Brandon Boyd On Incubus’ “Make Yourself”: “We Didn’t Actually Say Out Loud To Each Other That We Needed To Write A More Commercial Record”


Incubus frontman Brandon Boyd and guitarist Mike Einziger looked back on their 2x multi-platinum album “Make Yourself” as part of a newly published retrospective over at Today, October 26th, marks the 21st anniversary of that album, which saw the band not only reinvent themselves, but also attain mainstream success. Some excerpts from the discussion can be found below.

On working on the album:

Brandon Boyd: “Before writing ‘Make Yourself‘, we’d just come off what felt like a mild eternity touring ‘S.C.I.E.N.C.E.‘ When we got home, we started coming up with ideas and gave ourselves eight weeks to write the record and in those eight weeks, all the songs that appear on the album came out.

We didn’t actually say out loud to each other that we needed to write a more commercial record; we just wrote in the same way we knew how to write and ‘Make Yourself‘ is what came out. It’s sort of the antithesis to ‘S.C.I.E.N.C.E.‘”

Mike Einziger: “The biggest influence on our writing had to do with us becoming world travelers. There were lots of artists that I was introduced to during travels in Europe and the UK. Touring ‘S.C.I.E.N.C.E. ‘ was a coming-of-age experience, going from being a local band in Los Angeles, to going out and playing in front of audiences.

We were soaking up what was around us and that mixed with a genuine creative desire to step up our artistry. We really wanted to become great songwriters and make music that’d leave a mark. We definitely wanted to graduate from the zany music we spent our high school years writing and become more serious.”

Boyd: “Once things picked up with ‘S.C.I.E.N.C.E.‘ we started getting much bigger touring opportunities. We started to do festivals and play with much bigger bands. It was interesting to witness what was working for them and what wasn’t.

It was also a period of time in music that was dominated by a kind of mindlessness. This is just my opinion, but there was largely a lack of substance going into popular heavy music. It was more heavy for heavy’s sake. I thought that was a missed opportunity.

To me, there was an opportunity to use the power of a loud guitar and dynamic drumming to convey some larger messages.”

On pushing themselves out of their comfort zone with the record:

Einziger: “It was a very masculine time in music and we were associated with that. We would be playing ‘Ozzfest‘ tours with all these different bands who were our good friends and there was pressure to be like that. I think the tenderness and emotional side of the music was a reaction to all that aggressive music that was happening at that time. Our reaction was to go in the other direction.”

Einziger: “We never really vocalized that we were trying to come up with a new sound; all that happened after the fact. We just wrote the music that we wrote and felt excited about it, but when ‘Make Yourself‘ first came out, there was definitely a pretty strong backlash from fans that wanted a heavier album.

They wanted us to be more of a metal band and complained we had lost our heavier edge, but it wasn’t a conscious thing. We felt a lot of pressure to out-do ourselves.”

Boyd: “There was a blissful ignorance going into the whole process and I’m so thankful we had that because it allowed us to defy all of the pressures of being a particular kind of band at that particular time.

All of the flags were blowing in a direction that was telling us we should’ve made another record like ‘S.C.I.E.N.C.E.‘ and that would’ve solidified our place in a small subgenre of rock and metal. Our intuitions were pulling us in a completely different direction and we trusted it.

We ended up carving our own place in the world and instead of falling into some subgenre of rock and metal, we created our own.”

You can read a lot more from the pair regarding the album Last year saw the band out touring in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the album and had planned several more shows in support of it for earlier this year until the COVID-19 pandemic delayed their plans.

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