In The Here And Now
Friday, May 18, 2012|by G.K. Hizer
When Incubus released its latest disc, If Not Now, When?, in July 2011, it was received with open arms and a collective sigh of relief by the band's longtime fans. As the first album of new studio recordings since Light Grenades was released in November 2006 (the band had released a compilation album, Monuments and Melodies in 2009 and followed with a brief tour), it officially marked the end of a hiatus that was announced after the Light Grenades tour and signaled that the band truly was back and active once again.
The group has always been a work in progress, evolving over the years since its formation in 1991 with a few changes in membership and a sound that has continued to shift since the band’s official debut, Enjoy Incubus, dropped in early 1997. An eclectic mix of hip-hop, alt-rock, funk and pop has always made the band hard to corner as its singles steered toward the more melodic end of alt-rock radio playlists, yet the band toured successfully alongside acts as heavy and diverse as Ozzy Osbourne (Incubus was on the Ozzfest bill in both 1998 and 2000), Korn, Sublime, 311 and Unwritten Law in its early years.
With the release of If Not Now, When?, Incubus continues to mature, releasing one of the most relaxed and introspective albums of the group’s career. Of course, that’s not to say there the more uptempo, rocking tracks, but as a whole, it’s a far more mellow album than fans may have expected. Nevertheless, it still seems a natural progression for the band that has continually evolved and it feel like a natural fit in the sequence from 2004’s A Crow Left of Murder to Light Grenades to the latest release.
When discussing the new album with drummer Jose Pasillas, he initially responded “I’d agree with those characteristics. I think this record is a little darker in tone, although the last couple of records had some darker songs on them as well. This is really a vibe record, though. That overall tone wasn’t intended, it just happened that way. The record is what it was supposed to be at that time.”
“All of our records have had downtempo and uptempo tracks," he continued "but with this one, there’s not as much of the uptempo stuff. It was just our feeling and vibe at the time."
Pasillas also shared that although the band realized part way through the recording process that they had more mellow songs than usual and considered writing some more uptempo material, ultimately “We didn’t fight it and I think it came out very cool.”
Part of the results and overall vibe came from the band approaching the studio in a different manner for the current record.
“This is the first time we wrote when we went in to record, in the studio,” he shared. “Usually we pre-track songs and have everything worked out. This was the first time we’ve gone in with ideas, but nothing written, to just do it all in the studio. Someone might have a melody or a cool guitar line, then everyone would sit around together for an hour or two to work it out and record the song.”
“It was very spontaneous and challenged us,” Pasillas admitted, adding that “On the other side of it, I like to nurture the songs and figure out my parts, but I’m happy with the way it came out. It was a new approach and we embraced it and ran with it.”
Although a bit more relaxed and vibe oriented than the band's previous work, the album still ties naturally to Incubus’ back catalog and explores the band’s more melodic and moody side, especially on tracks like the title cut, “Promises, Promises”, “Friends and Lovers”, “Isadore” (which could have easily fit in on Light Grenades) and the acoustic based “Defiance”.
“We’re driven to not go back and do the same thing, but there’s still a familiarity,” Pasillas explained. “There’s always a common ground between all our work: that won’t change. We just naturally let it happen and lead wherever it wants to go.”
“We just write what excites us at the moment,” he continued. “We’ve always written for ourselves, not for anyone else or to try and satisfy what we think anyone wants to hear. We’ve just been very fortunate that a lot of people have liked it and followed along with us for the past 15 years.”
With the latest step and natural vibe that comes with If Not Now, When?, Incubus has produced one the most reflective and engaging albums of its career, showing a marked growth and maturity that comes with 15 years of experience. Now, the band is out in support of the album and bringing the tour to Tulsa, the band’s first visit here in over a decade.
A late summer run has already been planned that will see Incubus co-headline the Honda Civic Tour with Linkin Park, which fans of both bands are already anticipating. Tulsa, however, is in for a far more intimate show reflective of the new album and its spontaneous vibe as the group arrives for a show at The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino next Wednesday night, May 23. Tickets are still available for $45, $50 and $60, making it the perfect time to catch up with Incubus as the group gets acquainted with its Tulsa fan base. After all, as the album title suggests, if you’re a fan and want to finally see Incubus live, If Not Now, When?