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Nick Hexum and Tim Mahoney

311

"What is guitar playing? It's creativity, it's expression; it's something that my life would not feel complete without." In this episode Ernie Ball artists and 311 guitarists Nick Hexum and Tim Mahoney discuss their influences, their history with playing guitar, and their Ernie Ball strings.

Transcript

Nick Hexum:
What is guitar playing? It's creativity. It's expression. It's something that my life would not feel complete without.

Tim Mahoney:
I actually started on trombone, which I loved. I enjoyed playing it. You get to a certain age, and then I started hearing Randy Rhoads and you hear Eddie Van Halen. For me, on the trombone, it's like, "God, I got to learn guitar so I can play these, be cool and play cool music.

Nick Hexum:
I started piano when I was five, and then when I was 12, I got an acoustic guitar and took some guitar lessons, and I remember my first song was Margaritaville by Jimmy Buffett, just a couple of chords, but I would sing, too.

Nick Hexum:
If you only wrote songs one certain way, that would become very limiting. So sometimes a song will start with a vocal idea. Sometimes it will start with a title or just a concept, very vague, but I'd say the majority would be just sitting down with a guitar and stumbling on things.

Tim Mahoney:
For me, too, learning songs that other people write, like Nick will write a song, maybe it'll make me work on something I had never worked on before. Some of the discovery is from trying to figure out things inside your mind.

Nick Hexum:
Any good band, your biggest influences are going to be the other guys in the band.

Tim Mahoney:
Everything we've recorded has probably been with Ernie Ball strings. In Omaha, before we moved out to California, I know I used to play them, and I remember the pink package from way back then. That was all pink, and they were nines probably. I remember getting those from Russo's here in Omaha, and for whatever reason, I used those, and then when we got out here, we were playing them, and it just so happened that Ernie Ball's been kind enough to help us out, strings for our whole career.

Nick Hexum:
I have tried some other strings, but just the consistency, the way they always sound great straight out of the pack, whether it's distortion or clean. I'd say the only big move for me, string-wise, is getting the Stevie Ray Vaughan a lot. I decided to go up to 11s because I over-bend with 9s or 10s. I've been on 11s for all that time.

Nick Hexum:
It's a continuum from the spark of an idea to then the enjoyment of playing it as a band and then getting a great performance on record and then having it come out and really become part of our fans' lives.

Tim Mahoney:
But it's very rewarding to be able to go from these little sparks and flames of ideas that grow through the studio to, all of a sudden, you're on the, out playing them for people. So it's very fun. We're fortunate that we get to do it, and we take it seriously.

Nick Hexum:
When we go out on tour, we get reminded, oh, this is the energy we get. We're reminded of what a totally different experience it is when you're there communally rocking with thousands of people at the same time. I mean, that's like a tribal dance that hasn't existed for 100,000 years. It wouldn't be near as fulfilling if it was all live or all studio. So it's a great process. We always tour in the summers. I mean, I have not been home in July for nearly 20 years. That's the month we're always gone.

Tim Mahoney:
But just to contribute to, hopefully, goodness in the world, and it's an important thing music is.

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