The members of the genre-blending rock band 311 found it a bit odd, but very satisfying, to have hits highest-charting album more than 20 years into the group’s career. But “Uplifter,” 311’s ninth studio release, achieved that feat in June, bowing at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 chart.
“We didn’t know what to expect because we took of a break in making ‘Uplifter’ and we wondered if tastes had moved on,” says frontman Nick Hexum, who co-founded 311 in 1988 in Omaha, Neb., and now lives in Los Angeles. “So to get our highest chart position ever was really cool. You can extrapolate from there that we still have tons of fans and are doing just fine.”
311 did take four years between “Uplifter” and its predecessor, “Don’t Tread on Me.” Hexum says that even though the band toured during the interim, the time off from the studio was needed; he didn’t feel the group took “the time to explore and innovate” while making “Don’t Tread on Me” and needed to refresh itself before recording again.
“I think we’d been on such a busy cycle of tour-record, tour-record that everybody just needed a break and needed to live and kind of find ourselves, in a way,” explains Hexum, who took guitar lessons and studied spirituality while, earlier this year, his wife gave birth to their first child, a daughter.
“I wanted to see us get back into that original sort of innovation and discovery that we had in the early days, and I think we definitely achieved that. There was an optimism and a sort of sunny vibe that was going on in the making of ‘Uplifter’ that you can really hear on the album.”
311 and Kottonmouth Kings perform at 7 p.m. Thursday (Nov. 19) at the Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave. Tickets are $46 and $36. Call (313) 961-5451 or visit www.livenation.com.
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