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Free Speech

311’s Nick Hexum on the Wisdom of Joe Strummer and Mr. Rogers

"Joe Strummer is my hero," musician says. "[J]ust to hear that power and idealism in music, it really changed my life"
ATLANTA, GEORGIA - MAY 06: Nick Hexum of 311 perform on day 2 of the 10th Anniversary of Shaky Knees at Central Park on May 06, 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Legato/Getty Images)

Joe Strummer, the famously outspoken frontman of the Clash, is a musical hero to many—including Nick Hexum, who first heard the iconic punk band at age 13. It was a pivotal moment for the future 311 co-founder, who was inspired him to write his own songs, realizing that music can be a vehicle for standing up to power.

“Joe Strummer is my hero,” Hexum tells SPIN backstage at Louder Than Life. “[J]ust to hear that power and idealism in music, it really changed my life. The time I felt [311] really made it is when somebody said to me, ‘311 is to me what the Clash is to you.’ I was like, that’s important; that’s really nice to hear.”

Carrying on Strummer’s outspokenness, Hexum has also helped lead conversations about mental health, especially related to musicians. He tells SPIN that it’s crucial to have a solid support system and to understand “the roots of where anxiety comes from.”

“One of my favorite quotes,” Hexum says, “[is what] Mr. Rogers used to say: ‘If it’s mentionable, it’s manageable.’ So, if you gotta mention what’s going on with you, and then it becomes manageable. Shout out to Mr. Rogers.”