Having recently released Uplifter, its first CD in nearly five years, the pop-rock sensation returns to the Borgata with Slightly Stoopid on Saturday night

By Ed Condran
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Nov. 19, 2009

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The band 311 doesn’t have to record another album. The veteran pop-rock group could tour and pack venues for the foreseeable future and, in recent years, has been going out without product to push.

“We have a very loyal base of fans,” vocalist-guitarist Nick Hexum tells Atlantic City Weekly. “It doesn’t matter if we have new songs or what they sound like. We get a lot of support and have been fortunate enough to have that for years.”

Nevertheless, 311 has released Uplifter, its first album in nearly five years. The disc is a bit of a departure for the group, which will perform Saturday night, Nov. 21, at the Borgata, with co-headliner Slightly Stoopid.

Uplifter, which came out in June, is 311’s most muscular album to date. Producer Bob Rock (Metallica, Motley Crüe) was behind the mixing board. “We don’t want to repeat ourselves,” says Hexum. “We don’t want to go out there and make the same album over and over again. Some albums are funkier, some are poppier, and some are heavier. No matter what direction we go in, we try to make the best album that we can.”

The group, which formed in Omaha 17 years ago, has been remarkably consistent. 311 has yet to deliver a clunker since it formed. After releasing its eponymous disc in 1995, which included the alt-rock hits “All Mixed Up” and “Down,” the group crafted a number of ambitious albums, such as 1997’s Transistor and 2001’s From Chaos.

Each disc was split between commercial and adventurous tracks (the same can be said for Uplifter). 311, which also includes vocalist/DJ S.A. Martinez, guitarist Tim Mahoney, bassist Aaron “P-Nut” Wills and drummer Chad Sexton, continues to combine rock, rap, funk and reggae in the mix. The band still delivers catchy, fun, smart and socially conscious lyrics. However, Uplifter contains the most visceral songs the band has recorded to date.

“We try to make things interesting for our fans and for us as well,” says Hexum. “We’re constantly challenging ourselves. We’re always trying to move forward.”

The group’s sonic attack, two vocalists, trebly guitars and a tight rhythm section, hasn’t changed. The band’s familiar sound is akin to an anchor. “I think you know 311 when you hear us, which is a good thing,” Hexum says. “But it doesn’t sound like the same song every time, which isn’t easy. We step out in different directions, but we do it with the same instrumentation. You can always tell you’re hearing 311.”

To remain intact after all these years is notable, especially since many of the group’s peers are often shuffling lineups.

“I think the key for us is that we’re incredibly tight,” Hexum says. “We’ve been through so much together. We’ve been through the ups and downs. Not only are we still a band, but we’re all still good friends. That’s what’s been most enjoyable about doing what we do. The camaraderie in the band is still there. It’s important to still have that. It’s been a great ride. We’re close and good things have happened to us.”

311 trusts each other and goes by musical feelings as a band as opposed to overanalyzing its sonic approach.

“We let the energy guide us as opposed to following a grand plan,” Hexum says. “The last thing we want to do is get all cerebral about what we’re doing with music. We follow our hearts and go from there. We all know what we’re capable of; we believe in each other and just follow what’s inside of us. After doing what we’ve done for so long, you get this level of confidence. We took our time with this album. I wish we did that with [2005’s] Don’t Tread On Me. But that was then and now we operate in a different manner. We’re in a really good place right now.”

311 with Slightly Stoopid
Where: The Borgata, Atlantic City
When: Saturday, Nov. 21, 8pm
How Much: Tickets are $49.50

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