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By Andy Argyrakis
Incubus celebrates innovative alt-rock career
with double disc greatest hits
"One on One"
Sept. 27, 2009
From its early days as a hard rock underground act through dominating radio in the late 1990s until now, Incubus is one of the most varied and unique alternative acts of the modern era. With the uncanny ability to fit in alongside the heavy-handed Ozzfest crowds as becoming teen-heartthrobs thanks to MTV superstardom, the band's audience is just as widespread as the sounds on each CD. But no matter the sector of the group's fan base, all are sure to find common ground throughout the new greatest hits set Monuments and Melodies (Epic), a two disc affair boasting all the massive singles ("Drive," "Wish You Were Here," "Nice To Know You"), along with several rarities and B-sides. Founding member/drummer Jose Pasillas recently checked in from the road to chat about the guys' perspective on their lauded history.
Compare and contrast the music industry from when you first started in the early '90s through now.
Jose Pasillas: We were really fortunate to start when we did, which was in high school as friends in our teens. At that time, big labels were always looking for commercial success, but a lot of indie labels were brothers and sisters with the majors and were looking for bands to develop. Basically we teamed up with Immortal, which was under the wing of Epic, in a developmental deal were they said "we like you guys and know you're going to get better and we'd like to see how you grow." So that kind of deal allowed us to grow as a band and as people. Nowadays, [the labels] are going for instant success with no developmental stage. All these companies are starting to go away or combine with one another and it's a totally different game. We're lucky to have developed and been supported and not told what to do, which after making records for nine or ten years, found us getting better and better. The support of a major label also gets you out on tour, which is what we did all of the '90s through the 2000s. It's changing dramatically now where baby bands aren't given the time to develop and resources are low. The internet is bigger, pirating is bigger than ever and that's changed the whole face of the game. We're kind of safe and to the point where we can still tour and play in an amphitheatre even if we don't sell a bunch of records. That took years of development, but we're still able to tour and have fun.
Does it feel strange that the band's 20th anniversary is just a couple years around the corner?
Pasillas: It's really amazing and so cool, but it's also kind of scary that much time has passed and we're that much older. It's amazing to have hits and this [greatest hits disc] doesn't just have three or four singles, but it's truly packed out with thirteen singles and a couple new songs. It's a big moment in our career that's really hard to grasp.
How did you know this was the right time for the hits project?
Pasillas: We didn't really. We're always busy and it wasn't something on our minds, but we were home for awhile and not touring, so we thought it was a logical thing to do. We've had great success with singles and have a couple more [new songs] coming up on the album.
What's going on with your website (www.enjoyincubus.com) these days?
Pasillas: We're putting together a new section called The Incubus Vault, which is basically a vault of memorabilia- visual, audio and just about everything. It's stuff I haven't even seen in ten years! There are pictures from the road, videos for all our singles, behind the scenes footage, everything we've done for MTV, old tour posters and pretty much everything we've done. I've never seen anything like it and it's a really cool thing for me even, especially because I haven't thought of some of this stuff in years.
How do you feel the band has evolved over the years?
Pasillas: That's kind of really hard to say. Sitting so close to the band, you can't really see where you're at, but every record we've done, I know we've grown. And then after making one and touring behind it for two years, you grow some more musically and personally, which makes every phase different, challenging and fun.
How did you guys survive the nu-metal scene, which is basically the time Incubus started to gain popularity?
Pasillas: We were definitely clumped in and there's a heavy side to our music, but we've never been all heavy or all soft of all mid-tempo. That's what made it so easy for us to adapt to playing shows with Ozzy [Osbourne] and Pantera on the heavier side and then playing with Sugar Ray or Save Ferris and fitting in over there too. We've always stayed true to ourselves and this collection shows all different genres.
What's your opinion of the band's last original album Light Grenades from 2006?
Pasillas: That one was a little different. It took us about a year to write. We went in the studio and wrote for a few months, jammed together for a few months, went into record, then took a break and did that [cycle] a few more times until we had a record. We had the luxury of time and it allowed us to do something different, which debuted at number one and surpassed everyone's expectations.
How do you guys stay grounded in spite of your fame?
Pasillas: It's kind of weird because I don't really see myself as being famous. I see that the band is well known, but I don't think a lot of people recognize me because I look like the average skater kid who kind of blends in with the masses. Our singer Brandon [Boyd] gets recognized the most for sure and it's really cool when someone wants an autograph or a picture. We've always stayed close to family and friends and they never let me get bigger than I am.
What part do the fans play in Incubus' story?
Pasillas: The fans are everything. They allow us to do what we want to do musically and they've been so supportive over the past 18 years. We wouldn't be anywhere without them and we owe everything to them. We're grateful and thankful that they continue to enjoy our music and come along for the ride.
What's next on the horizon for the group?
Pasillas: I don't know and I'm curious too! We don't really plan or conceptualize when we go into the studio. It just comes naturally where some things grasp quickly and others take more time. It's really hard to tell, but the goal is to write the best we can, always keeping it exciting and fresh.