Wed 23rd Nov, 2011 in Features
Few bands have endured with the longevity or consistency that Incubus have enjoyed, while consistently hopping genres and surprising listeners.
Formed in 1991 and having produced six solid albums of funk, electro, jazz and rock, the band have just released bold new album If Not Now, When?, and are headed Australia for a series of headline shows. Front man and all-around creative lunatic Brandon Boyd talked to Fasterlouder about the upcoming tour down under, and why their sperm production has influenced their touring.
For the one or two readers that don’t know Incubus, what genre would you describe yourself as, or would you say you’re not classifiable?
In my most vein rock and roll moment I would say we were unclassifiable, but if people ask me, like strangers, if they go ‘oh you’re in a band, what kind of band are you in’, my knee jerk reaction is to say we’re a rock and roll band.
Well done on the new album, how did the writing and recording process play out?
Thank you, I think this is our seventh record, if you’re counting our very first efforts with Fungus Amongus in the very early 90s, and as a band we’ve covered a lot of ground as far as what you do in rock and roll.
There have been tendencies over the course of our entire career towards ballads, like actual songs that are potentially a little bit more long lasting than what is going on at the moment. I think we just had dabbled in it before, and when we got back together to write this record, and especially between Michael and I, we were sharing musical ideas and everything I kept responding to and what he was responding to in me, kept going back to this idea of creating an entire record that had this mood. It was a darker, slower, moodier, more lush, and more indulgent in that direction.
One of the weird things about being fortunate to have so much success in modern rock and roll is this phantom pressure to continue writing a particular kind of music, that people have responded to. It’s a wonderful problem to have, I’ll put that out there first and foremost, it also creates a phantom menace to be a certain kind of band. What we really did on this record is ignore everything that had happened previously, and made exactly the record we felt like we needed to make, wanted to make, the kind of record that was inside of us. That’s not to say we won’t write another record in the future and it’ll be all triple tempo songs. It’s just I feel like we know how to do a lot of different kinds of things in this band, we’re a group of guys who are obsessed with music, with musicianship, musicality, lyricism, story telling… and to go back to your original question, to box it in to one category has proven to be quite impossible.
One of the reviews I read described the album as being made ‘for soccer mums’, do you think that’s an unfair assessment or did you expect that sort of reaction from some circles?
I don’t really read the reviews of our albums, I kind of get them like I just did, through resources and bits of press and stuff like that. I’ve heard it described as ‘dad rock’, and I actually kind of like that term. It’s frighteningly clever. Music for soccer mums, hmm… We obviously didn’t make a record for soccer mums, I don’t know any soccer mums, I wouldn’t know what they’d want to hear.
Was that easy a band to come together after such a long time apart, and did you all agree on the direction of the album?
It definitely wasn’t easy. All of the complexities that are inherent in any kind of a family dynamic are present in being in a band, and ours is no exception. Having been effectively away from each other for a couple of years, the hiatus was a little over two years, that’s a long enough time to lose that core connection you might have with a group of people. For us it was not unlike restarting an old car, one that worked really well at one time and was built well. So by the time we got started there was some chugging and coughing, but it got moving.
As far as the kind of record we set out to make, we wrote quite a number of songs, some of which got finished and some are unfinished, that are more uptempo rock songs that one might describe as ‘recognizable Incubus songs’. But when it came down to it, I really feel like the collection of songs you hear on the album are the best of the bunch, so when we were kind of at about the three quarter mark, we realized this is the kind of record it wanted to be, then who are we to say otherwise. If something is emerging and reveals itself so clearly, we felt like it would be a mistake to try and subvert that.