Interview- How to: Industry vets 311 on the secret to musical success
To all aspiring musicians or hopeful up-and-comers in the music biz, Omaha natives and industry veterans 311 have some advice for you: keep working hard, and your glory day will come. Or will it?
311 came of age in the early 1990s, when the band members drove themselves to out-of-town gigs, financed their own tours, and played their hometown every night. Nearly two years of hard work paid off in a record deal, and the band recorded such classics as "Down" and "Amber" ("whoa, Amber is the color of your energy"). They worked with producers as prestigious as Bob Rock (whose clients include Metallica and Bon Jovi) with a mixture of rock, reggae, ska, and punk to diverse audiences as amphitheater headliners.
But they hit a rock recently when their 18-year relationship with label Volcano Entertainment came to an end, bringing the band, now based in L.A., to a "new phase," according to guitarist Tim Mahoney. Where does a band go when cut loose into an industry landscape that operates so differently then when it first began?
The Hook: Well, you've been around for 20 years now. Are you finally feeling fulfilled and ready to call it a day?
Tim Mahoney: I'm ready to keep it going. We're out of our record contract, and it's exciting to see what happens here. I don't know if I'll ever feel fulfilled, there's a lot of things we've gotten to do, and I don't want that to end.
The Hook: 311 started as a real grassroots creation, so how did you stay true to your music and your goals?
TM: In Omaha, we played every Monday night for a long time until we developed a following. It's always about playing live–- it's easy to get music out there and have people hear it, but as far as earning money, that's harder.
The Hook: With the number of musicians ever increasing thanks to platforms like MySpace, how do you continue to challenge yourself and remain relevant?
TM: There are a lot of people living here in L.A., and it's very humbling to see all these great guitar players, and it reminds you that you've got to work and continue to grow to get better. All five of us are still inspired to keep the band sounding better. Finding inspiration is the key.
The Hook: If it's easier to get yourself out there today, what's the secret to success?
TM: I could go on the internet and quickly hear something new as we're on the phone. Spreading the word about your band is getting easier, but you still have to go out and play and enjoy playing a lot.
311 plays the Charlottesville Pavilion Sunday, October 24. Ballyhoo! opens. Gates open at 6pm and tickets are $35.