CULVER CITY, California — After having lived together in a rented house while recording 2001's Morning View, Incubus decided to branch out a bit for the follow-up. A bit.
The bandmembers slept at home but recorded at guitarist Mike Einziger's house.
"We didn't want to go to some rehearsal studio, so I sacrificed my living room for rock and roll," Einziger said before a recent concert for radio station contest winners at Sony Pictures Studios. "It was really fun, actually. I had an entire band's worth of equipment in my living room that I could play with all the time."
"That and you were never late to practice," frontman Brandon Boyd added.
Not that tardiness was ever an issue. Incubus were so excited to be recording A Crow Left of the Murder, Boyd and drummer Jose Pasillas finished their parts ahead of schedule.
"I went home after about 10 days, and that's when I got hurt," Boyd said, referring to an Achilles' tendon injury he suffered while gardening (see "Incubus Singer Severs Achilles Tendon In Bizarre Gardening Accident"). "My foot fell off and they put me back together. Now I have a bionic foot like Luke Skywalker's hand. ... I also drive faster, too, because it's so heavy."
Boyd was joking, of course, which is what happens when a minor injury is the only speed bump in an otherwise smooth recording process. Considering Incubus were recording with a new bassist and producer, it's remarkable how easily the album came together.
Brendan O'Brien, best known for producing Pearl Jam and Rage Against the Machine albums, deserves at least some of the credit.
"He likes to do things really fast, which is good for all of us because we don't like to sit around and just overanalyze things," Einziger said.
"There's something to be said," added Boyd, "about the spontaneity. ... [A Crow Left of the Murder] is thought-out in the right places, but when there's an energy there, it's like we rush to the 'record' button to capture that energy."
O'Brien fueled the creative fire by recording the band performing together in the same room.
"What's really cool is that everybody was creatively and constructively pushing each other," Boyd said. "It wasn't really shoving, but healthy nudges coming from all of us."
"And we've got a guy in the band named Ben Kenney," added DJ Chris Kilmore, "and he's the biggest nudger out of all of us."
Kenney, of course, is the bass player who joined Incubus when Dirk Lance left last April. Before that, Kenney played with the Roots, Bubba Sparxxx and Blackalicious.
"We're pretty surprised, to be perfectly honest, that Ben's even in our band, because Ben hates everything," Einziger said. "I don't even know if he likes our band, but he's a really great musician. Me personally, I feel like there are a lot of parallels in our musical taste and philosophies behind what we're doing, but we're also really different in a lot of ways, and the differences are really cool because they complement each other rather than conflict with each other."
"We probably felt like we had a fresh start this time around in a lot of ways," Boyd added.
The first song Incubus wrote with Kenney was "Megalomaniac," the single that propelled A Crow Left of the Murder to record sales (see "Incubus Have Best Sales Week Ever With Crow").
Because of the track's political video (see "Doves Devour A War Hawk In Incubus' First Crow Video"), legions of listeners have assumed the song is about George W. Bush, but the inspiration actually came from a much different source.
"Have you ever seen the movie 'Three Amigos'?" Boyd asked. "Do you remember El Guapo? He was the bad guy. I think it was Steve Martin at the end who was talking about El Guapo and how everyone has their own El Guapo. It might be your mom, your dad or a tyrant of some kind. And basically I'm using my personal El Guapo."
Actually, Boyd's El Guapo is a composite of a couple of people, but he refused to name names.
"I always appreciate when lyrics are distinct enough that you can tell generally what's going on and appreciate it, and vague enough that you can apply your own meaning to it," the singer explained. "So it'd be great if people could apply their own El Guapos to this song."
Incubus are promoting A Crow Left of the Murder with a massive tour that hits North America in June (see "Incubus Announce Dates For North American Tour").