[pullquote quote="One of P-Nut's friends was arrested for skinny dipping in a public pool..." credit="Nick Hexum on the genesis of the band's name."]As part of a unique program available to students and faculty of the Musicians Institute in Hollywood, acclaimed artists are invited to be part of their Conversation Series, which includes a discussion and Q&A session with members in attendance. Previous guests include [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Ziggy Marley[/lastfm], Adrian Young of [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]No Doubt[/lastfm], [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Nikki Sixx[/lastfm], among others. Most recently, Nick Hexum of [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]311[/lastfm] participated in this exciting event, sharing his knowledge, personal stories, and words of wisdom.
[photogallerylink id=153465]Being a HUGE 311 fan myself (which is evident though some of my previous posts), I was stoked for this opportunity to hear what Nick had to say.
Ever wondered where the band name 311 comes from? In the late ’80s, Nick Hexum, guitarist Tim Mahoney, and drummer Chad Sexton performed under the name Unity. A few years later, they were joined by bassist P-Nut and vocalist S.A. Martinez. Chad got the reformed band a gig under a new name — The Fish Hippos. Nick suggested they should probably come up with a better name, to which P-Nut proposed 311. Throughout the years, there have been many fan speculations about how they got the name, but Nick explains, “One of P-Nut’s friends was arrested for skinny dipping in a public pool and was brought home to his mom in handcuffs — naked. He was arrested for indecent exposure. The police code for indecent exposure is 311. And that’s the real story behind the name.”
Most of the audience in attendance was MI students, ranging from performers, sound design students, audio engineers, and many more studying fields within the music industry.
Nick’s stories of how 311 got their start proved to be inspiring to the audience, especially to those who are currently trying to make their own projects successful. Nick discussed how the band’s start was “definitely a grassroots thing,” as they recorded their own music, three records, with two going to tape only. Their first EP, titled Downstairs, was recorded in Nick’s basement in Omaha, Nebraska in 1989. They later independently released the album Unity, which Nick proudly recalled, “[We were] the first local band to record to CD, that was a huge thing in 1990!”
[pullquote quote="We lived out in a little house in Van Nuys, and you know, tried to grow weed, play basketball, and practice music over and over."]The band re-located to Los Angeles in 1992, moved in together, and completely devoted themselves to their music. Nick recalls the early days saying, “What was cool was that it just made it so we focus one-hundred percent, and just practice all the time. [We lived] out in a little house in Van Nuys, and you know, tried to grow weed, play basketball, and practice music over and over. It was a cool bonding experience.”
After ten studio albums, one live album, countless tours, including their annual summer Unity Tour and 311 Day celebration, just how does 311 account for their longevity and success as a band? Nick shares his thoughts, saying, “A lot of it is we’re just very blessed, and there’s definitely an element of luck. But I think that we’re really dedicated to our musicianship, we really focus on playing our instruments and working on our tones and chops, and being well rehearsed when we play. We always put a lot of energy into our live shows, that’s always been the thing for us, a very cathartic release, and really just exploding when we hit the stage. I think that was something that set us apart [from other bands] early. The thanks also goes to our fans. We have amazing fans that’ve stayed with us a long time and we don’t have to put a lot of pressure and worry about how our [next] single does or whatever because we’ve got a direct, long relationship with the fans.”