311 Fan Spotlight – Introducing to you, Ms. Priscilla Arriola!

Priscilla & I at this years cruise pre-party!
Priscilla & I at this years cruise pre-party!


Ever meet somebody that you just fall in love with instantly? Not in a romantic way, but in an “oh my lord you are so sweet and adorable, how can anyone not love you” way? Well that is how I felt about Priscilla when I first met her! She radiates sweetness…I mean, just look at that face in the photo above! Alright, I’ll let you read all about her so you can fall in love with her too.

Priscilla lives in a suburb of Chicago and has lived in and around the area her entire life.  She mentioned that she has probably moved about 25 times in her entire life (which is a lot because she isn’t that old!) but has always stuck to that area. She went to school at Columbia College Chicago to study film making where she obtained her Bachelor of Arts in the subject. Now she is a famous film maker…ok not really. Like many people who went to college, they aren’t doing anything remotely close to what their degree is in (myself included!!). Priscilla currently works for an import/export logistics company just outside of Chicago, which helps fund her 311 habits.

Priscilla first discovered 311 back in the 90’s because she was a self-proclaimed music video addict and she remembers seeing the videos for Down and All Mixed Up. “I want to say that I was a fan back in 1996 (I was 10!) but I was too young to start buying their albums and really start listening to their songs.” Flash forward to ten years later in 2006 when Priscilla started getting really into 90’s alternative music. Her boyfriend at the time made her a mix tape (remember mix tapes??) and the song 8:16 AM was on it. Priscilla said she just kept playing it over and over, mesmerized by Nicks voice. She then started buying all of 311’s albums and realized how they were all about positivity, unlike a lot of music she heard on the radio. From then on she was hooked!

Priscilla first saw the band live back in 2007 but didn’t fully realize the scope of the fan community until she attended 311 Day in Vegas in 2012. “I was waiting in the VIP line alone and thinking to myself, how does everyone know each other? I was really boggled by all of this because I wasn’t aware of the groups on Twitter and Facebook.” She then befriended an excitable by the name of Dan Economico (to which Priscilla would like to say #PIC shout out!). They started talking and he asked if she was on Twitter. They exchanged handles and she began to realize just how much fans connect outside of the shows. As she says, “I started following people left and right and soon became hooked in this world of 311 excitables on Twitter, and then Facebook. I can’t believe all the wonderful people I’ve met since then. I am forever grateful that [311’s] music has brought me to so many friends I know today, including my Georgia brodel!”

Of all the events Priscilla has attended (she is at 25 shows and counting) her favorite she says is the 2nd 311 cruise in 2012. She didn’t get to go on the first, so she was ecstatic that they did another one and she had the opportunity to attend. This was her first time meeting a bunch of other fans that she had connected with on social media sites and she said it was “surreal meeting them in person.” Describing the island show can only be done in her words that she wrote to me. “I will never forget that show on the island. I was in the crystal clear blue ocean with a bunch of other excitables, listening to my favorite band in the whole world, playing a special show for us in the middle of paradise. I remember looking all around me and thinking to myself, don’t forget this Priscilla!” It’s apparent that she hasn’t and truly never will! 🙂

There are other bands that Priscilla loves, such as The Doors, which were the first band she ever became truly obsessed with. She is also all about The Beatles and mentioned that she is one of the biggest fanatics you will ever meet. She told me that she knows the answer to just about every Beatles trivia question there is (to which I might have to challenge her at some point, seeing as that I too am a huge fan). Priscilla also loves bands like Nine Inch Nails (she believes Trent Reznor is a musical genius) and No Doubt. Priscilla stated “Gwen is my idol!” These are just a few in a long list of musicians that she loves. When I asked her to tell me something most people don’t know about her, she said that most people don’t know she is Mexican and Puerto Rican, but don’t go spouting of Spanish to her because she’ll tell you “I can’t speak Spanish if my life depended on it!”

One of the things that drew Priscilla to 311 (and most of us to them for that matter) is their positive messages. The song that means the most to her is one we all know and love, and where the bands most famous line came from. “Jupiter means the most to me because that song epitomizes everything that 311 stands for. Stay positive and love your life…this is a great song to listen to when you’re feeling down.” Priscilla knows just how much this band has brought to her and she wants to thank the band for that. “Thank you for bringing so many friends into my life through your music. If it weren’t for you guys, my life would be so much different than what it is today.” [Side note: I told Priscilla to give me one sentence she’d like to say to the band and she gave me two because as she stated, “I do what I want!” Who can argue with that?] Priscilla also mentioned how much she loves the lyrics, “But at twenty years of age, in frolic and in rage, I will see it through in time.” The reason? “It means a lot to me because I always try to remember that when my life is chaotic, I will survive through it and hopefully learn something out of it to take with me.” She’s a smart woman!

