Interview: 311’s P-Nut

'Mosaic' Available Now, Audio of Interview Included at the Bottom

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Photo by Diane Webb - YesterdazeNews.com

311 has been and still is one of the most unique bands around.  For almost the last 30 years the guys have been making music that’s mixed with reggae, rap, dubstep, rock and vocals that hold a twist of hypnotic airy ambiance combined with straight up rapping.

311 released their latest album ‘Mosaic’ on June 23, 2017 then set out on their summer Unity tour and then decided to add a ‘Mosaic’ fall tour which is not that common for them. 311 hit the road earlier this month and I had a chance to catch up with Aaron “P-Nut” Wills today to talk about the new album, the tour and what’s going on in our country.  This was a great conversation and I hope all the fans enjoy a few candid moments with P-Nut. *Audio is included below, due to an audible noise that comes in through some of the interview I’ve transcribed the interview below.

Interview with P-Nut:

YesterdazeNews: How has the new album fan reaction been?

P-Nut: The fans reaction from the new album have been fantastic. They’re pleased with our steady plateau, what they’re used to and their also used to us stretching out and I think on ‘Mosaic’ we stretched out a lot further than we did on ‘Stereolithic’. For ‘Stereolithic’ fan appreciation was more like “oh that sounds like old 311” and for that effect we dug up old tracks, but on ‘Mosaic’ everything was brand new and the last 5 songs we did with Feldman were really brand new. We wrote those right then and there as he works really, really fast on a pace I’ve never been privy to before which is really, really fun like holding onto an inter-tube riding the rapids.

Now you guys worked with a lot more writers outside of what you normally do for your 311 albums and the sound has shifted quite a bit except there’s a few songs in there like “Hey Yo” and “Days of ’88” that kind of bring back the original, classic 311 sound. What was your reasoning for working with so many different writers on the new album?

Well we’ve had the same formula forever. Um I think Nick is really into getting inspiration from different sources and more open to that than he’s been ever instead of being, not in to controlling it so much. So I think it gives us more of a vocabulary and I it gives us more of an opportunity to reach a new audience with these different, like if I am going to use vocabulary then the words we are throwing out and different ideas we are being able to use because we’re sourcing different intelligence’s for our concept and it’s really fun. It’s like having a better design team work for our t-shirts, it’s gonna look better it’s gonna be fresh. The music couldn’t be more important to our longevity and our now. And it’s fun for us to stretch out and work with different artists. I mean, being in Los Angeles they’re everywhere, more than we even know so it’s really fun to tap into that small group of people who can make us better.

That’s great. Now, how has it been for you performing the new music live?

It’s been really fun. Just like every 311 song we really think about it being performed on stage because the chances are we are going to it at some point or another. There will never been an all the way lost album, certainly not after the year we release it. We’ll play all the new songs we want to play from a particular album and then it will get lost. We’re trying to right that wrong right now with learning a couple of ‘Stereolithic’ songs because we are playing so many ‘Mosaic’ songs. On any given night we are playing in between… 9 of those songs of the 15 that are on there. It’s great to have the new foot forward. I think it’s important for us to embrace these new songs and push them on the audience even more than other albums before because they are fresh and we can only play the old stuff so many times before it becomes a loop and if we’re going to make new music and be proud of it, we need to perform it as such.

Have any of you guys grown tired of performing any of the new songs yet?

No, I don’t think so. We took a little break in the summer and we always make it interesting enough that repeating anything would be fresh in front of the new audience. And that’s the point, you’ve got to have.. even if you’re tired, you know physically you are done with it, but just get anybody up in stage and have a reaction like we get from our audience and you know it’s easy to try and recreate something that we’ve done before. Play something fresh for someone or from my point of view from someone who’s played it a thousand times, we play it fresh for someone who’s seeing it for the first time. It’s fun to balance that out.

Looking back at your earliest discography you’ve got ‘Grassroots’ back in ’94, ‘311’ in ’95, ‘Transistor’ in ’97, I mean even up to like… ‘From Chaos’ in 2001, did you guys ever think that after all of these years that the fan base you have would still be so energized by the older albums?

Um, I don’t know. There’s so many ways to see that. Sure we couldn’t have planned it, but then when you look at the trajectory of lots of long-lasting bands the third album is usually that kind of that hook that lasts the longest in the audience and the band can kind of ride that wave forever. Rare is it that a band like Fleetwood Mac, ‘Rumors’ was their 11th album and I think that was the one that really kicked it in for them but that was the 70’s and a totally different time. We still appreciate that youth that we captured on tape in those performances back in ’94 and ’95 when we were young, hungry, breaking rules and writing new pages into the rock ‘n roll song book, if it is even like a paragraph.

