311 Fan Spotlight – 7/31/17 – Nicholas Hufnagel!

Welcome again my excitable friends! 311 summer tour in full swing and the fan spotlights just keep coming like the energy of 311 each night. This week we meet fan Nicholas Hufnagel!

Junior year in 2003  is where we start Nicholas’ journey into the awesomeness of 311. He was getting off the bus and a friend recommended some songs for him to download.   He chose “Homebrew” and for him, the attraction to the music came because of Chad’s drumming. “Being a drummer, the rhythms are what stood out for me first in not just the drums, but the guitars, bass, and vocals​.  That tune ​had me ​completely sold from ​my first listen.  Later, learning the lyrics and the positive messages sold me again.​  Even more now, it’s the relationships and community that keeps drawing me in.  The events are like reunions anymore.  It’s such a unique experience to suddenly be best friends with thousands of strangers.  If you haven’t been to a 311 day or a 311 cruise, get your butt there ASAP!”

32 is the current show count for Nicholas, this includes every 311 cruise, Pow Wow, and every 311 Day since 2010. His first show was in Pittsburgh in 2004. “I wish I could relive it so bad because there were a bunch of ​more ​rare songs coming out of 311 Day, Evolver, and the Greatest Hits singles, that they rarely play anymore and I wasn’t as familiar with.  It was probably one of the best shows I’ve ever seen, to be honest, and I was a greatest hits kid for it.” Up until the most recent cruise, his favorite show by far was the ones on the first 311 cruise back in 2011. “It still has its place for the sheer shock value and freshness, but I just had such an awesome time on this one that it bumped the first cruise out of that top spot.”

“Jupiter” takes the top spot for songs because of its message. “The fact that things could always be worse and even if they are there’s still good to focus on is such an important ideal to grasp.” However it’s “Homebrew” that really sent his life down a new path. “Being the first 311 song I ever heard and the way it grabbed me like the strongest magnet in existence is unmatched. “…and I will never be the same.”  Obviously that last line is one of his favorite lyrics. He also loves, “Stay positive and love your life,” as well as “The river cuts it’s way through stone, Not through sheer force but persistence, At the end of the day the relentless always win”​and When you realize one thing, We’re just a speck of dirt on this golf ball called earth so get stupid and sing.”

​Pittsburgh is the place Nicholas calls home, he has always lived in and around the area. The youngest of four siblings, he grew up with wonderful, supportive parents and it was his dad who got him in to drumming at a young age. “ I was always involved with band in school whether it was concert band, jazz band, percussion ensemble, drumline… While in high school I was in a ska band called A-1-Star.  There’s a five song EP floating around from those days somewhere out there that we recorded at my brother’s studio.” In 2005 Nicholas graduated high school and went to perform in The University of Pittsburgh Drumline. They even performed an arrangement of the 2004 311 Day drum solo from “Applied Science.”  “While I was in the Pitt Drumline, I was in a 311 tribute band called No Control.  We had a couple of our own 311 Day performances.  The first was in 2011 right after that first cruise.  Thirteen states were represented at that show. We we’re stoked!  Nowadays, I’m instructing my high school Drumline for the eleventh season and getting ready to leave for band camp for the twenty fourth time.  Now, that’s a lot of “This one time at band camp” stories!”

Nicholas is now in a band called Big Atlantic with his friend and bass player Jeff from No Control. “We released a full length album of thirteen songs in March called “Tempered”.  It can be heard on Spotify, iTunes, Google, Amazon…wherever you prefer.  To support both my 311 fandom as well as my endeavors with Big Atlantic, I work in retail sales for T-Mobile where I’ve been for five years now. Being in a band is like it’s own full time job, though.  Please check out Big Atlantic, give us a like, a share, and stop out to see us when we play near you!”

So I’d like to say it’s obvious that one of Nicholas’ talents is playing the drums. It has been a passion of his since he was young and he hasn’t stopped loving it. “ Being able to continue to help improve the drumline at the high school I went to while being able to share the message of positivity and unity fostered by 311 with my students is such an honor and truly brings me joy.  It’s incredibly heartwarming to be at a 311 or Ballyhoo! show and see current and former students of mine rocking out in the crowd.”

