It’s been nearly four years since category-defying band 311 has released an album, but fans expecting to hear some of the new songs during this summer’s tour will have to wait until the record’s release in early 2009 to listen to the new licks.
While the band has already recorded about half of the tracks for their new album, bassist Aaron “P-Nut” Wills says the band will refrain from adding them to their setlist while on a 34-date, three-month tour with Snoop Dogg.
“It’s kind of unfortunate. It would be nice if we could, but I don’t know if that’s really the point [of the summer tour], to air out new songs,” P-Nut says during a recent phone interview. “Playing a brand new song for an audience who hasn’t heard it once can be hit or miss and it’s kind of like throwing out information a little too early. So we’re shying away from it, even though it would be really fun to play those songs.”
While the lack of fresh material may be somewhat disappointing to fans, it has not stopped them from swarming to see the Nebraska-born band. 311 has developed one of the most loyal tour fan bases today,
based on a rep for rowdy live shows and a history of hits like “Do You Right,” “Down,” “All Mixed Up,” “Don’t Tread on Me” and their cover of The Cure’s “Love Song.” Earlier this summer, drummer Chad Sexton likened the following to that of the legendary Grateful Dead.
P-Nut attributes the phenomena of their following to their steady diet of tour dates every summer.
“We knew that’s when the dead toured, they didn’t tour in the winter. That’s when people have more free time, so they can travel if they want to come see multiple shows,” he says. “It makes sense just given the society we live in. Summer’s more easygoing and lends itself to more entertaining possibilities.”
One of those “entertaining possibilities” is the presence of hip-hop artist and emcee extraordinaire Snoop Dogg.
“Snoop is the master of ceremonies like no other. He has a good time all the time and you can tell. He creates this really great atmosphere for us to come out and tear the roof off every night,” says Wills.
Following the tour, the band will head back into the studio to polish off their as-of-yet-untitled album being produced by Bob Rock (Metallica’s Black Album, Mötley Crüe).
Wills believes the break for the summer tour will allow a little more examination of their latest recordings compared to previous all-in-one-shot sessions.
“We wanted to live with the songs for a while rather than just polishing up demos. Give it a full arc instead of it being a point a to point b, let it generate its own personality,” he says, stating his early appreciation for some “soulful” songs from frontman Nick Hexum and some heavy-hitting compositions by Sexton he simply calls “money.”
“It’s kind of a weird way to make an album, but I feel like if it’s going to last forever, then you should learn to live with it as an artist for a while.”
- 311 performs with Snoop Dogg and Fiction Plane at Nissan Pavilion July 20. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster and range from $31 – 52.50, with special $10 seats released this Friday (see story below). For more information on 311, visit 311.com.