Summer soldiers: 311

Certain guarantees come with summertime. But the old guard of high temps, crowds, vacation days, and flip-flops better make some room for a new entry. SoCal-by-way-of-Nebraska quintet 311 is looking to join the ranks.

When the funk-rock 5-piece hits the Cal Coast Credit Union OAT on Sunday, it'll be part of the band's 18th consecutive summer headlining the U.S.

They'll also be supporting their June-released 12th studio album, Mosaic, which debuted at number six on the Billboard Top 200 chart.

And they have plenty going on beyond everyone's favorite season as well. The band alternates each spring between a sold-out Caribbean cruise and a set-list expanding "311 Day" performance - which typically includes running through something like 60+ songs.

The longstanding line-up of guitarist Tim Mahoney, vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Nick Hexum, vocalist/DJ Doug "SA" Martinez, bassist P-Nut Wills, and drummer Chad Sexton also recently lent their name to 311 Amber Ale and the Grassroots Uplifter vape pen.

311 hits San Diego on Sunday as part of their UNITY tour with New Politics. PACIFIC recently caught up with Tim Mahoney from a tour stop in Albuquerque to discuss it all.

PACIFIC: Eighteenth consecutive summer tour? That's crazy.

TIM MAHONEY: We're definitely in a cycle where we go out in the summer. It's a good time for us to get outside and play. And it seems to really work well for our band. It's great to get out sometimes and see the seasons, but the bulk of what we do is in the summer.

Looks like this band thing is going to work out.

It is! We still do enjoy playing music together. And the longevity of it is our biggest reward. To be able to continue to play music together, be excited to get together and write new music, and go in to take the time to record it and still be inspired to try and make your best record yet, that's the best part.

Hard to believe Mosaic is already your 12th album. I read that more than 10,000 photos went into the album cover.

It's a lot of photos. And it was a pretty extensive process. They have to screen every one for nudity and things like Grateful Dead logos or whatever. I have no idea how they do it. But you can check it out much closer online and really zoom in. It's incredibly cool. And for us, all those people on the cover are the people who support the band and essentially paid for that record. They, along with anyone who comes to see a show, are contributing to the band being able to continue to make music. They're a big part of it all.

Did you include any of your own photos?  

I did. I think I put three or four, of my family, in there. But I've only been able to find one of them so far. (laughs)

311 with New Politics

When: 7:30 p.m. Aug. 20

Where: Cal Coast Credit Union Open Air Theatre, 5500 Campanile Drive, SDSU

Cost: $25

Online: as.sdsu.edu/calcoast/events

You guys have known each other for so long. Does that make it easier or harder to get creative?

For me, it's the same. And I think for us as a group, there is always inspiration between the five of us. It's always going. It may ebb and flow, but our creative juices are flowing as strongly now as they ever have. And I think while we've changed over time, gotten older, and our musical tastes and influences have changed - although I'll always love a band like Bad Brains - harnessing in, honing what we do, and trying to get better will always stay the same. It's a lifelong quest.

And it has to be cool to watch audiences change and develop over the years as well.

Absolutely. It really is. And it's cool to see parents come with their kids. And it's not just the audience. It's people I've known through the years through 311. But I also feel like people our age tend to come back to music. You get distracted by so many things in life, you have kids, see what is out there for them, and say, "You know what? F--k that. Let me show you some music." And it's a great feeling to see a parent stand there with their kid and watch the show knowing that. It's an inspiring thing for the band, for all of us, to see. Hopefully these young kids can feel that same positive energy.

Becomes more than "just a night out" at that point.

To have children come out and be social, and be with a like-minded group of people - no matter what band you're going to see - is important. It's important to be around a lot of people not at their phones, interacting in real life, and being social. It's important to keep those things alive as time goes on - especially with all of the devices and easy distractions there are these days. You want to have an environment where you can celebrate, have a good time, see freaky people that aren't scary to be around, and be social. It's a unique and powerful thing. And I think it inspires whatever you do in life.

Well, it seems to be still inspiring you. And it's probably not too early to start thinking about the fact that all of these summers are adding up to something significant.

It's something we do think about. You know, out here in the summer, we talk about celebrating the fact that we're still here each night with the people who show up and enjoy this with us. And it's so awesome that we get to celebrate with them. It's a trip. But we're thankful. Music has been, and continues to be, such an important part of our lives.

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