311's Nick Hexum Explains Why He Went Solo

(Gibson) Nick Hexum is best known for fronting alternative rockers 311, but now, he's branching out on his own. Hexum just released his debut solo album, My Shadow Pages, and the album shows him taking a new, fresh direction, with songs that blend pop, jazz, funk and classic rock.

When laying down guitar lines for My Shadow Pages, Hexum took to his black ES-355. We chatted with Hexum about the new album, going solo and why Gibson guitars are "the whole package."

Congratulations on your solo release, My Shadow Pages. This is your first solo album. Why the decision to step out on your own now? It just happened organically. My brother, Zack (a very accomplished jazzbo) and I were talking about making an instrumental funky jazzy jam band. We started writing instrumentals, but we both love to sing, so we started adding vocals. Next thing you know, we had "Blame the Sky" finished and loved it! Then I started making the rounds with my friends who are in the co-writing songwriters' circuit, and the album practically wrote itself. It was just really nice to have no expectations and be able take the tunes wherever I saw fit. I had such great help from the band I put together, my co-writers, producer Jim Scott and my managers Adam and Peter Raspler. There are so many to thank that have made it possible. The term "solo album" is a bit of a misnomer.

How does this release differ from what you do with 311? Do you think it will surprise 311 fans? Well, the instrumentation is different. The funk I like relies quite a bit on Hammond B-3, Rhodes and Clav, so those are new ingredients for me to work with. The quintet has two keyboardists (Luke "Chops" Miller and Zack Hexum), so that's a big difference from 311 right there. Plus, Zack plays a lot of sax on the album. And rhythm guitar and flute, for that matter! I think it has surprised some fans, and that's good to keep them guessing!

What was it like working with producer Jim Scott? He has a great résumé. Jim was a real pleasure to work with. He and drummer Gary Novak got amazing drum sounds. Plus, he has pretty much every rock instrument known to man all set up in his studio so we were like kids in a candy story. Bassist, Andres Rebellon, played a different one of Jim's vintage basses on every song. We cut all the instruments in just five days so it was just "throw and go." Jim said he doesn't remember being part of a project where he got so much great stuff so quickly. He said, "There was a lot of trust in the room." Read the rest of the interview here.

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