Incubus | Interview
By Demons Be Driven
Interview: Kevin Magee
On the back of last year’s 8 and its key tracks ‘Nimble Bastard’ and ‘Surveillance’, Incubus are taking their eclectic show on the road again and, more importantly to The Ulster Hall on Monday 10 September. The band is renowned for being very difficult to define musically. The 90s pseudo-critics, who were too lazy to listen to lumped bands in genres – helped to stave off potential listeners. The bad timing and simple categorisation led to them being herded in with other young bands of their time and the dreaded ‘nü-metal’.
I have been determined to find out from someone on the inside, what the craic was about this. And all from the toilet out the back of Cool Discs [record shop] in Derry, I spoke to DJ Chris Kilmore.
You joined the band in ’97/’98, which was kind of, the height of the ‘nü-metal‘ thing. What’s it like for a band to be pigeon-holed into a genre they’re not even part of?
The band were California surfers when I joined, but they were the furthest thing from metal you can imagine… just easy to pigeon-hole bands.
Way back – when bands would release singles on things called vinyl and CDs, those singles would be sold in shops and their sales would correlate in charts with successful singles being referred to as ‘hits’.
The song ‘Drive’ from Make Yourself was a hit in the early 2000s and was a positive step in a changing time for musicians. What way have the changes affected you?
The music environment is ever-changing. People used to buy records and CDs, there was an accurate charting system (maybe – we’re not sure), but now when you release music and content, you can reach directly to your fans. That’s one of the great things that the internet has allowed.
There are many upsides to being a successful musician, but there are so many seldom seen downsides that come with success.
One of the most widespread problems with success is the accusation of selling out, but Morning View had ‘Wish You Were Here’ and ‘Nice To Know You’ on it. Do you become more optimistic or cautious when you have hit singles?
Things just change anyway, life views change because we’re not in our 20s now and because we’ve rolled everything we know together. Our last record 8 is our best.
I’m always trying to find the best quantitative measure of a band’s success, it used to be album sales and the financial reward that came with that. Leonard Cohen once said: “Success is survival.” Incubus have sold albums, made money and endured three decades.
You’ve sold 20+ million albums in your career but it is now a time for downloads rather than CD sales, has the financial impetus shifted to live touring?
The live experience has not changed, we just try to make it a musical journey for the fans who have been part of that journey… it’s inclusive and there’s a lot of love in the air.
It is not just a clever name, 8 is the eighth record, it is Incubus’ first album in seven years and a further step into the unknown and mixed up world they’re so comfortable in.
You’ve worked with Skrillex recently and Brendan O’ Brien in the past, how do they compare old vs new?
Skrillex was a lot of fun. He really likes a lot of bass which is cool, but we were in this million dollar studio and he puts his laptop on top of the console and uses that as a table and records us on his computer! You learn from Brendan O’Brien; like there has been a world full of artists whose egos diminish when they realise that playing music is a gift.
Not that I would want to gossip, but it would be a shame to waste the opportunity and not ask about it… What about the DJ Lyfe feud 2010?
That came from his side and not mine. So I don’t really know… I think it’s cool though.
Most importantly though, how does it feel to be back out on tour?
It feels focussed and we’re back at the stage where we’re enjoying the ride, we’re lucky and enjoying being in a band.
There were a few pleasantries on either side, he confirmed that he and the band were ‘anti-Trump’. I believe that is all our important business concluded.
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