photo & text by nacrowe
i always felt that INCUBUS was playing a different game than their supposed peers in the METAL community. S.C.I.E.N.C.E. (review linked HERE) was definitely rooted in the SPASTIC RHYTHMIC and TEXTURAL juxtapositions made famous by MR. BUNGLE and the SPATIAL otherworldly explorations of ANDY SUMMERS and more than a little FELA KUTI, but their follow-up MAKE YOURSELF (EPIC, 1999) really put that altogether in a POTENT hybrid mix that continues to defy easy explanation. just goes to show that the first two times i've seen INCUBUS live were in 2000 at OZZFEST (with tour-mates PANTERA, SOULFLY and QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE) and in 2001 at MOBY's short-lived but eclectic AREA:ONE festival (which also featured OUTKAST and JURASSIC 5). and they fit in seamlessly at both, which is pretty INCREDIBLE.
as i wrote about when discussing S.C.I.E.N.C.E. (EPIC, 1997), the POETIC BUDDHIST-leaning, COMPASSIONATE lyricism of BRANDON BOYD is perfectly coupled by the TEXTUAL dexterity of guitarist MIKE EINZIGER and his deep love of all things PHASER, DELAY and PITCHSHIFTING-related pedal-wise. INCUBUS has a very VERSATILE and highly MELODIC yet INFECTIOUS sound that really found an audience with the tracks of MAKE YOURSELF, including the singles "DRIVE," "STELLAR" and "PARDON ME." for me the standout tracks include the likes of "THE WARMTH," "PRIVILEGE," "CONSEQUENCE," "WHEN IT COMES" and "NOWHERE FAST" which all harness a PLAYFUL use of PITCHSHIFTING effects and INCLUSIVE lyrics that deal with coming to terms with your own deficiencies. the result are songs that feel quite INTIMATE and AUTHENTIC, which is probably why this band was such a staple during my late teens and early twenties.
fast forward 20 years and my cousin and a friend are working security at a recent seaside music festival in ASBURY PARK that INCUBUS is headlining. my cousin was tasked with checking passes near the stage and didnt recognize the DJ since he'd gotten a haircut (like more than a decade before). the dude didnt break a sweat and was totally COOL about it, even laughing with my cousin at his own changed appearance and seemed to go out of his way to not make my cousin feel bad. its part of the CHARM of the band that they are DECENT, HONORABLE people who care more about their fans and pet issues like the ENVIRONMENT and SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT (most of which is run through their longstanding MAKE YOURSELF FOUNDATION) than being "rock stars." i was happy to hear they didnt big-time my cousin minutes before a major gig. not being caught up in their own fame seems pretty PUNK ROCK and in keeping with a general DIY ETHOS in a way. it also coincides with their public image from afar, which is that they seem like UNAFFECTED, GROUNDED, CHILL dudes.
PITCHSHIFTING is required listening in my estimation, irrespective of whether you are a fan of turn-of-the-millennium ALTERNATIVE ROCK or not. INCUBUS at this point in their career were on an INSPIRED songwriting hot streak and sounded like no other band before or since. well worth checking out.