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311's Nick Hexum talks Pow Wow Festival, 'Transistor' and touring with Sublime with Rome




Forget tours. Forget cruises.

If you really want to throw your weight around as an artist these days, you need your own festival.

This year, Dave Matthews Band, Pearl Jam, the Roots, Wilco and Phish are among the bands curating their own multi-day music festivals. This weekend, another group will join them: 311.

The Nebraska stoner-metal-hip-hop group is expanding its annual “311 Day” — a concert and party held on March 11 — into a full-fledged weekend. The first ever 311 Pow Wow will take place Thursday through Saturday (Aug. 4-6) at Spirit of the Suwannee Park in Live Oak. Weekend tickets are $145 through Wednesday or $180 at the gate; single-day passes (available at the gate) are $75 for Thursday and $95 for Saturday. Click here for 311 Pow Wow tickets.

Among the 20 artists on the bill are big names like Deftones, Sublime with Rome and G. Love and Special Sauce. But the highlight of the weekend will be four full shows by 311 themselves, including a performance of their 1997 album Transistor in its entirety.

A few days ago, we swapped e-mails with 311 singer Nick Hexum, above, about the logistics of planning such a huge event.

311 did a cruise this year, and now you’re doing a festival. What was the planning process like for the cruise, and how does that compare to what you’re going through for the Pow Wow?

Several years ago, it became clear to us that the 311 concert experience was becoming more and more about community and shared experience. Fans were loving the shows, but they were also loving being with each other, connecting with the music and with fellow fans, and just celebrating that connection. So, we started working on these event shows to really bring our fans together to celebrate this bond.

We’ve done several “311 Day” events, the 311 Caribbean Cruise, and now we’re about to have the first 311 Pow Wow Festival. They’re all unique events, but they share a common thread. It’s hard to describe, but the energy and love at these events is amazing. Doing any type of event show for the first time definitely takes a lot of work and planning, but it’s worth it becasue we see how much the fans enjoy it. After the cruise, a lot of fans remarked that it was literally the best time they’ve ever had in their life. That obviously means a lot to us, and we’re hoping we can create that magic again with Pow Wow Festival.

You’ve been on the other side of the festival industry for a long time. But since this is YOUR festival, what are you guys doing to be good hosts and take care of the other artists on the bill? Does being an artist yourself change the way you do business with other bands?

Well, a lot of the bands on the festival are bands that have toured with us in the past, so it will be a nice reunion and should be a lot of fun. Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park is also a really unique setting, so we hope the other bands will just enjoy being there and doing something a little different.

You’re playing four sets throughout the weekend. Does that mean you had to re-learn any old songs that you haven’t played in years? What are some deep cuts people might hear?

Yes, four sets. So we’ll definitely be playing some rarities. We rehearsed a lot of songs before heading out on this tour, and we’ve been re-learning some songs on our buses and playing songs during soundchecks of our current tour. With 10 albums, we definitely have a lot of material to cover.

We haven’t figured out the setlists yet, but one of the deep cuts that we’ll be plaing is Tune In, which is a song off Transistor that we’ve actually never played live before.

You’re playing Transistor in its entirety. Why Transistor, and not, say, 311 or From Chaos?

We chose to play Transistor because it’s such a fan favorite, and we just thought it would be the right album to play in this unique setting under the stars, where everyone is camping together and experiencing nature together. Some of the songs on Transistor have outer-space themes and some of the songs are about interconnectedness, so we thought it would be a really good fit for this event.

You’ve been touring with Sublime With Rome, and they’re performing at the Pow Wow, too. Have you spent much time with Rome Ramirez? What’s your take on how that band has evolved in the past year?

Doing this tour with Sublime with Rome has been great. I think the fans of both bands are loving it. Rome is great. And it’s exciting that they’re now playing songs off a new album along with all the great Sublime classics.

311 has had the same lineup since the early ’90s. Could you see your band reforming and reinventing itself if you lost a member, like Sublime did?

We feel really blessed and really grateful to be together in the same lineup for so many years, and to share all these great experiences together. We’re really like brothers. It’s family. And we’re really grateful for that.

-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*. Photo: Getty Images.

[Last modified: Tuesday, August 2, 2011 6:19pm]


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