INTERVIEW WITH P-NUT ( AARON WILLS),
BASS PLAYER FOR THE BAND 311
INTERVIEW WITH P-NUT ( AARON WILLS),
BASS PLAYER FOR THE BAND 311
311 band member P-Nut, also known by his birth name Aaron Wills, will bring the band to the Sunset Cove Amphitheater on August 1, 2017. P-nut took time out of his busy touring schedule to do an interview with Rockbandreviews.com. Click on the GREEN link button above to hear the interview in it's entirety.
Here is a little history about 311....
All five members of 311 grew up in the 1970’s in Omaha, Nebraska. Nick Hexum, Tim Mahoney and Chad Sexton lived on the west side of town and went to Westside High School together. P-Nut and SA Martinez lived on the south side of town and went to Bryan High School together.
During high school, Nick and Tim played in a rock band together called “The Ed’s”. Nick was also in the high school concert jazz band with Chad.
At seventeen, Nick graduated early from high school and moved to downtown Los Angeles in pursuit of a music career. When Nick returned to Omaha for Chad and Tim’s high school graduation – the three of them jammed and realized they had a special musical chemistry. They soon added a keyboardist named Ward Bones and called themselves “Unity”. In late ’88, Nick, Chad and Ward moved to LA and made an unsuccessful stab at getting a recording contract.
Disillusioned with the L.A. scene, Chad soon moved back to Omaha and began jamming with P-Nut and a guitarist named Jim Watson. Months later, Chad persuaded Nick to move back to Omaha and join them. They played their first gig opening for Fugazi on June 10th 1990.
In 1991, they parted ways with Jim Watson and added Tim Mahoney as lead guitarist. At that time, SA Martinez began to make guest appearances with the band – and was eventually added as a full member. 311 was complete (Nick, Chad, Tim, P-Nut and SA).
In 1990 & 1991 the band released three independent records on their own label (What Have You Records). The records were called “Dammit,” “Hydroponic,” and “Unity.” With these records and their solid live show, the band quickly established a following in the Midwest and then set out for the West Coast.
They rented a small house in Van Nuys, California and all moved in together. These were very lean times for the band. Just before disintegrating into total poverty, they were signed to Capricorn Records.
311’s first cd “Music”, was released with little fanfare in February of ’93 (now Gold). The band hit the road in support of the record and was temporarily sidelined when their touring RV caught on fire and exploded on the shoulder of the highway. The fire destroyed all their equipment, clothes, money and personal possessions. Despite losing everything – the band members escaped the blaze with minor burns and injuries. They decided to persevere and they only canceled one show before returning to the stage with equipment donated by fans and friends who heard about the disaster on the television news.
In July of ’94 they released their second cd “Grassroots” (now Gold). By this time they were touring the US non-stop. They moved out of the house in Van Nuys – put their stuff into a storage space and literally just lived on the road. They put all their energy into their live show and steadily developed an incredible grassroots following nationwide.
In July ’95 they released their third cd “311” and once again set out on tour. By ’96 the shows and the fanbase had grown considerably – and the media which had basically ignored 311 until then, began paying attention. In September of ’96 (14 months after the release of the “311” album) the song “Down” hit the airwaves and became an across the board success at radio and MTV. “Down” went to #1 on the Billboard Modern Rock Chart and the follow-up single “All Mixed Up” went to #2.
After the success of the “311” album (which is now triple Platinum), 311 released a long form home video called “Enlarged to Show Detail” containing live concert footage, interviews, videos, backstage footage, etc. To make it a unique item, 311 bundled the video with a 5 song EP containing outtakes from the “311” cd. The home video debuted at #1 on Billboards Music Video Sales Chart and is now a Platinum video.
After releasing the home video, 311 went back into the studio to record their fourth cd “Transistor”. “Transistor” debuted at #4 on the Billboard Top 200 and is now Platinum.
311’s 1997 headlining tour in support of the “Transistor” album drew an average of 10,000 people per night in the US. The band also toured Europe, UK, Australia, New Zealand and Japan.
In September of 1998, 311 re-issued some old material on the “Omaha Session” EP. The EP contains 9 songs from the bands 1989-1991 independent releases (“Dammit,” “Hydroponic” and “Unity”). The EP is on the band’s original “What Have You Records” label and is only available via the 311 website (www.311music.com) and the 311 Mail Order Merch Catalog.
In November of 1998, 311 released 311 Live – a collection of live recordings from the 1997 US Tour. And in October of 1999, 311 released their fifth cd “Soundsystem” which debuted at #9 and toured extensively in the US and Japan.
In 2000, the band purchased a recording studio in North Hollywood. After making some renovations and bringing in their own equipment, they renamed it “The Hive” (which is also the name of their fanclub). The studio was active in the 70’s / 80’s. Missing Persons and Adam Ant recorded albums there and most recently it was used as a voice over studio for movies, etc.