When you guys formed, you were in Omaha, Nebraska and it was the late 80’s early 90’s, where did that sound that you guys came out with come from, because I don’t think that people expected that Omaha, Nebraska had this kind of amazing reggae, rap, dubstep kind of rock mix you guys do?

It was Los Angeles more than anything and Jamaica and its way and New York of course. We were listening to a lot of Public Enemy and Chuck D’s performance style can be heard in a song on our first album called “Feels So Good”. That’s out there kind of chopping heads off like Chuck D did and still does. We drew from everything we were listening to, we were surrounded by each other especially after we moved to California. We were forming the sound the first album, I don’t know it was that still, but just got more intense when we lived together in Van Nuys when we first moved out in ’92.

Are you guys as a band and band mates still having fun together or is it taxing at anytime with you guys?

It’s changed of course but it’s still super fun. We love being around each other. We’re still learning from each other, we’re still growing as musicians. Everything’s changed for us personally 180 degrees from where we started. We’ve got careers, lives, mortgages and nothing could be better. Nothing could be better than having a solid kind of foothold into this entertainment career where you’re depending on the appreciation of others and your creative output. And for us to be doing at this level and this long is really, nothing but a blank check for us to keep having fun and keep being creative and keep listening to our audience, keep challenging ourselves like we are doing this fall tour now. Something I don’t think we’ve done in 5 or 7 years. It’s just one of those years to do it. It’s fun to play different cities. We play the summer cities all the time, every summer, summer in and summer out. So for us to go in the fall and see different places and challenge ourselves with the setlist it’s just good for the band and good for the audience. It’s fun, we’re still relatively young.

Being that we are toward the end of 2017 and there is so much going on in our nation, you guys do a lot of travel and you’re out there talking to the fans and seeing people all over our country, we’re so divided right now between politics, race, gender, gun laws, and legalization of marijuana (which is only legal in 9 states in our nation), etc. What is your opinion on what’s going on in our nation today?

There are forces that are really good at dividing us and we’re falling into that trap and it’s hard not to be… you’ve kind of got to pick a side. It seems like the darkness is darker than ever before or maybe we’re just aware of it better than before and maybe it’s, maybe that darkside of our reality, what is in control in this reality is getting cold and it’s hard to say what our good position is and what the intelligent point of view is. Not in some cases like the Harvey Weinstein case that’s obvious. We know the good and the bad of that and anyone defending him should be trashed publicly as well. With politics it just seems like it’s ok to hate people again and I thought we were better than that and I think that’s one of the things that 311 fans can rally around and be supportive of is we’ve got each others backs in a really palatable and obvious way that’s been continuous for 2 decades, almost 3 now. With all this darkness everyone kind of finds their solace in their way. Maybe it’s music for so many people and on this tour with all the craziness going on I am finding myself with my headphones on a lot and listening to tons of music and really enjoying that and kind of watching the scene go by and thinking about the show and trying not to be absorbed by how crazy it’s gotten. It’s scary, I don’t know how anyone keeps their head on straight.

Yea and I think music is probably what a lot of people are turning to and you guys have always had that force of being about unity and I think that draws people to you. You’ve always got this positive light music and I think that’s going to bring, continue to bring a lot of the fans out to you. I mean it’s just kind of a crazy time and music is where it’s at now for that healing moment.

It’s true, totally I mean music, comedy, movies and togetherness and those genuine moments, just shutting everything off and putting your feet on the ground and closing your eyes can be so profound nowadays. When we were kids we would just do that without even thinking about it, just take a time out, but now with everything kind of coming at us we need it and I don’t know… We come from the philosophy and we always have like the Bill Hicks point of view of this is a ride, we’re on a ride and we can make it good or bad. We’re in control of it to a certain degree and we’re certainly not in control of it to a certain degree, but we can control the way that we feel about what’s going on and we can help people see the brighter side of things. We’re going to leave something behind, especially in this group that I find myself in and we as a band find ourselves in. This is important, like um, our time is not infinite and what we leave behind is super important. So to rally people on the positive side of things has always been more of an instinct and a supernatural philosophy that gets us through the hard times just as much as the audience. It’s a reciprocal, fantastic experiment that continues to go on thanks to our fans and our ability to never say die.

