311 paves its own road to music success and celebrates 25 years together at Monday’s Oklahoma City tour stop. 

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Twenty-five years is a remarkable milestone for a band, especially when it has the same lineup for most of that time.

Alternative-reggae-rap-funk fusion act 311 rolls through Oklahoma City at 7 p.m. on Monday for stop three of its anniversary tour at Diamond Ballroom, 8001 S. Eastern Ave.

Its bandmates grew up together in Omaha, Nebraska, where 311 developed its unique sound. It focused mainly on edgy reggae-rock until 1992, when guitarist Doug “SA” Martinez joined full-time. From there, it grew to include aspects of hip-hop.

“We carved out our own thing,” bassist Aaron “P-Nut” Wills told Oklahoma Gazette. “We had the ability and the encouragement from parents and friends to pursue whatever path we chose.”

Through the ’90s, 311 established its reputation as a hardworking touring band with high-energy shows.

These days, the band is far more selective about when and where it tours, but it still hits the road hard.

“I’m counting the days until our tour starts,” Wills said.

Recently, 311 has focused more on one-off festival gigs that allow larger crowds, more fan interaction and more time with their families. Instead of vans, busses and airplanes; luggage and passports; and monthslong worldwide excursions, the band flies into a location, plays a festival set and then flies home.

Four of the quintet are fathers, and most of the band’s recent touring is limited to California, especially the 100-mile radius around Los Angeles. In 1995, 311 bought a recording studio in North Hollywood, where it has made every album since.

This tour follows the release of Archive, a four-disc anniversary box set that features B-sides, bonus tracks and previously unreleased material.

Time away from live shows also allows the men more time to create, Wills said. SA and vocalist Nick Hexum do most of the writing as the group embarks on its 12th album, but Wills and producer Scott “Scotch” Ralston joined the songwriting process during the making of the 2014 album Stereolithic.

“It adds more sources to draw from that way,” he said.

Downtime also gives Wills plenty of time to engage with the fanbase on platforms like Twitter and Reddit. In 2013, he even volunteered for a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything).

“I enjoy the social media. I try not to take it too seriously, but politics does occasionally come into it,” Wills said. “I try to be genuine.”

One thing he does a lot of online is endorse the legalization of marijuana, a subject about which he has long been outspoken. He and his wife of 14 years have strong opinions about it, especially as they raise two children together.

“The rationale for making it illegal simply isn’t there,” Wills said. “It’s not killing people. We are going to be honest with our kids. You want to protect them from some of the realities of a world that can be terrifying, but marijuana is not part of what is terrifying about the world.”

Print headline: Original creations, 311 paves its own road to music success and celebrates 25 years together at Monday’s Oklahoma City tour stop.

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Greg Horton

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