photo by: Jena Ardell

Bringing sunlight through new music with Brandon Boyd

“Swim out into the ether. Water’s fine, every time, where we unfurl.” Brandon Boyd sings, two minutes and forty-seven seconds into “Karma, Come Back”, the opening track off Incubus‘ new EP Trust Fall Side B (released April 17th). Then, at the three minute, fifty-second mark, there’s a signature Boyd “Wish You Were Here”-esque shout, that injects the ocean waves right into your body, allowing you to truly unfurl into a sea of Incubus melody.

It’s all about the little things – the intricate touches that make Incubus the band they have been for almost three decades – that ultimately pairs with the moments of your life that result in a refreshing breath of fresh air. Speaking of which, throughout my recent interview with Boyd via our Instagram Live Series, the sweet sounds of birds chirped in the background, perfectly accenting our conversation and the sunlight feeling of having new music from a band like Incubus during this time of much uncertainty. It’s appropriate the band now has two different releases under a moniker of Trust Fall.

Throughout our conversation, we surf the wave of self-expression and dig deep into the different pleasures of artistically pouring yourself into the various platforms you dig up. For Incubus collectively, and Boyd as a writer on this new EP, this process was one of “Paper Cuts” and much love.

How are you doing, how is quarantine-life going for you?

I can’t really complain. It’s such strange circumstances that we all live in right now. The fact that I have a safe and comfortable place to be in during this lock-down is more than I can ask for. So, everything considered, I am doing well. At first the days were painstakingly slow and then the days started speeding up considerably.

Music has certainly helped a lot and I am finding your new record, Trust Fall Side B is a collection of music that is really pairing nicely with the here and now.

Yeah, thank you. It was obviously written before any of this happened. It’s interesting how music can feel relevant during something it was never really intended to relate to. Not being able to surf, I have been bonding with one of my older acoustic guitars. I’ve also been painting and reading a bunch. It’s been an interesting time. If it weren’t for this constant stream of disturbing news from all over the world, I would say that I would look back on this experience fondly. I am a home-body to begin with, but it’s not been turned up a notch. I’ve become a better cook. I’ve been bonding with my dogs and my home, too. It’s my hope that human beings as a collective species will learn something from this – beyond just trying to rush back to normal. I hope we take something larger away from this experience where we can create better circumstances for everyone.

New Incubus records always seem to match with what I have going on in my life. It’s comforting and trippy in a great way, how the message can so directly speak to the experiences I am living through.

We allow music to be a way of expressing ourselves, not only through a way of writing or performing it, but by way of absorbing it – listening to it and experiencing it. I can say that the music I listen to does impact me on a daily basis. Sometimes I catch myself lost in it. I tuned into a song, someone starts talking to me like, “Hey, what should we have for dinner?” And I’m like, “Oh, I’m sorry. It’s dinner time?” It’s a lovely escape of sorts. So much of our musical experiences serve as an escape and whisking us away from our current situation. Music really can be an avenue for arriving. It can also bring in a lot of realizations. So, it’s not only an escape, but a mechanism to transport you to relatively profound realizations of who you are.

photo by: Jena Ardell

Did any of the songs from Trust Fall Side B come from the follow-up sessions from Side A or are they all relatively new?

They are all mostly new with a couple of pieces that emerged from the time we were writing Side A. Most of the music from “Into The Summer” came from the original writing sessions from Side A. They came out from a gush of ideas from Mike (Einziger, guitarist). The group basically presents sounds to me and then my process is that I chase the most explosive reaction. I was digging around some files when we began writing for Side B and came across that piece. It then just clicked and there was a melody immediately. A lyric then started to unfold so I called Mike and started singing it to him. A few years later it turned into a song. So, there were some ideas from Side A that came back around and were then completed.

Brandon Boyd on the writing of Trust Fall Side B:

The thoughtfulness that you put into every lyric and melody is something that has always resonated deeply with fans. Your lyrics are always so poetic and artistic. “Paper Cuts” for example, “These pages, razor blades,” in just three words you’re making a really profound and deep statement, as is “Those words were mine.” What was your lyric writing process was for Trust Fall Side B?

