Name Origin: There was this band in Omaha called Unity with a guitarist Jim Watson. One night Watson was arrested for skinny-dipping in a local pond. Naked and handcuffed, Watson was taken to his parent’s house and issued a ticket with 311 on it – the local police code for indecent exposure. Bassist P-Nut suggested making that the name of the band.
It's rare good friends make a successful group. Usually, there's a weak link and its either time to say goodbye or that person drags the show down. A group also puts pressure on relationships that make it all the more difficult. But 311 is one of the few groups that’s managed to maintain a stable line-up.
Forming in Nebraska's music capital, Omaha, in '90, 311 is a collection of "friends for life" according to singer/guitarist/spokesperson Nick Hexum. The other "friends" were Rapper/turntable wiz Doug "S.A." Martinez, bassist P-Nut (a.k.a. Aaron Willis), guitarist Timothy J. Mahoney and drummer Chad Sexton.
A year later the Alt./Rap/Rockers bounced to L.A. where they signed with Capricorn Records. Their debut "Music" rolled out in '92 with "Grassroots" showing up the following year. But it was their self-titled third release (a.k.a. "The Blue Album, " due to the deep blue cover) that served as their breakthrough with the mid-tempo "All Mixed Up" and the sonically denser and driving "Down."
Amid a frantic year of touring the group produced what was essentially a home movie of their life on the road. "Enlarged To Show Detail," filmed in Kansas City and Denver, sold over a million copies.
In '97, the double CD "Transistor" hit and 311 set off on a worldwide tour that resulted in the "Live" CD. '99 saw the release of "Soundsystem" with "Freeze Time" and "Eons."
311 confidently rolled through the early part of the century with a quartet of releases. "From Chaos" was on the shelves in '01. It was followed two years later by "Evolver." ’04 had "311 Day: Live In New Orleans." Then the group issued eighth studio album, ’05's "Don’t Tread On Me." The title track went to #1 on the Billboard Modern Rock chart and #1 on Radio & Records (R&R). Subsequent singles didn’t fare nearly as well.
After a break, 311 recorded a cover of Toots & the Maytals "Reggae Got Soul" for the “Surf’s Up” soundtrack.
“Uplifter,” containing the single “Hey You,” arrived in ’09. "It's definitely more Rock than our last two records were," said Sexton. "We explored the sounds that we've done and a few new ones. Our Reggae stuff is on there, our hard Rock stuff, some Funk going on." Martinez called the set “our finest album yet" while Hexum claimed it was the “heaviest 311 has ever been.” It made its debut at #3 on the Billboard 200, the band's highest chart position in the U.S. to date.
Produced by Bob Rock, the set was available in a standard version and a deluxe edition that included a DVD documentary titled The Road to 3-11 Day. 311’s month-and-a-half-long Summer Unity Tour commenced in Bakersfield, CA - a day after the album’s release.
311 issued their 10th studio effort, “Universal Pulse,” in ’11. First week sales put in album in Billboard's Top 10.
Live311, a site where live concerts were made available for download in multiple formats, also arrived.
Hexum took a solo turn in ’13 when he released “My Shadow Pages.” He worked on the album with his brother Zack, a singer songwriter who played both guitar and saxophone. The set blended Pop, Jazz, Funk and Classic Rock.
"Stereolithic,” which P-Nut said had "darker themes,” was also slated for release in '13. But 311's first fully independent effort since their early days was held back until early '14.