To help generate a buzz for the release of its latest CD, If Not Now, When, Incubus’ management came up with a novel idea. The band would rent out a gallery storefront in Los Angeles, set up its instruments and play shows in this small space for six nights over a week’s time. Fans could find out when the shows were happening by contacting Incubus through social media and get invited to attend.
Clearly, playing at the storefront to an audience of dozens — instead of on a big stage to thousands of fans — was quite a switch from the usual Incubus concert, but bassist Ben Kenney says it wasn’t a completely foreign setting for the group.
“It really wasn’t all that strange because we do little promo stuff all over the place,” Kenney says, noting that launching a new album typically involves playing at radio stations and for other movers and shakers. “Usually the difference is that we’re traveling around for these sort of things, going and doing little private performances and things like that. And this we had it just in one spot. So every day we’d go to the same place. It sounded the same. It felt the same. I had a parking space reserved for me. I was psyched.”
Of course, the other difference was instead of playing for industry professionals, Incubus was playing for some of its biggest fans.
“That was the main difference, that and getting to get to hang out with people who are probably our most hardcore supporters, that was really cool,” Kenney says. “Every day after playing I would just hang out and there would be 20 or 30 people and these people were very into what we were doing and very supportive of it. And just getting to talk to everybody was nice.”
The six performances were streamed live on the Internet, and now the highlights of those six nights of storefront performances are available to everyone in a new DVD/two-CD set called Incubus HQ Live.
The two CDs capture the full performances of songs from across the seven-album Incubus catalog (although the sets emphasized material from the band’s four most recent albums). The more unique part of the set, though, is the DVD. Seeing the band perform in full electric format in such an intimate space gives a unique perspective on Incubus, and conversations with fans that were captured on film and interviews shed light on the band’s inner workings and the personalities of its five members — Kenney, singer Brandon Boyd, turntable artist DJ Chris Kilmore, guitarist Mike Einziger and drummer Jose Pasillas.
And somehow it seems fitting that Incubus HQ Live arrives just as Incubus is completing its touring cycle behind If Not Now, When by co-headlining the Honda Civic tour with Linkin Park.
Once the tour ends, it looks as if it will be awhile before Incubus returns to action.
“We have no plans, to tell you the truth at the moment,” Boyd says. “We are, for the first time since 1996, we are free agents again. We’re without a record label. So what we’re kind of doing is trying to get our bearings as to what we should do next, just as a band, but also as a band that is kind of off in new territory again.”
Boyd says nothing has been decided about how long a break Incubus will take, although he said he hopes it won’t be as long as the two-year hiatus that preceded the making of If Not Now, When?
“What we like to do is arrive with the best of intentions and try and create music from a sense of urgency as well as purity and not necessarily based on a schedule,” Boyd says. “I know that that can be a little bit frustrating for our listeners and stuff. But I think that we’ll make better music as a result. So the plan is to have no plan.”