High school is a great place to start a Rock band. However, it's difficult to keep the thing going once everyone graduates. In '91, Incubus came together with school chums Brandon Boyd (vocals), Mike Einziger (guitars), Alex Katunich (bass) and Jose Pasillias (drums). Soon the group was playing the all-ages club circuit throughout their native SoCal. In '95 they added DJ Lyfe to the line-up and released "Fungus Amongus" on an indie label. About a year later they signed with Immortal Records and issued the '97 EP "Enjoy Incubus." The full-length album "S.C.I.E.N.C.E." rolled out in '98 and Incubus hit the road showing up on the Family Values Tour. "S.C.I.E.N.C.E" was notable for the piling driving "New Skin" which was a perfect example of the group's high energy Funk/Metal.
'99 was a hot year for Incubus. First, their album "Make Yourself" was released. Out of the box, sales were slow. But driven by the singles "Pardon Me" and "Drive" along with a slot on the 2000 Ozzfest Tour, the album proved to be a strong, consistent seller. Also from the album, "When It Comes," was a pure-bred Rocker.
With success came the opportunity to push out a limited edition EP of rare and unreleased material "When Incubus Attacks Vol. 1." "Fungus Amongus" was also re-released (gotta keep the pipeline full). "01 saw the arrival of "Morning View" with "A Crow Left Of The Murder" following two and a half years later.
"Live At Red Rocks" was released in '04. That same year, Incubus, Hoobstank and Breaking Benjamin were heard on the CD soundtrack accompanying the Xbox video game "Halo 2." In November, Boyd appeared in a New York court to face a criminal-possession-of-a-weapon charge. He pled guilty and got a $250 fine for carrying a souvenir switchblade while trying to board a plane at New York's LaGuardia Airport.
The emotional "Light Grenades," the group's sixth studio album, arrived in '06. According to Einziger, Boyd put a lot of himself into the record. "He's always written a lot about relationships, but this record is very, very personal for him," said Einziger. Boyd's '05 break-up with model Carolyn Murphy apparently took its toll. "Light Grenades," the band's first studio effort since '04's "A Crow Left Of The Murder," featured the single "Anna Molly." "It's a total mess," continued Einziger. "It sounds like 13 different bands playing 13 different songs. That's kind of how all our records sound."
"Light Grenades" debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200. It was the group's first chart topper despite only selling 165,000 copies (their lowest first week sales for an album since "Make Yourself").
Incubus created a video contest for their single "Dig" (from "Light Grenades"). With entries coming from around the world, the group had the five finalists flown to Hollywood for the announcement that Carlos Oliveira, from Portugal, was the winner. "I think we were pretty decided on his video," said Einzinger. "It's all animation. We're not in it, which is awesome. He just did an amazing job of taking the artwork from our album and animating it into a story."
Having fans produce your video is smart marketing - also cost effective.
The band's eye toward visual presentation continued. One benefit of the "Light Grenades" supporting tour was the '07 DVD "Look Alive" with clips from concert performances plus behind the scenes footage.
The compilation "Monuments And Melodies" dropped in '09. The two-disc, 26-track collection featured hits, unreleased tracks and two new songs -- the single "Black Heart Inertia" and "Midnight Swim." "We began realizing that it's in fact really an honor to be able to put together a greatest-hits package, and it started becoming nostalgic, like watching a home movie," said Einziger. "It's humbling." Incubus also unveiled an online archive, The Vault, that featured songs, videos and photographs.
When a band member departs there's usually some bad blood. In many cases, the ill-will lasts for years. Take DJ Chris Kilmore who was granted a second restraining order in '10 against Gavin Koppell (aka DJ Lyfe), who Kilmore replaced in '98. Kilmore was granted an initial restraining order in '03 and that appeared to be at the root of a 12/28/09 incident where Koppell confronted Kilmore and his girlfriend allegedly threatening "you will get killed if you don't lift that [restraining] order, people get killed in the street for that."
After a lengthy hiatus and Boyd's solo album, "The Wild Trapeze," Incubus' began working on "If Not Now, When?" "Mildly hungover from our night on the town, we decided that it was high-time we wrote another record," said Boyd. "It had been five years since the release of "Light Grenades" . . . and we were feeling a collective itch to chase that dragon once again."
"If Not Now, When?" beat out "The Truth Is . . ." by Theory Of A Dead Man to debut at #1 on Billboard's Alternative and Rock albums charts. "Over the years, we've become less and less aggressive as far as our music goes," said Einziger in an interview. "There's always moments of that aggression, but this album is pretty free of that. It's definitely not a hard Rock record. I think we're asking a lot of our fans."
"Incubus HQ Live" dropped in '12." Material for the album/DVD was recorded during shows on La Brea Avenue in West Hollywood the previous summer.
1995 Fungus Amongus
1999 Make Yourself
2001 Morning View
2004 A Crow Left of the Murder...
2006 Light Grenades
2011 If Not Now, When?
Incubus has a bit broader scope than most of their Nu Metal contemporaries. Sure, the anger and occasional despair are evident but Incubus gives it a bit of a spin. They regularly start an album with a couple of Rockers before changing their tack. "If Not Now, When?" breaks the mold. The uptempo songs come later and are in the minority.
Boyd wasn't kidding when he said the album was 'different'. With the exception of "Adolescents" and "Switchblade," it's a low key effort. The melodies are appealing and the lyrics have a dark turn here and there but can also be hopeful. A critic might suggest this set shows maturity. That's debatable but what's for certain is "If Not Now, When?" was certainly not what was expected.
The Grunge tinged "A Kiss To Send Us Off," the Nu-Metal rush of "Light Grenades" and the straight-ahead Rock on the single, "Anna Molly," are the initial reasons for buying "Light Grenades." But here, as on previous efforts, Incubus move down a road less traveled and actually, for the most part, pull it off. Their dramatic power ballads, "Dig" and "Earth To Bella (Parts I & II") are good but they do better when they strip to lean yet energetic sound. The sparse mid-tempo ballads "Love Hurts," and "Paper Shoes," the pensive "Oil And Water" with the line about "dancing on volcanoes," and "Diamonds And Coal" are melodic and engaging. The diffuse opening track "Quicksand" should have been buried while the noise-fest that begins Pendulous Threads" mercifully gives way to a syncopated rhythm. But these are small gripes, especially when there is an irresistible track like "Rouges" with a to-die-for guitar part.
On "A Crow Left Of The Murder" Incubus again alternates between full on Rockers and tight mid-tempo songs to good effect. The album opens with the energetic "Megalomaniac" and the title track. Both are strong. But taking it down a notch, the group really scores with the accessible "Agoraphobia" and the moody "Talk Show On Mute," with its George Orwell/1984 reference. Another outstanding track is "Beware! Criminal." The songs are sharp and Incubus is in excellent form.
"Morning View" opens with "Nice To Know You" and Circles." "Wish You Were Here" has a lighter touch with the line "dig my toes into the sand." "11 AM" has a dreamy feeling. These songs have an airy quality but don't unravel.
"S.C.I.E.N.C.E" is Incubus' most Rock oriented effort. The vastly more popular "Make Yourself" has a less energetic approach. "Fungus Amongus" is a decent debut. "When Incubus Attacks Vol. 1" is for fans and collectors.