311 Going Indie for March Album (Exclusive)

Brian Bowen Smith

The Omaha rockers will release their 11th LP in conjunction with 311 Day, taking place in New Orleans

It may be the band's 11th album, but 311's first new release in nearly three years will be a first for the Nebraska rockers: fully independent.

The band confirmed today (Dec. 16) the upcoming release of its next album, its first to be released solely on its own 311 Records. The currently-untitled LP has a March 11 due date.

Indie status may be a relatively unfamiliar concept for the reggae-tinged rock act after years of being signed to a major label, but frontman Nick Hexum says it's one of the best moves 311 could have possibly made -- especially after forming an agreement with INgrooves, which will distribute the album.

"It's a distribution with services, which is so cool because they let you pick... alright, do you guys want to spend money on this type of promotion or that type of promotion?" Hexum tells Billboard. "It really allows us to feel involved and we can make sure that we're being represented in a way that we want and we think is effective.

"The label system is corrupt; they're so incompetent with their ability to bring any value to the table. It's just a rip-off."

Though little can be revealed about the album beyond its drop date, Hexum confirms that there's a renewed sense of creativity that abounds with the untitled release, which he says was recorded mostly separately in each band member's home studio after its summer tour in 2013.

"It feels less conservative to me," he says, admitting the album takes some "left turns" and will at times explore some "weird" sounds. "But as always, there's a lot of riffs and really good high energy stuff that's going to be great for a live setting. We realized a long time ago that we're primarily a live band, but I didn't want to get too locked into just making crowd rockers. So I think there's a good diversity of tempos and feels and arrangements, lots of distortion guitar and big rocking parts but then there's some trippy, chill-out moments and even some hard rock, like dual leads that some might say could sound like some old classic rock."

The album marks the return of producer Scotch Ralston, who more recently acted as Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros' soundman. Ralston was behind some of the five-piece's earlier releases, like 1997's "Transistor" and 1999's "Soundsystem."

"We asked him to come back and run sound for us, and it really improved our live sound," Hexum explains. "The fans noticed that. Because he did the 'Transistor' album, which is kind of our most beloved fan favorite because it's so eclectic and everything, there was a lot of excitement from the fans about that kind of creativity coming back in with him. So we started talking about new songs and he had so many ideas and just so much enthusiasm that it was like a steamroller of excitement. So we had to say yes to having him produce us. It turned out to be a great decision."

All roads currently lead to March 11 -- 311 Day -- which will be held in its most recent iteration in New Orleans. Along with releasing the new album, the quintet will perform at the New Orleans Arena.