Priscilla is a prime example of how 311 fans take away more than just a great listening experience, they take away life lessons and uplifting messages. She also exemplifies just how many awesome people you can meet in this 311 community of fans. I’m lucky enough to have met her in person, and hopefully one day you all will too! I’ll tell you from personal experience, she is just as adorable and sweet in person as she is in the cyber world! I leave you with her personal message to all of you out there reading:

“I just want to say hello to all my excitable friends out there and lets not get caught up with some of the negativity posted in some of the Facebook groups. We’re all here in these groups because we enjoy their positive message through their music. Let’s keep the positive vibes going. If you ever see me at the shows or events, please stop me to say hello! :)”

Thanks Priscilla! Love ya girl! 🙂


311 Fan Spotlight – The one, the only, Laurie Martinez!


When Laurie first contacted me, she asked me if family members counted as fans of 311. My response? OF COURSE! Family of any band are the original fans and are the cheerleaders that gave the members the drive needed to succeed. So it is with my utmost honor and pleasure that I was able to interview Laurie, sister of Mr. Doug SA Martinez!

Born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska, Laurie is the oldest of the four kids in the Martinez family. Her mother was a school teacher who became a stay at home mom once Doug was born, and her father worked for a trucking company by day, and played bass in a few bands by night. She credits her family with shaping her into the person she has become. As she says, “I couldn’t be who I am if it wasn’t for my loving parents and family. They’ve loved us all unconditionally.”

Laurie is lucky to be surrounded by love at all levels. She is currently engaged and marrying the love of her life Kim next March. Her adoration of Kim is evident in everything she wrote. As she puts it, Kim “Makes my heart sing and flutter every day.” You know you all just said, “AWWWW” out loud, don’t deny it! Laurie is also the proud mama of three kids, Evan, Willow and Trey. Some of you might know Evan since he is 311’s band assistant, and also a member of the bands Exes of Evil and Ghostwolf. The three will soon turn to four when she marries Kim and welcomes Max into her family.

Laurie currently resides in Lincoln, Nebraska now where she is accompanist at a middle school, and she also teaches voice and piano at a music studio. She knew by the time she was in the 5th grade that she wanted to do something with music. She was in a group called the “Omaha Mini-Singers” in middle school, then performed in musicals and swing choir in high school. Laurie attended college at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln where she majored first in music, and then in musical theatre. There she joined the university show choir called Scarlet and Cream Singers.

Laurie teaches voice lessons and has being doing so for the past twenty four years, and has made her living by performing a variety of roles in the music world. Some of her resume includes acting and singing professionally, as well as directing with the Lincoln Community Playhouse, Nebraska Rep, Haymarket Theatre, YAAL, and OmniArts Nebraska. She has even done some commercials and radio jingles, training films, and voice overs. Then there is the group she is in with two other women called Broad Appeal, which you can check out at www.broadappeal.net. To say that Laurie is a busy woman is an understatement! However she wouldn’t have it any other way. “I am happy to say that I work in music day in and day our and wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Clearly, the attraction to music runs in the family. Laurie recalls not knowing exactly what to make of Doug first joining 311. At the time she was busy being a mom, performing herself, and giving voice lessons. She knew that Doug was in a band and really enjoying it, but he was also attending college at UNL. As his oldest sibling, she says she remembers him asking her for some advice. 311 had the opportunity to go to California and sign with a company, but Doug still had a year left of college and wasn’t sure what to do. Laurie told him that he should please the parents by finishing school and then move out to join the rest of the band once that was done. As Laurie puts it, “I can honestly say that it was probably the worst advice I’ve ever given anyone!” As you all know, he didn’t listen and the rest is history!

It’s known that many of us fans keep count of how many shows we’ve seen but Laurie can’t really say how many she has actually seen total. She can vividly recall being at one of their earlier shows though because she was very pregnant with twins. It was back in 1993 and 311 was playing a few shows in Lincoln. She said even though the show was small, she remembers it being great and that her mom was “standing on a table dancing to their music. I’m glad one of us was able to do that!”  Laurie says that all of the shows and events she has attended have been her favorite in one way or another. She goes to at least one show a year, but has been trying to make it two and turning the other one into a vacation that “takes [her] someplace other than the flatlands.”  One show in particular that stands out in her mind was back in 2001. She went out to visit her brother in L.A. and went as guests to the KROC Weenie Roast. This was the famous show where Shaq was flown in by helicopter to perform with the band. Laurie said “I think I was just amazed with the whole theatrics…I was hanging out in the stands with the fans and I think that was the first time it hit me that these people were crazy for 311.”

