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311 Is Evolving

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On its eighth album, Don't Tread on Me, 311 wraps up the past 15 years with a familiar-sounding set of new songs. Only this time, they're coming through a group of relatively thoughtful, responsible thirtysomethings. "It does have a mature sound for us," says S.A. Martinez, the rapper who also shares singing duties with Nick Hexum. "We've been dabbling with that for years, but we've brought it to the surface on this record. It serves its purpose. It really fits the songs."

For the past decade and a half, 311 has been brewing a modern-rock stew of jam-band grooves, reggae riddims, and rap-rock choruses.The five guys grew up in Nebraska as boyhood friends, and to this day, maintains Martinez, they're still a close-knit bunch. It helps that each member has his own bus on tour. "We do need our distance once in awhile," he says with a laugh.

Since 1993, 311 has racked up an impressive string of modern-rock radio hits (including "Down" and "All Mixed Up"), while its albums continue to reach the Top 10. Martinez equates the band's success to that of a sports franchise. "Great teams have role-players who know their roles," he says. "That's what's kept this engine going."

According to Martinez, Don't Tread on Me sums up the first chapter of a career that has many more phases to come. "It's a really good reflection of where we're at right now," he says. "We'll continue to grow more melodic and more mature. It's just coming more naturally these days."
Sat., Aug. 5, 7 p.m.

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