A little over a week before the simultaneous release of a new album and the commencement of their annual 311 Unity Tour, vocalist, S.A. Martinez is waking up from an overnight stay at his brother-in-law’s house in Los Angeles to talk to IN. It takes a few minutes of making jokes and laughing at Martinez’s efforts to become coherent enough to do a competent interview before he is suddenly awake and full of energy as he discusses the incredible career of 311.
It has been nearly nineteen years since the five members of 311 came together in Omaha, Nebraska and began making music. With their ability to unite rock and reggae with a little bit of hip-hop, 311 earned a rapidly growing fan base that evolved into somewhat of a cult following that is constantly welcoming new listeners into the world of 311.
“We have a unique relationship going on between our fans and the band. Our audience has become cross-generational, becoming a subculture of sorts,” reveals Martinez, who goes on to explain that the band thrives on the immense dedication of its fans.
The ability of the band to successfully merge old school fans with new is what has the members of 311 excited to embark upon this summer’s annual Unity Tour. The summer tour began five years ago and has included big-name openers like Snoop Dogg, Papa Roach, and more.
“One of the best Unity Tours that we did was with The Wailers. Our overall impression was that reggae and summertime just go together, and we wanted to get that back together,” says Martinez.
According to Martinez, it is the desire to bring reggae and summertime back together that led them to inviting Ziggy Marley to be a part of this summer’s Unity Tour.
“The lineage that Ziggy comes from, I mean, that’s just cool,” says Martinez, who for just a moment seems a little awestruck by the son of the legendary Bob Marley.
What makes this year’s tour even more unique than its predecessors is the fact that it begins only one day after the June 2 release of 311’s ninth studio album, “Uplifter.”
Martinez reveals that it has been four years since 311 has released an album, which means that the past four Unity Tours have consisted of songs being played that were recognizable by fans. Martinez says that this year’s Unity Tour will be a little different than what 311 has done in the past because the band is going to make a sincere effort to introduce their fans to the new record that, according to Martinez, the band is very excited about.
“It sucks because you can’t play everything. Even for the band, we can’t play everything in one show that we want to. This year we are going to push the album a little more because if we don’t, then we run the risk of becoming a band that is only known for what we have done in the past”, explains Martinez.
“On this album we worked with Bob Rock (Metallica, Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, etc.), who is really talented. He is more of a musician and really adapt at song structure. He would identify little nuances that are atypical for 311 records and add another layer to our sound. This is one of the best sounding records for us in a long time. It will appeal to old school 311 fans and new fans because there is something for everyone,” says Martinez with pride.
As Martinez continues to discuss the new record and this year’s Unity Tour, it becomes evident that 311 is bound and determined to give their fans a kick-ass show.
“We put on a high energy show. That is so crucial and is the key to it all. Our fans love the band and love the music, and that is not lost on us. We do not take it for granted,” says Martinez.
Listening to Martinez go on to describe the band’s endless appreciation for their fans and their excitement to get out and once again bring together reggae and summertime during their Unity Tour, while simultaneously promoting a brand new album, it becomes obvious that this year’s tour is one that will have fans, both old and new, talking for perhaps another nineteen years to come.