311 (pronounced three eleven) is an American rock band from Omaha, Nebraska, they met while attending Westside High School. They were formed in 1988. Since their self-titled album in 1995, all of their studio albums have been in the top 15 of the Billboard Top 200. Eight of their songs have been top 5 hits on the Billboard Modern Rock Radio chart.
In 1991, 311 released their second independent release, Unity, recorded at Rainbow Recording Studios, Omaha, which was released with far greater numbers than their first release Dammit!. While Dammit! only printed 300 cassettes, Unity had 1000 CDs and 500 cassettes printed and was distributed through consignment and also sold at shows. The band began to headline shows in local clubs, such as The Ranch Bowl and Sokol Auditorium, and became a local success.
In 1992, S.A. Martinez, who had been making various appearances with 311 over the past years as a vocalist, had officially been asked to join the band. The newly formed 311 recorded a six-track demo, called Hydroponic, and moved to Los Angeles. Within their first few months, 311 was signed to Capricorn Records.
311 considers their first show to be held on June 10, 1990, opening for Fugazi in Omaha, NE, at the Sokol Auditorium.
After taking their name from the police code for indecent exposure in Omaha NE (after the original guitarist for the band was arrested for streaking), their first major record, Music was released in 1993. The single "Do You Right" received airplay on modern rock stations and reached #27 on Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks chart. However, the album failed to chart at the time.
Financing their own tour, the band drove around in an old RV borrowed from Chad's father, and towed a Volkswagen bus which held their equipment. After tackling a steep incline while en route to an Omaha show, the RV caught fire. The only door out of the vehicle was surrounded by flames so the band jumped through the fire. All of their equipment and possessions were lost, though no one was seriously injured. The band continued their tour, using borrowed equipment. The incident is referenced in various songs, including "Omaha Stylee", with the lyrics:
When one girl dreamt a fire in hers and then it happened
To me and my family my bro's and I were driving"
The RV bleeding flames us leaping through fire surviving
Zoned with no home there was fire all on it
Umm let me have my life I want it
The following year, they released their second studio album, Grassroots. Although none of the singles charted, the album reached #8 on the Billboard Top Heatseekers chart and #193 on the Billboard 200, and tracks from Grassroots began popping up on college charts nation wide. It was during this time that 311's loyal fan base began to take on the form it remains in today
Various writers and critics define 311 by a number of genres. They are generally known as an alternative rock band, but they are also classified as rap rock, rap metal, funk rock, funk metal, ska punk, reggae and jazz fusion.
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