and Incubus take us inside their classic, Make Yourself
HOW A BUNCH OF CALIFORNIA BUMS GOT PLUCKED FROM OBSCURITY TO ADD A TOUCH OF CLASS TO NU-METAL
When Incubus released Make Yourself in 1999, the world of heavily-amplified rock music stood on shifting sands. The template of songs all of which featured a guitar solo was, for the first time in the genre’s history, markedly out of vogue; into this vacuum flooded all manner of strange things: hip-hop verses, down-tuned guitars, DJS, turntables, and God knows what else. The name given to this new school was numetal, a catch-all term that suited Incubus not very well at all.what did suit the Los Angeles band well, however, was the creative space in which they were suddenly free to express themselves, a period of time that coincided with the release of Make Yourself, the first point in the group’s history where their songwriting skills blossomed to the fore. In other words, this was the point that lightning was captured in a bottle.
More in tune with the genius of california eclecticists Faith no More – who would historically be blamed for inspiring the genre – than many of Incubus’ baggytrousered contemporaries, Make Yourself went on to sell more than two-million copies in the united states alone, and made their highly-photogenic frontman brandon boyd a poster boy for the new alternative generation. here, he tells us the story of how it all happened.
MAKE YOURSELF WAS SEEN AS A THINKING PERSON’S NU-METAL ALBUM. HOW DID THAT SIT WITH YOU?
BRANDON BOYD (VOCALS):“I don’t think that it’s news to any of your readers, but the term nu-metal always made me cringe. It still makes me cringe a little bit. There are some bands that shall remain unmentioned that, to me, fit that moniker very successfully. but one of the reasons it made me cringe, aside from some of the music that it was describing, was that somehow our band occasionally got lumped in with some of those bands. They were bands that we had nothing in common with except for an electric guitar. but we can’t really control these things, so it’s something that I’ve lovingly let go of. but the music press that really listened to what it is we were doing on that album never applied the term nu-metal to us, and those that did were just being lazy. so ‘the thinking person’s nu-metal’ is really only a phrase that I like the first part of!”
WERE YOU AWARE THAT MAINSTREAM ROCK MUSIC AT THE TIME ENJOYED GREATER SCOPE FOR INNOVATION THAN IT HAD IN THE PAST?
“hmmm, aware.we just sort of, you know, go for it. but at the time we were channelling tons of influences – not just our original influences of Primus and Rage Against The Machine and Red hot chili Peppers and bands like that but also stuff we were hearing at festivals, drum’n’bass stuff, and people like björk. so we were shovelling that into our sound, both consciously and unconsciously.and although we have a couple of songs that do feature gratuitous guitar solos, that was never part of our musical template, so we’ve always had the freedom to write how we like in that sense.”
MAKE YOURSELF ENJOYED ENORMOUS COMMERCIAL SUCCESS. DID YOU ENJOY BECOMING FAMOUS FOR YOUR MUSIC?
“It was fun, but also strange.there was a certain amount of pressure to repeat that success. I remember for the first time being aware of the amount of eyes and ears that were on us.and that was exciting, but also there was nothing that could really prepare you for that. so there was a learning curve in being aware of that level of attention on our band. Over the years we’ve gotten used to that, but then again you can really get used to that level of attention.”