#TBT July 14, 2004: 311, GTO, RHCP and the LA Connection; Femi Kuti & The Positive Force, Chemicals, Bus Gas tonight…
by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com
On this red-hot Thursday, we step into the Wayback Machine and pull up this Lazy-i blog entry from July 14, 2004, featuring Nick Hexum of the band 311. I had interviewed Nick in support of the band’s Memorial Park concert, organized by then Mayor Mike Fahey as part of Omaha’s 150th birthday celebration. The full interview with Hexum is here, but there were interesting leftovers that never made it into the final article…
TBT: 311 and GTO and Saddle Creek – July 14, 2004
An interview with 311’s Nick Hexum is on the site (read it here). Nick once and for all disputes the age-old stigma that 311 turned its back on Omaha by denying its Midwestern roots. Nothing could be further from the truth, Hexum says, categorically denying the accusation. And it only makes sense. Why on earth would they not take advantage of the novelty? Especially at a time when Omaha was only known for being in the center of the country? No, there is no cache in telling anyone that you’re among the thousands of faceless bands from LA. Who cares? Now, telling them you’re from Omaha… instant interest. The novelty has been somewhat blunted since the emergence of Saddle Creek Records.
Speaking of which, among the interview highlights that didn’t make it into the story is a back-and-forth about Omaha band Grasshopper Takeover and the Creek scene. I asked Hexum why GTO’s move to LA didn’t propel them to the same commercial heights as 311. “There’s an element of luck involved,” he said, adding comments (included in the story) about how 311’a move had nothing to do with their signing to Capricorn. 311 and GTO go way back. In fact, Hexum said he recently was on some sort of fishing trip with the band’s members. And GTO is opening for 311 at Friday’s Memorial Park concert.
Then I asked him about Saddle Creek Records. Had he heard of it or the bands on the label? “I know of them, but haven’t listened to them,” Hexum said. “I asked Curt Grubb (GTO lead singer) why those bands don’t embrace GTO. GTO sounds like emo and Jimmy Eat World. Curt said (the label) is very clique-y. I don’t know a lot about it, but I’m happy to see any band from Omaha doing well.” Interesting. I wouldn’t categorize GTO as sounding like a Creek band, and I certainly wouldn’t categorize Creek bands as sounding like Jimmy Eat World, but then again, I’ve had the advantage of having listened to them.
One other interesting aside that didn’t make the story: While Hexum was describing how 311 was driven to make it in the music world, he said, “Most of the bands that we were in competition with have broken up. How many bands in ’93 are headlining tours?”
I jumped in. “Well, there’s the Red Hot Chili Peppers.”
Hexum paused. “Yeah, the Chili Peppers were plugging away. We did a show with them New Years 2000. We were so influenced by them, they kicked open some doors and we went through them and kicked open some doors for some other bands.” A gracious comment, especially considering that when 311 was just emerging in the early ’90s, they were often compared to RHCP because both bands shared a similar hip-hop-meets-rock style. Years later, it doesn’t matter who came up with the sound first. — Lazy-i, July 14, 2004
If you have time, read the original feature story. It references a 1993 story about the band written for The Note with the headline “Sometimes It Pays to Be Assholes.” Said Hexum, “Folks in Omaha have been great supporting us, but we’ve been faced with a lot of assholes, too – bands downtown who really wanted to keep us out.” There’s more, lots more.
And in Hexum’s defense, he’s always been nothing but a nice guy to me whenever I interviewed him or the rest of the band.
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Huge show tonight at The Slowdown: Nigerian afro-beat legends Femi Kuti & the Positive Force take the big stage.
From Wiki: “Femi, the son of Afrobeat pioneer and political activist Fela Kuti, inherited his father’s zeal for both music and activism. He started playing the saxophone and keyboard with his father’s band when he was 16 and stepped into the spotlight, writing and singing after his father’s demise. Femi remains politically inclined grooving to high energy funk, jazz and traditional African-fueled songs about political corruption, poverty and primitive living conditions suffered by most inhabitants in Nigeria’s oil-rich nation.”
This is the kind of show where a venue like The Slowdown could really shine. Surprisingly, tickets are still available for $28. Edem Soul Music opens at 8 p.m.
Also tonight, a different kind of jazz will be in concert at The Waiting Room when Chemicals opens for Stu Hamm Rock Experience. I don’t know a lick about electric bassist Stu Hamm, but can tell you that Chemicals is worth the $22 to see on TWR stage. Show starts at 8 p.m.
And then there’s what’s happening tonight at fabulous O’Leaver’s: Drone/ambient band Bus Gas says goodbye at what they’re calling their “last memorial service.” No doubt they’re going on an indefinite hiatus. Helping wave goodbye are Routine Escorts, Chalant and Jim Schroeder. $5, 9 p.m.
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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.