With 2012 marking the beginning of Incubus' third decade as a band, the GRAMMY-nominated five-piece alternative rock outfit from Calabasas, Calif., are as strong as ever. In July 2011 they released their seventh studio album, If Not Now, When? — marking their fifth album to chart in the Top 5 on the Billboard 200. The band is also currently in the middle of an international tour in support of the release. In an exclusive interview with GRAMMY.com, Incubus frontman Brandon Boyd and guitarist Mike Einziger discussed the band's most recent album, touring, being nominated for a GRAMMY, and how Incubus has endured, among other topics.
"Being in a band is so much like being in a relationship," says Boyd. "It's a platonic relationship and communication is intimate, but it's intimate on this sort of creative, intellectual level, and it's beautiful when it works. … We have 20 years of practice at that kind of communication, but the remarkable nature of it has never worn off."
Incubus' staying power is likely the result of a band formed by high school friends — Boyd, Einziger and drummer José Pasillas. (The current lineup also includes bassist Ben Kenney and turntablist DJ Chris Kilmore.) In 1995 the band independently released their debut, Fungus Amongus, earning them a strong local following and a record deal. Two years later they emerged with their major label debut, S.C.I.E.N.C.E., featuring 12 tracks spanning funk and hard rock. The band subsequently toured with 311, Korn, Sublime, and Unwritten Law, among others. Make Yourself followed in 1999, peaking in the Top 50 on the Billboard 200 and featuring the hit singles "Drive," "Pardon Me" and "Stellar."
Incubus returned in 2001 with Morning View, which reached No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and marked the band's first album to reach the Top 10 on the strength of the hit singles "Wish You Were Here" and "Nice To Know You." A Crow Left Of The Murder… followed in 2004 and peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard 200, earning the band their first GRAMMY nomination for Best Hard Rock Performance for "Megalomaniac."
"Being nominated for a GRAMMY is awesome," says Einziger. "It makes you want to jump up and down and do happy dances."
The band members subsequently decided to explore different creative outlets, leading to a two-year hiatus.
"It's so much more enjoyable to reach out," says Boyd on exploring different artistic avenues. "[But] Incubus is sort of the house, the weighty structure that we've been building this whole time. So everything we do comes back to that."
Incubus reconvened in 2006 to release Light Grenades, marking the first No. 1 album for the band. Released in July 2011, If Not Now, When? is considered one of Incubus' "darker" albums to date and, according to Boyd, reaches further from a conceptual point of view, with songs such as "Tomorrow' Food" drawing on inspiration from Ken Wilber's A Brief History Of Everything, a book examining the course of human evolution.
"[The] term … 'to make it' never really spoke to me because on my best day, I don't want to 'make' it, I want the process to continue," says Boyd. "I want to be food for the next part of the process."
Despite their past success and current worldwide tour, Incubus are committed to staying grounded while continuing to look forward.
"The understanding of our good fortune is never far away," says Boyd.