Interesting fact about Nicholas…he hates cheese! (Cue gasps as people read this). “It’s not even a lactose thing, I just don’t like it.  More for you!  I’ll eat it on pizza though, as weird as that is.” Guilty pleasure for him is James Bond. “ I’m a pretty big movie nerd in general, but James Bond for sure. You can bet that when Bond 25 comes out I’ll be there opening night, which was just announced for a November, 8th, 2019 release.  I already can’t wait!”

Other musical favorites of Nicholas are Ballyhoo!, The Movement, and Iration. They have a special place in his heart because he’s been able to share the stage with all of them. For the most part though his musical tastes range from stuff he listened to growing up like The Beatles, to Green Day and Blink 182. Plus theres always Cap’n Geech and the Shrimp Shack Shooters! “If you’re familiar with that one we need to be friends!” Rush is another fave, being that he is a musician and drummer. Plus Dave Matthews, “I could watch Carter play drums all day.” Other musicians he loves are Reel Big Fish, Zeppelin, The Who, Foo Fighters, and Sublime. Plus he’s been meeting and getting into a lot of bands while playing out with his band like Nicnos, Midnight Mob, J and the 9’s, Winter’s Descent, NeverWake, Audio Impulse, City of the Weak.

To the band, Nicholas’ message is simple, “Thank you. I still have yet to actually meet Chad aside from group photo ops and quick handshakes.  I’d love to get the chance to tell him how much he’s influenced my drumming.  One day.”

To all the other 311 fans:

“Just as much as thanking the band, I think their fan base deserves a thank you as well.  Without all of the fan support 311 has had and continues to have, this journey would never have happened – both for them and for us!  Keep rockin on!”


That’s the story of Nicholas! Thanks for reading and thank you Nicholas for sharing your story! Now let’s all just go and be creatures for awhile….

Much love – The Runt

311 Fan Spotlight – 7/24/17 – Craig Sabol!

We are back at it excitable nation! A new fan spotlight has arrived. Kick the week off properly by learning all about Craig Sabol!

At the age of 10, Craig’s mom took he and his brother to Best Buy to pick out a CD. On the shelf was 311’s blue album and No Doubt’s Tragic Kingdom. “My brother said pick one and he would get the other. I ended up picking No Doubt and he grabbed the blue album. About a week later my dad as working down in North Carolina so we took a road trip down to see him and I remember sitting in the back of my mom’s car with my disc man listening to the blue album cover to cover on repeat for the 6 hours it took us to get there. From there I was hooked, I just couldn’t stop listening to it, it was like no other band I had heard before.” Shortly after this Craig’s brother took a trip to Florida and when he returned he brought back Grassroots as a present. “I just remember being so excited when he gave that to me. I guess that’s what big brothers are for, to steer you in the right path on your musical journey. So I would have to thank him for getting me into 311.”

Craig hasn’t really kept track of the number of times he’s seen 311 live, but he would have to guess it’s somewhere between 50-60. He was a mere 14 the first time he saw them live, it was back in 1999 at the HFStival. “I remember begging my mom to let me go see 311 and she of course let me go see them under the carful watch of my brother.” Craig said picking a favorite out of all the times he’s seen 311 is hard because they all have something that remind him of each ones uniqueness. “Whether it’s a song I heard live for the first time or a person I met. Me and my brother have been too all these shows together except two that he couldn’t make, so it has always been something we shared and enjoyed. Since I met my wife Lynn 11 years ago she has been with us also and it is something we all look forward to and enjoy doing together.”

Favorite song is also tough to narrow down for Craig, since each one has a little something that means a lot to him or helps him relate to something, or reminds him of a good time he had. However “I’ll Be Here Awhile” has a great significance to him since it’s the song he and Lynn were married to.

The lyric “You got a wishing well within” from “Eons” is one that always resonated with Craig. “It just always makes me look at myself and remember to really strive hard for what I want in life and to realize what I really need to get it done is within myself, and that’s what it really takes for wishes to come true.” A few other standout lyrics for Craig are “Life’s a bowl of punch, go ahead and spike it,” and “Rebellion done for its own sake, does not a true free thinker make. To go against for it’s own sake, you’re still controlled by the course that the other man takes.”

Craig has lived his entire life in Maryland, growing up in Brooklyn Park which is just outside of Baltimore. He works as a control room operator at a power plant, kind of like Homer Simpson he said, but without the nuclear element! Prior to that he was a mechanic for the same company and he worked on outages on turbines and generators that produce electricity.

