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For 10 years, 311 has sold out performances across the U.S. Drummer Chad Sexton said one of 311's strongest followings is in Salt Lake City.

When 311 got together in the early 1990s, there was no plan of attack.

"We were just five guys who loved music," said drummer Chad Sexton during a phone call from his home in Los Angeles. "We knew we wanted to play music, and knew we had dedication to attend practices and try to get better."

Ever since Sexton was an infant, he had been bombarded with music.

"My parents had musical instruments everywhere," he said. "By the time I was 3 I had my own drum set."

In the '80s, Sexton sought out the usual musical suspects of classic rock.

"I took in a lot of Led Zeppelin, Rush and Kiss," he said. "But then I was also drawn to rap and hip-hop. Public Enemy and Ice Cube and Prince were others I really got into. And then that whole new music scene with Jane's Addiction and Faith No More and the Red Hot Chili Peppers really caught my attention."

Those bands also caught the attention of guitarist/vocalist Nick Hexum, vocalist/DJ SA Martinez, guitarist Tim Mahoney and bassist P-Nut.

"We all got together because of music and we're still here," said Sexton. "We all have our strong points when it comes to playing music and musical ideas, and I think that's why we've been together for as long as we have."

For 10 years, the band has celebrated sold-out performances across the United States. And Sexton said one of 311's strongest followings is in Salt Lake City.

"We always look forward to coming there," he said. "The fans are so enthusiastic and they always give us a warm welcome."

Last week, the band released its first greatest-hits album, "Greatest Hits '93-'03," on Jive Records. Sexton said he was a little apprehensive about it.

"I always thought when a group released a live album that meant the band was on the verge of breaking up," said Sexton. "That is not the case with us. We've always had a 'greatest hits' line in our contract. So the record company decided now was a good time.

"I was hesitant about putting the album together," he said. "But when were doing it — choosing and remastering the songs — I heard all these songs back-to-back in a way that I didn't before. It was humbling to me because they sounded really good. I had to stop for a minute and reassess myself when I realized that we had all these songs on the radio."

Sexton said the band is happy where it is musically.

"We have all the creative control in our songs," he said. "We are fortunate enough to play music for a living and we are able to experiment."

Experimentation, said Sexton, is why the band continues to play.

"It keeps things fresh for us and the fans," he said. "We started out as a funk-rock band and then found ourselves heading into hip-hop rock. Then we went a little further and did some reggae rock and then added some jazz riffs and things like that. There are so many things we have yet to do and we just keep coming up with different ideas for the band."

If you go. . .

What: 311 and the Roots

Where: USANA Amphitheatre

When: Tonight, 7:30 p.m.

How much: $35

Phone:467-8499 or 1-800-888-8499

E-mail: scott@desnews.com