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Sixty seconds with Nick Hexum

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Indy: You went four years between your previous CD, Don't Tread on Me, and the newly released Uplifter. I know some of that time was spent on break, but were there musical reasons for the long gap?

NH: In retrospect, Don't Tread on Me feels a little stagnant. We realized that it was time to shake things up. We didn't want to just hurry and make another album. We wanted to really make sure we were taking a huge step forward, because it's about quality, not quantity.

Indy: Before Uplifter was released, you had talked about the CD reminding you of early 311 albums like Music [1993] and Grassroots [1994]. How is the music similar and different from those albums?

NH: This mixture of rap and rock together kind of re-invigorated us. I know it was something we did a lot in the '90s, but now we've kind of found a new way to do it that feels really fresh to us. It's more danceable, but then there's more heavy [parts], and then there are these shredding guitar solos. Then there's some kind of reggae grooves, even a little bit of world beat, something that we haven't really messed around with much.

Indy: You did Uplifter with Bob Rock, a producer known more for hard rock than your more varied mix of rock, funk, rap, reggae and soul. He's someone you hadn't worked with before. What did Bob do to shake things up for 311?

NH: Seeing as this is our ninth album, invariably bands are going to get into certain sort of ruts and grooves — ways that they're used to doing things. And he came in and it was like, "I don't care how you guys used to do things. Let's try a new way."

At Morrison's Red Rocks Amphitheatre, June 12.

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