photo by Jena Ardell
It’s 311 Day in our 30th year, what a long strange trip it’s been. All the chances that it took for us to meet each other, and then for all of it to go right – from getting a record deal to today, I feel so grateful. The best thing is – even before there was a record deal, there was a 311 community. From the start in Omaha, there’s been an excitement and energy around the nucleus. I remember opening for The Smashing Pumpkins back in the early 90’s when we were still just starting and being amazed by how much people were rocking out for us. It was unheard of to have a local band competing for the excitement with national bands. We had the craziest pits!
It’s always quite an honor when people tell us they get energy and hope from 311. To know we are fueling people’s fire in life is such a beautiful thing to hear. Seeing people through hard times and being there for them through music is something that is hard to put to words. Over the years, there is nothing that feels as good as doing that.
Thinking back 30 years ago, I was living in Germany on a brief adventure. I called Chad Sexton and he told me he had a bass player; I had been the bass player and I always thought I should be only the frontman instead of doing both. Chad told me they have a gig booked opening for Fugazi on June 10th and the band was named The Fish Hippos. I said, “I would love to come sing for the band, but we have to change that name.” It turns out Chad and Pnut called themselves 311 in a previous talent show and told me the backstory on indecent exposure, and I said, “Sounds great, let’s use it.” I really loved having a number as a band name – it fit the generation X way of thinking and having a mysteriousness about the way we were thinking. We didn’t want to be a caricature of always being one thing. We were between all these different genres with our own mixture, so there was a uniqueness in being a number.
Opening for Fugazi was such a perfect launching because there was so much excitement and moshing. They had “Waiting Room” which was a huge underground hit at the time. It was a primed crowd and we were able to get the pit going from the first song. That’s what it was all about for us – get the crowd going. I had learned that from Jane’s Addiction, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Fishbone – if you can be good at your instruments and fire up the audience with punk rock energy, that’s the magic.
After that night we played everywhere, from polka dance halls, all-ages shows, BBQ’s, you name it. This generated an anticipation for our first tape. I had to take a student loan out in order for us to record it. The rest is history…
photo by Jena Ardell
And now on to our 11th 311 Day where excitable ones from around the world that we have connected with over the past 30 years come together. There’s going to be a lot of nostalgia and with three nights of multimedia, we have some super-cool things in store.
We’re all in this together. That’s what music can provide. It starts with a small crew, a group of friends and then the fans become an extension of that, and we grow together. Let’s really soak 311 Day in and feel the bond between us – knowing you’re in a room of likeminded people that share values, it’s about inclusion and looking on the bright side. Let’s focus on what we have to be grateful for in this life and appreciate what has brought us here. I know that’s what I am going to be doing.
Happy 311 Day!
photo by Jena Ardell
Order your 311 Day stream on-demand in HD from their special 311 DAY shows in Vegas! 3/11 – 3/13. Single night or 3 show packages available. Plus mp3’s too! All info can be found at Live311.com or Nugs.TV
311 will be taking over Lithium / SiriusXM Channel 34, from 3/11 – 3/13 in celebration of 311 Day and 30 years of 311. Includes 311 interviews, a 5 song performance and 311 chatting about other alternative rock artists. Check out the air-time schedule here 311.com/Lithium
All photos by Jena Ardell. For more visit: JenaArdell.com
For all of Jeff Gorra’s 311 features click here – includes interviews, 311 week on Artist Waves and ‘How 311 Changed My Life’ by The Exciteables.
Feature in collaboration with/produced by: Jeff Gorra