It's not a farewell gambit of any kind, but 311 may be taking some time off when it finishes touring to promote its 2005 album, "Don't Tread on Me."

It's not a farewell gambit of any kind, but 311 may be taking some time off when it finishes touring to promote its 2005 album, "Don't Tread on Me." Frontman Nick Hexum tells Billboard.com he foresees the group taking its first extended break since 1998, when 311 built its own studio.

"It's time for a step," he explains. "I wouldn't feel satisfied if our next album can be so closely compared to our last one. I think it's time for a little bit of a break and a little time away from each other, not out of necessity but as a pre-emptive thing, before we get sick of it.

"At certain points you have you have these revelations of, like, 'OK, this is where we need to go,'" he continues. "I think we need to step back and I need to talk to the guys and we need to think about that for awhile."

Hexum notes that it is "a risk to let your name die down by stepping out of the spotlight a bit. But I feel like our roots are so solid that if we took a little time off, that'd be OK."

Hexum plans to fill his time with other projects, including the LiberalHexum.org web site he launched to discuss global warming and other environmental issues. Musically he plans to return to the ongoing concern of "continuing my musical education" -- primarily by recording reggaefied covers of songs by Nat King Cole, Chet Baker and "a really eclectic variety of stuff," he says.

"I've been doing some jazz standards but also some rock and pop things," Hexum says. "Me and Dryden [Mitchell] from Alien Ant Farm got together and did an Edie Brickell song, so there's a lot of different things."

Whether any of these recordings will ever be released "remains to be seen," according to Hexum, though he says there are "no plans" to do so at the time. Mostly, he says, it's a creative exercise.

"I haven't had the bolt of lightning hit me that I get when I write my best music," he explains, "so in order to keep my chops up and so forth, doing the covers is a great way to practice."

311 is currently touring with the Wailers and has dates booked into early September.