311's P-Nut

Bassist P-Nut is a key member of ska-funk-rock act 311.

He was born Aaron Charles Wills on June 5, 1974, in Indianapolis, Ind. The seeds of 311 were sown in Omaha, Neb., in 1990, when drummer Chad Sexton, singer/guitarist Nick Hexum and guitarist Tim Mahoney formed the rock band Unity.

After the band failed to get a record deal, it split. Determined to earn his living in the rock business, Sexton hooked up with P-Nut, reunited with Hexum and added guitarist Jimi Watson to form Fish Hippos. By the time they got their first official gig, opening for punk stalwarts Fugazi, the band had changed its name to 311.

The group released three albums on its own What Have You Records: Dammit (1990), Unity (1991) and Hydroponic (1991). The local success of Unity gave 311 the confidence to try its luck in Los Angeles.

In 1991, Watson left and Mahoney rejoined the band. The following year, rapper Doug S.A. Martinez completed the band's lineup.

Producer Eddie Offord persuaded Capricorn Records to sign 311. Their 1993 debut for the label was Music, a collection of funk, metal, rap and reggae that included such cuts as "Nix Hex." The next year's Grassroots displayed 311's highly lyrical mix of political and science-fiction themes, all peppered with a dose of hippie positivity.

The 1995 full-length 311 was the band's breakthrough and reached #12 on the Billboard 200 album chart. The album sold more than 3 million copies worldwide, largely on the strength of such hits as "All Mixed Up" and "Down."

In 1996, after a lengthy tour, 311 released "Enlarged to Show Detail," a home video of live performances with behind-the-scenes footage. Transistor, a 21-cut album featuring tracks such as "Prisoner" and "Beautiful Disaster," followed a year later.

311 issued Live in 1998. Via its Web site, the group also released a nine-track album of songs from its three independently released albums. Last year, 311 contributed "White Man in Hammersmith Palais" to Burning London: The Clash Tribute, and released Soundsystem, which included the modest hit "Come Original."

Other birthdays Monday: Freddie Stone (Sly & the Family Stone), 54; Laurie Anderson, 53; Nicko McBrain (Iron Maiden), 46; Richard Butler (Psychedelic Furs, Love Spit Love), 44; and Tom Evans (Badfinger), 1947–1983.