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Music / Incubus

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Left to right: Mike Einziger, Jose Pasillas, DJ Kilmore, Ben Kenney, Brandon Boyd
"The world's a roller coaster and I am not strapped in,
Maybe I should hold with care but my hands are busy in the air."
"Wish You Were Here"

Incubus are an Alternative Rock band formed in 1991 in California. They released eight studio albums and two EPs (and one Greatest Hits Album), and have reached multi-platinum sales.

Over the course of their career, Incubus have grown to be quite the Genre Roulette outfit - they went from Mr. Bungle-esque Funk/Rap Metal mixed with Jazz and other genres, to more melodic alternative rock, at times slipping to retro, ethnic and art-rock areas. On If Not Now, When?, they mellowed their sound out a bit to some less visceral modern rock. Their EP Trust Fall (Side A) and album 8 are somewhat of a return to a more alternative rock-based sound.

Not to be confused with Incubo.


  • Fungus Amongus (1995)
  • Enjoy Incubus (1996, EP)
  • S.C.I.E.N.C.E. (1997)
  • Make Yourself (1999)
  • Morning View (2001)
  • A Crow Left of the Murder... (2004)
  • Light Grenades (2006)
  • Monuments and Melodies (2009)
  • If Not Now, When? (2011)
  • Trust Fall (Side A) (2015, EP)
  • 8 (2017)
  • Trust Fall (Side B) (2020, EP)

Current Members:

  • Brandon Boyd - lead vocals, lyrics, also played guitar, didgeridoo, djembe and other percussion in some songs, both studio and live (1991-)
  • Mike Einziger - guitar, backing vocals, pipa, piano (1991-)
  • Nicole Row - bass (2023-present)
  • José Pasillas II - drums, percussion (1991-)
  • Chris Kilmore - turntables, keyboards (1998-)

Former Members:

  • Gavin "DJ Lyfe" Koppell - turntables, keyboards. (1995-1998)
  • Alex "Dirk Lance" Katunich - bass (1991-2003)
  • Ben Kenney - bass, backing vocals, drums for some live performances (2003-2023)

Incubus and their music provide examples of the following tropes:

