 23rd.

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