The truth is that is somewhat hard to put to words. It’s not something that moved from A to B. My process is one that creates a container of ideas and then I go in and piece them together. It doesn’t even make sense while it is happening. I think it’s relative to the artistic process as a whole. You don’t always know how you do it, it more of a novelty. I suppose I am attracted to rooms in the house that are not always lit. I am attracted to going into the dark rooms and giving them light. Then you starting to decorate them and living them. It’s a non-linear continuum of sorts. Paper Cuts in particular – it was an experience of somebody reading something that was about them, but was never intended to be read by them. I have this technique where if someone of something collides with your world view and provides stress or chaos, I find it’s beneficial to hold, take a few breaths and then write them a letter without intending to send it. I always write things out because it helps me make sense of my own emotional process. In this case, I wrote one of those letters and the person that was not supposed to read it, did. So maybe the moral of the story is to maybe burn those letters (laughs).

I know there is still a lot of thought that goes into sequencing a record, even in a world of singles. “Paper Cuts” closes the album and “On Without Me” is right before that. It almost seems as if there is a connection in the narrative of story-lines.

Right on, thank you for taking the time to notice that. Often many micro decisions falls on deaf ears. Many people will simply find a song that they like and just listen to that song and disregard the rest. And that’s OK. We can’t dictate how people want to absorb the art or music. It’s just a blessing that people even want to listen to one song. That’s hard enough as it is.

I’m sure it’s a bit of an unknown right now with what comes next or what plans can hold. How are you feeling about what the summer and fall may bring?

It’s a good question, I wish I had more information on it. We are gutted to not be able to make it to Europe this year. There’s something about being on the tour bus in Europe where you can sit in the viewing lounge up front and watch the landscapes as you go by, there’s nothing better. Hopefully we get back there next year. For this summer, it seems like a long-shot, I would be delightfully surprised.

from Incubus at home rendition of “Our Love”

What is like to have a new EP released during a time like this?

There seems to be an imagined correlation at times. It has nothing to do with us, but it seems something happens every time we release a record. It’s not directly connected, but your mind operates to connect dots. We released Morning View right around the time of 9/11. We were first and foremost so shocked and horrified of that situation. We were right there in New York City. It was such an intense experience for so many reasons. We had just poured our hearts into making Morning View and we thought, does the record exist any more? Is anybody going to listen to it? Those problems are small by comparison. We were wondering if we could do that tour. We did end up doing it, everybody came and it was successful. I remember thinking back then that I hope people won’t associate Morning View with terrible times. It turned out, I don’t think that was the takeaway for many people and it was more aligned with the times that were happy during those tough times. I am deeply hoping that people won’t associate Trust Fall Side B with this difficult time on earth, but it will remind them of the wonderful things.

I remember that Morning View time-period very well, and that tour right after 9/11. I’ll never forget the emotion those shows created – it just felt so great to be there. It was a new appreciation for each other. I think the same thing will hold true in perhaps a greater capacity with Trust Fall Side B, because in short, Incubus music seems to just make you feel good.

Right on, thank you for saying so, I appreciate that. The feeling is intensely mutual. It is not a one way street with the music. It’s not like we are coldly writing it and then robotically performing it. The experience is just as intense and viscerally real. I think that’s probably why we are so invested in it in so many way. It’s a conversation we have been having with our audience for a few decades now. I never thought I would make a living doing this. I did it because I was fascinated by it, terrified by it and loved it. Still, those same emotions are still present when we make music.

Music is not one of those things where you practice it, get really good at it and then you are done. It’s art, there is no end point. You can set short term goals where you find yourself achieving those things, but there is no place where you think, I’m done. It keep spinning. Of course, with the guys in the band, but I could have never anticipated that it would have scaled out to others. I am incredibly grateful and blessed to have this experience with so many people.

Watch Brandon Boyd’s full interview with Artist Waves HERE:

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