After taking more than a year-and-a-half off, 311 is revving back up with a summer tour and a fall studio date looming.
“Morale is really high right now,” frontman Nick Hexum tells Billboard.com. “We needed a break, we’ve been working so hard and long. So, everyone has been doing their own thing. I’ve been traveling and fishing, doing things I do to relax. Now everyone is really jonesing to get back to our primary purpose, which is 311.”
The summer tour, which kicks off June 21 in Tucson, Ariz., with Matisyahu as opener, may indeed include new material. Hexum says the band has a couple songs in the mix. While he’s not promising the tunes will get stage time over the next few months, odds are diehard fans will get a sneak peak here and there. More importantly for Hexum is the bigger picture of where the band is in its album cycle.
“I would say we kind of go through a general cycle of making a more straight=ahead album that comes quickly and then we kind of rotate to more of a departure where we take a longer time making the album and inventing more new styles,” Hexum says. “And albums like ‘Grassroots’ and ‘Transistor’ are more like groundbreaking albums, where the ‘Blue’ (self-titled) album was more like a culminating of touring and came out more quickly.
“So due to that back-and-forth thing, we’re due for more of a groundbreaking, take-a-long-time-with-it album,” he continues. “We don’t know when it’s going to be done. We’re not going to make any deadlines and promises, but it’s time we slightly reinvent ourselves.”
Part of that reinvention has already taken place for Hexum, who has had discussions with his brother/drummer Chad about how 311 needs to follow-up its last effort, 2005’s “Don’t Tread on Me.”
“Chad and I were having a conversation of combining dance hall and funk,” Hexum says. “A tiny bit like ‘All Mixed up’ but much more syncopated. I’d say that the funky, tight, high-energy stuff will come along but I’ve also been doing a lot of really complex finger picking on acoustic guitar in the style of Michael Hedges. But it’s taking influences from all over. It goes from hard rock like System Of A Down to Taproot to Wilco. I’m loving their new album. It’s all over the place with our influences. And, we always love reggae.”