Six albums into his band's career, why does drummer Jose Pasillas think Incubus is atop its game?
"We're some fucking good-looking dudes, and we all have beards right now," Pasillas says on the phone from a recent tour stop in Dallas. "It's a rare thing, to see all five of us rocking beards. I think we're all being lazy. No one wants to shave. But, hey, it's wintertime, we have to keep our faces warm. I'm just going with it. I'm going to ride this thing out and see where it takes me."
It's that mindset that has defined the chameleonic Calabasas, Calif., band for over a decade. Early on, Incubus was pegged as something of a hard rock act, with 1997's S.C.I.E.N.C.E. and 1999's Make Yourself garnering Ozzfest and Warped Tour credibility. Tours with the likes of System of a Down and Mr. Bungle seemingly further positioned the quintet as more of a future Deftones than, say, a future Matchbox Twenty.
But the band's direction was solidified in 2001 when it released its mainstream single "Drive" from Make Yourself, and thus cemented its place as an alt-rock band for the decidedly non-head-banging crowd. The outfit's minions weren't exactly pleased with such mainstream fodder, but radio was. And, more importantly, the band was, too.
"It was just a natural progression for us," Pasillas says. "If you heard our earlier stuff, it wasn't anything like what was going on. There were the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rage Against the Machine and Primus, and we were sort of like a combination of all of those. We were young and those bands influenced us and it was readily apparent in our earlier stuff. But we always sort of stuck out and never really fit into any genre.
"I still feel the same way," he says. "We're still the odd man out, but it's worked in our favor, I believe."
Pasillas' "odd man out" comment is interesting. As the years have passed, the band has continually eschewed kowtowing to fan expectations and industry trends, making its place in the contemporary rock scene somewhat unique. Sure, there have been more hits, including "Wish You Were Here," "Nice to Know You" and "Circles" from 2001's Morning View, and "Megalomaniac" from the politically charged A Crow Left of the Murder ... but you get the sense as the band grows, it strives for something more.
Perhaps the members of Incubus endeavor to carve out an extraordinary niche, a creative legacy similar to that of Radiohead. Take, for instance, Incubus' latest effort, Light Grenades. Aside from a few made-for-radio tracks, like the passionately acoustic "Paper Shoes" (which could be viewed as a misstep), the band also showed its non-linear experimental side with the trippy "Quicksand" and progressive sounding "A Kiss to Send Us Off."
At the very least, such playful inventiveness bodes well for the band's future.
"We're somewhere in the middle of hopefully a long journey," Pasillas says. "I don't know where we are, but I know it's still fresh and it's still fun, and I hope we'll be able to continue to do it for a long time to come."
The Fillmore Auditorium, 1510 Clarkson St., Denver
Thursday, Feb. 8, 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: Sold out; look for tickets around the venue.