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