An Inside Look by SA Martinez & Nick Hexum
DON’T TREAD ON ME
SA: Title track. Great melody with a dope rhythm underneath. Slightly skanky, but in a good way. Catchy, aggressive at times, and never a dull moment. Classic 311.
NICK: The title track is about emotional volatility when you feel like your freedom is being encroached upon. P-Nut wrote a sweet dub breakdown for this one.
THANK YOUR LUCKY STARS
SA: What don’t I like about this song? Hmmm….hard to say. So what do I like? The 3 M’s baby; Music, Message, and Melody. ‘Nuff said.
SA: The true origins of this song lie in the fact that Nick has frequented this bar since he’s lived in this city. They also had 311 in their jukebox for quite some time. This song is basically an insurance policy to reserve a slot on their juke for eternity. Hexum hatched this plan like that Simpsons character who always rubs his hands together and says “Smithers….”
SA: Love this song. Chad had this cool instrumental that reminded me of the Velvet Underground’s, “Take A Walk On The Wild Side.” Well, at least the intro. From the pans to Mit’s soloing (what hippies on South Park might call a “crunchy groove”) this song does what this new generation says far too frequently…..”it owns”. Never thought I’d type that. Lyrically I got this song idea from talking to Jen. She is in the process of becoming a licensed therapist and, in so doing, has come to respect the work of a man named Wilhelm Reich. His belief is that any emotion we carry, we must let out. Otherwise, this said emotion will sit within us and manifest itself in ways which may not be good for our health. We create blocks that turn into physical symptoms that initially were emotions we denied ourselves from experiencing. It makes a lot of sense when you think about it. Anyway, I shared this idea with Nick who was kinda on the same wavelength with his lyric “speak easy”. Dave Khane also tweaked the phrasing in my verse by creating a slight pause and then lifting the melody a bit. The chorus melody was something I had been sitting on a few years. Chad showed me the chords in the chorus and I looped them on my acoustic and the idea to marry the two happened. I knew lyrically that I wanted to return to this idea of letting out emotion, to relax and breathe because breath is life. “Nice and easy, and your breathing will be pleasing…” I showed this idea to Nick and he was quick with the rejoinder…”just speak easy, and say what’s on your mind…..”
NICK: I like the play on words here. Many people think of an illegal nightclub (Speakeasy) but this song is actually about speaking your mind. Nice steel drum part played by a Trinidadian man that Saint hooked us up with. The song sounds simple but there’s an unusual 10 beat phrase to the verses in this song that Sexton wrote.
SA: This has to be one of the dopest songs we’ve put together. It is so freaking ill. Musically it slow grooves like none other. We rehearsed this song a number of times and each rehearsal a different melody would appear in my head. Nick was feeling the same way I think. I kept getting these apocalyptic visions, these you and I against the world type scenarios. This track needed something with as much attitude as the music was communicating. Well, it wasn’t long before I realized I was approaching the track from the wrong angle. The concept was cool, talk about what is going on in this world. But, don’t sing about it, rap that shit homey! It’s kinda like that commercial from our youth, the one that went, “‘you got your chocolate in my peanut butter, no you got your peanut butter in my chocolate.'” Well, switch chocalate with Rage Against The Machine, and peanut butter with Sound Garden and you’ll get the idea. And no, it’s not Audio Slave. Enjoy!
NICK: Here’s a song I wrote definitely being influenced by Chad’s style. This song is slow and heavy. That’s usually Chad’s department but this one just popped out on a lark and people seem to dig it. SA delivers the album’s only rap on this song. He nailed it. Both his delivery and his lyrics skewer people who use fear to stay in power. Basically asking, “Can’t you see what’s going on here?”
SA: Catchy? Check. Bouncy? Check. Undeniably catchy-bouncy? Check check. If The Beatles happened to venture to Jamaica instead of India, this song might have happened. But they didn’t. This song came together on our last tour and upon hearing it, one might think it a simple song. Well, take it apart and realize how nicely crafted it is. Go ahead. It’s built to last.
