Dreams do come true my friends. I’m not talking about myself getting to speak with the lead singer of a band I’ve literally followed since adolescence. I’m talking about a band from Omaha transitioning their already enviably career into an interactive lifestyle.
If you don’t know who 311 is I imagine you’re under the age of 21 or sad. Both are fine.
311 has been spreading posi vibes with mostly the same band members since 1992. Hailing from Omaha, Nebraska, these five men have carved out a pretty sweet life for themselves. They’re the kings of the American summer concert circuit and maitre d ‘s of the most chill party that never plans on stopping.
I had the privilege of having a conversation with Nick Hexum. I only had five questions because I’m a millennial and I know plenty of people have stopped reading already. If you should continue reading, you’ll find that Nick loves his friends and family and is more committed to the unity than anyone could expect a person to be. If you’re feeling this, make sure you check them out on Sunday at Jiffy Lube Live for the Endless Summer tour with The Offspring and Gym Class Heroes.
If you’re broke because it’s the end of the month and you spent all your money on Labor Day snacks, here’s my 311 Fantasy Hologram Tour Playlist on Spotify.
Brightest Young Things: You guys have been together for almost 30 years now. That’s 30 scandal-less years. How did you make that happen? Is it because you’re from Omaha with really great family values or just because you knew developing a career that was worthwhile?
Nick Hexum: Did you say scandalous? Oh, you mean without scandal? For a minute I was like “Oh, like scandalous…. like really? You got the wrong band there.” We’re pretty pretty chill.
BYT: Yeah. You’re pretty chill. You’re wholesome. Like the quinoa of bands.
Nick Hexum: Hey, I’ll take it. I would say that’s probably one of the things that I’m proudest of that we are just, I guess getting along. You know people ask me that. “What are the secrets of longevity?” You have to be ready to get your way and respect the group conscience of what everybody wants to do.
There’s been plenty at times I didn’t get my way, maybe sometimes when I should of, but you just need you take the love of the band’s overwhelms any individual egos or desires and you know we just know that we stumbled on a very special lineup and in chemistry that we’re better together than we’ve been on our own. So we take care of it.
BYT: It seems to me like you are ultimately getting your way. On your Wikipedia page, there’s this wonderful section titled “Lifestyle Branding.” And they mention how you guys have transitioned into creating the Amber Beer, vape pens, the cruises and the 311 parties. What’s the new move for you guys? Am I going to see a champagne? What’s next?
Nick Hexum: We’ve got a really amazing suite of CBD products coming that I’ve been really working my ass off on because I just believe in it so much. It really happened from really helping my mom out when she was going through stem cell treatment and chemo to treat her multiple myeloma which is a blood and bone marrow cancer. I really got educated and helping her get through that tough time and now fortunately she’s in full remission. I was really able to help her keep her aches and pains much more manageable and help with her appetite and stuff like that through cannabis products. So it’s something I’m passionate about. I believe everybody in the bands you enjoys CBD. So that was kind of the next thing.
As far as how do we go about having any kind of product, 311 is a lifestyle. So it just happened gradually from first having 311 Day which turned into our convention where people come from all over the world, hanging with all the 311 fans. Of course we have a really exhausting show and everyone comes for the deep cuts and to really get their fill of hardcore 311 for the year. The cruise just seemed like a, “Wow, you know people like having a vacation. Let’s provide them an amazing vacation!” Now the beer – we’ve been talking about having a beer for 20 years. That finally really came together 2-3 years ago because we could never find the right partner. Now that we’ve done our second beer – Beautiful Disaster – which is a much more limited availability.
BYT: Wow! I haven’t heard about yet! What style of beer is this?
Nick Hexum: It’s an IPA that has instead of 311, its 11.3% alcohol so it’s really strong. That was P-Nut’s baby. I think he used a little kumquat in there for some fruity offsets – I mean he just loves it. But that only comes out once a year and then it’s gone.
BYT: And this is coming from the same brewer that you’re using for the Amber Beer?
