Incubus Talks Evolution, Facebooking With Fans, and New Album If Not Now, When?

Categories: Q&A
IncubusInterview.jpg
Photo by Brantley Gutierrez
It's not uncommon for so-called fans to dismiss a band's latest offering in favor of the early work that first hooked them. And it seems that nowhere is that kind of I-liked-them-when snobbery more prevalent than in the world of rock music. But frankly, Incubus couldn't give a damn.

On each and every one of its releases, this rock crew has fearlessly switched gears. Plenty of people who first grabbed hold of the early funk-metal fest Fungus Amongus back in 1995 were probably scratching their heads as they listened to '97's less visceral yet infinitely more progressive S.C.I.E.N.C.E.
And this pattern of perpetual reinvention has repeated itself, over and over, from 1999's Make Yourself through 2001's Morning View, 2004's A Crow Left of the Murder, and 2006's Light Grenades.

So it's really no surprise that the recently released album, If Not Now, When?, proves to be the band's most ballsy growth spurt yet. Of course, the outfit makes no apologies for this newest change of direction. On the contrary, as drummer Jose Pasillas recently told Crossfade, Incubus is simply intent on being real.

Crossfade: Your new album, If Not Now, When?, is very different from anything Incubus has done before. How'd you guys get there?
I think it was just the album that was ready to be written. We never sit down and conceptualize where we want to go. It was just sort of the music that was coming forth. It was just the next step in our evolution, with this more elegant, moody sort of record. I think it was just time for us to write this record. And without much thought, it just sort of came out.

You've always tried new things and not banked on previous successes. But it involves a leap of faith, doesn't it?
Yeah. I mean there's always sort of a risk involved when doing that. But we've never really written music in the way some bands may have, where they see what works, what's successful, and emulate that sort of system, I guess. We just follow our hearts and hope that our fans will follow us. And some do, and some don't.

Rock fans in particular can be very fickle about bands trying new things.
Yeah, I agree. I think if anyone has been a fan of our band and looked at the past six records, they know we're not going to write the same record twice. It is going to be different. It is going to be a change. And unfortunately, we lose fans at every stop. I'm sure we do.

On the other side, we gain fans. So, it's just sort of the game we play. We can't please everyone, you know? First and foremost, we try to please ourselves. We try to write music that we love, that we are passionate about, and that interests us. And that's what we do. That's what we've always done. And luckily, we've had a lot of fans follow us, and we've gained a lot of fans along the way.

Well, Incubus has been at it for a long time. Is it challenging to keep it together?
As far as longevity, we've figured out what works for us, and what doesn't. I think we all realize we're in a very unique situation. We get to play music and travel the world as a career, which is a very rare thing. And to be able to love something you do, as a career, is very unique. So I think us understanding and appreciating that keeps us on the same page.

And we're brothers. We've been doing this for 20 years. And we know that this is our love, this is our life, and we want to do it as long as we can. So we figure out how to make it work.

You guys also seem thrive on interacting with your fans, and you always work on new ways to give them goodies. Like the Incubus extras website, The Vault. And now, Incubus HQ Live, which gave fans round the clock access to you guys online, with workshops, talks and unexpected performances including the entire new album on the last night.
You know, we were just trying to figure out a new way to prepare for a new record and get the attention and get a buzz going. And this seemed like a good idea, to just go live 24/7 for just a whole week.

And it was a really fun, stressful, awesome experience. It was a lot of work. And this is the first time anyone's ever done something like this. So we were sort of figuring it out as we went along. But in retrospect, it was just such an awesome experience. We got so many kids that we've been hearing from -- whether they came to the HQ or were seeing it through the HQ site -- we just got the most positive feedback. And it was great.

And you guys took it a step further and brought it on tour with you, including interaction via social networking, a dedicated app, and streaming your shows.
Kids want to be interactive and want to be involved. This was a really good way of doing that.

Incubus has always been known as a band that goes off live. How does the new material, which is more downtempo, fit into the performances?
It's been perfect, putting this music with our music from the past. You know, we've got like 80-plus songs. So the vibe on this record -- which is much more mellow, much more romantic, in a way -- sits really nicely iwith the other records.

And we touch base with every record. So, you know, we have tons more music that we're not able to get to. But we're able to have a set where we're able to have a nice ride. It ebbs and it flows. We kind of keep a skeleton, and change probably five or six songs a night. It's been really fun. But challenging too, because we have so much music, so much material for us to play. I think we've been doing a good job, and kids have been having a really good time at our shows.

Incubus with Young the Giant. Tuesday, September 20. Klipsch Amphitheater, 301 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. and tickets cost $39.50 to $59.50 plus fees via livenation.com. Call 305-358-7550 or visit bayfrontparkmiami.com.

Follow Crossfade on Facebook and Twitter @Crossfade_SFL.

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Klipsch Amphitheater at Bayfront Park

301 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL

Category: Music

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