Classing Up The Joint
Nick Hexum of 311 Takes His Solo Project on the Road

Words by Audra Tracy

Nick Hexum has turned over a new leaf. The singer, who founded the alt-rock band 311 over twenty years ago, is trying his luck with a new side project, the Nick Hexum Quintet. And they’re coming all they way from California to woo you with a gig at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park this January 24th. Featuring Hexum (lead vocals, guitars), Zack Hexum (guitars, keyboards, sax, backing vocals), Andy Sanesi (drums, percussion), Luke Miller (keyboards) and Andrés Rebellón (bass), the Quintet will be armed with tunes off their first album, My Shadow Pages, which was released this past October.

Just days before he kicks off his January tour in support of the LP, Hexum opened up about the recording process, unscripted live moments, and 311’s summer plans….

Congrats on the great new album! What does the title, My Shadow Pages, represent to you?

NH: I suppose My Shadow Pages has a couple meanings. One, it was done very low key without any expectations. That made it feel really free because it was done in the shadows and I could take it any direction I wanted. Two, I think it gets into more personal territory so it’s kinda like an open journal.

How was it working with producer Jim Scott (Tom Petty, Wilco) on the record? How do you think he influenced the production?

NH: Jim was a real pleasure to work with. He really knows how to capture a vintage sound. He also made me feel at ease and remarked at how effortless the whole thing was because there was a lot of trust in the process. There were very few overdubs. You’re pretty much hearing a live band capture the fifth or sixth take. Thirteen songs tracked in five days is a record for me!

Your latest press photos make you look less like a West Coast skater and more like a so-called “adult”. Are we witnessing the new and improved version of Nick Hexum?

NH: Well, I never did really skate! I do think it’s fun to dress up sometimes and class up the joint.

What can 311 fans expect from a Nick Hexum Quintet show? Would you say this project would appeal to the jamband crowd?

NH: I do think fans of jam bands will really enjoy it. There are a lot of unscripted moments where we just stretch out and go wherever the group consciousness takes us. It’s a lot of fun.

Are you mentally prepared to play New Jersey in the dead of winter? There’s a polar vortex, you know.

NH: I do have a warm coat but I’m not sure if it’s warm enough!

How should fans dress to ‘get in the spirit’ for the Stone Pony show? What should they drink at the show?

NH: Before our first LA shows I tweeted asking people to class up the joint and join us in dressing up. A lot of people did. It was a lot of fun. I suppose Mad Men type cocktails would be appropriate!

Seems like these new songs would sound great outside in the sunshine. Will you be hitting the festival circuit this summer?

NH: Summertime is all about 311’s Unity tour. Although, I wouldn’t mind fitting in some NHQ festival shows if time allows!

The Nick Hexum Quintet makes its Asbury Park debut at The Stone Pony on January 24th.
Get your tickets here! | Asbury Park