311's next album, "Universal Pulse," won't be out until July 19, but frontman Nick Hexum says fans can count on hearing several of its songs live next week at the DTE Energy Music Theatre because the group's goal was "to make songs that were going to be great for live performances."
"This is an album that doesn't have any ballads," notes Hexum, 41, who co-founded 311 during 1988 in Omaha, Neb. "The core of what we do is touring and the live experience, so this album was created to support that — what's going to be fun to play live, and what's exciting.
"So what you hear is a band in the studio, playing, and the album is mixed very naturally instead of going for more compression and everything."
Hexum says 311 and producer Bob Rock, who was also part of 2009's "Upflifter," went through more than 50 song demos for the eight-track set, which he at one point thought was going to be "a concept album about space travel." He promises that 311 is "not going to close the door" on the softer aspects of its sound, but with the band launching its own 311 Records imprint, it was looking for something that would make a greater impact.
"There was a lot of playing, 'Check this one out,' and gauging facial expressions to see how people were responding to" each song, Hexum explains. "Generally the discussion would lead to, 'What's going to rock the crowd?' And ultimately we reached more of a unanimity of, 'Yes, we all love these eight songs. Let's not mess with songs that some of us are kind of not sure about.'
"It was a bit different than the way we usually work, but that's OK. And now that we have our own label, hopefully we can do more frequent albums and give people more music."
311 and Sublime with Rome perform at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 13, at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township. Tickets are $49.50 and $32.50, $25 lawn with a $75 lawn four-pack. Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.
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