Nick Hexum: Correct, Rock Brothers down in Tampa. They’re our brewing partner and they’re just awesome.
BYT: Oh fantastic! I’m very excited about that.
So, I am a young black woman from the suburbs and I recently went to a party here in Washington D.C. Somebody dropped an “Amber” remix I had never heard and the entire club went crazy.
Nick Hexum: Whaaaaaaat! And people reacted? You should have caught a video or something. I’m going to Google that. I did a couple remixes back in the day when it first came out. I wouldn’t think it would be anything that would rock a club right now.
BYT: Right? But you do, which is kind of crazy to me. I wonder, I guess I was surprised that the black community is really aware of what’s happening with 311 right now. When did you realize that you guys had made it, that you are reaching so many people and you’ve actually created your tribe?
Nick Hexum: It’s been so gradual. I mean there’s been little pivotal moments where it felt like what we really got something here like when I received a fan letter where they said “Nick, 311 is to me what The Clash is to you.” The Clash is my favorite band of all time. That’s such an accomplishment, to be someone’s, you know, everything.
This is such a beautiful thing and I guess that gets back into the longevity. We really never take that for granted and we stay we stay grateful for what an opportunity is to be able to just express ourselves and people relate. You know people crave relating. They want to feel understood. That’s why we seek relationships is because we want to relate. It’s the key word. So what music does is it help you identify your emotions and share an experience and explain yourself and other people, “Wow someone is going through the same thing. You have the same feelings I have.” And that’s something that only art can provide. And for me music does it better than any other medium.
BYT: Speaking of media, you guys have been a part, probably not by your own volition, of Eric Andre’s Investigate 311.
Nick Hexum: 311 was an inside job.
BYT: How did you guys find about it? How do you feel about this whole thing? I know you were on the show. You were all tied up. Didn’t know what to do.
Nick Hexum: The waterboarding thing was actually a stand in. I did not get waterboarded. That was Hollywood magic. But they did he did jab me in the balls with a rubber baseball bat. That was true. That was very shocking and unexpected. It was a lot of fun.
We kept hearing how he would drop references to us in his show. Everyone kept saying “What is what is their deal with 311?” And so then when he wanted us to be on the season finale we were like “Okay??” And they were like “He’s gonna mess with you when you perform.” So we checked it out like “Okay, this is alright.” This is like Jackass taken to the next level. Just rude behavior and destruction like that sort of very punk rock humor. And so now we become friends.
But the experience was very unexpected. They didn’t really explain how much they were going to mess with us as we perform. But we just kept a good sense of humor. Maybe a few bruises and scrapes from the whole experience. They were like beating the crap out of us with like rubber bats and stuff so it was not painless.
BYT: You seemed more prepared than a lot of people that had been on that show.
Nick Hexum: He likes to ambush. But since then we’ve become friends. He invited me to his quinceanera which was his 15-year-old themed birthday with his princess dress which he had a club in Downtown L.A. a couple months ago. That was just completely out of control. He came up in a horse drawn carriage and he had this huge princess dress on and a wig. I Tweeted a picture of him and he was in drag. Because our birthdays are pretty close, he said it was my birthday too.
— Nick Hexum (@NickHexum) April 8, 2018
BYT: You’re on tour with The Offspring and Gym Class Heroes right now and you just covered “Self Esteem” by The Offspring. I love that they covered “Down.” But we’re in 2018 and you can basically go on tour with anybody you want, hell even their hologram, and they can also cover you. Who would you have fantasy hologram tour with or fantasy hologram cover your songs?
Nick Hexum: Paul McCartney is coming to mind even though he’s still with us so we may be have him in the flesh. You know he’s just a role model for me because he is such a well-rounded musician. The songwriting is second to none at all. From the guitar and the bass and the singing and arranging, I have such a respect for somebody that that never stops progressing. I would love to do a song with him and probably something brand new that the world has never heard. So, Paul if you’re reading this, give me a call.