311 Celebrates 20th Anniversary of MUSIC Album
An Interview with Nick Hexum
MUSIC Track Listing:
2.) Freak Out
7.) My Stoney Baby
8.) Nix Hex
10.) Feels So Good
11.) Do You Right
12.) Fat Chance
Release Date: February 9th, 1993
Record Label: Capricorn Records
There has always been any number of reasons, and excuses, for bands to fail in the music business. Whether it’s the increased value place on immediate results over potential longevity, digital downloads, those “talent/singing” shows or the short-lived satisfaction of that all-to-important single, the industry has moved more and more towards a “what have you done for me lately?” mentality.
Likewise, it seems there is no rhyme or reason for who makes it “big” or who gets to have a “hit” song or record. And, even with a hit a song, there is no guarantee a band will survive the public’s ten second attention span, as they flip through iTunes and top-40 radio. Still with all these obstacles there are those bands that have found ways to stand the test of time—they continue to actively tour, pump-out albums, and sell out the nation’s best venues. One such band is Omaha, Nebraska’s alternative-rock mainstay, 311.
February 9th, 2013 marked the 20th Anniversary of 311’s official debut full length album, “Music.” Although the band had recorded several EP’s and at least one full-length album prior to the album, it was “Music” that propelled 311 into the mainstream for the first time. The album was recorded in December 1992 and January 1993 at Ocean Studio in Burbank, California, and released via Capricorn Records. The album was certified Gold in 1999, after having sold over 500,000 copies.
Given the band’s relatively large, and growing song catalog, 311 took a “greatest hits” approach when creating “Music.” They picked the best songs from the previous five-plus years and added a handful of new songs not included on 311’s previous independent releases to create “Music.”
“… (For a debut album) it’s all your best ideas from your formative years purged out in one big youthful explosion,” says 311 front man Nick Hexum. However, even though the album included several previously recorded tracks, nearly all those songs were changed. For example, the lyrics of “Do You Right” were almost completely changed and the breakdown in “Plain” was changed, along with a rearrangement of the song’s lyrics.
“Music” was the band’s first experience working in a professional studio and there was natural excitement among band members. “We were so excited to be in a big studio that we just kept running into the live room and rocking out. Eddie Offord, our producer, said patiently (in his English accent) ‘Gentlemen, when you’re ready, we really need to get this recorded!,” says Hexum.
Along with the big studio environment the recording process was also very new. The band worked with new recording methods and technology. “We had just got our first sampler and dropping in 808’s and interludes was a brand new world. I think it turned out great considering how novice we were,” reflects Hexum.
A Bold Mix of “Music”
The legacy of “Music” lives on in various ways. Many of the songs featured on the album are considered “classic 311,” and many long time fans cite the album as 311’s best work. “I think we knew we were making something special that would stand the test of time,” says Hexum.
There is really no way to categorize “Music” into a genre. The album is a little alternative, mixed with ska and reggae, and a dash of rap and funk. Songs like “Do You Right,” “Freak Out,” “My Stoney Baby,” and “Feels So Good” continue make the band’s live set list, even after twenty-plus years in the rotation. .“It (Music) was such an audacious mix of styles and we were so confident about it we just couldn’t wait to get on the road and play it for people,” reflects Hexum. The original recordings of the albums “Hydroponic” and “Unity,” featuring songs “Freak Out” from 1992’s “Hydroponic” and “Feels So Good” from 1991’s “Unity,” are highly sought after by fans and considered collector’s items.
Along with the songs that make-up “Music,” the album’s cover art has stood the test the time. The album cover displays the usual information, like band name and album title—but, it also prominently features a baggy-pant wearing and hoodie-rocking, Tim Burton-type character.
Reflecting on the album art, Hexum shares, “…I do know that a news photo from the 40’s has been unearthed recently that looks eerily similar to the guy cover art. We nicknamed the kid on the cover Herb.” “Herb” has not gone unnoticed by fans. A quick cruise of 311 fan Facebook pages, like 311 Familia, show fans doing their best poses as Herb.
Making Music, Since “Music”
In the twenty years since the release of “Music,” 311 has released nine studio albums, with half of them earning Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certification. These albums include 1995’s triple platinum selling “311,” known as the “Blue Album” and 1997’s platinum selling “Transitor.” 2011’s “Universal Pulse” peaked at number seven on Billboards Top 200 and continued 311’s streak of consistently strong debut showings in the charts.
In addition to the studio albums, 311 has released a couple compilation albums and one live album—1998’s appropriately titled “Live.” While much about 311 has stayed consistent over the years, there are at least a couple things that have changed since the release of “Music.”
“The first thing I notice when I hear the early records is how our voices sound—(they are) higher and clearer. After 1800 plus shows the vocal chords invariable change. I think I like the huskiness better now,” says Hexum. “Here’s to twenty more years!!”
Watch: 311 – “Do You Right” Official Music Video: