Music 311 is a blend of rock, reggae, hip-hop and funk. It has earned a massive grassroots following for its celebratory live shows.
Nick Hexum founded the band in the late ’80s in Omaha, Nebraska, with bassist Aaron “P-Nut” Wills and drummer Chad Sexton. Doug “SA” Martinez joined in 1992 as a second vocalist and turntable player.
311 combines rock, rap and reggae to create their unique sound. They started out in Omaha, Nebraska and now reside in Los Angeles.
Few 311 songs hold together as well as this one, a catchy pop number that features a legible melody and none of the sudden shifts in tone that make so many of their jams hard to listen to. Hexum and Martinez float around the song’s signature scratch-funk riff deftly, toasting and pulsating without overwhelming it.
This is the first song that radio stations picked up on, helping it reach #1 on Billboard’s Modern Rock chart. It was also a hit on MTV.
Don’t Tread On Me
It takes a lot to stand out in a band as cluttered and genre-crossing as 311. But they pull it off here with an easy-grooving War or Santana homage. The song also proves that vocalist Nick Hexum and rapper SA Martinez have an easy-going chemistry that can make the group sound surprisingly relaxed.
Music marks the moment when 311 began to establish themselves as a live act, a trend that continued with 1998’s Transistor and 2001’s From Chaos. It’s also one of their hookiest, least convoluted songs. Hexum sings a sweet love song hooked to a punk-rock chorus, and the track’s nasty riffs feature dueling guitar solos in a Santana mold.
311 have sold over 8.5 million albums in the US, with 9 singles reaching the Top 10 on Billboard’s Alternative Rock radio chart (including the #1 hits Down, Love Song and Don’t Tread On Me, as well as Amber, All Mixed Up, Come Original, Creatures For Awhile and Hey You). 311’s unique sound is a hybrid of rock, reggae, hip-hop and funk.
The band’s self-titled breakthrough album showcased 311’s hookiest, least convoluted material, with the sly-funk riffs of “Purpose” still among their best.
Since their 1992 signing with Capricorn Records, 311 has released an album a year and toured relentlessly, developing a massive grassroots following & headlining massive summer concerts (called “Unity Tours”) in ampitheatres across the U.S.
All Mixed Up
In a career that has spanned two decades, 311 have released an incredible nine studio albums, all of which have reached at least the top ten on the Billboard charts. Their 1995 debut full-length album, Music, catapulted them into the mainstream, establishing them as a successful band in their own right.
All Mixed Up delves into the complexities of navigating different cultural identities and the importance of belonging in today’s society, empowering multiracial individuals to find beauty in their ambiguity. The song also touches on the fragility of relationships and self-reflection.
There’s no rhyme or reason for who makes it in the music business. Even with a hit song and an enthusiastic fan base, there’s no guarantee your band will survive the public’s ten second attention span as they flip through iTunes and top-40 radio.
After releasing several EPs, 311’s debut full-length album Music propelled them to mainstream recognition. Its opening track features squeals of feedback with contrasting chords lingering in the background before 311’s guitars lock-in with one of their most legible melodies. It’s a moment that highlights the band’s versatility despite their distinctly unique sound.
Creatures (For a While)
Creatures (For a While) is one of 311’s most popular songs. The band wanted to send a message to their fans that, despite their success and fame, they were still human and experienced their own set of struggles. The song encourages listeners to live life to the fullest and embrace their uniqueness.
Although 311 broke out during the ’90s rap-rock movement, they have since managed to elude easy categorization. Their sound combines chugging hard rock, playful hip-hop, and woozy, tropical psychedelia. The band’s diverse musical influences and devotion to their audience has helped them forge a long-lasting career.
Released as a single from their album, Uplifter, this song combines ska and reggae influences. It’s an uplifting anthem with a message of staying true to yourself. The song has become a fan favorite and is often included in 311’s live shows.
A sequence for the video for this track was shot for the film version of The Wall but was ultimately cut from the final print. The film sequences that remain advance the narrative, provide a surreal counterpoint, or add depth to Pink’s splintering psyche — but this particular one accomplishes none of these things.