Q&A with 311 singer SA Martinez

The alternative music scene has been graced with over two decades of 311’s commitment to rock. The band is looking to leave yet another mark with their upcoming 10th studio album set to release before the summer. Singer/DJ of 311, SA Martinez, shared with The State Press his excitement about the band’s future and their Tuesday show at the Marquee Theatre in Tempe.

State Press: After making over twenty years of solid hits and earning your reputation in the music industry as a “need-to-see-live” band, do you still get excited for your performances? What is it that personally keeps you going?

SM: The fans, really. They keep coming out to the shows, thank God. They’re everything; they are the foundation that this has all been built on. Will we tire of it? I hope not. It’s fine when it’s time to call it a day, but we still have a blast. It takes a lot of energy, and after you get back from a tour, you are just wrecked. For a couple days, you have to forget about doing anything normal.

SP: What do you look forward to most with the band? Writing new music, performing, or maybe even the official “3-11 day” in New Orleans?

SM: Really, what I look forward to is the band just hanging out. When we’re on tour, we don’t really get to see each other a lot. We travel on different buses and the days leading up to the show get filled up. Playing is great; it’s the most fun part of being on tour, but going into the studio and just hanging out with everybody and putting together songs is it. Here’s the thing: we’ve been together so long, and we know each other so well, and there’s such a comfort being with everybody. It’s a relationship and it deepens as time goes on. When we’re hanging out, we bring up old memories that made us laugh, that still make us laugh. Hanging out: that is the best part of being in a band.

SP: 311 is one of the few remaining bands of the early ‘90s. How have you managed to tolerate each other over the years? Have there ever been any close calls, or do you still have chemistry as band mates?

SM: The chemistry is obviously very strong for the band; it is what brought us together and held us together over all these years. Communicating — it’s what has done a lot of bands in. People just don’t talk ... Communication is key in any relationship, period. It’s nice to be quiet now and then, and we relish that, but being in a band or a relationship, you have to be able to express yourself.

SP: How did you envision 311 20 years ago? What was your start like?

SM: The chemistry was instantaneous. We were always honing what we did, and we didn’t take a break. When we moved out from Nebraska to LA, we got a band house and we all lived together. We basically had all the material ready for our first record, and so before even being signed we were working on another record. We weren’t content, and we kept working on getting songs together. That is what paid off for us. Also, the aspect of going out and playing as many shows as we could. We really were just getting gas money in the early days to make it from point A to point B, but that kept us going.

SP: Do you feel that 311 has met its goals as a band?

SM: We crushed, unlike anything that we ever thought we would. When we first started the band, none of us saw it going this far; we couldn’t see a month down the road. There’s a lot of energy and excitement involved in just getting out there and in front of people, especially people out there that can help you further your career. We never saw this coming, but we definitely believed in the band. I, for sure, felt strongly about it.

SP: Is there an inside scoop you can tell us about your upcoming 10th album that’s due out before summer 2011?

SM: Well, it’s going to be our shortest, as far as length and duration. Really, it’s so strong, and that’s just it … The music is still relevant. I think our fans are going to love it — both the hardcores and fans that know us from the radio.

311 will perform at the Marquee Theater on Tuesday, Feb. 22.

Reach the reporter at ahavir@asu.edu


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