Something that makes Craig unique? “I have a freckle on my eyeball, you don’t see that too often!” Guilty pleasure comes in the form of Keanu Reeves movies. “He is actually an awesome actor so I don’t know how guilty that is.” Some other musicians that Craig can be found listening to include Ballyhoo!, Pepper, Elton John, and the Deftones. He also loves a mix of 70’s rock.

Craig’s message to 311 – “Thank you for making music for so long that has touched and spoken to many more people than you will ever know. Keep it up and Fuck the Naysayers.”

To all the other 311 fans:

“It has been amazing meeting some of the best/kindest people in the world through 311. It has been an honor to meet you, and hope to meet many more of you through the years to come.”


Thanks Craig for sharing your story and being a part of this amazing fan community. Thank you to everyone who reads these every week! Can’t imagine a better group of people in the world to write about!

Much love – The Runt

311 Fan Spotlight – 7/17/17 – Julie Reid!

Welcome excitable nation! It’s that time again, the spotlight takes aim at another awesome fan. Let’s meet Julie Reid!

A co-worker introduced Julie to 311 back in 1995. It was the combination of rap, reggae and rock that made her instantly fall in love with their music. “It was a combination of everything I loved growing up.”

First show for Julie was back in 1996 and she has been to quite a few shows since then…254 to be exact! “I keep everything from all my shows.  I have tickets stubs, passes, pictures, videos from free shows, posters, t-shirts.  I started counting when management asked me how many shows I was at.”

Her favorite show out of the 254 is hard to narrow down, so instead she gave us her top ones out of them. First off is Omaha’s 250th Anniversary show. “It was such a great show, Grasshopper Takeover and Zack Hexum opened.  It was so much fun and my first time in Omaha. I will never forget watching the sea of lights during Beyond the Grey Sky.  We recorded the show.  It was amazing!” Then there was the first cruise. “It was so awesome to watch my favorite band with so many other fans that were their for the same reason, to enjoy their show.  It was magical Miami in the back ground as we sailed away and 311 rocking out!” Third up is Pow Wow. She said it was so hot and she hopes they don’t do that again in the summer, but it was amazing to see her favorite album in it’s entirety. Then there are the shows she was able to attend when they played Game Works in Vegas. “$25 for unlimited games, food and 311 playing on small stage amongst video games.” She also said that she was able to attend the Weenie Roast when Shaq came in on a helicopter and played “Psycho” with them. “Their faces were priceless!  They were all so happy!  And watching Shaq crowd surf was really entertaining. Alaska…I was also their when they played their 50th state!  I’ve also been to Japan to see them and all 5 cruises. 21 years since my first show…too many memorable shows.” Song favorites are a little easier to choose, Julie loves “8:16AM” and “Do You Right.” Her favorite complete album is Transistor.

Julie was born and raised in Orange County, California, in the town of Placentia to be exact. She has one sister and had a brother until he unfortunately passed away from Leukaemia when Julie was 17. She was his bone marrow donor twice and said she would do it again if someone needed it to help save their life. She doesn’t drink or do drugs and never has. Now married, she lives in Laguna Hills with her husband and step daughter. “I been to so many states and love so much about a lot of them but can’t see myself living anywhere else but Southern California…it’s home.”

Fun fact about Julie is that Zack Hexum has played a few of her birthday parties! “I love his music and wish he would still play.  There’s actually a YouTube video of one of my birthday parties at the beach.  So much fun, he’s an awesome person and amazing musician!” Other musicians she loves are Remy Zero (even though they broke up), LIVE, The Offspring, Pennywise, Cage the Elephant, Mary J. Blige, Unwritten Law, and Foo Fighters.

Creativity is one of Julie’s unique attributes, she loves to get crafty and plan events. “Guess you have to be to be able to take so much time off work to attend as many shows as I have.  Lol.” Guilty pleasure for Julie is shopping! “I have sooo many shoes and purses.  I’ve given a lot of shoes away in the past few years but at one point I had over 300 pairs of shoes and over 150 purses. My husband had to build me a closet to store everything I just can’t live without 😉 I have the best husband!”

Julie’s message to 311 is, “Thank you for continuing to play and create amazing music for us!  My life would not be the same without you and all the wonderful people I’ve met because of you and your music! Keep ROCKIN’ and we’ll keep coming!!!!”

Now to all the fans:

“You are all awesome! The stories I read on Facebook how people come together and are supportive of each other!!! It’s a beautiful thing.  Hope it never changes!”


