|Brandon Boyd (far left)
gets angry on A Crow Left of the Murder
Like their name ("a male evil spirit,
supposed in the past to have sex with a sleeping woman"-Oxford
English Dictionary), the Southern California rock group Incubus
surreptitiously planted a seed that continues to bear fruit.
From their inauspicious beginnings in the San Fernando Valley
at the beginning of the last decade, they have gradually boosted
their profile to the point where their upcoming Japan tour
sees them booked into Tokyo's fabled Budokan.
High school mates Brandon Boyd (vocals), Mike Einziger (guitar),
Alex Katunich, aka Dirk Lance (bass), and Mike Einziger (drums)
formed Incubus in 1991, a time that was perhaps not auspicious
for a budding alt-rock rock band. The death of Kurt Cobain
in 1993 and break-up of Soundgarden and Alice In Chains had
left the movement rudderless.
Grunge was soon supplanted in the alt-rock firmament by rap-metal
acts like Limp Bizkit, and, like them, Incubus decided to
add a hip-hop flavor to their sound with the addition of turntablist
DJ Lyfe in 1995. They debuted the same year with the independently
released Fungus Amongus, the success of which helped the band
score a deal with Epic/Sony subsidiary Immortal.
A steady succession of releases and tours backing bands like
Korn and 311 cemented Incubus's position as perhaps the thinking
teen's alt-rock act. Singer Boyd on songs like the 2000 breakthrough
Top 10 hit "Pardon Me," from Make Yourself, showed
a sensitivity alien to contemporary leadmen like Fred Durst.
Meanwhile, Incubus were also able to reach out beyond their
core Ozzfest/Family Values hard-rock audience to a more eclectic
crowd, joining techno singer Moby's Area: One cross-country
tour to support 2001's Morning View.
Following a contract dispute in the beginning of 2003 and
the replacement of bassist Katunich with The Roots veteran
Ben Kenney, Incubus entered the studio with producer Brendan
O'Brian (Pearl Jam, Bruce Springsteen). The result was A Crow
Left of the Murder, a 15-song monster that requires repeated
listening to fully grasp, revealing itself as a complex affair,
juxtaposing slow and fast, soft and hard, psychedelic and
The album's first single, "Megalomaniac," at this
writing No. 3 on Billboard's Modern Rock chart, not only reaffirms
Incubus's roots in heavy sounds but also shows a new, angry
side to singer Boyd. "Hey megalomaniac/you're no Jesus/Yeah,
you're no fucking Elvis/ Wash your hands clean of yourself
baby/And step down, step down, step down."
While it's unclear to whom, if anyone in particular, this
message is addressed, could its current success indicate that
it's resonating with an American youth that feels disenfranchised
with the current government administration? And does this
writer have a political bias he's trying to insinuate into
a preview of an upcoming concert...?
Incubus play Nihon Budokan on March
3. See concert listings for details.
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