With their song "Stellar" at the #5 spot on Billboard's Modern Rock Singles chart and a show-stealing stint on the Ozzfest tour, hard-rockers Incubus have a lot to celebrate.
To say thanks to their fans, the Calabasas, Calif., quintet released the EP When Incubus Attacks, Vol. 1 on Tuesday (Aug. 22) and will follow it with a live DVD, due for release around Christmastime, according to Incubus frontman Brandon Boyd. The band also has songs on two upcoming high-profile compilations Strait Up and Loud Rocks.
The seven-song When Incubus Attacks, Vol. 1 features live and acoustic versions of "Pardon Me" (RealAudio excerpt), their first hit this year, along with an acoustic version of "Stellar" (RealAudio excerpt).
"We wrote 'Pardon Me' along with the whole album and never thought anything different about it," Boyd said. "Epic [Records] suggested it as the single, and we said, 'Sure. Whatever.' We had never really gotten any love from radio before, but that song's really done a lot for us, and we couldn't be more pleased. It's been a great year, man."
When Incubus Attacks, Vol. 1 stems from a November recording session when Boyd and guitarist Mike Einziger sneaked into a small Chicago studio to lay down six acoustic tracks.
"We are always messing around with our music in the back of our bus, and suddenly our acoustic stuff started sounding good, at least to us," Boyd said. "So we thought we would put them out for our fans. Incubus has always come from the musical side of things. We remix our own songs all the time, do weird sh-- to them. We rearranged some of our songs to sound like lounge numbers. The kids get real pissed when we play those."
"I already thought they were an amazing band, but [When Incubus
Attacks] really shows their versatility," said Alfonso Espitia, 22, who maintains the Incubus fansite Phentropa. However, he added, "They didn't have to put 'Pardon Me' on there twice."
Only three of the acoustic tracks made it onto to the EP: "Pardon Me," "Stellar" and "Make Yourself," the title track from the group's 1999 near-platinum second album. "Crowded Elevator," from the "Scream 3" soundtrack, live versions of "Pardon Me" and "Favorite Things" (from the 1997 album S.C.I.E.N.C.E.), recorded at the Fillmore in Denver, and an untitled hidden track round out the album.
Boyd said Incubus, who also include DJ Kilmore, bassist Dirk Lance and drummer Jose Pasillas, have performed acoustically for several radio and television shows but not in concert. When the group heads out for a second national tour, in November, they may incorporate the style a sharp contrast to the group's biting, turntable-driven, funked-up hard rock into their live shows.
"We've always thought it would be cool to do an acoustic set or maybe a whole little acoustic tour," Boyd said. "It's just something we like to do, to escape the whole thunder of hard rock sometimes."
While "Pardon Me" blasts behind Boyd's quick rhyming and DJ Kilmore's turntable wizardry part of a popular round of rap-rock anthems that also includes Papa Roach's "Last Resort" and P.O.D.'s "Rock the Party" "Stellar" is more of a power ballad, opening in a soft croon and lazy beat.
The song's success has proved Incubus to be a multifaceted rock outfit, and, more important, not a one-hit wonder.
"I've always wanted to write a love song," Boyd explained. "We did, sort of, on the last record, with 'Summer Romance (Anti-Gravity Long Song),' but it's more of a cheesy, mocking love song. About two years ago, I met a girl in France, and it was kind of the love-at-first-sight thing. I struggled for a while to be able to write down how it felt. And I finally got it out in 'Stellar.' "
The hidden track on When Incubus Attacks, Vol. 1 showcases yet another side of Incubus, with its chill vibe and stoner lyrics. The song, with the chorus of "We're smokin'/ Smokin' the herb again," sounds similar to former tourmates 311's "Who's Got the Herb?"
"It's just us goofing around late at night," Boyd said. "We do that every once in a while, just to show that we're still in this for fun and can write songs in an hour at 2 in the morning. Everybody wrote and rapped their own verse and then I did a bad Prince impression in the background. It's just something for fun."
When Incubus Attacks, Vol. 2 will be a DVD, Boyd said. It will feature live footage culled from the past two years and "will have all our videos we've ever done, dating back to really cheap, cheesy ones we did when we first started."
Meanwhile, Boyd also will show up on the highly anticipated tribute album to former Snot singer Lynn Strait, Strait Up, due Nov. 7. Boyd sings lyrics he wrote about Strait's death in a car accident two years ago over music recorded by the remaining members of Snot. The cryptic track is titled "Divided (An Argument for the Soul)."
Incubus also will appear on Loud Rocks, a compilation featuring Loud Records rap artists performing with various rock groups. Wu-Tang Clan and System of a Down, Mobb Deep and Everlast, and Static-X and Dead Prez are among the collaborations on the album.
Incubus collaborated with the late rapper Big Punisher, who died of a heart attack earlier this year.
"Loud called and asked if we were interested, and we definitely were," Boyd said. "They sent us a list of songs to cover, and as soon as we saw 'Still Not a Player,' we jumped on that like ants on sh--. We love that song. So they sent us a vocal album of Big Punisher, and we just kind of made a song around that, with me singing and rapping and being goofy. It turned out pretty cool."