When INCUBUS made its 1997 major label album S.C.I.E.N.C.E., it appeared the band might just be the latest in a long line of hip-hop-tinged metal bands following in the path of Korn, the Deftones or Rage Against The Machine. But with Make Yourself, the band's 1999 breakout album, it became clear that Incubus wanted to forge a style that would be more unique and individual.
That CD found Incubus scaling back on the sonic density of S.C.I.E.N.C.E. and finding a more melodic niche within a hard-hitting style that still drew strongly on funk and hip-hop rhythms and guitar-driven metal music. The band plays with show opener One Side Zero at the Spokane Convention Center this Monday night.
The move paid big dividends for the Orange County, Calif., band --Make Yourself became a multi-platinum hit behind hit tunes like "Pardon Me" and "Drive." The revamped musical direction was something that turntable artist and DJ Chris Kilmore said he and his bandmates (vocalist Brandon Boyd, guitarist Mike Einziger, bassist Dirk Lance and drummer Jose Pasillas) realized they needed to pursue well before actual writing and recording began.
"When we were touring behind S.C.I.E.N.C.E., we were seeing all these other bands out there who were ripping off bands like Korn and the Deftones and 311 -- bands that we enjoy and that we love," Kilmore says. "We would go out and do our own thing, we'd have to take local openers or some [band] we could pay and they would just be ripoffs and not do anything new or creative or interesting. I think when we realized that, and we went into the studio to write Make Yourself, we said 'Okay, let's not do that.' "
The process of creating its own musical niche continues as Incubus has just released a much-anticipated follow up, which builds on the fresh directions first explored on Make Yourself. The new album (Morning View, released just a few weeks ago) brings more extremes into the Incubus sound. "Circles," for instance, rocks harder than anything the group has recorded before. On the other side of the spectrum are songs like "Mexico," which was recorded live with just Boyd singing backed by a cello. "Just A Phase," with its gentle piano and strings, is another textured ballad.
"It's an amazing song," Kilmore says of "Mexico." "I think what's good about our band is we can strip almost any, probably every one of our songs down to its basic elements, and that's why I think we can pull off our songs acoustically as well. We can do that. I think if you can do that, then you're achieving good songwriting. A lot of the things on this album are very live. We wanted a really organic feel. So even the mistakes we made, we left a lot of them in there. Not mistakes, I don't want to call them mistakes, maybe nuances."
Another goal, Kilmore says, was to try to bring some of the dynamics and flow of a live Incubus show to Morning View.
"As far as our live songs, we're very, very concerned with taking people on a musical journey, keeping them interested. If you have one emotion the whole entire time, you get bored. We try to relay that into our albums, I think, as well. It's the same type of attitude. We really want to take people on -- I don't want to use the analogy of a roller coaster -- but it's sort of like that. You have high points and you have low points. And that's how I think we look at this album."
Kilmore characterizes the Morning View sessions as smooth and enjoyable. Wherein the past the band had used conventional rehearsal and studio space, this time Incubus rented a home that overlooked the Pacific Ocean in Malibu, Calif.
"It had everything to do with the record, everything," Kilmore says of the house. "The last place we wrote -- it wasn't too nice a neighborhood. It was just a regular rehearsal studio. You could hear other bands on both sides of you as well. And there are no windows, you know? This was totally different. This was just like, 'Wow.' It overlooked the ocean, and it had a huge orchestral room that we put all of our equipment in. And if for some reason we didn't feel like working, if things weren't clicking, rather than get super-frustrated and start getting angry with each other, we'd take a break and come back when things were better. All you had to do was walk into the next room and go make some food and sit out by the pool, or go into your room and watch some TV or something. It was very convenient. It made this record a very enjoyable experience, one that we'll remember all our lives."
Incubus performs at the Spokane Convention Center with One Side Zero on Monday, Nov. 12, at 7:30 pm. Tickets: $25. Call: 325-SEAT.
STEVE TURRE is considered one of the finest trombonists of the last two decades, a first-rate technician with soul, wit and a wide improvisational streak. He first picked up the instrument at the age of 10, and two years later he was performing gigs with his brothers in San Francisco clubs. By 1968, he was jamming regularly with legendary saxophonist Rahsaan Roland Kirk, and in 1970 he was recording as a session man with Carlos Santana.
After spending a year on the road with Ray Charles in 1972, Turre hitched his wagon (and by now, widely recognized talent) to Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. Turre spent the remainder of the '70s touring and recording with various prestigious ensembles and orchestras (including the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, Chico Hamilton, Kirk and Woody Shaw's quintet) and developing a highly refined style which seamlessly incorporated the diversity of styles he was absorbing.
Probably the most divergent (and intriguing) influence Kirk bestowed on the trombonist was a fascination with exotic conch shells. He inspired Turre to explore the musical potential of these admittedly non-traditional instruments, which, in the right hands, are capable of a surprisingly wide range of tones. The culmination of his shell intrigue was the 1980 formation of the Sanctified Shells, a small orchestra of New York and Caribbean brass musicians who also play modified seashells.
And yes, Turre is bringing his own collection of modified conch shells to Whitworth. As part of the Saturday night performance (which will include several of his own arrangements in a variety of jazz styles), the trombonist will whip out the shells and wail away to create captivatingly eerie, yet soothing music.
In addition to the Saturday evening performance, Turre will conduct a trombone clinic for Whitworth students and the public on Friday, Nov. 9, at 5:15 pm in the Music Building, Room 112. Admission to the clinic is free. F
-- Mike Corrigan
Steve Turre performs with the Whitworth Jazz Ensemble at the Whitworth College Cowles Auditorium on Saturday, Nov. 10, at 8 pm.