“It’s nice to find artists, develop them, get them out there and watch them become successful. I was living in California, and I used to get tapes in the mail from bands looking to make it in the business. One of these tapes came from Omaha, Nebraska, and it was by this band called 311.
“I can’t say I was a fan of rap, but I had kids, so I did hear it and knew what was going on. What I liked about 311 was how they would change from rock to rap to reggae. There was no plan to what they were doing, but I thought they sounded refreshing. I liked the surprises they threw at me. If it was all rap, I probably would’ve gotten bored, but they never stayed in one place for very long.
“I found the band a house in Los Angeles, and I set up an amazing studio in the living room. We were using ADATS – that was the cutting-edge technology at the time. It was a fun atmosphere; we tried things until we were happy. On the first record, we cut everything in the living room except for the drums, which we did in a regular studio. The band didn’t have a record deal at the time, so I was working on spec. After a couple of months, I was able to get them signed to Capricorn Records.
“Having the studio in the living room was great because it cut down on anxiety. No matter who you are, whether you're Rod Stewart or a guy making his first album, if you’re working in a big commercial place, you’re thinking about time and money, and everybody is looking at you – it’s nerve-racking. With 311, I’d be working with the guitar player in the living room, and I could tell him, ‘Look, it’s cool. Whenever you have a solo you like, just press record.’ It was a nice, easy way to get things done.
“I don’t know if ‘progressive’ is the right word for 311, but they did mix up genres. It was interesting. I went on the road with them after the record came out, doing sound for them in empty clubs. That was a long way from the high life with Yes.”
Offord produced and engineered 1993's album, Music, and co-produced (with 311) and co-produced (with 311) and co-engineered (with 311 and Scott Ralston) 1994's Grassroots.