311 - "Sunset in July"

There's far too much for me to say about 311 Day.

Every year it reminds me who I am and why exactly I love life.

I find a lot of joy in the fact that there are absolutely still people who stand for positivity, love, equality and unity.

There were a lot of phases I went through as a kid trying to define myself through the music of others -- classic, punk, industrial, angry -- this eclectic mix of everything good (including Sublime, Incubus, etc) is the brand that stuck. And, while I still listen to an insane variety of sounds, I long ago decided what it would be that I put back into the world should I ever get a platform like 311 has -- a grin and a virtual hug.

That's what the music of 311 still gives me -- a hug with the human, animal and natural world and a dip into everything beyond -- a jump in time with the crowd -- positive energy to keep moving forward.

311 mosh pits are always "nice" -- a place where girls and youngsters jump right along with everyone else -- more dancing than slamming -- people stopping to help others up and back to it.

The first time I saw them was at Rosemont Horizon (is it still called All-State Arena now? Sorry, I don't buy it) -- we were on the floor (I think we jumped the railing to get there) and the bouncy, foam soccer field was down. It was 8/16/1997. Transistor had just come out. Of course they played "8:16." (Spearhead opened if I recall.)

Nick Hexum is still a role model of mine. Here's a dude who didn't have the greatest voice in the world or the tightest guitar chops -- but he had a message and a vision to surround himself with insanely talented musicians who pushed him. What he had was a great ear -- and so he wrote the music to push back. And they grew together, eventually bringing their sound to the world.

311 still frequently pops through the radio (most recently covering songs like "D'yer Maker" and "I Will Always Love You"), and their legions of fans make them one of the biggest cult touring bands in the world.

And, believe it or not, even though all the guys hover around 40-years-old, last year's album (Universal Pulse) rocked really hard.

I can't express how awesome it feels (and how young it made me feel) to know that your favorite teenage band still has IT.

After more than 20 years together 311 still has all five of its original members (Hexum, singer SA Martinez, guitarist Tim Mahoney, bassist P-Nut and drummer Chad Sexton (whose technique makes air-drumming near impossible)).

You never hear about these guys in trouble or see them on front of the tabloids.

That message they had?

They've been living it.

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