How long is too long?
It's been nearly three years since Incubus released fresh material, and in that time, the musical landscape has changed appreciably. Have Incubus been out of the game for so long that they're going to have to work to win back fans? Guitarist Mike Einziger isn't so sure that's the case.
"The musical landscape has changed numerous times since we became well-known," he said. "I feel like we've always existed on the periphery of whatever's happening musically at the time. When our last record [2004's A Crow Left of the Murder] came out, bands like the Strokes were what was happening at that time. People asked me the same question then. Whatever the timing is, whenever our records come out, I feel like we make music that people will still listen to 20 years from now.
"People still buy and listen to our records that came out in 1997 and 1999, so I don't worry about that at all," Einziger continued. "Aside from System of a Down, there aren't too many bands which became popular at the same time we did that are still around."
But can Incubus repeat the success of their previous efforts? A Crow Left of the Murder has sold more than 1.1 million copies since debuting at #2 on the Billboard albums chart, while 2001's Morning View also opened at #2 and has racked up sales of more than 2.7 million since.
Only time will tell — and we won't have to wait too long: On November 20, Incubus will release their fifth album, Light Grenades, which Einziger said the band finished recording just days ago.
Incubus began recording the LP in spurts about six months ago with Murder producer Brendan O'Brien (Rage Against the Machine, Stone Temple Pilots), but spent only five weeks putting the tracks they'd written to tape, in studios in Atlanta and Los Angeles. Light Grenades will feature 12 cuts, including "A Kiss to Send Us Off," "Quicksand," "Anna-Molly," "Earth to Bella," "Love Hurts" and the title track, which the guitarist promised is a "chaotic series of sonic explosions."
So, what does Light Grenades sound like? According to Einziger, "It's a total mess."
"It sounds like 13 different bands playing 13 different songs," he elaborated. "That's kind of how all our records sound. Every time we're about to start making a new album, I tell myself, 'OK, this one's going to be cohesive,' and it never happens. That's who we are as a band, and that's kind of how we are as people.
"We all have acute and collective ADHD [Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder] — at least according to other people — and we all have short attention spans," Einziger continued. "I think we just get bored if we have even two songs that sound alike. That's the way we've always been, and it's the way we'll always be."
He noted that several tracks sound nothing like Incubus' previous material, such as the tune "Dig," which was supposed to be an R&B song, "but we ended up making it slightly more rock, because it got to a point where I thought it didn't sound like us at all," he said.
Einziger said he and the rest of the band — frontman Brandon Boyd, bassist Ben Kenney, drummer José Pasillas and turntablist DJ Kilmore — can't wait to return to the road, and plan to do so this fall. Incubus have tentative plans for a brief club tour around the album's release date that will likely be followed by a more expansive run of theaters in 2007.