Holy shit you dudes, I loved me some 311. Right after I discovered what pubes were, I was down so, so hard with those 5 wacky gentlemen from Omaha, Nebraska. I had the fever pretty bad. Like, had enough 311 shirts to last a week-bad. Like most suburban white bros growing up in the 90’s, 311’s self-titled “blue album” was my gateway to their unique brand of White Guy Funkiness. Speaking of White Guy Funkiness, it is second only to White Guy Reggae/Ska in the department of “someone should Timecop back to the time of your birth and destroy your baby nuts” for attempting it. However, 311 managed to pull it off via being absolutely fucking SICK at their instruments and being able to, you know, exercise actual songwriting skills.
Let’s talk about their songwriting for a second. Their songs are about nothing and everything at the same time. From what I can gather, the bros in 311 are into weed, good times, and positivity via good times. I couldn’t tell you what one of their songs is about in the same way I couldn’t describe one raindrop in a thunderstorm. All of the songs are vaguely braggadocious while celebrating the art of being a chill bro. However, I think you could shake a hobo awake from the fever-iest of whisky naps, yell “chill, party, vibes!” at him, and he could write a more cohesive song about vibing at a chill party that Nick or SA could. Now that I think about it though, song’s that aren’t really about anything tend to be less insufferable than songs that are. I’d much rather listen to songs about vague ideas of having good generic times than ever listen to a song that was about, ya know, issues, man! Basically, every song that Crass ever wrote was about something and every song of theirs is dogshit made sentient, granted time/space manipulation, and then uses that power to slap you in the mouth with its shit-wang every time you opened a Christmas present between the ages of 6 and 12. Bummers. Their songs are bummers is what I’m trying to say.
Anyway, let’s take a look at some critical 311 milestones:
‘mirin dem skanky broads with the racial ability of +5 to PIITB
While not their first album, this is the first release where 311 made a concerted effort to become a professional, focused band. Their previous album, Music, while full of musical chops and solid jams, still kind of had the “everything and the kitchen sink/songs that we wrote in a window of time so of course they all go on the same album” approach of bands still coming into their own. Grassroots is definitely a bit more “raw” than the blue album would be, but it is absolutely indicative of “the 311 sound.”
Da Blue Album
Haha. Yep to both of these.
Haha oh man, how much butt pain do you think music critics had when this album was released and started selling like crazy? 311’s self-titled album (or “blue album”) was the breakout release for the bros and they really haven’t looked back. I believe that this is their most popular album to date and that totally makes sense. This is a tight, rockin’ album full of jams about being positive and not staying home and ginseng.
What I find admirable about 311 is, despite being semi-lulzy funky-rappy bro rock, they’ve displayed more integrity than most bands. These same 5 dudes have been playing essentially the same kind of music (a style that they chose to play and enjoyed playing) for about 20 years. Furthermore, they never really fell victim to the “promise that this next album will really capture the spirit and tone of (insert band’s most popular album to date here)” like so many other old, desperate bands who should have hung it up years ago. The closest they came to doing something like this was the album “From Chaos”. However, they get a pass because that album fucking rocks. So, if anything, these bros were able to successfully pull off the “this album will be back to basics” boasting that so many insufferable bands always say every time they release any album ever.
You gonna get caught in a push pit, sucka!
This album was kind of a little bit of a mess. I think the dudes overreached a little bit on this album. They used the “throw everything at the wall and see what sticks” approach. Luckily, there was enough thrown at said wall (21 fucking tracks. Also, hey, remember when albums used to be like 14 tracks minimum?) that you could sift through and find enough quality to make a decent album.
Two things: 1. If we wanted to make a time capsule to show future generations how much of a fucking awkward transition it was from the late 90′s to the early 00′s, we’d need one thing: this video burned onto a Maxell CD-R. 2. Lawl at “Black Eyed Peas namedrop via how they used to be “intellectual hip hop” (read: hip hop liberal 20-something dudes will say they like) b4 they wanted to git dat paper.
My least favorite album. However, I was years into my descent of punk rock/metal/hardcore elitist faggotry and 311 was quickly falling off my radar as being pedestrian chaff so I don’t know how much of that was me wanting to fuck the Dillinger Escape Plan or if it really is just a “meh” album.
Shaq. The Rick ta Life of vaguely basketball-related, Ice T-ian raprock
A return to form, IMO. The early 00’s were kinda rough for 311 as I feel that they were a band that could only have risen to popularity in the 90’s (Primus being another example) via it being a decade of experimentation and being zany and weird and different. So it was good to see the dudes gain solid footing again after going through some turbulence in the form of “oh shit, dem towers fell, now people ain’t down to feel so posi and funky” that many bands had to navigate.
