Arts

Brandon Boyd of US rockers Incubus on Irish dates

US rockers Incubus make their Belfast debut at The Ulster Hall next month. David Roy quizzed frontman Brandon Boyd about the Californian band's imminent Irish dates and returning to music with current album 8 following an extended hiatus

US rockers Incubus return to Ireland next month

HI BRANDON, how is your summer going and are you looking forward to coming back to Ireland to play Belfast for the first time?

My summer has been so memorable thus far! Incubus has been on the road a lot but also found a way to be home enough that it doesn’t feel like we are completely disconnected from reality – that is possible, by the way.

I am thrilled to be heading back to Ireland after so long, yeah.

Do any of the band have Irish roots / connections?

Not that I am currently aware of, but most of us haven’t sent in our 23 and Me kits yet, so we’ll see! Haha.

It's been over a year since 8 came out, which was kind of a 'comeback' record for the band. How do you feel about the way it has been received by critics and fans?

It’s so weird that it has been over a year already. It still feels so new to me and we have only just begun to perform many of the songs live.

That being said, it really feels like this album has been embraced by our listeners more so than is normal for a new offering. There is a phenomenon that occurs when an established band release new music wherein only one or two new songs are tolerated in the live environment.

People have deep expectations for songs they have long adored and if the band pushes too much unproven music they can lose their attentions. That being said, Incubus has always played with those boundaries and straddled that line by reinventing older material AND introducing new material in ways that was more inclusive.

Our newest record 8 has been highly welcomed though and we’ve had to do less convincing and have just been playing the new songs like they belonged in the set all along. It’s hard to imagine our sets without these songs now.

You worked with both Dave Sardy and Skrillex on the record, two distinctly different producers. Has this experience opened your minds to working with people beyond the 'rock' realm?

Absolutely. Our band has always played with genres in a fluid way. It’s part of what’s enjoyable about making art; the only rules that exist are the rules one imposes on oneself.

So in embracing this we’ve had so much fun bouncing about in a virtually boundary-less atmosphere.

You went on hiatus after the touring for 2011's If Not Now, When?How close did you come to actually splitting for good, and what brought you back together?

There were moments after that tour when we were mere words away from hanging up the hat. In retrospect, that period of time was our collective ‘dark night of the soul’. But every good story has a walk through the valley.

We did our time and have been climbing up ever since. The last few years have been a joyous reintroduction not only to each other but to how much fun being in this band is.

If Not Now, When? is actually one of my favourite albums we’ve ever made, for so many reasons: it may be that it almost destroyed us, then ultimately brought us closer. It may be that it is decidedly different than any album we’ve made. It’s defiant in its songwriting and production, and it challenged our listeners in ways that I think are beautiful.

But mostly because it’s sort of the ugly duckling in our catalogue. It has a special place in my heart.

Pop seems to have been gradually eclipsing rock over the last few years in terms of mainstream popularity. Would you agree with that and, if so, what is to be done?

I feel like pop music has always eclipsed rock in popularity. The times when rock has risen above the muck and into mainstream ears has been when pop came over to the dark side, ha-ha.

The term ‘Rock is Dead!’ is such a weird idiom, because rock died the minute someone named it. All revolutionary art forms lose their juice at the moment they’re identified. But, I love a good zombie movie (see where I’m going with this?).

Rock is cool to me because it is undead. You can behead it, burn a crucifix in its forehead, shoot it into Swiss cheese and torch it down and it will still claw its way into your ears.

Do you think there will ever be a nu-metal revival?

God I hope not. Then I’ll become the zombie hunter. It’ll be good zombies VS bad zombies.

8 includes the song Love in a Time of Surveillance: what's the most embarrassing thing you've ever been caught doing on camera?

First five years as a singer. It’s all out there...

How long are we going to have to wait for a follow-up to 8?

Not long! We come home from tour mid October and we plan on spending the holidays writing and recording.

Next year will be the 20th anniversary of your breakthrough record Make Yourself – are you going to be marking that in any special way?

We will be! But I can’t tell you yet, because it’s a surprise...

:: Incubus, September 10, The Ulster Hall, Belfast / September 11, Bord Gais Energy Theatre, Dublin. Tickets via Ticketmaster.ie

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