Thanks for sharing your story Julie! It was a great one. Thanks to all for reading and the continued support of this fun project! You are all amazing people.

Much love – The Runt

Remembering Renee O’Neal – 7/3/17

Hey there 311 nation. We are all human. We are not exempt from tragedy. From time to time, we lose a great link in our excitable chain. This unfortunately happened recently when we lost the beautiful Renee O’Neal from our community. With the help of some of her friends made through the music of 311, I’ve pieced together a small tribute to her. I had so many people reach out to me after Renee’s passing, asking if I had done a fan spotlight on her because they wanted to read it. I’m so sad I didn’t get to write something for her while her beautiful soul was still on this plane of life, but I’m honored now to try and make her proud by telling you a little bit about what a wonderful person she was, and just how much she is missed in our 311 family.

First and foremost, and I’m sure anyone that knew her can tell you personally, is that the light of Renee’s life were her twin boys. Being their mother was the center of her universe. She was 100% involved in every element of their lives, and even when parenting can get frustrating, she let it roll of her shoulders like it was nothing. Proud is an understatement when it came to the twins accomplishments, and as Jen Black said, she beamed about them all of the time.

Not only was Renee caring towards her kids, she was like that in general and had a very sweet nature about her. If she was your friend, she was there for you, no questions asked. As Jen said, “She was one of those people that could instantly connect with everyone.” Jen also said she was a very protective person. In 2014 in New Orleans, Renee would stay and make sure Jen got back to the hotel safely, it was just in her nature to look out for people.

Renee knew how to have fun but also knew when she needed to be serious. Jen said, “She was carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders and you would never have known it just by looking at her or being around her.”  Her friend Marla Hern said that one of her best attributes was her intolerance for B.S. and that she would say what her true feelings were about a situation. Renee was strong in her beliefs and she stood by them. Ella Maya said that the last time she saw Renee it was while Renee was in Phoenix for work. She was there for less than 24 hours and they went to lunch. “We had some interesting conversations about politics. We were on opposite ends of the spectrum. She was a debater. And damn good at it. Even while eating a PB & J burger. That was the last time I saw her and even though I wasn’t feeling well and on the verge of canceling…I’m so glad I didn’t.”

One of her favorite things in the world were the 311 cruises. After speaking with friends of hers, we are pretty sure that it was the first cruise where she was finally able to see 311 live for the first time. Jessica said that the cruises meant everything to her and she was so upset that she couldn’t attend the last two. She was dedicated to seeing 311 when she could though. In 2014 for 311 Day, she was only there for a little over 24 hours, strictly because she didn’t want to miss it.

Jessica Marie had a funny story to share about Renee that happened right before 311 Day 2014. They went shopping in Sacramento at a mall and all of the parking garages looked the same, so can you guess what happened? Jessica said, “I don’t remember how long we searched for her damn car but omg was it funny. Rain and all!! lol Us just walking around the wrong parking garage!”

Renee loved the song “It’s Alright,” and she was disappointed that they didn’t play it very often. Another one of her favorites was “Speak Easy.”  Jessica made her a necklace and she picked the lyrics and colors for it because of the song. As Jessica recalled, “Of course because they reminded her of the sunset while out on the ocean.” The lyrics on her necklace were, “There’s no one around, no one to hear a sound, It’s just us out here, Out on the ocean, Speaking free.”

Singing and swimming were two of Renee’s favorite things to do. She adored the colors orange and teal. She also really enjoyed music from Ballyhoo!, Full Service, Miranda Lambert, and a local Sacramento band called The Island of Black and White.

To say that Renee was a wonderful and caring person is an understatement. Her family and friends can attest that she was a protector and an amazing force to be reckoned with. Strong in her beliefs, dedicated in her love to others, and a ray of smiling energy in so many peoples lives. There is a void on this great planet without her here, but her spirit and memory will forever live on in those whose lives she touched. “Journey in peace now, you don’t have to be afraid.”


Much love my friends – stay strong and hold each other tight when ever you have the chance. A very special thank you to Jen Black, Jessica Marie, Cor McG, Ella Maya, Kat Seeker-Williams, and Marla Hern for your contributions and sharing your stories of Renee with us. (Please feel free to scroll through the photos below and remember Renee how she would want to be remembered, smiling and full of love!)

-The Runt