It’s not uncommon for so-called fans to dismiss a band’s latest offering in favor of the early work that first hooked them. And it seems that nowhere is that kind of I-liked-them-when snobbery more prevalent than in the world of rock music. But frankly, Incubus couldn’t give a damn.
On each and every one of its releases, this rock crew has fearlessly switched gears. Plenty of people who grabbed hold of the early funk-metal fest Fungus Amongus in 1995 were probably scratching their heads as they listened to 1997’s less visceral yet infinitely more progressive S.C.I.E.N.C.E. And this pattern of perpetual reinvention has repeated itself, over and over, from 1999’s Make Yourself through 2001’s Morning View, 2004’s A Crow Left of the Murder, and 2006’s Light Grenades.
So it’s really no surprise that recently released album If Not Now, When? proves to be the band’s most ballsy growth spurt yet. Of course, the outfit makes no apologies for this newest change of direction. On the contrary, as drummer Jose Pasillas recently told New Times, Incubus is simply intent on being real.
New Times: Your new album, If Not Now, When?, is very different from anything Incubus has done before. How did you guys get there?
Jose Pasillas: I think it was just the album that was ready to be written. We never sit down and conceptualize where we want to go. It was just sort of the music that was coming forth. It was just the next step in our evolution, with this more elegant, moody sort of record. I think it was just time for us to write this record. And without much thought, it just sort of came out.
You’ve always tried new things and not banked on previous successes. But that involves a leap of faith, doesn’t it?
Yeah. I mean there’s always sort of a risk involved when doing that. But we’ve never really written music in the way some bands may have, where they see what works, what’s successful, and emulate that sort of system, I guess. We just follow our hearts and hope that our fans will follow us. Some do, and some don’t.
Rock fans in particular can be very fickle about bands trying new things.
Yeah, I agree. I think if anyone has been a fan of our band and looked at the past six records, they know we’re not going to write the same record twice. It is going to be different. It is going to be a change. And unfortunately, we lose fans at every stop. I’m sure we do.
On the other side, we gain fans. So it’s just sort of the game we play. We can’t please everyone, you know? First and foremost, we try to please ourselves. We try to write music that we love, that we are passionate about, and that interests us. And that’s what we do. That’s what we’ve always done. And luckily, we’ve had a lot of fans follow us, and we’ve gained a lot of fans along the way.
Well, Incubus has been at it for a long time. Is it challenging to keep it together?
As far as longevity, we’ve figured out what works for us and what doesn’t. I think we all realize we’re in a very unique situation. We get to play music and travel the world as a career, which is a very rare thing. And to be able to love something you do, as a career, is very unique. So I think us understanding and appreciating that keeps us on the same page.
And we’re brothers. We’ve been doing this for 20 years. And we know that this is our love, this is our life, and we want to do it as long as we can. So we figure out how to make it work.
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