Incubus is a crafty band, often a little too smart for their own good. With a career built on a number of acclaimed records such as”Makes Yourself”, as well as a quirky worldview, the band is planning to honor their legacy by playing the entire record at recent London’s Royal Albert Hall gig. While it’s odd to see this innovative album reproduced in this way, it helps tells us how long it takes for cutting-edge music to reach the classic rock stations in earnest. About 20 years.
An alternative rock band thriving a nu-metal world
From the get-go, Incubus always looked like a cut above their nu-metal contemporaries in terms of sheer number of ideas. Also, in terms of subtlety. Sure, their music featured a distorted 7-string attack, but a lot of music was sensible, making them one of the few alt-metal bands of their age that enjoyed a following of female fans.
Many ideas were tested, not all worked. However, the ones that did, as unusual as some were found their ways on to singles and then on to radio and tv promotion. Incubus were lucky to strike a nice balance between commercial acceptance and critical approval.
As time has gone by, Incubus’ image has remained that of a band that lead the pack in terms of sheer inventiveness, rather than being one of the numerous nu-metal imitators that, at one point, flooded the airwaves.
The success of Make Yourself
Make Yourself is an odd, big record, chock-full of strange perspectives, angsty lyrics, great hooks and a style that fans of bands like Linkin Park or Deftones could adhere to. It overreaches at times. Critics of the record might even call it pompous. But, its three of its singles were tremendously successful. The album moved many copies, particularly on the success of songs like Drive, Stellar and Pardon me. And, maybe apart from the Deftones’ White Pony, no other top-selling record of the time quite achieved the balance between pleasing head-banging festival crowds, as well as teenage oddballs.
Their next album, Morning View, would further help clarify their ideas and solidify their reputation. Singles like Wish you were here, Nice to know you, Are you in? were further proof of a band willing to venture out, refreshen their sound, yet still, potentially, manage chart winners.
Considering the dual nature of the band, artsy indie rockers meet heavy-duty detuned rock, it’s interesting to witness how Incubus remains vital in 2020. The band still draws a large audience live, owed in no small part by the individual group members’ maintained abilities. Inbucus’ setlists centred on established songs helps as well. Their recent releases, however sporadic, have been met with a fair deal of critical appreciation. And, they even get the odd hit single.
Adult-oriented alternative rock
Mind you, Incubus is not complaining or making much of a fuss about needing to play the hits. Rather, they’re sneaking through the door of rock nostalgia, playing the fan favorites whenever they’re expected to do.
No matter how forward-thinking they may be at times, the band now approaches a good part of what they do as a legacy act, happy providers of musical sentimentality. It seems like a second-ago that Incubus was one of the most cutting-edge bands of those offered residency on mainstream media. But, lead singer Brandon Boyd and his colleagues are people pleasers at heart.
Incubus are playing Make Yourself, one of their most revered albums, live, in its entirety, on tour, for their London residency. The question of how much time it takes before alternative rock inevitably becomes mined for classic rock playlists has always bugged me. It turns out that the answer is, give or take, 20 years.