Like so many veteran bands, 311 finds itself at a bit of a career crossroads. The alternative rock group's last recording, "Uplifter," reached No. 3 on the Billboard Album Chart - 311's highest position in its 20-year history - but also marked the end of its long-term deal with Jive's Volcano Records.
The band, which is appearing with Philly-based alt-reggae troupe The Movement Thursday, Oct. 21, at the House of Blues at Showboat Casino-Hotel in Atlantic City, is in the studio working with "Uplifter" producer Bob Rock on the band's 10th release.
Ahead of the show, co-founder and lead singer Nick Hexum spoke to At The Shore about the band's creative process and his renewed focus on the music.
Question: Will you be playing any new tracks in Atlantic City?
Answer: In this day and age, if you play something live, everyone is going to hear it that day. Sometimes we like to make sure they hear the studio version first. Sometimes we keep the new stuff under wraps.
You never know, maybe we'll try to bust something out.
Q: You decided to team up again with Bob Rock (Metallica, Bon Jovi) for the new record. What do you look for in a producer?
A: I think the best music comes from an unscripted place, where you set the business aside, and you just tap into that kid who was excited about music and you're following your heart.
If you try to write a hit or what people want to hear, it doesn't work. People give us input, and we definitely listen. But it would be impossible to write a record from a focus group.
Q: You took nearly four years off before "Uplifter." Was that necessary to clear your heads?
A: We felt it was time to renew things and to just live and be normal for a little bit. Now we feel like we're in the zone. New ideas are popping up all the time, and we feel focused.
It feels comfortable making music right now. I think we'll keep following it up faster than we did before.
Q: What does it mean to be "normal?"
A: The road is a kind of a fantasy land where you're constantly busy and catered to. Mentally, it can be challenging, and everybody's on top of each other all the time.
Just being domestic, it's a big part of life. Now I've got a wonderful baby girl (who's 1) that I take care of a lot. That's the challenge - being able to have both worlds.
Q: Was part of finding that balance deciding to give up running your own label and your clothing company?
A: I found it was better for me to simplify my life and just focus on a couple of things - that's songwriting and family and touring. 311 is plenty of a brand - if you've got a big brand and a small brand, maybe it's better to focus on the one.
311 is more than a band - it's a movement. Fans call it the 311 Nation. They come together, it's about a scene. We're watching them as much as they're watching us. Our fans support our more positive ideals and points of view.
Q: Does the movement extend to your getting political from the stage this fall? You were a big supporter of John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election.
A: Honestly, I've backed off that stuff. Opinions vary so widely, and our buzzword has always been the name of our tour - unity. It's very easy to wedge people apart by taking strong stances on various things.
I have strong views, but we keep it out of the music. We want all comers, the more the merrier.
We want to make it a big gathering.
Introducing ... The Movement
Opening for 311 is the Philadelphia-based alternative reggae-rock quartet The Movement.
The band consists of Jordan Miller on guitar and lead vocals, Gary Jackson on drums, Jay Schmidt on bass and newcomer John Bowling on keyboards. (Co-founder Josh Swain, who was a childhood friend of Miller's in their native South Carolina, left the band earlier this year.)
Philadelphonic Studios producer Chris DiBenedetto largely brought together the current roster after original member Jon "DJ Riggles" Ruff, who was featured on the The Movement's debut, "On Your Feet," departed in 2006.
Two years later, DiBenedetto introduced the remaining members to Jackson, who brought in his buddy, Schmidt.
The group is still touring behind its 2008 release, "Set Sail" (One Bald Egg Productions), which featured contributions from Garrett "G. Love" Dutton and Slightly Stoopid's Oguer Ocon.
Miller has described The Movement's sound as being reflective of its members' "personal non-reggae interests," which include The Pixies and below-the-radar alternative music.
WHEN: 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 21
WHERE: House of Blues, Showboat Casino-Hotel,
HOW MUCH: Tickets, priced at $45, $49.50 and $59.50, are available at the HOB box office or