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Photo: 311, 2013: (from left) Tim Mahoney, Chad Sexton, Nick Hexum, P-Nut, SA Martinez.
There was a lot more collaboration in the writing on this record. Why did the band not write together as much in the past?
“I think in an earlier phase… Take a song like All Mixed Up. I came out of being in this huge spurt of creativity in one day, but maybe now, in order to keep it fresh, I wouldn’t want to take a song from beginning to end – it’ll just sound like a Nick song. I think a better way to expand the creativity is to say, ‘Here’s a Nick song combined with Chad and P-Nut and Scotch and everybody writing.’ It changes things up.
“I used to just be really amped up about finishing ideas myself. That's not so important now. Now I’m into starting a song and passing it to somebody else to finish. Having P-Nut writing some key lyrics has been cool. That started on the previous album, and now the lyric team is me and SA and P-Nut and Scotch.
“We wouldn’t even know what we were gonna write about till we got into a room. P-Nut would say, ‘You know, I saw this couple the other day. They were out on a date with each other, but their faces were in their phones the entire time.’ That starts an idea about how technology was supposed to bring us together, but in a lot of ways we’re checked out. Concepts like that would come out of conversations.”
The band took a long break from working with Scotch. You had some of your biggest successes with him – a lot of bands wouldn’t want to mess with that.
“I hear you. Scotch is a really unusual dude. He’s lived in an RV for most of the time I’ve known him. He’s super-nomadic, like, ‘I feel like going to this gig tonight.’ And he’ll just go. He’s the quirkiest guy; a lot of times we have no idea what he’s up to. For a producer, it can be cool to go to the beat of his own drummer and just be, like, fiercely individualistic.
“He was off working with other bands and doing some other things for a while. We asked him to come back and do our live sound, and he did a really good job at it. He had so much enthusiasm for our new songs; it’s like he was a force of nature. He’d go into our studio – he called it ‘goldmining’ – and he’d go through the hard drives and all these partially finished demos. Quite a few of them got worked up to completion, so that’s why there’s 15 songs on the record. He’d adopt a lot of orphan songs that we’d forgotten about.”