Incubus – Interview [1998]

Incubus

The crossbreeding in styles of music has become increasingly popular in the late 1990’s. Bands like Sublime, Limp Bizkit, and the Beastie Boys have all crossed over into the spectrum that many bands would be afraid to step into. The West Coast groove outfit, Incubus, has also been unafraid. They create a sound that can be heavy, yet melodic and emotional at the same time. They are strong, both instrumentally and vocally, and possess a knack for writing soulful tunes that allows them to integrate the elements of various musical genres. Their sound is recognized as thick by metal standards, while it is considered smooth by those in rap circles. Landing a slot on Korn’s “Family Values Tour” has given them an opportunity to play for a large audience. The response has been overwhelming. They’ve just been added to the huge Black Sabbath Reunion tour, sharing the stage with Pantera, the Deftones, and, of course, Sabbath. I had a chance to chat with guitarist Mike Einziger about the relatively young group and about their imminent success.

How long have you been on the tour?

We started the Family Values tour in Michigan. I think that was the 26th[of October].

Had you played with any of those guys before?

Yeah. The first tour we ever did was with Korn in Europe about two years ago. We’ve done quite a bit of touring with Limp Bizkit. We were with them at the Ozzfest.

What’s it like playing for so many people?

It’s fun, but it’s very different. We’ve been headlining clubs for the past seven weeks and just to jump up to arenas is pretty fun. There’s more room on stage and you can breathe.

Are you getting a good response from the fans?

Yes. It’s been amazing.

Did you expect this kind of exposure with just one major release?

I don’t know. Things just happen the way they do. We don’t really expect anything or not expect anything. We just kind of let things fall into place. I guess we just have fate on our side.

How would you describe your sound?

Our music is a mixture of different sounds and textures. Very funky, a good groove. It’s up and it’s energetic. Sometimes it’s heavy, at times it’s mellow. It’s got a lot of different faces.

Are you playing anything new on the tour?

No. We’re just sticking to material on the album.

Do you have any plans to record again?

After we’re done with Korn, we’ll have a few weeks off and then we’ll start a headline tour of the West Coast. We’ll probably spend a good amount of time while we’re home writing music. I don’t know if we’ll be doing any recording, but we’re going to start writing music. After we’re done with that headlining tour, we’ll go home for Christmas. Then we go back out on the road with Black Sabbath.

You’re doing the Sabbath tour?

The big Sabbath Reunion Tour. That’s going to be awesome, but we’re not really sure what’s going on after that. We’d like to make a new record sometime in ’99. We just don’t know when that’ll be.

Do you try to incorporate anything different into your live shows?

Yes, but when we’re not headlining it’s more difficult for us to do because we don’t have the stage time like we would when we’re playing our own shows. Between songs we do a lot of kind of weird drum and bass jams. We have this thing where I come out with an electric sitar and do this strange jam. We have little breaks where our DJ messes around. There are a lot of things we like to do, but we can’t when we open up for other bands. Plus, when [we’re] playing in front of a crowd where ninety percent of the people don’t know or care who [we] are, we like to stick to our material that’s on the record.

How long ago did you record SCIENCE?

It’ll be two years ago this March.

What did you try to draw from when you recorded that, lyrically and soundwise?

Well, soundwise we didn’t really rely on anything too much, except our own intuition, you could say. We’ve been working in this studio in Santa Monica, CA since we were sixteen years old and we really like the vibe of the studio. We know it really well. We know how to get sounds that we want, so we weren’t spending much time listening to other records. We just did a lot of experimenting with a lot of different things like microphones and that kind of stuff. We have a lot of confidence in our own taste and ourselves. Lyrically, Brandon writes the lyrics and they’re pretty much based on his experiences in life and his own views on society. Different mindsets, I guess. Most of it is based on a positive outlook or ideology. You know, unity, all that good peace and love stuff.

Has it been pretty much the same band since you started? I know you have a new DJ.

Yeah, the four of us, we’ve been together for seven and a half years. We started when we were fifteen and still in high school. Then we hooked up with a DJ after about four years together. We had our first DJ in the band for about two years, then we parted with him about ten months ago. Now, we have DJ Kilmore with us and he’s amazing. We’re really looking forward to writing music with him.

Was it a clean split?

There were problems in the band that were solved when he left. Things weren’t cool for a long time and then as soon as we did the thing we needed to do, everything went back to being cool. Everything’s wonderful now.

There are rumors of a live disc. Is there any truth to that?

No, actually there’s not. I haven’t even heard that one yet. They’re started all summer and on other tours throughout the year. This is the first time we’ve done anything with Rammstein.

What do you think of that group?

I think they have one of the most amazing live shows I’ve ever seen. We get kids trashing them on our web site, but you know it’s funny, when you’re a little kid, just listening to music, it’s more about popularity and perspective. When you’re a musician, you see what goes into a performance. You have a whole different respect for it and those guys definitely have it together.

Do you see the next big thing being bands crossing over into various genres?

I think bands like Korn and Deftones have blown a door wide open. I mean, we’ve been through thick and thin as far as styles of music coming and going. When we first started, Primus and Faith No More were in their prime. Then that all went away and grunge came in. We’ve just done the same thing. Punk rock came back and got huge, then ska. Korn had nothing to do with any of that and when they came out, we weren’t even signed. They just blew the door open to a new realm of possibilities, a different style of music. It wasn’t punk or ska. It was hard, but it had a groove to it, not like hardcore thrash music. We’ve always had the problem [that] we’d get stuck at a punk show or a ska show and we always just stuck out like a sore thumb. I think both musically and lyrically between [the Deftones and Korn] there’s a world of difference. I think that the difference between those two bands, and even us, is so big. [It’s] lyrical content and music. I don’t think you’d see the Deftones bust out into a funk breakdown. There are big differences, but people just feel the need to lump things together. There’s just a lot of crossing over.

Where would you like to be a year from now?

It’s really fun opening up for Korn and other bands, but we’ve spent a majority of our time headlining, so I think ultimately we’d like to be doing our own shows. Make a really big production of it doing our own thing.

I’d like your perspective on some bands. Can you give me your opinion on a few that I name?

Sure.

Soulfly

Their style of music is not something I’m very into. I’d prefer mellow music, but I respect what they do and what Max (lead-singer of Soulfly) has done.

What about Clutch and Fu Manchu?

I’ve barely heard Clutch, but everyone we play with loves them. I listened to Fu Manchu and I really dug what they’re doing. They’re so not like everyone else. It’s almost like Hendrix and Black Sabbath, but not sounding anything like them. I really like what they’re doing, though.

Jamiroquai

That’s one of my favorite bands. That music has flavor. It has soul. That’s the kind of music I like. Whether or not it’s heavy, I like it. I’m just not into the all-out, hardcore screaming. It’s just mindless what to me.SabbathI grew up listening to them, and now, it’s a huge honor for me to play with them.

That’s about all. Anything else you’d like to add?

No, but thanks. Good questions!

Thank you and good luck on the road.

+ rick hinkson