Welcome back again my excitable friends, it’s time for the latest spotlight on another amazing 311 fan! So let us not delay and learn all about Justin Hughes!
The year was 1996 when Justin saw the video for “Down” and he said something just clicked in him but he had no idea what he was in for. He ran out an bought the blue album and it was around this time that his friend would play 311 in his car here and there (usually Music or Grassroots). “He had seen them with Cypress Hill and told me they were a good live band. I thought those albums sounded so different than what I had heard on the Blue album that it only made me more interested in the band. A few months later they were headlining a radio show in Phoenix and we went. September 28th, 1996 at the Compton Terrace. That was the point at which it completely changed for me. Seeing them live and the incredible energy they possessed onstage completely drew me in and I was hooked.”
Since that first show in ’96, Justin has seen them 35 times Favorite of those he narrowed down to two, the cruise in 2012 and then 311 Day 2016. “The Cruise was one of the most amazing things to be a part of. The idea of 2,000 positive, like minded 311 fans all having the time of their lives floating around in the Caribbean with so many other bands to enjoy and soak up was absolutely surreal to me. The beach show was so unique and one of my favorites but the final show in the Palladium Lounge is probably my favorite show ever. All the shows are special and give me that high but there was something in the air during that show and I know that I wasn’t the only one because by the end of it a girl right nearby us was crying (a good cry) and that was something I hadn’t seen before at a show so I just had to give her a huge hug.”
When it comes to the song that means the most to him, Justin said that many come to mind. Some of his favorites include “Lose,” “Running,” “Stealing Happy Hours,” “Sever,” “Crack the Code,” “Visit,” and “Sweet.” Favorite lyrics came a little easier and include, “The jaded ones will whither while the optimistic grow,” “What could I say vacancy sounds like,” and “ With this life not ours not for long. And for the taking take it, the birth light breaking it.”
Justin was born in Burbank, California and at the age of two his mom and dad moved to Tucson, Arizona which is where he was raised. He is an only child. He graduated from the University of Arizona back in 2003. Justin played the drums for many years and then started playing guitar around the age of 16, the same time he started getting into 311. “I am self-taught and I learned every 311 song that I could. I learned a lot about playing via Nick and miT.”
Justin has been married to the love of his life Lowry for 11 years and they have two kids together, Cayden, 9, and Hayley, 6. He and Lowry have known each other since they were 14. They met in high school and became great friends, then reconnected at the end of college and started dating. They’ve lived in Phoenix, Arizona for six years and they just returned from Fiji in August where they celebrated their 10th anniversary (it’s also where they went on their honeymoon.)
Last year Justin finally made it to New Orleans for 311 Day and he had never been there so it was a fun time for him. “I’ve been lucky enough to share most of my 311 experiences with my best friend Samy who’s just as big a fan as me. We’ve been friends since we were pretty young. She took me on the cruise in 2012 as my birthday present so she’s been instrumental in funding my 311 habit. She also got us the 311 Day 2016 tickets (another bday present). We both have spouses that “married into” our 311 fandom. They really enjoy going to shows with us and they’ve actually become fans of the band themselves so we’re really lucky! My wife has been to about 15 shows with me as well.”
Something you might not know about Justin is that he is a cancer survivor. “In 2014 I was diagnosed with colon cancer. I spent most of 2015 fighting it and I’m cancer free today! I went through six months of chemotherapy following my surgery, and that was on top of the chemo and radiation treatments leading up to it. I was able to get through it because of my family and a really solid support network of friends. I truly believe because of the people in my life and going into something so terrifying and unknown as cancer while keeping a positive mindset, that it held a big part in me beating it. It’s something that 311 has taught me for over 20 years. I have nothing but gratitude for them forever for that.” About 2 days after Justin was diagnosed with cancer he went to a 311 show in Tucson (where he met last weeks fan spotlight Carolyn Huerta for the first time). That show was huge for him and he came out of it with total focus and a no fear attitude to help him take his battle with cancer. “Plus having 311 in my ears going into a chemo treatment was the ultimate ammo to help me kick the shit out of cancer.”
Justin is pretty good at imitations – he can imitate people he knows, celebrities, whoever. “My wife thinks I should get an agent and do voiceover work of some kind.” Guilty pleasure for Justin is the band Third Eye Blind. “They are one of my all time favorites and I think they’re one of the great true rock bands of my generation.” Other bands he loves are Deftones, Chevelle, Blink 182, Smashing Pumpkins, Passafire, Ballyhoo!, Unwritten Law, Intronaut, Meshuggah, Silversun Pickups, Bad Religion, Pennywise, Lana Del Ray, Ernest Ranglin, Pepper, and Slightly Stoopid.
To 311, Justin would like to say “Thank you for creating something through your music that has become something much bigger for so many people.”
To all the fellow excitables:
“I’ve met so many people through this band that I wouldn’t have ever crossed paths with otherwise. All because we connect on a massive level to the same 5 dudes who make music. Attitude, religion, whatever you want to call it, it’s something we can’t really quantify but we are a part of something special. I’m better because of it.”
That’s Justin Hughes story my friends! And an enjoyable story it was. Thank you all for reading his amazing 311 journey. You are all such wonderful beings, it’s no wonder this is the best fan base in the world! Until next time, be strong and always be positive.
Much love – The Runt