311 has been around since the early 90's creating music for a fervent fan base that's stuck with them for over two decades. With each passing record the group seems to cement themselves as a rock oddity. They haven't had a ton of single success over the years, but they have had a few here and there. That's not where 311 has made their name. They've managed to build a massive fan base through touring and making quality music with full-length records, not just singles.
Coming up this week 311 will be releasing their eleventh studio album, Stereolithic. Talking to the band's world-renown bassist P-Nut about this eleventh studio album, he talked about what that means to him, and why 311 has been able to consistently make good music.
It's been steady," started the bassist. "Every few years we have more stuff to work with. If we stay in writing mode and we release music more often, I think we improve. It's like what we did in the early 90's… the first three albums came out in three years, the first four albums came out in five years. If we keep thinking like that and keep our headspace in that space, we improve. If we take breaks from that it's kind of like starting over.
"With our producer, Scotch Ralston, he keeps us focused, but he allows us to be weird, which I love. We've done some things with our music over the years, inside jokes, idiosyncrasies, things like that. That's why it works for us with Scotch. He's a weirdo, like a lot of sound guys are. They're all great people, but they can be really strange in the best of ways. You can use that in the studio and in the writing process. Then you come out with a unique album because it has all of this personality that comes from who the f___ knows where. We love working with Scotch and it was good to be back with him for this record."
With 311's tenth album, Uplifter, the group worked with Bob Rock to do something different. It was a decent album and it was great to hear the band getting out of their comfort zone, but something was missing; Ralston having a prominent role.
With all of the music that the group has released, they've had the same vein running through all of their releases with some differences from era to era. 311 has kept the same style over the years, but they've done enough from album to album to keep things exciting.
The music has stayed the same, but it's change too," said P-Nut talking about the band's work over the years. "There are so many influences that we draw from, it can even be just on one song. That can keep the crazed listeners entertained who have been with us forever. They can listen to what we were doing when I was in high school and the other guys were in college, and how fun it was. I can do that too and remember how focused we were. We were only worried about what we were doing. We were only worried about the album we were making. Honestly, when I look at our career I can see that we lost that for a while. Now it really feels like we're doing things the right way again. Working with Bob Rock with the last album, and now getting back to doing it down-home style with Scotch, that helps. That helps us see ourselves and really realize how much we need to focus on making the music as good as possible, while allowing it to be weird and off the wall at the same time."
So what makes Stereolithic better than what the band has released over the past decade? P-Nut said he's sure there are songs that people love that the band has put out over the past decade - the albums just haven't been as good this new album or their older releases.
"Stereolithic is the best thing we've done in a long time. I think I can say that pretty easily. Looking back at the recent albums, I think there's a point where you're just not as creative as you were when you were younger. We lived that and when that happens you've just got to live through it. If you're going to be criticized and admired for what you do, you've got to allow that to happen in large and small doses. You just have to stay creative and get it back if you feel you lost it. Most bands don't make it through it and most fans don't make it through it. But we're not most bands and we don't have most fans. They've stayed with us through all this time, we wanted to give them something for that with this new record. This album is going to be a great surprise for old and new listeners.
We'll find out what 311 fans think of the album this week. You can pick up Stereolithic on iTunes and other digital retailers or you can order it from the band's site, 311.com.