July 12, 2007

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P-Nut explains 311
The mainstream underground band goes on tour
By Erica Febre efebre@hippopress.com

For more than 10 years, 311 has been so prominent in the underground music scene that theyíve become mainstream.

But many people arenít aware that 311 was a different band, with different names (including, according to Wikipedia, Fish Hippos), before it was 311. The current members of 311 are Nicholas Lofton Hexum on vocals and guitar, Timothy Jerome Mahoney on guitar, P-Nut on bass, Chad Ronald Sexton on drums and percussion, and Douglas Vincent Martinez on vocals and scratches.

P-Nut (Aaron Wills) tells the tale behind 311ís Summer Unity Tour 2007.

So how did you get to be P-Nut?
Well a friend named me, which is really the only way to receive a nickname; you canít really give it to yourself unless youíre Sting and your first name is Gordon.

We were in a garage band and we were over-emphasizing the physical side of the music .... My friend Boyd said my head looked like a peanut when I was rockiní out. So Iíve had that name since I was 14.

How old are you now?
Iím going to be 33...

So why is 311 doing another Summer Unity Tour?
Unity was the name of 311 before I was in the band. Itís also the name of our second underground album that we released in Omaha. ... Itís really the philosophy of 311 ó everybody together to have a good time and shake off the nonsense and enjoy themselves on a fine summer eve. If weíre known for anything, itís not doing the same song twice, which is good and bad. Itís probably taken us longer to become popular on a wide scale but itís allowed our fans to hold us close. Walking that balance is a good thing, weíre like succesful underground.

Is there any way to still get a hold of those underground albums?
They pop up every once in a while .... We only made a thousand copies of the Unity CD, which was done under our own label, What Have You Records. You can find the songs online, though. The thing to get is the original, of course. Iíve seen them go for $300 plus. ... Itís kind of cool. Weíre like a rare comic book. We even have some cassettes floating around.

Do you have any favorites out of all the 311 material?
No, Iím not that easy to please. Of course, Iím fond of the songs that Iíve had my writing touch on. But I guess every song gets my personality on it, whether Iím writing it or not. Iím always trying to make experimental music be fitting for a good rock song, for example ďCome OriginalĒ off Sound System, is a song that me and Nick wrote together and itís got a really tricky slap part in it that I was so stoked on when I stumbled across it. Thatís really the only way you come up with those brand new instrumental tricks, if you kind of just fool around and remember it and can repeat it again.

When can we expect some new material from 311?
Weíre really just concentrating on the tour but weíre going to start putting out some demos and then furthering the progress of the songs as a collective. Seriously, weíre just trying to remember as many of our other songs as possible to get ready for the tour, which is getting harder and harder as I reach my mid-30. I used to not even have to practice or anything but it was also years ago when we only had 50 or 60 songs. Now weíve got like 150 songs and the last tour we did, we played a grand total of 92 or 93 songs. Weíre hoping to be able to beat that this year.

311
Who: 311, The English Beat, Entrain
When: Tuesday, July 24; Second Stage opens at 6 p.m., mainstage at 9 p.m.
Where: Meadowbrook Musical Arts Center, Gilford
For more information: Music samples and more details on 311 are available at 311.com or myspace.com/311