Strike against them = attaching their wagon to Shaq in even the smallest of ways via their video for “You Wouldn’t Believe” and then performing one of his songs with him live (You Tube it). To be fair, if a black guy that big confronted me with demands, I’d fucking tell him who every last fucking Cylon was, unsolicited. So kudos, 311, for letting Shaq mumblerap live with you and keeping a straight face. You did not get Shaq-fu’d. Achievement unlocked.
Enlarged to Show Detail
A Sega Genesis on the tour bus! Bet they were beasts at Skitchin!
In an time of rampant social networking and insufferable “studio update” YouTube clips, gone are the “this is how we live” VHS and DVDs. My tears are endless. I remember getting 311’s Enlarged to Show Detail VHS for my 16th birthday and being stoked out of my FUCKING. MIND. We immediately watched it at my party per my request (it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to, etc.). Some of my friends were casual 311 fans at best so I’m betting that right then and there is when they came to the conclusion that I had to be the most cock-insatiable of homosexuals.
Speaking of homosexuals, has Nick Hexum come out yet? Check the dance moves during some of the live clips and then post to my 311 message board with your opinions and hypotheses (members.tripod.com/311buttblast/10113452.cjb.net).
One of the highlights of the video (besides any time that P-Nut is on screen) is what I like to call the “weed montage.” They get paid in weed on the reg, apparently (or did, times are tight). I’m pretty sure that the dudes in 311 have smoked enough pot that if one of them came on some Bagel Bites, the load would slowly consume that delicious pizza on a bagel via the effects of THC being that ingrained in their genetic code. Also, please fund the Kickstarter I’ve set up for my “Help Me Kidnap and Force the Members of 311 to Ejaculate On Various Things…For Science…Yes.”
Some good stuff. Some bad stuff. Apparently Bob Rock took over producing at some point and that means what you think it means: generic yet technically sound production values, if not lab sterilized mid-level vanilla “meh.”
This was more of an experiment to satisfy my own, personal curiosity. I guess it speaks to my own self-importance that if I stop caring about something, it is probably because it was on its way out anyway and doomed to wallow in fading popularity till eventual retirement. But a quick Wikipedia check shows that people continued buying 311’s albums (not one has been outside of the Billboard Top 10 for the past decade-ish). People still go to their shows, which are held at big venues and not down at you local bar or some shithole, mid-to-small-capacity meth den like the Croc Rock in Allentown, PA. They even have some cruise that you can go on! And it has been successful enough that they’ve done it more than once! I like to think of it as the antithesis of the Gathering of the Juggalos. This is monied bros and chick bros boozing and weeding it up in a paradise to chill bro rock/funk/reggae. The Gathering is meth-dabblers staving off dehydration long enough to stand next to uncontained human feces while clowns rap at a snail’s pace.
Who’s coming with me? I’ll bring the forget-me-nows if you bring the Mike’s Hard Lemonade!
My research yielded some interesting results. I found that I appreciate different aspects of 311 songs now than what I concentrated on in my younger years. As previously stated, I was a bit of a lulzy ska/reggae fan, so I gravitated towards the 311 songs that had more “island riddums” installed. Also, I am a drummer so I don’t know how I didn’t create a jerk-off shrine to Chad Sexton while growing up. Obviously, I paid attention to his amazing drumming and just kind of treated the rest of the band as auxiliary. Looking back now, credit is to be given to Tim Mahoney for writing some really killer riffs. In fact, I think that Tim’s prog inclinations, mixed with Chad’s overplaying/thinks he’s getting paid by the snare hit-style of drumming are what keeps 311 from going “full retard” into the realm of bro rock. They have undeniable chops that sometimes garner begrudging respect from “legitimate” acts and music critics. But fuck those people, they’re smeg heads anyway.
The fact is, if you don’t give a fuck about No Fun Club’ers, or people who are jocking the lamest of 90′s punk/hardcore/post rock, or MetalSucks commenters (so, basically, if you’re a fan of this site) then, yes, 311 admirably stands the test of time. And it appears these dudes have been taken care of over the years and won’t be going anywhere for a while because white kids will always become freshmen in college. I won’t deny that there is a huge nostalgia factor for me, but like I said, I’ve found new things that I appreciate about their songs as well as listening to old, familiar songs with ears that have had over a decade to mature. 311 is non ironically back in rotation on my Spotify. If you need me, I’ll be out back of the Giant trying to 5-0 the curb by their loading dock. Look for the guy in cord shorts with spiked hair.
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