Featured Interview: 311
Updated: Nov 28, 2018
311's mark on reggae rock history
I’ve had the great privilege of speaking with 311 frontman, Nick Hexum, over his life and inspirations of making reggae-rock music and what it was like being the lead singer of one of the most popular bands in the genre for over 20 years. 311’s particular blend of distorted guitars, melodic singing intertwined with the addition of audacious rapping, turntables, and unique (but catchy) choruses, make the band an example for young aspiring artists pursuing a similar path.
1. How did it come to be that 311, a band from Omaha, was influenced by reggae music? What reggae bands were really the catalyst of inspiration?
My first memory of reggae music is when I cut class and snuck home to smoke pot and listen to Bob Marley’s Natty Dread back in 1985. It was truly transformative. From then on I was hooked on reggae.
2. 311 has helped bring reggae to a rock / alternative audience. How do you think 311 has contributed in such a fashion?
We always loved rock music, but we needed funkier rhythms than what was happening in rock in the earlier 90’s. Infusing reggae and hip hop rhythms into our rock gave us a unique sound. And, I liked rapping and singing so dancehall singing instantly appealed to me because it has both melody and funky rhythms to it.
3. Your music has been positive and enlightening to the youth of the 90s and 2000s. It has offered something different than what was coming out at the time. What do you think set you guys apart?
We just naturally always had an optimistic outlook.We didin’t relate with the angst thing that was going on when we started. We were like, “ Life is fun! Why so angry?
4. Reggae Rock lyrics are often about positivity, relaxation and being yourself, do you think reggae music is needed more than ever especially with what is happening socially in our country?
I just love how timeless reggae rock is. It just keeps simmering in the underground, growing slowly. And yes, in times of uncertainty, a positive message is needed more than ever. We just keep doing our thing!