Nick Hexum On Going Solo, Trying Dubstep & Making 311’s Next Album
It’s been more than 20 years since Omaha band 311 released their major label debut album, Music. Combining elements of ska, funk and reggae into their grunge-inspired guitar rock, the group went on to score a series of hits, including “Down,” “Amber” and a cover of goth legends the Cure‘s 1989 single “Lovesong.”
After building a fan community that supports regular 311 cruises (four so far) and even the band’s own annual “day” (yes, it’s held every 3/11), frontman Nick Hexum has ventured outside of the fold to record his first solo album, My Shadow Pages, working with a variety of collaborators to create his own jazz-pop sound for the Nick Hexum Quintet.
“The initial seeds of the project was when I’d been working on my guitar-playing a lot, and my brother Zack and I — Zack is an amazing jazz musician so I’m learning a lot from him — we had planned to have like a just for fun kind of jam band,” Hexum told Radio.com. “We just did some instrumentals kind of in the style of [bands] like the Meters and Medeski, Martin & Wood. We’d also been doing outside songwriting for whatever artist was looking for songs at the time. I was like, let’s just combine these two concepts and write songs for this funk project. So it was real organic.”
Hexum used the opportunity to partner with a number of different collaborators, including Sugarcult‘s Tim Pagnotta (who produced two songs), Better Than Ezra‘s Kevin Griffin and New York songwriting duo S*A*M and Sluggo, who’ve worked with The Academy Is… and Gym Class Heroes.
“I picked up a lot of new tricks, a lot of new funny little phrases, like Tim would say, ‘When we get to the bridge and it gets quiet, that’s the panty-drop section,'” Hexum joked.
While the 311 frontman claimed not to trust himself when it comes to picking singles (“I kind of leave that up to management and the radio team that we’ve put together”), he said that for this album, the reggae-tinged lead track — “Super Natural” — seemed to be the most obvious choice for the Quintet.