How can one not get into the party mood when hearing “Down” or “All Mixed Up” from 311? On August 7 they plan to bring the party to Pittsburgh’s Stage AE with guest Slightly Stoopid. With their huge fan base and consistent delivery of quality musicianship, 311 has built a well deserved reputation for putting on amazing live performances. With the uncanny ability to perform feats like 83 different songs over four shows on their Caribbean Cruise (video recap here), it’s no wonder that their rabid followers keep 311 at the top of the industry even after nearly 20 years in the biz.
Pittsburgh Music Magazine got an exclusive interview with vocalist and DJ, S.A. Martinez calling in from LA in anticipation of the tour kicking off and performing in Pittsburgh.
For the full audio interview click below:
It is clear immediately when speaking to SA that 311 fans are extremely important to them and it is also clear that they have a tremendous relationship with their dedicated hordes. Those passionate about 311 travel well, just like Steeler fans, and show up at a multitude of shows, something 311 does not take for granted, ‘our fans sustain what we do’. They can contribute their veteran career to “our dedication, continued excursions on the road, to keep our so-called legend alive… you have to keep at it”. Regarding those extreme pressures of record, tour, record, tour, SA seems to take all of that in stride, “it’s what we do…(we are) so thankful and grateful for doing this for so many years”.
Known for mixing it up on tour and striving to keep the crowds entertained, SA says 311 “set the standard for ourselves”, meaning that the ability to play so many different tunes and providing a “non-canned” set list every night is just part of what 311 expects of themselves as musicians,”we’re not a band that you will hear the same set list night after night.”
SA (The name S.A. has two meanings, one he is mexican and S.A. is a mexican slang name for Spanish-American. Two, it means Spooky Apparition, referring to an out-of-body experience he had in high school) has a very musical background including his grandfather and his father Ernie who was a jazz guitarist and bassist. His enthusiasm for music is infectious when you speak with him, especially when he discusses his vinyl collection. He collects everything from obscure European stuff from the 60’s and 70’s to American Black gospel. It’s no wonder when he was last in Pittsburgh he “did a lot of damage” at Jerry’s Records in Squirrel Hill.
For their latest effort Universal Pulse, 311 employed the legendary producer Bob Rock, ‘he’s the type of guy who has been in various roles in bands…(has had) great levels of success…(he) understands the chemistry of a group…not afraid to tell you he does not like something… (which is a) crucial element’. When writing new material SA explains that, “everything goes through the 311 filter…we’ve all got our ideas”. If there was any complaint about the song writing process he explains that there is “just not enough time in the day”.
SA compliments the very positive vibe of 311. No matter what he speaks of, SA has a bright take on it. Even when describing some of the downfalls of the industry he simply replies with the refreshing, “it’s the life we chose”.
So what’s next for 311? “We’ll probably take some time for ourselves…then we’ll probably start working on some music.” Pittsburgh Music Magazine could not help but wonder about the pressure of writing. SA responded with,
“there’s always a certain amount…you always want to have your best work come through and surface”.
Besides his creative work in 311, SA has formed a side project entitled Ghostwolf (whose record was released January 1) that includes his nephew and another friend (check them out here). In order to keep all of their creative spirits alive he expressed how, “311 isnt the only vehicle for all of us” further describing that there is, “so much to share and be inspired by and create” . SA intends to record and do some more shows with Ghostwolf once the “house of 311” takes a break.
When we spoke about Pittsburgh, besides Jerry’s Records, Martinez appreciates the ‘architecture and people’ of Pittsburgh, describing our beloved city as having a great feel, “there’s something about it I dig”.
For Martinez and his bandmates 311 is “a dream come true, it’s a dream that has never stopped”. Pittsburgh Music Magazine can wish them nothing but continued success with their dream come true and we look forward to catching them August 7 at Stage AE amongst all their dedicated Pittsburgh (and Pittsburghers for a day) fans.