Brandon Boyd is taking in the California morning, enjoying a rare stretch at home between legs of an intensive worldwide tour with Incubus. “I’ve been hanging out with my super-old dog who doesn’t walk anymore,” he replies when Kerrang! enquires how he’s been enjoying the breather. “I now have to push him around in a stroller, which is kind of embarrassing, but kind of hilarious at the same time.”
The 42-year-old bachelor lives among the trees of the Santa Monica Mountains when he’s not on tour, and spends his days hiking, walking on the beach and painting. When he leaves again for tour in a couple of days, he will pack a few paintbrushes and a skateboard so he can while away the dead hours between travel and performing.
In some respects the things that get Brandon out of bed in the morning haven’t changed much since he and skate buddies Mike Einziger (guitar) and José Pasillas (drums) began playing music together in 1991, while the three were attending Calabasas High School. Their first recording came in the form of a literature class assignment to compose an original poem or song. Uncomfortable with the idea of playing in front of the class, they recorded the performance (“I just kind of acted like an idiot and it was fun”) on to a videotape, which they simply labelled ‘Incubus’.
Incubus rose to prominence at the turn of the century, when everyone from Limp Bizkit to Eminem were utilising shock, experiences of domestic trauma and anger at authority to mainstream commercial success. Compared to their peers, Incubus were a cosmic anomaly.
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Both 1999’s Make Yourself and 2001’s Morning View drew from a wider sonic palette, coalescing electronics, prog, jazz and even didgeridoos into their funk-rock blueprint, while Brandon’s lyrics aspired to higher consciousness and equilibrium with the universe. Both albums sold millions, propelling Incubus and Brandon’s good looks on to magazine covers and screens everywhere for a new generation of MTV-watchers. After almost a decade near the top of the rock tree, Incubus announced a hiatus in 2008 when they were arguably at the height of their powers.
Along the way, Brandon has found time to issue a solo record, publish three books of artwork and lyrics (he is currently working on a fourth) and establish a parallel career as a visual artist, exhibiting around the world and raising awareness for environmental causes. It’s a lot to have accomplished by the age of 43, and now Incubus are experiencing a second wind in their career since reconvening in 2010. But Brandon is full of positive energy as he discusses where he finds himself in life now, demanding tour schedules and all. “Maybe one of the perks of going into your 40s is you appreciate things a little differently,” he ponders in his wise, hippyish manner…