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July 28, 2014

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Art, surfing and feeling the flow with Incubus frontman Brandon Boyd

Catch the band this weekend at the Joint

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Justin Wysong

Brandon Boyd, lead vocalist of alternative rock band Incubus.

What’s your schedule like these days?

It’s been a little nuts. We’ve been everywhere in the world, twice. We have four or five shows left on this U.S. run, then we take a short break and do a European festivals tour in the middle of the summer, and then we’re doing a tour with Linkin Park in stadiums across the states.

What’s interesting is that, amongst that crazy schedule, there are these moments where the engine will idle at an airport or on a long bus ride or on a day off in a hotel room. It’s been a lifelong goal of mine to make the best possible use of those times. I’ve been an avid reader most of my life—I love absorbing other people’s experiences and thoughts and insights and stories. I also bring some pretty basic tools with me as well, whether it’s a little Pro Tools unit with a microphone or sketch books and some very basic watercolors and inks. I try to flow with whatever mood I’m in, and as a result sometimes I’ll step back and I’ll have a large body of work in a relatively short period of time.

Calendar

Incubus
May 25-26, 9 p.m., $36-$71.
The Joint, 693-5222.

I try to not think about it as much as like, “Do, do, do, do, do,” which is very American, I guess you could say, or modern American, like “You’re not doing, you’re not doing anything.” What I’m trying to really get my head around is this idea of being. Like what am I, who am I, how am I being? And the result is that I feel the most awake and alive when I am drawing or making music or writing or musing about some farfetched video concept. I hope and I intend that the things that I have done thus far in my life have really only been my training wheels. I really have big hopes and big dreams of things to do. And so really I’m just excited.

You designed Incubus’ early concert fliers. Have you designed anything else throughout the years for the band?

[Jose Pasillas and I] felt like, I know that he probably feels the same way as I do, that drawing is really just another extension of writing a song. It’s like the same difference just with a different set of tools. I’ve been very involved in the productions that we have brought out, whether [it was] the most simple backdrop that we had sort of strewn behind us or a light show with concept and props and things like that. I’ve been very involved with that for the entire time, as well as most of the music videos. They’ve either been ideas that directors that we sought out brought to us, or our ideas in the band, or my far-fetched, weird ideas from a late night with too much caffeine. We’ve had really little outside assistance in our band, as far as creative pursuits. We’ve had like three producers in the twenty years that we’ve been a band, but we’re very much like a self-produced band.

You’ve put out two books of your artwork and writings, and the Washington Examiner reported that you have a third in the works. How will this one differ from the first two?

Artwork by Incubus' Brandon Boyd

An installation of Incubus frontman Brandon Boyd's artwork. Launch slideshow »

I hope so. I hope it’s everything that the first two are not and then some. I’m actually in a moment of surplus with drawings and paintings and stuff, so I’m kind of at a place where I’m starting to curate the most, I guess, evocative and/or the best of the bunch. I’ve been working really quite diligently on imagery since right around 2008 when I did Ectoplasm. I’ve got quite a few years of material to draw from, so I’m really just starting to edit myself. I’m hoping that the book will be out sometime in 2013, actually.

You designed a mural at the Hurley Space Gallery that focused on ocean pollution. Do you enjoy combining environmentalism and philanthropic efforts with your artwork?

You know, the mural thing with Hurley was the most deliberate art project that I’ve ever done. And it was a lot of fun, too, because it’s something that’s very close to my heart, having grown up surfing and being on the frontlines of ocean pollution. The waves are the best right after a storm, and so as you’re coming out of the water you’re walking through a minefield of plastic and the remains of the day from some far off land. It can be a little shocking, occasionally. I’ve been experiencing that since I was a kid, so as far as combining philanthropy with art projects and things like that, it’s almost become an enjoyable habit, so to speak. With Incubus, we’ve been doing our nonprofit, the Make Yourself Foundation, since 2003. We’ve raised a great deal of money for a number of different charities, and it really feels right. It feels like we’re kind of walking with the wind in that capacity; there really is no downside to it. I can only hope that those kinds of philanthropic opportunities will continue to present themselves, and people will continue to pay attention to not only the creative pursuits of Incubus and my own creative pursuits, but also the things that we’re hoping to call their attention to along the way.

You’ve discussed your fondness of surfing. Did you ever compete in the sport?

Yeah, I started surfing when I was about 11 or 12 years old until I was about 15, right around the time we started our band, actually. I was pretty convinced that I wanted to be a pro surfer, so I competed in local surf competitions. We had this thing called the Western Surfing Association in Southern California, and then there was this thing called the NSAA, which is the National Surfing Association of America. I don’t think either exists anymore. They were local and regional surfing competitions, and I did pretty well for a while … Once it got into the juniors, for young teens, that’s when I stopped. I realized I was nowhere near the level that these kids were getting at, and I really had to take a hard look at this idea of competition and how much I wanted it to be a defining role of my life. I realized then I wasn’t as competitive as I needed to be to be a pro surfer, so I stopped. Since then I’ve done a couple of like Pro Am things, and like, I hate the word, but “celebrity” surf things, that will raise money for certain charities. Those have been a lot of fun because it’s other musicians and other surfers and people from all walks of life just kind of having a good time and raising awareness about important things.

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