Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Claim: 311's innocuous name masks sinister ties to white supremacy, because 'K' is the eleventh letter of the alphabet, and 'K' repeated three times equals 'KKK'.
Origins: This rumor has dogged 311. There's no KKK involvement and never has been.
Knowing the fascination value of remaining sphinxlike in the face of growing interest, band members have at times joked about the meaning of the name:
Since most interviewers always ask us "What does 311 mean?", we have come up with lots of different answers over the years. Some include: Nick - "five friends making music"; Tim - "a number dictated to me by a higher intelligence";And according to Nick Hexum (lead vocalist and songwriter):
We used to tell people that'Twas group member Aaron
311 is an Omaha police code for indecent exposure. One rainy day,The KKK rumor has forced the group to become more forthcoming about the meaning behind the name. Candor aside, they still have problems in that there are those who are determined to believe that there is a connection to the Klan:
In 1997 there was a rumor going around that the name 311 stood for KKK because K is theMind you, the KKK rumor wasn't all bad news for the band.
"It has come to our attention that there is a very unsettling rumor circulating regarding the name of our band '311.' We have been told that certain white supremacist groups use the numbers 311 to represent KKK. This is a most unfortunate coincidence and one that is extremely disturbing to us. We would like to state for the record that this is completely at odds with our personal beliefs. We believe the only people worth hating are organized haters like the KKK. Anyone familiar with our lyrics knows how we feel. Our lyrics make a strong stand against racism and a strong stand for positivity and unity. The name of our band originally comes from an Omaha police citation for indecent exposure. We thought it was funny at the time. Now our name simply means - five friends from Omaha making music. Music that stands for peace and unity."
The KKK controversy had a paradoxical impact on 311's notoriety. Major publications such as Rolling Stone and Spin magazine and USA Today suddenly became interested in following the band's career. Ditto for MTV. "In less than a week, it was everywhere," band member Doug Martinez said. "It gave the media a spot to work from but it says something else about the sensational aspect of the low-brow journalism of certain media."The final nail in the rumor's coffin came when the band recorded the song "Silver," with the following lyrics:
Of the racist institutions, simple minds belong;Barbara "fame and for tune" Mikkelson
not happy being human, no wish to get along.
Little people need exclusions; sucker groups to throng.
It makes them feel special; it makes them feel strong.
Last updated: 5 May 2007
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