In between the five members of 311, five babies were added to the family in the past three years.It's a signal that the two main bands of The Unity Tour are no longer the fresh-faced new kids on the block, still sporting baby fat and mooning authority figures.Now, 311 and Slightly Stoopid are the authority figures.But in a media conference call, 311 frontman Nick Hexum said the two bands are committed to bringing people together through music, old and young. In the same interview, Slightly Stoopid's Miles Doughty said that fans of The Unity Tour range from preteens to those in their nifty 60s. The appeal of these two party bands endures.311 was born back in Nebraska circa 1988 when Hexum and some friends began playing a heady, bass-heavy brew that eventually led to a resurgence of long-thought-dead funk-rock in the 1990s, while the surf-rocking Slightly Stoopid was created in 1985 and was signed to Sublime leader Brad Nowell's label while Doughty was still in high school. In the 1990s, these bands showed that an alternative to hair-rock wasn't just grunge-rockers' nihilistic snarls. There was room for dancing, too.Hexum and Doughty answered questions that ranged from keeping the flame alive to changes the bands have undergone in the past two decades.
So how do you keep it fun and exciting and fresh after all of these years?Hexum: I was reading Keith Richards' autobiography and he really sums it up, that the energy from the audience comes back and makes it exciting and a new experience no matter what. And sometimes when you're out in a long tour and you haven't had enough days off, the sound check might be very grueling. [You think,] how am I going to be able to do this tonight? I'm tired. Sometimes you get sick, whatever. But when you get onstage with the audience there, it's a completely different experience. And you just feed off that energy. And to me, we definitely like to switch up the set lists a lot so it is a fresh experience, but I realize that we're here to be of service to the fans and get them rocking and that, for us, is a nice blend of familiar stuff and then deeper cuts that are more for the hardcore fans. So we just try and make a nice balance. And you know, 22 years into it, I don't feel that's it gotten stale at all.Doughty: When you do show up at each town, the vibe from the crowd is what creates your energy. The crazier the crowd, the crazier the band is. It's still when you look out from the stage and you see everyone going nuts, whether they're dancing, pitting, singing along, it's like that's what fuels the band's fire.Hexum: I wanted to add to that whenever I am like ailing at all, I always think of the quote in a Bob Marley song. He says one good thing about music is that when it hits, you feel no pain. And it just has a healing and energizing power to it.Doughty: Music makes you smile. If you're having a bad day, you can put on some music and go sit outside and it'll put a smile on your face. You know, it's a healing energy.
How do you view your music back in the earlier days and how do you think fans view the music from those days?Hexum: Music is like a time capsule and it really brings people back and I also just love to hear about young people that maybe were too young to appreciate it when it first came out are going back and getting to know our catalog kind of in reverse. But sometimes the message or the lyric isn't quite where my mind is anymore, but I really think that since it is a time capsule, it's important to say it as it was. And music has the power of capturing that feeling, and even if it's not something I'm going through today, I realize that other people might relate with it. So it's fun, because our catalog's so big, there's songs I haven't heard in a really long time. And when we were dusting off some oldies to get ready for some of these last two events we did … we were like, "What a cool song! Why don't we play that live? That was such a gem from the old days."Doughty: It's kind of funny just how everything comes back. Almost 20 years later, the same thing kind of pulls through. Everyone wants to go back to it it was a dope era, anyway. … But as far as the music goes, I think that particular era was just kind of a Southern California vibe as far as the music scene went. You know, it was like from Sublime, 311, Stoopid. All that just kind of made people want to relax down at the beach and not have a care in the world. And I think that it relates in today's music; they want to pull it back in.