Well, now that she knew the fans were nuts for 311, you have to wonder if she’s ever had any crazy fan interactions herself being SA’s sister. Laurie told me that there haven’t really been crazy interactions as just honest, nice ones with sweet fans. She first remembers being approached in San Diego in 2007. It was her son Evan’s 21st birthday and the English Beat (of which she is a fan) were opening for 311. A woman approached her asking who she knew in the group because of the pass she was wearing. When Laurie told her, the woman told her it was her 50th show and they struck up a wonderful conversation. After they finished the woman hugger her and walked away. Laurie says this was “probably one of the sweetest encounters.” She credits Facebook for letting her be friends with a lot of the 311 Familia and she loves meeting them at shows. Laurie gives this message to all the 311 fans: “I’m just a normal person who likes 311 as much as you. Come say hi and tell me why you love the band. The best stories I get are the ones where a song changed the life of someone for the better.”

You already know that music is a huge part of Laurie’s life, so it’s only natural she has a ton of bands and artists that she loves besides 311! Some of them include Manhattan Transfer, Rage Against the Machine, Willie Nelson, Dwight Yoakam, Beastie Boys, and New York Voices (she listed more and said the list could’ve gone on a lot longer!). She loves anything from the 70’s, then says to “throw in jazz and reggae and salsa and I can guarantee you a mighty fine time.” She also thinks that we should have a national dance anthem and that it should be Brick House because “that song will make all your parts move!” One of Laurie’s favorite 311 songs is Nix Hex because there is a spanish phrase in the song that SA sings that their father used to say to them when they were young. It was part of a nursery rhyme and when they were toddlers their dad would have them stand on his lap as he pushed them back and forward reciting the phrase. Every time Laurie hears it, she smiles and reminisces about their childhood.

Some other fun things to know about Laurie: as if she wasn’t busy enough, she is starting a new group with three men and three women doing a cappella and piano. She loves to read, trying new wines, and is a huge fan of the DVR! Some of the shows on hers are all of the Law and Orders, American Horror Story, True Blood, CSI, and Cold Case. She also thoroughly enjoys the HGTV channel and declares that “Someday I will have that second home on an island.” Back in 2000 Laurie entered a song into an a cappella contest in Denver and she won best song! It’s called Refrigerator Blues and can be found on the Baby Needs Shoes CD (of which she believes she has the only copy!). Also, the closeness of the band members of 311 also stems to their families. Pnut’s dad will be the one to marry Laurie and Kim next year, and Laurie is giving Pnut’s niece voice and piano lessons. As she puts it, “Talk about coming full circle.”

One last funny story that Laurie mentioned in her response to me. One summer way back in the day she said SA was going to audition for the swing choir, so he asked her and their sister Monica for some help with what he needed to know. They showed him a step touch dance move, going side to side, and he had a little trouble doing it. So, being siblings, they were laughing and teasing as siblings normally do. As Laurie puts it, “Well, we made fun of him that day and of course, we all know that he got in the last laugh.”

So there you go – you have officially been introduced (or learned a little more!) about the fabulous Laurie Martinez. I have never met her in person (YET!) but I can’t wait for the day that I can be one of those fans that walks up to her and hugs her, just as that woman who had been to 50+ shows did years ago. How Laurie has time to sleep is beyond me with all that she accomplishes in her daily life. One thing she will always have time for though, is the 311 family and for that we are truly grateful! Thank you Laurie for sharing your story with us! Here is her final message to all of the 311 fans worldwide:

“My brother has said that they have some of the best fans and I agree. Keep on rocking and keep it real. Always. Peace.”





311 fan spotlight – We introduce to you Mr. Speak Easy aka Billy Madden!


I have only two words for all of you readers: Speak Easy. If who I’m writing about this week isn’t the first person who comes to mind, well then you’ve probably never met him or just aren’t on Twitter. I’m talking about the one, the only Billy Madden a.k.a. 311Phillies!

Can anyone guess where Billy might be from? Ding ding ding! Philadelphia it is. He actually grew up in a town called Montgomeryville, PA which is about a half hour north of the city. Having been a PA resident his whole life, it’s no surprise that he is a huge fan of all Philadelphia sports teams. He also LOVES soccer and still continues to play. Billy even had full scholarships to play at a number of division 3 schools, but chose to go to college at Penn State instead. Why you might ask? It’s quite simple! “[I] decided I wanted to party and have the time of my life at Penn State instead.” Billy mentions that some of the best years of his life he spent at school, having fun with his fraternity brothers, many of which he is still quite close to.

