311 singer Nick Hexum is following his own advice: Don't stay home.
Stirred by his dissatisfaction with President George W. Bush, Hexum has scheduled a tour of swing states with his brother, singer Zack Hexum, and aptly titled it the Hexums for Kerry Tour.
"It had been bothering me for a while that I wasn't doing enough," said Nick, who is well versed in both of the presidential candidates. "It hit me that I needed to at least devote these last five weeks to getting Bush out of office. If Bush wins, it'll be a sad day, but I'll at least know we did our best towards a plan for world peace."
The Hexums for Kerry Tour will mark Nick's first time hitting the road without 311, which formed more than a decade ago.
"I knew Zack felt the same as me, and I didn't want it to be '311 goes political,' " Nick said. "The rest of the guys were totally supportive. We'd gotten really excited about the new music ideas, so I was like, 'I'm sorry we're putting this on hold, but this is something I need to do.' And they were understanding."
Nick and Zack will share the stage on the tour, alternating between 311 favorites, songs from Zack's recently released The Story So Far and covers from Radiohead, Pixies, R.E.M., Bob Marley, the Clash and the Smiths, among others.
"Stuff from my high school days, but politically themed," Nick said. "We're learning 'Clampdown' from London Calling, which is about fascism, and about how raging patriotism can lead toward terrible things. We're doing XTC's 'Earn Enough for Us,' which is about the middle class having so much trouble. Then we'll also do 'Amber,' because we want it to be an enjoyable music experience."
The experience, however, will be far different than the typical party vibe of a 311 show (i.e. no "happy slam dancing"). "It's more of a listening-type show," Nick said. "It's a bar-band approach. We're not bringing production, we're using house lights and sound, so it's going to be totally stripped down, back to the way 311 toured our first year out. It's going to be an adjustment, but it's going to be fun."
The Hexums have various issues with Bush, but by far the biggest is the president's foreign policy.
"The reason I wanted to get involved is because if Bush is re-elected, it's basically saying what he did was OK, to lead a country into war based on a falsified document that he knew was not true," Hexum said. "If he's reelected, that makes us more of a target. If we get Kerry in there, it says, 'Look, this is a new America. We're going to be hard on terrorists when we know they're terrorists.' "
Nick has little tolerance for Republicans who argue that Bush has saved the Iraqi people from a tyrannical dictator who killed 5,000 Kurds.
"First of all, we've just killed about 15,000 of them doing this," the singer said. "Second of all, if you look at tyrants around the world, there's much more urgent civil-rights crises. If that was our concern, we'd be in Sudan, Burma, North Korea, whatever. The truth is, they'll deny it to the end, but the oil has to have something to do with it. We don't care about other places where people are being oppressed unless they've got something we want."
Hexums for Kerry Tour dates, according to their spokesperson:
- 10/21 - Columbia, MO @ Blue Note
- 10/23 - St. Louis, MO @ Mississippi Nights
- 10/25 - Kansas City, MO @ Grand Emporium
- 10/26 - Springfield, MO @ Rockwell's
- 10/27 - Iowa City, IA @ Gabe's Oasis
- 10/29 - Ferndale, MI @ Magic Bag
- 10/30 - Cleveland, OH @ The Odeon
- 10/31 - Chicago, IL @ The Metro