It’s been 15 years and seven studio albums since the formation of 311, and with the release of the band's eighth studio album, Don’t Tread on Me, the band members feel as if they have finally found their sound. According to vocalist SA Martinez, they stretched themselves individually more than on any previous effort.
“This record is a lot more natural. It’s definitely, I think, our most well-rounded record as far as songwriting goes” says Martinez, “The songwriting in general has been more established. It’s a more melodic record for us and I think our fans appreciate it. I’m really looking forward to this whole next phase.”
This phase for 311 consists of at least a year’s worth of hard touring. The band began its summer tour just weeks before the August 16 release of Don’t Tread on Me, and found fans to be receptive to the more melodic side of 311.
After 15 years of performing together, the members have remained as close-knit as when they started. The band is comprised of all of its original members, with only one or two of the members taking time to work on side projects. “We’re able to express everything we want to express within our band. There’s not a lot of desire amongst us to do outside projects. But it’s never out of the question” says Martinez. “We have a lot of great chemistry between everyone in the band, and great communication. We’re able to get through any obstacles that might pop up. The great thing is that there aren’t too many”.
Through this chemistry, 311 has worked over the past two years to put together an album that accurately serves as an indication of its growth and maturity. “Early on, obviously, the songs were maybe more energetic. They were more youthful. We’ve become more comfortable in doing more melodic songs” Martinez says.
Though the album focuses more on melody than the trademark steady raps by Martinez, the band seems to know that its old school style that gets fans amped at the shows. On August 6, Salt Lake City welcomed 311 to the USANA Amphitheatre, where the seats and lawn were littered with screaming fans. 311's members recognized Salt Lake City as one of their favorite places to play, and thanked their fans with a killer show of unrelenting energy.
“We love Salt Lake City” says Martinez, “That’s one of our strongest fan bases. Ever since Zephyr Club we have had a lot of mutual respect for that city. We always make it a point to get Salt Lake early on in the tour because it’s one of those charges for us. It gets us reinvigorated so to speak, to begin a tour. The fan appreciation there is overwhelming all the time. We love it. It’s almost like a second home for us”.
Perhaps the best element of a 311 is concert is that though the band has experienced a number of radio-friendly hit singles, its members don't neglect their roots or the old school fans who were with them from the beginning. Much of the band’s performance in Salt Lake City consisted of older, more energetic songs that newer fans may not recognize. The band’s ability to cater to both generations of fans when touring is perhaps one of the main reasons why they sell out shows and maintain a strong fan base. “I’m always amazed that the turnout is what it is. That’s something we are definitely blessed by” says Martinez.
311 will continue to tour throughout the course of the year, and if the record sells well, then they will head into another year of touring. “That’s really going to be the main objective, is to get the word out and get out and stay out on the road as long as possible” Martinez says.
In the meantime, Salt Lake fans can rest easy after the amazing performance 311 provided them, and hope that when the craving sets in to see the band again, they will be scheduled to play their “second home.”