In 2001, the band released “From Chaos” which debuted at #10 on the Billboard Top 200 Sales Chart. 311 toured extensively throughout the U.S. and Europe in support of “From Chaos”. The first single “You Wouldn’t Believe” reached #7 on the Billboard Modern Rock Chart. The second single “I’ll Be Here Awhile” reached #15 on the Billboard Modern Rock Chart. The single “Amber” reached #10 on the Billboard Modern Rock Chart and #30 on the Billboard Modern AC Chart. The album is certified Gold.
On July 22, 2003, 311 released their 7th studio album “Evolver” which included the singles, “Creatures (For A While)” and “Beyond the Gray Sky.” The band recorded and mixed the album at their own studio, The Hive in North Hollywood, CA. The video for “Creatures (For A While)” was directed by the Malloy Brothers, who also directed 311’s video for “Amber”. To support the album, 311 embarked on a massive US tour with opening acts such as The Roots, O.A.R., Something Corporate, Medeski Martin & Wood and more.
In 2004, 311 was asked by Adam Sandler to contribute an 80’s cover song to his movie “Fifty First Dates.” 311 recorded The Cure’s “Love Song.” 311’s version of “Love Song” reached #1 on the Billboard Modern Rock Radio Chart! Making it the band’s second #1 hit and their sixth single to crack the Top 10! Nick Hexum also produced four other songs for the movie’s soundtrack including songs with Seal, Jason Mraz and Dryden Mitchell from Alien Ant Farm.
On 3-11-04, 311 fans once again invaded the city of New Orleans for a special 3-11 Day Concert. 311 performed a legendary 5 hour set at UNO Lakefront Arena in front of a sold-out crowd of 311’s biggest fans. The band played 68 songs including all their classic hits plus rarities and covers (Led Zeppelin’s “D’yer Maker”, The Clash’s “White Man in Hammersmith Palais”, The Cure’s “Love Song”). The entire concert was filmed and recorded and ultimately released (Oct 26, 2004) as a special 2-DVD set”3-11 Day Live in New Orleans.” The DVD includes 64 songs plus a behind the scenes look at the band and their fans. The DVD is now certified Platinum.
On June 8, 2004, 311 released “Greatest Hits (1993-2003)”, a definitive collection of 311’s top radio singles plus two brand new songs “How Do You Feel” and “First Straw.” The album debuted at #7 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums Chart, marking the fourth time that a 311 album has reached the Top 10!
In late 2004, 311 returned to The Hive Studio to work on studio album #8, with producer Ron Saint Germain (Bad Brains, Soundgarden, Tool). Saint also produced the “311”, “From Chaos” and “Evolver” albums. The new album “Don’t Tread On Me” was released on August 16, 2005. The album debuted #9 on Billboard’s Top 200 chart. The first single “Don’t Tread On Me” went to #1 at Modern Rock radio. In the meantime, 311 embarked on a 40 date summer amphitheatre tour. And in further support of the album, the band continued on with 2005 Fall and Winter Tours.
In 2006, 311 returned to the road with a Spring Tour, highlighted by a fantastic 3-11 Day show in Memphis, playing 66 songs across 5 hours! The band continued on with a first time to play Jamaica, a return to Hawaii and a return to Japan to play the PunkSpring Festival shows. In Summer, 311 headlined another major amphitheatre tour across the US, this time bringing out support from the lengendary Wailers. The tour was met with great success from coast to coast.
In 2007, 311 fired up the engines once again with another major U.S. Summer Tour of amphitheatres, bringing along support from Matisyahu and The English Beat. The 50 show tour drew crowds of 14,000+ in Atlanta, Boston, DC, New Jersey & Los Angeles – and 10,000+ in St. Louis, West Palm, Charlotte, Virginia Beach, Denver, etc. 311’s mass following was growing larger than ever!
In 2008, 311 ventured on a Spring Tour, highlighted by an epic 3-11 Day show in New Orleans; the show was sold out (14,000 tickets) at New Orleans Arena, selling tickets to fans across all 50 states and 12 other countries! 311 put on a legendary performance of 63 songs with fans on their feet and cheering for more after 5 hours straight!
In summer 2008, 311 took it’s Unity Tour coast to coast, joined by Snoop Dogg. Ending their fantastic summer tour with shows in Japan and Hawaii, 311 resumed recording with Bob Rock. The release of their album Uplifter came June 2, 2009. In support of Uplifter, 311 headed out on lots of shows via Spring, Summer and Fall Tours. Summer tour featured special guest Ziggy Marley.
In 2010, 311 returned to the road for Spring, Summer and Fall Tours. Summer tour featured special guest The Offspring. Touring highlights that year included 311 Day in Las Vegas – a sold out show at the Mandalay Bay Arts Center (14,000 tickets sold to fans in all 50 U.S. States and 13 countries), as well as first time shows in Guam and Indonesia. Plus first time shows in Alaska, which completed 311 playing all 50 states (it took them 20 years to do it, but mission accomplished!). Other highlights included Japan, Hawaii, and a special Halloween show in Atlanta.