As much fun as Billy had in college, he claims he never thought he’d like being an adult more. He can thank his beautiful wife for making him think that! He met her at a party that a mutual friend was throwing and they met on the staircase of the home. “She was coming down the staircase as I was going up, and since it was too narrow for two people to pass, I walked all the way back down so that she could come down.” Who said chivalry was dead? Later on at the party his future wife Liz approached him saying how sweet it was that he had let her come down the stairs. They talked for hours and had their first kiss. He called her the next day (which as a woman, we know is next to unheard of!). They’ve been together ever since! They were married October 20th, 2012 and are expecting their first child on October 1st! Billy says he can’t wait to be a dad and says, “I have never been more existed for anything in my entire life, (yes, even 311 shows!)”

So when did Billy fall in love with 311? It was back when the blue album was released and the “Down” video was being played on MTV (anyone else besides Billy & I remember videos actually being played on that channel?). He said he was playing pool with a friend, just about to make a shot when the song came on. Billy instantly said, “This song is awesome, who is this?” He then flubbed the shot but didn’t care because he was too busy rocking out to this new band. A few days later he went to buy the album, found out there were two prior releases, and so he bought all three. As he puts it, “It’s been love ever since. The way 311 can rap along with heavy beats and switch it up so melodically to slow reggae with beautiful singing is something no band will ever compare to.”

As far as how many shows he’s seen, well he may have lost count a little after he hit 40.  He thinks it must be somewhere around 60 at this point. Billy hasn’t missed a Philadelphia 311 show since 1996, which is impressive! He mentions 311 day in 2008 down in New Orleans as one of his favorites, saying how great it was because the fans literally took over the city. Even though that was an amazing experience, he says nothing will ever compare to being on the 311 cruises. “I’m lucky enough to have been on the 2nd and 3rd cruise, and my favorite show of all time was the beach show at Half Moon Cay on the 2nd.  Just floating in the ocean, listening to Speak Easy, (and all their reggae songs), on a beautiful island with crystal clear water surrounded by my friends is something I’ll never forget.”

So needless to say, “Speak Easy” is Billy’s favorite song! As he mentioned to me, he truly believes that the song is perfect. “From the very first note, to the drums kicking in, to SA giving what I think might be his best singing performance, to the tropical sound it gets when Nick joins in, to the way Nick and SA harmonize on the refrain, it’s just a perfect song.  The message behind it holds very true.” If there is one thing that Billy could say to the band (which I’m sure he has said on numerous occasions!) it’s thank you. “Thank You for helping me become the person I am today, through your positive lyrics and amazing music, and for helping me connect with so many life-long friends throughout the years.  I’d be a completely different person without your music.”

A few fun facts about Billy: first off, he is a Christmas baby! He also has run the Philadelphia half marathon and another ten mile run on 2 different occasions. Something he told me about his wife and him that I found truly amazing: In the 6 years that they have been together, he has only not opened the car door for her four times!! It’s become sort of a cute game, keeping track of when he misses. As he says, “It’s just such a simple gesture and it’s never going to change.” How sweet is that?

So that’s Billy for you. One of the sweetest (and most chivalrous apparently!) people that I’ve met in the 311 community. He knows how to keep a positive attitude and believes that, “If there’s a shadow in your life, then there’s sunshine” – one of his favorite quotes from “Speak Easy.”  If you haven’t met Billy, make sure you head on up to a Philly show someday and say hello! Or you can just look for him on Twitter, since as he stated to me, he might have a mild obsession with it 😉

I leave you with these parting words of his to all of 311 nation:

“What makes 311 so special to us all, is not just the music, but the way it has brought so many like-minded individuals together though our connection with the band and their message.  A lot of us, I feel like, have been teased by our group of friends at one point or another for being SO into this band, but I think it’s done out of slight jealousy for not having a band they can connect with in the same way we do. Through social media, (and other avenues), we’ve been introduced to one another, and can share our passion with other people who feel exactly the same way.  It’s a beautiful thing.  It makes going to the big 311 events more than just about the show, but about seeing all the good friends you’ve met and just having the time of your life with them.  People have stopped me before and said “Hey, you’re Billy Madden, (or 311Phillies), aren’t you?  You were my first follower on Twitter.  Thanks so much for everything you do and it’s very nice to meet you.”  I’m in awe when that happens and so very humbled.  You won’t find the outgoing and caring nature in people like that from anywhere else.  It’s something that few people can truly understand, but I’m proud to be a part of the Excitable Crew, and call you all my family.”

Thanks for letting us into your life Billy! 🙂