NICK: This one came out quickly and was written first of the new batch. It’s got a really funky reggae groove going. Nice solo by Tim.
LONG FOR THE FLOWERS
SA: Yes Virginia, there is an outake from Transistor called “Grifters.” And yes, this is the song re-recorded and revised for 2005. The first time I heard this song mixed I was blown away by the guitars. They are so nice. There was a vocal melody on the Transistor sessions that we decided to discard and re-write. I think you’ll appreciate this revision.
GETTING THROUGH TO HER
SA: There exists in this country something so deadly and prevalent, yet so taboo at the same time. It can destroy a persons sense of self, their relationships, their will to live. Chances are, you know someone who is stricken with this yet they haven’t told you a single thing. However, if you were to think about it, you would find warning signs in their personality if you knew what to look for. This song is about child sexual abuse.
WHISKEY & WINE
SA: The one thing I wanted to do before work began on the album was to put together a proper home studio. Really what that entailed was acquiring a desk with rack space, one of those cool synth stands that could hold 3 keyboards, a sweet boutique amp, some soft synths, and some nice guitars. Now that we have the toys, let’s make some sounds! One of the guitars happens to be an awesome PRS hollowbody. Just like Mit’s. Well, it was about midnight, the amp was at a nice low volume, and I had the guitar going through this Fulltone Tube Tape Echo. Let’s say lushness. Again, this was a melody I had been kickin with for awhile but I was unsure what to do with. Well, now that I had the means, I looped it to a Sexton beat, hummed the melody with the progression, and the lyrics just came. Pure gravy. The chorus was next. This kinda just happened by admiring the finish on the guitar. The fact that I was also nursing a little Jack at the time didn’t hurt either. The guitar has this nice whiskey center that fades into a deep bordeaux rim. Whiskey & Wine son. Next it was off to Hexum labs for some touch-ups. He put a tasty guitar line before the chorus and then got in touch with his inner Buju Banton for the bridge. Can you say dope?
NICK: SA has been coming into his own as an instrumentalist with writing the foundation for “Whiskey and Wine” and “Getting Through to Her.”
IT’S GETTING OK NOW
SA: Tim wrote the music for this track around the time of the Evolver sessions, but we never had a chance to demo it. Instrumentally, the track is ferocious. It riffs for days. And yeah, we could’ve thrown a rap on there and served it up that way. Thing is, we’ve done that. It was time to juxtapose something else entirely cause that’s how we rock shit. So I said to myself, “Self, what would Morrissey do?” He might sing about life, he might sing about animal powers, he might even sing about deathbed flowers. Morrissey has been an inspiration to me since 9th grade. I’ve seen him half a dozen times. I love how he’s grown as an artist. His latest release, “You Are The Quarry,” along with his live dvd, “Who Put The M In Manchester,” and his live cd, “Live At Earls Court,” are all must haves. Anyway, back to the track. So, how to approach the song? Well, the melody for me had to compliment the track in some way other than aggressive because the guitars were already doing the talking. I think we hit it on the head with this one. I think you’ll agree.
NICK: It’s nice to have a track that I can just play guitar on. This Mahoney penned track has a light speed riff in the choruses and SA came up with a cool smooth melody to balance out the hard rock riffs.
THERE’S ALWAYS AN EXCUSE
SA: What better way to end an album than a journey such as this one? I love songs like this. Not exactly sure where things are going. Such a beautiful track. It opens on such a fragile sentiment and ends on a cascading testament. Wise indeed.
SA: Well, that about does it. This album was a joy from start to finish. I’d like to thank Jen for the inspiration, Adam & Peter for their daily energy on the frontlines, Gif Tripp for his contributions, Saint for his belief, Jason for keeping a tight studio and of course T & P & N & C. We’re real excited about the future of this band. It’s time for a new era. I’d also like to thank you for your continued support of what we do. Now it’s time to tour and share the love. See you on the road!