Controversy sells. With many bands lacking musical integrity these days, that’s the principle thrust behind pushing albums off of store shelves. The more spotlight you can bring to a musician’s personal life or public misdemeanours, the more cash it generates for label pockets.
Occasionally though, some bands still sell music based on merit. Such is the case with Calabasas, Calif.-based alternative rockers Incubus. Spreading their metal/modestly hip-hop-influenced attack for almost 20 years, the band comprised of vocalist/guitarist Brandon Boyd, guitarist Mike Einziger, drummer Jose Pasillas II, bassist Ben Kenney and turntables/sampler Chris Kilmore are hot for their sounds, not their sensationalism.
Case in point: Latest effort, the double-disc package Monuments And Melodies (Epic) entered the world at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 chart. And when was the last time you heard about a fracas in the Incubus camp?
Well, you haven’t. Initially calling a temporary hiatus on the band in 2008 to explore personal ventures, less than a year later, the outfit is already back with a greatest hits affair. After 20 years, most bands are itching to get away from each other. For Incubus though, they were going nuts without one another.
“A year for us is almost too much,” Boyd admits of the downtime. “We missed each other. We’re individuals but we’ve been so close over 18 years, to take a year away feels like four. This is why we’re here on Earth — to make music. We can take breaks, but we can’t stay away for long.”
Getting the wheels rolling, the band jumped into forging Monuments And Melodies, a means of respecting obligations to their label/artist relationship, but also to shake off the stagnancy of their creative juices while gearing up to work on a seventh full-length due in 2010.
Aspiring to escape typical greatest hits trappings — simply pilfering from previously released material — Incubus worked diligently to create something different, resulting in two discs, one featuring the band’s 13 most popular tunes and a second, more introspective effort compiling rarities, B-sides, soundtrack cuts, alternate song versions, three previously unreleased songs and a cover Prince’s Let’s Go Crazy.
“We knew what was going on the record,” notes Boyd. “The hard part was deciding if it was the right time to do it and if so, how were we going to do it? Our audience is web-savvy and have created their own playlists a long time ago. It’s beyond redundant to put out a greatest hits record that it’s almost comical for a band to turn in a sequenced album of songs that everyone already has in this day and age. That’s just repackaging the bread and selling it again. We wanted it to be worth peoples’ time to get out there and steal it.”