311 vocalist Nick Hexum is set to release his first ever solo album, My Shadow Pages, on October 1st. Dubbed the Nick Hexum Quintet, the group is comprised of Hexum, his younger brother, Zach (guitar/sax/piano), Andrés Rebellón (bass), Gary Novak (drums), and Luke Miller (keyboard).
The project originated as a jam band between the two Hexum brothers, but as the music evolved, the duo realized they were developing enough material for a full album. Said to be a departure from 311, Hexum described My Shadow Pages as a combination of funk, jazz, pop, and classic rock. The recent announcement of the record also comes as a surprise to many fans considering most weren’t aware Hexum was even working on a solo album.
“The record really takes its time,” said Hexum when speaking with Alternative Addiction. “I wasn’t interested in rushing anything...it was like, ‘this is a nice groove; let’s have this solo go around the band a few more times.’ That’s been the fun of creating something [as the title implies, My Shadow Pages] that pretty much nobody knew was being done. So there were absolutely no expectations and no pressure. It was about getting back to that making music just for fun attitude.”
Once the decision was reached to release a record, Hexum went to work identifying possible candidates to complete the group. Bassist, Andrés Rebellón, was discovered by Hexum through a Musicians Institute audition and shortly thereafter keyboardist Luke Miller – better known as “Chops” – was added to the line-up.
“They call him Chops because a) he’s got awesome sideburn chops and, b) his chops on the piano. He doesn’t actually play piano on my album; my brother, Zach, plays the piano for it. But Luke does the organ and there’s pretty much b3 throughout, clavinet, Wurlitzer, Rhodes – it’s all super organic keyboards. We wanted him all along and he’s just incredible. He takes some solos on the album and he’s incredible.”
Rounding out the quintet is session drummer, Gary Novak, who Hexum was able to contact through Miller. Novak has collaborated with several artists over the years including Alanis Morissette, Andrew W.K., and Natalie Cole.
“I needed an awesome drummer and the name Gary Novak was mentioned over and over again as one of the best there is. I got his number through Chops and top sidemen like him don’t have agents so they’re kind of hard to get a hold of. He’s always on tour and super busy and highly paid. He did me a real solid by playing on the record. Gary would like to play shows but that may not lineup schedule-wise. It does look like the rest of quintet is available…but I would definitely like to perform the quintet out so I have a different drummer in mind for shows.”
Though the group is a quintet, this is a Nick Hexum solo album; the vocalist is the unequivocal leader and wrote most of the music himself. With that being said, Hexum worked closely with the band on a few tracks and also co-wrote the songs, “Supernatural,” “Once In Your Life,” and “The Getaway,” with producer Sam Hollander (Gym Class Heroes, Train, We The Kings).
“It is a different approach. 311 is a democracy and in The Nick Hexum Quintet, I’m a benevolent despot (laughs). I call the shots. But I definitely collaborated with the quintet themselves. The guys in the band wrote a few songs; a song for driving is the album closer which was written live in the studio. It was a jam that was a chord progression and we all kind of just talked it out. So there was a democratic vibe in sessions like that.”
Despite the upcoming release of My Shadow Pages and the group’s plans to tour, Hexum was sure to state that 311 is and will always be his first priority. In fact, 311 is currently gearing up to record a follow up to 2011’s Universal Pulse. The as of now untitled record is set for a 3/11/14 release date – which most diehard fans better recognize as 311 day.
“We have already announced the record release day which we never do. So it’s coming out on 311 day (March 11th). To record an entire album and make sure its going to come out on that day, we’re going to have our work cut out for us. But everyone feels really confident and fluid. The songs are already pre-produced so all we need to do is review them to be sure that everyone is cool with the parts, and then record them for real. It’s looking good.”
While Hexum has been making music for over twenty years now, it certainly doesn’t appear the vocalist is ready to decrease his workload anytime soon. Between The Nick Hexum Quintet and 311, Hexum will most likely be on the road or in the studio for much of the next year. Tour dates for the Nick Hexum Quintet are expected to be announced soon.