The resting is over. It’s time to get back on the road. It’s time for us to gather again. It’s time for concerts to be our escape.
Is there a renewed sense of energy in 311?
“I think there’s just a sense of fun again, you know? I think we can get those moments on stage, but yeah, we’re not out of the woods, and it’s just concerning, to be honest, that you have to think that these anti-mask bands out there and unvaccinated bands out there that are going to ruin it,” Martinez said. “I feel that’s unfortunate because I don’t think that we’d be in this mess if the whole pandemic wasn’t so politicized from the outset. Look at New Zealand, there’s so many examples out there that we could follow as a nation and learn. But, you know what, things happen in spurts I guess, and we’ll see the next time when this rolls around, because it probably will.”
What safety precautions does 311’s touring company have in place?
“There’s a mask mandate backstage. Everyone’s masked. To my knowledge, everybody is vaccinated,” he explained. “Any guest that shows up has to either show a recent negative test or be tested onsite. I’m not seeing anybody. It’s a great way to get out of commitments to friends and family. Honestly, I’m tired after a show. I’m like, ‘Where’s my beer?’’”
Having to put together an entire concert calendar that includes ticket pricing for just about every tour that runs through Cleveland, it was noticeable that 311 has one of the best deals in town. $69.50 for the best seats in the house and the “get in” price is right around $30. (Prior to getting bent over with ticket fees, of course!) While I will never criticize any artist for earning as much money as they are able, especially since some have short windows to do so, I asked SA if 311 is cognizant in keeping their shows more affordable than most.
“When the tour is being put together, there are so many nuts and bolts and so many negotiations happening. It’s hard to keep track of ticket prices as a blanket policy. Now, I’m of the mindset that yeah, I want to keep it as cheap as possible for people,” he explained. “A lot of times our expenses are out of our control that we have to quantify for. I’m happy to hear that we are one of the cheapest tickets in town in Cleveland. I think that everyone deserves a night out. $30 in the door? Sign me up!”
As mentioned, the cool kids were listening to 311 when I was in sixth grade. I’m two years away from my 40th birthday. The group is celebrating 30 years of consecutive success. What’s the secret?
“I think it’s loving what you do and putting that energy out there. Especially when you perform. I love performing,” Martinez said. “I love to give energy. I love to just have a good time and I think that it’s just reflected back. The audience is still there. Audiences ebb and flow, too. Some people have lives that happen but then they come back or they move on. That happens, too.”
Much like newscaster Tom Brokaw, 311 started their careers in Omaha. Like Cleveland, Omaha is a smaller market and differs from the rat-race that is Southern California or New York City. I asked SA if this helped play a role in getting 311’s success off the ground.
“Possibly. I think you’re just connected a little tighter to your musical community. Like, in L.A., you’ll run into the same people, but Omaha was even tighter. There was a scene and it was like, YO! You want to standout in any scene that you’re a part of,” he explained. “It felt great to be in that smaller market and really hone that sound and a style. You want to be that band that everyone came to see.”
Martinez continued: “I’d say there was some advantage, but 311 could have been replicated anywhere, but I think it’s part upbringing and grounding that happens, at least of that time and era as a Midwest kid. I think a lot of elements come in comprising a band of a certain period. Yeah, it was a moment in time and it happened, I think for a reason.”
30 years of success! Platinum-selling albums! Hit singles! Does 311 hope to one day return to Cleveland to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?
“I don’t really think about it. Would it be an honor? Of course it would be an honor. But it’s not what I think about,” he admitted. “It’s cool, though. I love watching those performances. There’s been some legendary performances over the years, even recent, because HBO covers the inductions. Yeah, seeing the playing at those shows, I’d love to be part of it just to do that. Why not?“