  • Accent Upon The Wrong Syllable: It happens quite a lot. The best examples are in "Clean" (where Brandon repeatedly pronounces the word like "cLAYn" for some reason) and "Have You Ever" ("unabaSHED honeSTAY would be idee-HELL"). Another prominent example is "Anna Molly", in which Brandon puts the emphasis on the second syllable (an-NA mol-LY), which ends up sounding like "anomaly". note 
  • Aerith and Bob: Though on their earliest releases note  pretty much everyone had an odd stage name, since then most band members have gone by their common first names (Brandon, Mike, Jose, Ben), and their current DJ simply adds "DJ" before his last name (Kilmore). But former bassist Alex Katunich used the rather quirky nickname "Dirk Lance", and their former DJ Gavin Coppell used the nickname "DJ Lyfe".
  • Alternative Metal: Their default genre- ''If Not Now, When?" is the only album of theirs that mostly doesn't count.
  • Artifact Title: The name Incubus seemed more appropriate for their heavier, wilder early music than for their considerably more restrained later sounds. Indeed, the band members have been less than thrilled with the name in recent times. Their only reason for picking that name? Randomly skimming a dictionary, and seeing its definition had the word "sex" in it.
  • Be Yourself: A recurring theme throughout the lyrics of Make Yourself- the album's title even hints at it.
  • Bilingual Bonus: "Pistola" is simultaneously Italian slang for "penis" and Spanish for "gun".
  • Bookends: Light Grenades has "Earth to Bella", Parts 1 and 2 (though Part 1 is in the middle of the album instead of at the beginning). Averted when they are played as a single song in concert.
  • Broken Record: Quite a few of their songs feature one line repeated several times in the chorus. Perhaps the most notable example: "Wish You Were Here", where the chorus consists of "I wish you were here" repeated four times. "Nice to Know You", from the same album, also has this.
  • B-Side: The second disc of the Monuments and Melodies release consists largely of these. Another one, not included on that, is the Make Yourself B-side "Crowded Elevator" (which was included in an EP, "When Incubus Attacks Vol. 1").
  • Careful with That Axe:
    • The end of "Circles". "Round and round and round and round and ROUND!!!!!!!!"
    • To a slightly lesser degree in "Anna Molly", at the very end. Brandon lets off a yelled note that's pretty appropriate for an axe attack.
    • Their earlier songs had a lot of these. One of Brandon's most impressive screams can be heard on the bridge of their song "New Skin", off of S.C.I.E.N.C.E.
    • Brandon performs a very gnarly scream at the end of the eponymous song off Light Grenades.
  • Chronological Album Title: 8, the band's eighth studio album.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: The title track from "Make Yourself" ("So when I make me/I won't be papier-maché/And if I fuck me/I'll fuck me in my own way/I'LL fuck me in my own way..."). Also "Leech".
    • "Clean" features no swearing in the actual lyrics, but the guy seems to be telling his girl that he'd rather have the Cluster F-Bomb unleashed upon him than get the silent treatment.
  • Cover Version: The only cover that the band has recorded in the studio is Prince's "Let's Go Crazy". But the band has done many live covers of artists ranging from Soundgarden to Massive Attack to TLC.
  • Darker and Edgier:
    • A Crow Left of the Murder was a turn in this direction compared to its predecessor Morning View, and while it wasn't as musically heavy as their earlier album S.C.I.E.N.C.E., it did feature some of the band's most pointed social commentary; "Megalomaniac" being a prominent example.
    • The Trust Fall (Side A) EP suggested they were going in this direction on their next studio album, with the title track even being a Faith No More style Alternative Metal song.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: "Warning". While the song itself doesn't really overtly refer to this trope, the video plays with it: it takes place in 2012, in three days; each day a mysterious girl weirdly obsessed with a number (10:24) screams at the top of her lungs in different crowded places. On the third day, when the digits on her watch reach that number, the Earth is still there, but all the humans have disappeared.
    • Also alluded to in "A Certain Shade of Green" with the lyric "Are you gonna stand around 'til 2012 AD?"
  • Epic Rocking: Most of the band's songs are radio-single length, but every now and then they get a little exploratory:
    • "Sick Sad Little World" from A Crow Left of the Murder.
    • The band worked on a 20-minute epic called "Odyssey" during the sessions for that album, but it didn't make the cut. It's split into 4 parts on the Halo 2 soundtrack. And it's very epic.
    • On the softer end of the spectrum, there's "Aqueous Transmission" (if the soothing Japanese guitar riff, light violins and flute melodies count as epic rocking) and "In the Company of Wolves".
  • Fun with Acronyms: S.C.I.E.N.C.E. officially doesn't stand for anything, but the band had some fun making up backronyms when asked about the album title in interviews, such as "Sailing Catamarans Is Every Nautical Captain's Ecstasy".
  • Fungus Humongous: Rather, one of their albums uses the wordplay.
  • Funk Metal: They were one of the few bands holding the flag for this genre in the latter part of the 90s, when it had become highly unfashionable. The style was most prevalent on Fungus Amongus, Enjoy Incubus and S.C.I.E.N.C.E., albums which were all inspired by Californian funk metallers such as Mike Patton, Primus and Red Hot Chili Peppers. Later works also sometimes touch on the Lighter and Softer variant known as funk rock.
  • Genre-Busting: A pretty good description of S.C.I.E.N.C.E., especially "Deep Inside," which seamlessly jumps between acid jazz and groove metal.
  • Genre Roulette: A staple of their career post-Make Yourself, but special mention goes to Light Grenades, which Brandon Boyd described as sounding like "13 different bands playing 13 different songs".
  • Greatest Hits Album: Monuments and Melodies.
  • Hidden Track: S.C.I.E.N.C.E. has a rather ridiculous one after "Calgone".
  • Intercourse with You: At least once per album. "Stellar" ("I need you to see this place/It might be the only way/That I can show you how/It feels to be inside of you") and "Anti-Gravity Love Song" are this trope... In Space!
