Incubus ‘Unpack’ From Hiatus With ‘Promises, Promises’

If Not Now, When? is band's first studio effort in nearly five years.

Brandon Boyd knows it’s been a while — almost five years, to be exact — since Incubus last released a new studio album. And, in the time since 2006′s Light Grenades, Incubus have toured the world, released a greatest-hits album, gone on hiatus and even grown up a bit.

And though that break was frustrating for the band’s fans (even if there were various side projects and solo albums to tide them over), Boyd said it was necessary. After all, without it, there probably wouldn’t be an Incubus today.

“Yes, we’ve been on a ‘hiatus,’ we’ll say, in quotes — I love that word, it’s so heavily connotated — for the past five years. And it’s not that we were burned out being in a band or being in this band; I think that we, collectively, were feeling like if we didn’t step away from this sort of monster that we created, that it would begin to consume us,” he told MTV News. “And for us to be able to come back and write music that was still pure in its ethic, to us as creative people, that we had to get a nice chunk of real life. And there’s definitely a better way to put that. We had to unpack, basically.

“We had to plant some roots, lest we start to write songs about living on a tour bus. … So we had to fall in love, we had to fall out of love, we had to make homes … our drummer had a baby, Michael went off to school, I was exploring a lot of my own singular creative tendencies,” Boyd continued. “We weren’t sitting at home twiddling our thumbs or anything; all of us had a lot to do. And eventually, it got to the point where it was like, ‘It’s time.’ ”

Soon, it will be time for If Not Now, When?, Incubus’ first new album since Grenades. It’s due in stores on July 12, and it finds the band exploring wide-screen sonics and space (“I’m hoping people will put the headphones on and just listen,” Boyd said) and, in doing so, also showcases Boyd’s new songwriting prowess. He attempted to say more with fewer words this time around, and his lyrics are given room to sink in — a luxury not available on the band’s previous, more-hectic albums. Case in point: new single “Promises, Promises,” which finds him in prime, precise storyteller mode.

“I’ve kind of played with the idea of storytelling before, but never so precisely as I have on this album … [on] two songs in particular: ‘Promises, Promises’ and another track called ‘Isadore,’ ” he explained. ” ‘Promises, Promises,’ is a story about a girl and a guy — go figure — and the girl has built up so much armor around herself with the things that she knows how to do.

“And so, I used these metaphors in the song of, like, magic, like she’s an illusionist, so she creates these illusions around her,” he continued. “And she’s gotten so good at it that she meets somebody who potentially could be someone that could help her break through those illusions and those walls, she can’t really recognize that he could be the real thing, or they could be the real thing, so she’s asking him for one thing: ‘Don’t make me any promises.’ ”

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