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Myriam Santo-Kayda
Funk-rock band 311 is currently on tour with Snoop Dogg.

Salt Lake City has always been a hot spot for funk-rockers 311, said SA Martinez, one of the band's emcees.

"The fans out there are second to none," Martinez said during a phone call from his home in Nebraska.

"When we go west, and to me, Utah is west, it's one of the first stops we make sure we do. There is a unique excitement there for the band. And we have to play there."

For nearly 18 years, 311 has brought its blend of rock, soul and reggae to fans around the world, touring with such acts as No Doubt, the Roots, Matisyahu and Korn, to name a few.

This year the band — Martinez, drummer Chad Sexton, bassist Aaron "P-Nut" Wills, guitarist Tim Mahoney and vocalist/guitarist Nick Hexum — will hit the road with Snoop Dogg.

"When we first started doing this, we would have never believed that Snoop would be on the road with us," said Martinez. "In fact, we never really saw it coming."

Even when 311 played New York's AmsterJam festival in 2005 with the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Snoop, it didn't occur to anyone in the group to ask Snoop to join a tour.

"It just kind of happened over the past three years," said Martinez. "I think that's what makes this job choice enjoyable — there's that unknown variable that shakes things up."

Still, it's also that unknown variable that keeps the guys in 311 on their toes.

"While we had ideas of what we wanted to be as a band, we didn't set particular goals," said Martinez. "We all feel if you do that, you also set yourself up for disappointment. Longevity of a band lies heavily in the hands of fate or chance.

"Throughout our career, we've seen ups and downs. And it's a very different landscape than when we first started," he said.

Back then, the Internet was in its early stages. There was no MySpace, and MTV played more music than reality shows, said Martinez. And radio today isn't as friendly as it was.

"It's still an uphill battle for a band," he said. "And while the Internet is a great tool for bands, it also creates more competition. Anyone can set up a MySpace page and put their music on it." And, he noted, it's hard to get on the radio, because stations are being run by people who don't understand music.

"We're lucky to have started when we did and to have the loyal following that we do."

311's last studio CD, "Don't Tread on Me," was released in 2005, and Martinez said it is time that was corrected. "We've been working on a new CD and have 10 songs down."

The yet-to-be titled CD will be released sometime next year, said Martinez. "We'll do this tour and then return to the studio to fix and tweak things."

This time around, the band is working with producer Bob Rock, who is best known for his work with Metallica, Bon Jovi and Nina Gordon.

"He was on a short list that was made by someone in our management," said Martinez. "The band never thought about him, but when his name was mentioned, we felt he could do it.

"We do like working with young producers, but Bob has a lot of experience. We had no idea what to expect, but we met with him and decided he was the one.

"He is not an imposing figure, physically, but his knowledge about music, sound and arrangement is amazing. He's worked with Metallica for Pete's sake!"

If you go

What: 311, Snoop Dogg, Fiction Plane

Where: USANA Amphitheatre, 5400 South and 6200 West

When: Monday, 7 p.m.

How much: $47

Phone: 467-8499, 800-888-8499

Web: www.smithstix.com


E-mail: scott@desnews.com