Here’s how Incubus rejected studio trickery to create their new EP
Brandon Boyd explains how Incubus reignited the spark they found when they first formed.April 14, 2020
Incubus have been pounding it out on the 20th anniversary tour of their landmark album Make Yourself, but covering the past only feels fresh for so long. Their latest EP Trust Fall (Side B) sees them reject “studio trickery” to regain the spark that’s kept them, lifelong friends and colleagues, all these years. Vocalist Brandon Boyd explains that process.
A NEW STUDIO FOR A FRESH START.
Despite their near 30-year run as a band, Incubus only recently settled down deep in the San Fernando Valley where they could come together to create, practice and record as a band. The discussion to do so started around 15 years ago, but everything came to a head as they hunkered down to churn out five new tracks for Trust Fall (Side B), a collection Boyd calls “psychically connected” to the previous EP. “It’s been such a pleasure to have a place that we can call our own and work when we want to and not have to pay by the hour,” he says. “We’ve spent just countless dollars paying someone else’s rent.”
OLD HABITS CAME BACK INTO PLAY.
“There was something about the way we wrote Make Yourself and the record that came after it, Morning View, where we all just basically were in a room together,” Boyd explains of the nostalgia that seeped back into Incubus’ collective writing and performing habits. “Playing the record every night for three months—we also talked about this as a band—it reminded everybody that when we rely less on studio trickery and actually just hunker down and stare each other in the eyes and hash it out, we get better results. This EP is an example of that.”
YEARS OF WRITING AND PERFECTING IT.
“Our Love” hit airwaves in late January, but Boyd and guitarist Mike Einziger began work on the track years before. “[He] wrote the guitar riffs, and I responded to it with the lyrics that you hear. I actually laid down the lyrics at my house, and we all liked it so much, we just kept it. That song remains almost entirely unchanged.” The band also drew on references from material they’ve covered live from artists such as INXS and David Bowie on the EP’s most upbeat jam, “Into The Summer.” “We started playing that song in the studio, and when it was all coming together, we just agreed like, ‘This sounds like it came from a different era. Let’s go with it,’” he says.
WITH GREAT POWER COMES GREAT KARMIC RESPONSIBILITY.
Boyd, an eternally Zen presence on and offstage, focused on the concept of retribution on the heaviest track, “Karma, Come Back.” Incubus created multiple versions before settling on the more aggressive final cut, which fits nicely with the subtle political commentary found in the lyrics. “They say whatever you put into the world, you get it back threefold,” Boyd explains. “What I had in mind very overtly was the behavior of some leaders who seem to be acting as if there’s no such thing as accountability or consequence, and what I’m doing in the song is singing to this dark goddess, ‘Karma, come back!’ Like, I can’t wait for her to come back and do her dancing on these particular people.”
A BREAKUP SONG TO BREAKUP SONGS.
The starkly beautiful, piano-driven ballad “Paper Cuts” was built on a “rickety, beat-up upright piano, [Boyd’s] journal and a great deal of musical ambitions,” blending seamlessly into a weighty ballad that focuses in on a few significant chords highlighting the natural poetry of Boyd’s writing. “It’s essentially a story about somebody reading a diary they were never supposed to see, and all the entries were about that person,” he says. “It’s an occasion where somebody stumbled into a person’s private moment and saw things they weren’t supposed to see, then couldn’t unsee them.”