A More Organic Incubus
Nuances and mistakes
By Alan Sculley

Thick-rimmed glasses, natty dreads, a perm, and a visor. Epitomes of cool.

When Incubus made their 1997 major label album S.C.I.E.N.C.E., it appeared the band might just be the latest in a long line of hip-hop-tinged metal bands following in the path of Korn, the Deftones or Rage Against The Machine.

But with Make Yourself, the band's 1999 breakthrough CD, it became clear that Incubus wanted to forge a style that would be more unique and individual.

With Brandon Boyd asserting himself as a first-rate singer, rockers like "Nowhere Fast" and "When It Comes" favored melody over fury, and the group even delved into acoustic pop on "Drive" and some drum and bass tones on the otherwise hard-rocking "Pardon Me."

The move paid big dividends for the Orange County, California band, which saw Make Yourself become a multi-platinum hit behind hit tunes like "Pardon Me" and "Drive."

The revamped musical direction was something that turntable artist and DJ Chris Kilmore said he and his bandmates (Boyd, guitarist Mike Einziger, bassist Dirk Lance and drummer Jose Pasillas) realized they needed to pursue well before actual writing and recording began on Make Yourself.

"I think what it was was when we were touring behind S.C.I.E.N.C.E., was seeing all these other bands out there who were ripping off bands like Korn and the Deftones and 311, bands that we enjoy and that we love," Kilmore said. "I think when we realized that and we went into the studio to write Make Yourself, we said 'OK, let's not do that."

Now the process of creating their own musical niche has taken the next step as Incubus ride high their much-anticipated followup CD, Morning View. The CD went platinum in just 10 weeks after its release last year, and continues to rack up sales behind the current modern rock radio hit, "Nice To Know You."

Kilmore made it clear that Morning View continues to build on the fresh directions of the Make Yourself CD.

According to Kilmore, if anything Morning View brings more extremes into the Incubus sound. On the one hand, he said there are songs that rock harder than anything the group has recorded before.

"'Circles,' it's extremely heavy," Kilmore said. "Actually that's probably the oldest song on the album Also 'Blood On The Ground' is another really hard song. Those two together are like probably harder than any song we've ever written."

Then on the other side of the spectrum comes the song "Mexico," which was recorded live with just Boyd singing backed by a cello.

"A lot of the things on this album are very live," Kilmore said. "We wanted a really organic feel. So even the mistakes we made, we left a lot of them in there. Not mistakes, I don't want to call them mistakes, maybe nuances."

Another goal, Kilmore said, was to try and bring some of the dynamics and flow of a live Incubus show to the Morning View CD.

"As far as our live songs, we're very very concerned with taking people on a musical journey, keeping them interested," he said. "If you have one emotion the whole entire time, no matter if it's everybody jumping, if everybody was jumping for the whole entire concert for an hour and a half, they'd get bored. We try to relay that into our albums, I think, as well. You have high points and you have low points..."

Kilmore characterized the Morning View sessions as smooth and enjoyable.

Where in the past the band had used conventional rehearsal and studio space, this time Incubus rented a home that overlooked the Pacific Ocean in Malibu, California.

"It had everything to do with the record, everything," Kilmore said of the house. "The last place we wasn't too nice a neighborhood. It was just a regular rehearsal studio. You could hear other bands on both sides of you as well. And there are no windows, you know. For me it took like almost an hour to get there. So if I got there and things weren't happening or clicking or vibing, we'd usually take breaks. And to take a break, where do I go? You could walk outside to the back alley.

"This was totally different," he said. "[The house] overlooked the ocean and it had a huge orchestral room that we put all of our equipment in. And if for some reason we didn't feel like working, if things weren't clicking, we'd say 'OK, we'll come back when things are better. All you had to do was walk into the next room and go make some food and sit out by the pool, or go into your room and watch some TV or something. It was very convenient. It made this record a very enjoyable experience, one that we'll remember all our lives."

"Make Yourself was a very difficult album to write in comparison to this one. I don't know when that time came, or if we're just getting older," Kilmore said. "It's growth, it's our environment, it's us realizing this is now a full-blown career that's not going to go away, us dedicating so much time to it, that it's better to work together. Everybody realizes it, so now I think writing a record is easier. I think Make Yourself, well it was the hardest record that we've ever written."

Incubus performs May 7 at Rupp Arena.