One last question, is there anything you want to say or express to your fans who may be reading this interview?

Keep listening, keep trusting us, keep challenging us, keep coming to the shows. There’s nothing more important. We’ve got surprises for 311DAY. We’ve got surprises for these next 3 years. We’re coming up on the 30th anniversary of the band and we’re excited about coming up with some fantastic ideas that shows our appreciation to our audience in a way that makes sense. I dunno, just… stay alive, it’s totally worth it. I just watched the Linkin Park Carpool Karaoke that he did 6 days before he killed himself and that was super, super heavy like man, you just never know what people are going through. We’re all going through something, we’re all carrying around something that’s heavier than we would have ever wanted to carry around, one thing or another. It’s good to be gentle people, your words mean more than you ever know when you are talking to somebody. Then, get outside and put your butt on the ground and shut everything off.

That is great advice! I know you guys are out on tour, looks like it goes through November 4th on the rest of this leg. I hope you guys have a great rest of your tour. And you mentioned 311DAY is coming up and it will be in Las Vegas so hopefully fans will come out in the masses to see you guys and support you out there.

Oh yes, it’s going to be crazy! Huge, huge video wall. We’re making new content that will be something fantastic. I’m excited about it. I’m the biggest 311 fan, I’ve been to every show, so I am excited about our future as much as anybody, probably a little bit more.

Right on! Hey P-Nut,thank you for your time and have a great show tonight.

Thank you so much, we appreciate your warmth and it was fun talking to you.

311 is out on tour now.  The remaining fall tour dates are listed below.  Some shows are already sold out, but if 311 is coming to your city check their date and get out and support them on tour.

10/18 – Cedar Rapids, IA @ Club 5 @ US Cellular Center
10/19 – Grand Rapids, MI @ 20 Monroe Live
10/20 – Louisville, KY @ Mercury Ballroom
10/22 – Cincinnati, OH @ Bogarts
10/23 – Nashville, TN @ Marathon Music Works
10/24 – Knoxville, TN @ The Mill and the Mine
10/26 – Bethlehem, PA @ Sands Bethlehem Event Center
10/27 – Providence, RI @ The Strand
10/28 – Montclair, NJ @ The Wellmont Theater
10/30 – Port Chester, NY @ The Capitol Theater
10/31 – Huntington, NY @ Halloween at the Paramount
11/02 – Baltimore, MD @ Rams Head Live!
11/03 – Athens, GA @ Georgia Theatre
11/04 – Tampa, FL @ Cuban Club

311DAY Weekend is also in the works and will be in Las Vegas, the details are below:

3/9 Friday
LAS VEGAS, NV – 311 DAY WEEKEND
311 Fan Party
Details tba

3/10 Saturday
LAS VEGAS, NV – 311 DAY WEEKEND
Park Theater at the Monte Carlo
A Very Special Evening with 311 to celebrate 311 DAY!
Extended setlist
Ticket is good for both 3/10 and 3/11 shows
8/25 Group Sales (via order form, see Info Page link below)
8/29 VIP Package sales 10AM PST at Ticketmaster.com
8/29 311 Pre-Sale 12Noon PST at Ticketmaster.com
8/31 Public Sale 10AM PST at Ticketmaster.com
Official 311 DAY 2018 Info Page: www.311.com/311DAY2018
Hotel Discounts (8 hotels): https://aws.passkey.com/go/3112018

3/11 Sunday / Happy 311 DAY!
LAS VEGAS, NV – 311 DAY WEEKEND
Park Theater at the Monte Carlo
A Very Special Evening with 311 to celebrate 311 DAY!
Extended setlist
Ticket is good for both 3/10 and 3/11 shows
8/25 Group Sales (via order form, see Info Page link below)
8/29 VIP Package sales 10AM PST at Ticketmaster.com
8/29 311 Pre-Sale 12Noon PST at Ticketmaster.com
8/31 Public Sale 10AM PST at Ticketmaster.com
Official 311 DAY 2018 Info Page: www.311.com/311DAY2018
Hotel Discounts (8 hotels): https://aws.passkey.com/go/3112018

 

About Diane Webb 644 Articles
I am rock music fanatic, writer, photographer & traveler with severe wanderlust. Music, travel and enjoying life is key! Follow me on Instagram: @yesterdazenews and on Facebook: @YesterdazeNewsPhotography