  • Last Note Nightmare:
    • "The Odyssey" ends abruptly with some electronic static-like noise, creating a comparable effect to what you'd find on corrupted MP3 files from file sharing services.
    • Inverted with "Megalomaniac". It's a First Note Nightmare: the song starts off with crackling and wobbling noises, before the intro riff kicks in. It lasts exactly 30 seconds.
  • Lighter and Softer: Morning View still features some heavy tracks, but the lyrics are PG-rated and there are several more ballads, including the fully acoustic "Mexico" and the exotic Eastern lullaby "Aqueous Transmission".
    • Their later stuff (e.g. Morning View, Make Yourself) are more alternative rock-ish than the heavily Faith No More influenced earlier, Funk Metal works (Fungus Amongus, S.C.I.E.N.C.E.).
    • If Not Now, When? borders on easy listening, making Morning View sound downright heavy by comparison.
    • 8 also counts as this compared to Trust Fall (Side A).
    • Lyrically at least, they were more upbeat and optimistic than most of their fellow Alternative Metal / Nu Metal bands from the late 90s and early 2000s.
  • Long-Haired Pretty Boy: Applies to Brandon Boyd, particularly during the Morning View era when Incubus were at their most popular with the female teenybopper crowd.
  • Love Hurts: The song of the same name, maybe.
  • Meaningful Name: The Incubus was an ancient Roman demon who gave people nightmares by...having intercourse with them while they slept. The band chose the name on a dictionary and liked it because of the vaguely sexual connotation. It's also similar to the Italian word for nightmare, "incubo", of the same origin.
  • Melismatic Vocals: Brandon does this once in a while, and his female fans love it.
  • Metal Scream: Evident in songs like "Make Yourself", "Out From Under", "Light Grenades", and much of the S.C.I.E.N.C.E. album.
  • Miniscule Rocking: "I Miss You" (2:48), "Quicksand" (2:13), "Earth to Bella Part I and II" (2:28/2:56), "Light Grenades" (2:20), "When I Became a Man" (0:56).
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • On Morning View, "Echo" is a softer song that ends with a long fade-out consisting of mellow ambient noise... leading right into the loud opening chords of "Have You Ever?".
    • "Drive" comes right after the defiant and up-tempo "Make Yourself", making the minor-key acoustic guitars sound all the more jarring.
  • New Sound Album: A Crow Left of the Murder had a new bass player and guitarist Mike Einziger replacing his high-end guitar rig with old-school vintage gear. Make Yourself and If Not Now, When? also brought about significant changes in their sound.
  • Non-Appearing Title: Not a common occurrence, but some examples include "Calgone", "Aqueous Transmission", "Agoraphobia", and "Talk Shows on Mute". (Although these titles all relate to the song's lyrical content.)
  • Non-Indicative Name: With a name like Incubus, you'd probably expect them to be a death metal band. That's totally not the case. Naturally, some relatively more obscure death metal bands picked up the slack.
  • Nu Metal: Starting on Enjoy Incubus. Morning View was the last record of theirs to really count (and even it had a LOT of softer songs). A Crow Left of the Murder abandoned the genre entirely in favor of Alternative Metal and Alternative Rock.
  • Out-of-Genre Experience: S.C.I.E.N.C.E. is a pretty Genre-Busting album as it is, but its sixth track, "Magic Medicine", is a drum 'n' bass track completely unlike anything else on the album.
  • Protest Song: "Megalomaniac" is a huge flip-off addressed to dictators.
  • The Problem with Pen Island: Intentionally, though subtly, invoked in the chorus of "Pistola".
  • Porn Names: Dirk Lance. Seriously.
  • Punny Name: "Anna Molly" and A Crow Left of the Murder.
  • Room Full of Crazy: The girl in the "Warning" music video has one, with "10:24" scribbled all over the walls.
  • Scare Chord: "Out from Under" could classify since it begins with the quiet sound of drumsticks and then explodes with a loud screeching sound, accompanied by equally loud guitars with no warning.
  • Sludge Metal: Applies to the Trust Fall (Side A) track "Make Out Party", a bizarre combination of Synth-Pop and slow doomy riffs.
  • Something Something Leonard Bernstein: Brandon Boyd's enunciation isn't usually the best (see AcCENT upon the Wrong SylLABle above), but "Make a Move" is probably the biggest offender, since the chorus, the bridge and few random words are the only clear parts.
  • Spontaneous Human Combustion: The subject of "Pardon Me". Part of it is him wanting it to happen, rather than put up with the rest of his life.
    "Not two days ago, I was having a look in a book, and I saw a picture of a guy fried up above his knee
    I said, 'I can relate,' cause lately I've been thinking of combustication as a welcome vacation from
    The burdens of the planet Earth, like gravity, hypocrisy, and the perils of being in 3D,
    But thinking so much differently..."
  • Take That!: The band insists that "Megalomaniac" is not about George W. Bush, but megalomaniacs in general, though they've also said it's partially about Scott Stapp.
  • Thoughtcrime: Alluded to in "When It Comes" and "Talk Shows on Mute". Not letting others tell you what to think is a favorite topic for the band in general, especially on Make Yourself.
  • Title-Only Chorus: "Wish You Were Here"
  • Truck Driver's Gear Change: "Pendulous Threads", from E minor to F minor for the last chorus.
  • Uncommon Time: "Make Yourself" (alternating 7/4 and 4/4), "Nice to Know You" (6/4 and 4/4), "Mexico" (6/8 and 4/4), "Priceless", "Quicksand", "Paper Shoes", "Follow".
  • Unusual Euphemism: From "Here in My Room": "Pink tractor beam into your incision."
  • Verbal Tic: Brandon Boyd is fond of these, but "Zee Deveel" is particularly notable.
  • Viewers Are Morons: Discussed in "Idiot Box", "Talk Shows on Mute", and possibly "Made-for-TV Movie".
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Brandon in the videos for "Take Me to Your Leader", "Drive" and "Wish You Were Here", and several times during concerts.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: Much of their earlier output, especially "Take Me to Your Leader."
  • You Are Number Eight: They named their eighth LP... well, 8.