Bio from 311.com
All five members of 311 grew up in the 1970’s in Omaha, Nebraska. Nick Hexum, Tim Mahoney and Chad Sexton lived on the west side of town and went to Westside High School together. P-Nut and SA Martinez lived on the south side of town and went to Bryan High School together.
During high school, Nick and Tim played in a rock band together called “The Ed’s”. Nick was also in the high school concert jazz band with Chad.
At seventeen, Nick graduated early from high school and moved to downtown Los Angeles in pursuit of a music career. When Nick returned to Omaha for Chad and Tim’s high school graduation – the three of them jammed and realized they had a special musical chemistry. They soon added a keyboardist named Ward Bones and called themselves “Unity”. In late ’88, Nick, Chad and Ward moved to LA and made an unsuccessful stab at getting a recording contract.
Disillusioned with the L.A. scene, Chad soon moved back to Omaha and began jamming with P-Nut and a guitarist named Jim Watson. Months later, Chad persuaded Nick to move back to Omaha and join them. They played their first gig opening for Fugazi on June 10th 1990.
In 1991, they parted ways with Jim Watson and added Tim Mahoney as lead guitarist. At that time, SA Martinez began to make guest appearances with the band – and was eventually added as a full member. 311 was complete (Nick, Chad, Tim, P-Nut and SA).
In 1990 & 1991 the band released three independent records on their own label (What Have You Records). The records were called “Dammit,” “Hydroponic,” and “Unity.” With these records and their solid live show, the band quickly established a following in the Midwest and then set out for the West Coast.
They rented a small house in Van Nuys, California and all moved in together. These were very lean times for the band. Just before disintegrating into total poverty, they were signed to Capricorn Records.
311’s first cd “Music”, was released with little fanfare in February of ’93 (now Gold). The band hit the road in support of the record and was temporarily sidelined when their touring RV caught on fire and exploded on the shoulder of the highway. The fire destroyed all their equipment, clothes, money and personal possessions. Despite losing everything – the band members escaped the blaze with minor burns and injuries. They decided to persevere and they only canceled one show before returning to the stage with equipment donated by fans and friends who heard about the disaster on the television news.
In July of ’94 they released their second cd “Grassroots” (now Gold). By this time they were touring the US non-stop. They moved out of the house in Van Nuys – put their stuff into a storage space and literally just lived on the road. They put all their energy into their live show and steadily developed an incredible grassroots following nationwide.