Incubus

Incubus

A few years ago, while attending an Ink 19 meeting, I was forced to choose a CD for review. I chose an EP titled Enjoy by a band called Incubus. The first time I listened to it, I didn’t think much of it. It seemed to be typical southern Cal funk/rock. But the more I listened, the more I realized that I was stereotyping the band. They may not have been the most original band, but their delivery was jaw-dropping. A great mix of heavy guitars and vocals, a rhythm section that has a little bit of funk in it, and a DJ that seemed to add just the right touches. Their second album, Science , blew me out of my truck when I first heard it. It wasn’t until some gigs on Ozzfest that people started to notice this band. Pretty soon, these guys were being mentioned in the same breath as 311 and Limp Bizkit. When I received their third album, Make Yourself , I was kind of shocked. Their sound had changed. The guitars were toned down and the vocals were more relaxed. But you know what? It’s probably their best work yet.

I had a chance to sit down with their drummer, Jose Pasillas, before their recent gig in Orlando opening for Primus. The overall feeling that I got is that these guys are extremely levelheaded and are not afraid to take chances. There was absolutely no attitude to get in the way. Jose even thanked me for interviewing him. Any way, here’s how it went:

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How did the five of you originally come together as a group?

I went to elementary school with Brandon. We met Mike in junior high, and then we met Dirk in high school. I had played with Mike a few times, and Mike also played with Dirk a couple of times, and then the three of us played together at parties doing cover songs. When Brandon joined us, that is when we started writing original songs. We added a DJ in 1995. We ended up getting rid of him because things just didn’t work out. We met Kilmore around 2 years ago.

When you started out as a band, did you all have any goals?

Not really…well, there [were] little steps. We first started out doing parties and clubs in the valley. We ultimately wanted to do gigs in Hollywood. When that happened, we wanted to sell out shows in Hollywood. We also wanted to start playing with some of our favorite bands, like 311 and Primus, and eventually get signed. These were all steps that we set out for, and we still have some that we want to reach.

What goals are you working towards now?

Longevity and being successful. Having the ability to make money so that we can continue doing what we enjoy doing.

What did you listen to when you were growing up?

Dirk and Mike listened to a lot of metal, like Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath. I was more into the punk thing with 7 Seconds, fIREHOSE, Bad Brains, and Black Flag. Eventually, we all started listening to the same stuff, like the Chili Peppers, Primus, 311. We also listen to Phish, Louis Armstrong, and Bjork. We pretty much listen to all styles.

If you had to, how would you describe your music?

Gravy.

Why gravy?

Because it’s creamy, and it tastes good going down.

How do you want the group to be remembered twenty years from now?

Umm… Good question. Probably for our live performances. We would like people to see our show and leave thinking it was a great show, something that sticks out. And we also want to be remembered for creating good music.

Do you have any desire to be like the Stones, to be in your fifties and still playing arenas?

I’ll tell you when I get there (laughs). Who knows, I like to draw, and pursuing an art career is something that could happen down the road. I will play music for as long as I can. Only time will tell.

How do you measure success?

Pretty much what we talked about, you know, having those goals and achieving each one at a time. Success to some people means making a lot of wealth off of it and being financially stable. Hopefully, we will attain that. But I think that the fact that we’ve been doing this for nine years, that is a success. That, by itself, says a lot.

Are you afraid of success?

I don’t… I’m just taking it as it comes. I have a lot of family and friends to keep me grounded. I really don’t even think about it.

With the success that you’ve attained in the past couple of years, has it affected the way you write music?

Umm… I wouldn’t say it’s success, but the fact that we are more mature. We have grown up tremendously in the last two years, playing hundreds of shows, growing mentally and musically. I wouldn’t necessarily say success made those changes. But we are always changing, change is good.

Can you briefly explain your recording process? Is it a group effort or do individuals play bigger roles?

Pretty much Mike will come up with a riff and we all start to play with it, or I come up with a beat. Or vice versa. It happens in so many different ways. Its basically us throwing ideas back in forth.

What was the attitude like when you recorded Make Yourself ? Was it different than Science ?

When we did Science , we had two months to write it and six weeks to record it. So there was no time to reflect. This time around, we took a few months to write. And there was no pressure to get it done. We also had a bigger budget. These are some of the little steps that we’ve been taking. The record company is spending more money, and we finished the record when we were totally satisfied in all aspects.

Does this mean that you were not satisfied with earlier releases?

No, it’s not that. Each one we were totally satisfied with at the time. Again, with our successive steps, we want to do more.

Did the band feel any kind of responsibility to do a Science II ? What I mean by that is a lot of bands put out a successful album, and then follow it up with a carbon copy because of the fear of losing the fans they just got. Your new album is definitely more relaxed than Science .

We did Science , which I am very proud of, and it reflected our mood at the time. We are definitely in a different time period now, so our moods are different. There is no reason to have done it again.

But do you think it’s a risk? You built a fan base with Science , and now you are giving them something completely different.

Absolutely. Some of our hardcore fans dogged the record, and that’s fine. At the end of the day, though, we did what came naturally. The end product is something we are all proud of.

I think it shows a lot of confidence.

Yeah, totally. I think we took a lot of people by surprise with Make Yourself . But like I said before, change is good.

I think it’s a great album. It is the type of album that you have to listen to a couple of times before it sinks in. And to me, that is always the sign of a good album.

I agree.

What is your next big challenge?

To not kill each other on tour [laughs]. Actually, being able to continue playing and be happy on the road. Hopefully in the new year we will be headlining a tour.

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