Brace yourself for some history! In ancient Mesopotamia, we saw the first mention of a creature akin to an incubus. This creature is a demon who has a penchant for selecting and seducing women, which sometimes would result in a child (succubi were female demons who seduced men).
This long-running California rock band may have taken their now-famous name from this spooky demon, but they’re not that frightening. In fact, they’re one of the most successful bands of all time. You could say, however, that they have seduced both women and men for over two decades with their ever-changing yet unique tunes.
Perhaps the most surprising aspect about the all-American alt-rock band Incubus is their tenacity. Since 1991, Brandon Boyd has been belting on the mic, Mike Einziger has been raging on the guitar, and Jose Pasillas has been keeping time on the drums. They’ve added to their lineup over the years to fill out their sound, but these three original founding members have stuck it out for 26 incredible years.
It all began when they were attending Calabasas High School. While they were still in their teens, they were able to book gigs at the famed clubs along the Sunset Strip just as the big-haired, garishly-dressed bands of the 1980s were fading from popularity and a weird new sound called grunge was taking over. Their shows went so well that the young trio decided to put some of their tunes onto tape at a little studio in Santa Monica after school hours.
In 1995, they decided to become a quartet and added DJ Lyfe to their roster. That was the year that the band released their first album, Fungus Amongus, and they decided that the only way to have complete creative control over the album was to put it on their own label entitled Stopuglynailfungus Music (that’s not a typo).
Their big break came about in 1996, when Sony decided to pick them up for a staggering seven-record deal. Sony placed the band on their Epic Records sub-label, and in 1997, the famous EP Enjoy Incubus was released, just before Incubus was asked to tour with Korn across Europe.
Then Incubus released S.C.I.E.N.C.E., and everything changed. They were clearly influenced by funk bands in their early years, and with this 1997 album, they turned a corner. They started getting darker and heavier, exploring the realm of nu metal. More drastic changes were ahead for them as DJ Lyfe was replaced by DJ Kilmore, who has been with the band ever since.
Just before the beginning of the new millennium, everyone was looking for a new sound. Incubus’s third album, Make Yourself, released in late 1999, saw them take on a less extreme, more alternative sound akin to their tour-mates Primus. The next few years included chart-topping hits like “Pardon Me,” “Wish You Were Here,” and “Nice to Know You,” as well as steady touring across the world as headliners or as the opening act for other incredible bands like The Roots and Outkast.
As the band members matured and had families, they decided together that they would take a break from the music world for just a while. Brandon and Mike went back to college and Jose went home to care for his new baby in 2008. Brandon said, “I’m of the mind to say it wouldn’t be a bad thing to disappear for a year or two years. A lot of people would say culture moves too fast and you need to remind people, but I would argue there’s not any rush.”
They announced their return to the radio waves with the release of their 2009 album Monuments and Melodies, which opened at number five on the prestigious Billboard 200 chart. Brandon said of their plans about touring, “We can never force anything. I definitely have the suspicion that we’re going to get on the road together this summer. We’re just going to start playing and stuff is going to start brewing, and we’re going to light that fire again.” But it wasn’t until mid-2011 that the band really started touring again with the release of If Not Now, When? because they were still busy with their real-life commitments and side projects.
Part of the reason that the band decided to take a breather was because their former member, DJ Lyfe, was causing them some trouble. In 2009, DJ Lyfe threatened DJ Kilmore, his replacement, when they ran into each other at a store. DJ Kilmore stated that Lyfe, “asked me to fight him right there and raised his fists to me.” Lyfe had a restraining order slapped on him for the incident, and it was then revealed that he had had one years before for spitting on Kilmore.
The band has enjoyed steady touring over the last few years, especially on the festival circuit. But they only released new tunes with their eighth studio album, aptly titled 8, on April 21, 2017, and this isn’t the only stuff you’re going to hear from them this year. They’ve got so many collaborations in the works with artists like Skrillex. After all of these years, I think that they are re-inventing themselves yet again and have found that fire they were looking for.
Incubus has survived a changing music business, evolving musical tastes, and even a few haters who just wanted to see them fail, and still remains an arena-packing, hysteria-inducing band that will go down in the history books. There truly is no end in sight for them. Do yourself and that little alt-rock-loving teenager inside of you a favor and check out Incubus at Champions Square on August 2. It’s a school night, but I’m sure that it will be worth the drowsiness the next day.
Incubus performs at Champions Square on Wednesday, August 2, at 7 p.m. For tickets, go to livenation.com