Let me start by asking you a question: Have you ever dreamt about what you would say to your favorite band if you had the chance to speak with them? Naturally, we all have. As a journalist, sometimes these opportunities get to come to life, no longer figments of our imaginations. For me, that is Incubus, just a few alt rockers from California. They are more than a band to me; they are true artists (in more forms than one), inspirations, and a gleam of light in an industry that can be murky and stagnant. I have had the chance to chat with the lovely and talented Jose Pasillas about the band and life behind the kit. This time around, I got to chitchat casually (yet freaking out on the inside, naturally) with Brandon Boyd, frontman of Incubus.
As many of you may know, the follow-up to their 2011 release, If Not Now, When?, was released on April 21. The album, appropriately titled 8, was co-produced by the lovely and gifted Sonny Moore (best known as Skrillex) and Dave Sardy. We of course must also mention that Incubus will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of one of the greatest albums to ever hit the shelves, S.C.I.E.N.C.E., this year.
Brandon and I spoke about the new record shortly before its release, and also discussed the upcoming tour, what keeps them motivated, and much more. Check it out below, indulge, and enjoy.
Brandon, thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me today!
My pleasure, Maria, thank you.
I will kick it right off. So, it’s been a long, long six years since you last graced us with a full-length album, and let me tell you we are so excited for that drought to end. First off, I wanted to congratulate you, as it’s about to be the 20th anniversary of S.C.I.E.N.C.E. this September. Can you believe it?
Thank you! I can’t believe it, but I also can (laughs). We’ve been a band for 26 years, you know. We are celebrating our 20th anniversary of S.C.I.E.N.C.E. as well, we are celebrating all around! And what a better way to do so then by putting out a new record?
You will soon release the new album entitled 8. First and foremost, tell us about the title. Where did this come about? I have a feeling it’s the appropriate title, for the number of major releases you have had?
There is a lot of collective decision making that happens in our band, you could call it spit balling, I guess. I was talking to Mike [Einziger, guitarist], and we were throwing around ideas for album titles. The obvious thing to do is pick a song that is kind of representative of the large body of work, or lyrics from a song.
There was, however, something that was leaping out of me that was clearly representative of everything. We then of course got distracted and started spit balling about ridiculous stuff, and then we realized how cool it was with how many albums we had put out, and realized how amazing it is that after these years it’s still fun to be in a band. He said to me, “You know, this going to be our eighth full-length album,” and then we both said that would be a very cool idea for the album title.
The album cover is so simple yet so effective—I never thought a band logo and some gold font would leave me wanting so much. This is totally different than the in-depth artwork we are used to seeing, on albums such as Light Grenades. What made you decide to take the simple route?
You know, I had various sketches for it, with explosions of color and different ideas, with rainbow madness (etc.), everyone was into that idea on paper. Then I started to run with it, and came up with a couple of working album covers, and then once again, just a random try, I started trying something that was a lot simpler; actually, the direct opposite. There was something about it that spoke to us; I felt like it was nice to offer something that was different than to what the album is. It’s so creatively in-depth, so it is almost appropriate to have a cover that is very simple, which ironically enough was very hard to accomplish. The goal is to make something that is profound and transcendent in the simplest way, you know what I mean?
Yes, absolutely. That makes complete sense. I am glad you explained that to me. I have had the pleasure of hearing all 11 tracks, and they are amazing.
So glad you think so, thank you for that.
Co-produced by Dave Sardy and Skrillex, how did this collaboration come about? Not going to lie, I was extremely intrigued yet uncertain how this was going to be.
It was very unexpected. It was not something that was on our radar at all when we were writing and recording the record. We were working on the record for about a year, it was finished, basically. We were kind of listening to mixes, playing it for the president of our label, and Mike played a track to Skrillex after lunch, and then invited him to come listen to the album.
He came down and kind of spoke of one song and had asked if he could do a remix. We, obviously, very happily obliged. We thought we were going to have a remix. He came back an hour later with his laptop and showed us what he had done; it created this interesting but very creative vibe to the record. Long story short, two weeks later, he mixed the whole record, and did some co-production stuff on the record. To say it was a pleasant surprise is an understatement, but it did happen in the eleventh hour! Sonny has a pretty rich past with rock music, those are his routes, so he is a rocker at heart.
“Nimble Bastard” came out the gate with such high, heavy energy, and then you totally switched it up with “Glitterbomb.” I feel like the low-key verse allowed you to completely take charge with an emotional delivery. Is there an inspiration on this song? It makes me feel all sorts of a way.
There is always inspiration in writing, always. There are roots to lyrics in every song I have ever written. Sometimes they are very case specific. With “Glitterbomb,” it’s the story of a combination of a couple experiences. It had its route in the unfolding of a long relationship, and it started to roll into other experiences. With being newly single in my life and other things, I became very fascinated with the idea of a loved one sending you a card in the mail.
Think about it, you are so happy that a relative or special someone sent you a card, and then all of a sudden glitter shits out all over you. And in their mind, they think, “Oh, you will love this,” or, “This will really help.” But it’s the complete opposite effect! The road to hell is paved in good intentions, you know, but you end up screwing up a person. Metaphorically, that is a glitterbomb.
Six years is a long time between records; how do you guys know when it’s right to start writing again?
Hmm, that’s a really good question. I think it has to do with a collective will of sort. All of us love making music; when we aren’t making music with Incubus, we are probably making music somewhere else. My solo pursuit and producing with other artists, shows that. We never had a moment where it’s like, “OK, it’s time to record,” but we kind of naturally drift back together. That is one of the coolest parts about being in this band. There is a fluidity to our relationship; we’ve learned over the years to honor the moments where we know we need to pull the shades and hibernate, and then there is an overwhelming feel when it’s time to start making noise again, if that makes sense!
That makes complete sense. And that was a good answer! You guys will be hitting the road with Jimmy Eat World this summer, and I will be catching you in Jersey Friday, July 14. Will you guys be focusing a lot on new material on this run, or an essential Incubus mix?
It’s a mix of what you said! We will be playing some new material of course to test the waters, and of course share the new record. However, when you’ve been in a band for this many years, we must make sure our hearts and spirits are fulfilled too; fans expect to hear certain songs, and we want them to be satisfied as well.
Well, Brandon, I cannot thank you enough for this interview. I must just end with this because I am not sure I will have the opportunity to tell you again. I have had the pleasure of meeting you a few times, but you (and your band) are the reason I started working in music; I have stood out on street corners pushing your record, and this phone call means more to me than you will ever know.
Wow, thanks for sharing that with me. That means so much, I really appreciate that, Maria.
Cannot wait for the new record and I will see you on the road this summer!
You can catch Incubus with Jimmy Eat World at PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, NJ on July 14, Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater in Wantagh, NY on July 19, and BB&T Pavilion in Camden, NJ on July 20. Their new album, 8, is available now through Island Records. For more info, visit incubushq.com.