In 2011, 311 launched their inaugural 311 Caribbean Cruise from Miami to Turks & Caicos from 3/3-3/7. The cruise was on the Carnival Destiny ship with 3,0000 fans representing all 50 US States and 10+ countries onboard. Cruise recap video 1 (http://tinyurl.com/z7vr7bm). Cruise recap video 2 (http://tinyurl.com/jucamjb). Following the Cruise, 311 played their first shows in Peru, Panama and Chile (Lollapalooza). In July, 311 released their 10th studio album, ‘Universal Pulse’ featuring 8 songs produced by Bob Rock. The album debuted #7 on the Billboard Top 200 Album Chart. For Summer Tour, in support of ’Universal Pulse’, 311 was joined by Sublime w Rome with special guests DJ Soulman & DJ Trichrome. In November, 311 played shows in Mexico and for a first time in Brazil. 311 then embarked on a short winter tour concluding with the KROQ Acoustic Xmas Show in Los Angeles.
In 2012, 311 celebrated 311 Day with 2 special nights of shows at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The band played 79 different songs over the 2 nights, including 4 songs accompanied by the seven-piece Unity Percussion Ensemble. In May, 311 embarked on their second 311 Caribbean Cruise, Miami to Half Moon Cay, a private island in the Bahamas. The cruise was on the Carnival Destiny ship with 3,0000 fans representing all 50 US States and 10+ countries onboard. Cruise recap video (http://tinyurl.com/hz74vfv). For Summer Tour, 311 enlisted Slightly Stoopid and The Aggrolites.
In 2013, 311 launched www.Live311.com in February, the official site for live 311 (audio and video) for Mp3, FLAC, video downloads and dvds, spanning shows from 1993 to present day. Live311 video trailer: http://tinyurl.com/hdsqek5. In March, 311 embarked on their third Caribbean Cruise, Miami to Great Stirrup Cay, another private island in the Bahamas, 3/1-3/5. The cruise was on the Norwegian Pearl ship with 3,0000 fans representing all 50 US States and 10+ countries onboard. Cruise recap video (http://tinyurl.com/zd4fk4h). Also in March, 311 released their 311 Pow Wow Festival 2011 DVD at www.Live311.com, featuring all 22 songs on their album “Transistor” live. For Summer Tour, 311 enlisted Cypress Hill & G Love & Special Sauce.
In 2014, 311 celebrated 311 Day at the New Orleans Arena, playing to 10,000 fans representing all 50 US States and 15 countries. The band played 66 different songs, including 3 songs accompanied by Rebirth Brass Band and 8 songs accompanied by the Unity Orchestra. On that same day, 311 released their eleventh studio album ‘Stereolithic’, featuring 15 tracks. The album debuted at #6 on the Billboard Top 200 Album Chart, making it six straight Top 7 album debuts for 311 and nine straight Top 10 album debuts. In support of the album, 311 launched a summer tour of festivals and shows, using various support bands along the way. In November, 311 released a cd entitled ‘311 with the Unity Orchestra, Live From 311 Day New Orleans’, which featured 9 tracks of 311 backed by the 14 piece Unity Orchestra.
In 2015, 311 embarked on their fourth Caribbean Cruise, Mimai to Ocho Rios Jamaica 2/25 – 3/1. The cruise was on the Norwegian Pearl ship with 3,0000 fans representing all 50 US States and 10+ countries onboard. Cruise recap video (http://tinyurl.com/j83zkz5). Shortly thereafter, 311 played shows in Mexico City and Monterrey, Mexico. In June, 311 released their Box Set entitled Archive, which featured 4 cds, 81 tracks, 60 previously unreleased recordings. More info at http://www.311.com/311archive. Then 311 headed out on Summer Tour, bringing along support act The Green. Tour highlights included headlining the resurrected Horde Festival in Detroit and playing 2 nights at Mandalay Bay Beach in Las Vegas for 4th of July weekend. 311 played their entire Blue album on the second night. The band also debuted their 311 Amber Ale that weekend. That summer 311 celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Blue Album (7/11) and of the Grassroots album (7/12). To wrap up the tour, 311 played a very special 25th Anniversary show at Sokol Hall in Omaha (the venue and city where it all began). Following their Sokol Hall show, 311 crossed town to play a secret set at the Hive Lounge as a special afterparty event.
In 2016, 311 celebrated 311 Day with 2 nights of shows at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans. The band played 84 different songs over the 2 nights, 4 songs accompanied by the 20 piece Voices of St Peter Claver gospel choir. In May, 311 released The Essential 311; a 2-CD set.The newly mastered collection features 35 songs – spanning tracks from all 11 of 311’s studio albums. For more info and a tracklisting, visit: http://www.311.com/essential311. 311 then headed out on Summer Tour with Matisyahu. Tour highlights included 2 nights at Mandalay Bay Beach in Las Vegas for 4th of July weekend and headlining the Reggae on the Rocks Festival at Red Rocks, marking the 14th time 311 has played the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheater. It was also the 20th anniversary of 311 first headlining Red Rocks in 1996. Upon the conclusion of summer tour, 311 has headed back into the studio to continue work on their 12th studio album to be released in 2017, followed by lots of touring.
More Music. More Shows. More Good Times ahead!