Incubus frontman Brandon Boyd isn’t scared of releasing a greatest hits album, even if it shows his age. After all, he got into some of his favorite artists, like Elvis Costello and Leonard Cohen, through their greatest hits collections. “It was weird at first, coming to terms with the whole idea of doing it,” Boyd says about compiling Monuments and Melodies, a two-disc set of hits and rarities. “Years and years ago, we came to terms with the fact that we weren’t a new band anymore, and it was a little bit of a humbling process to go through. I guarantee there are people out there like, ‘Wait a minute, I feel like I was just in high school discovering this band, and they have a greatest hits record out?’ ”
Formed in Calabasas, California, in 1991, Incubus are inching towards their 20th year, making the band only a year younger than Pearl Jam, contemporaries of Counting Crows, Dave Matthews Band and Rage Against the Machine, and actually two years older than Oasis. The band’s earliest experiments in funk and rap metal are a source of tremendous embarrassment to Boyd, and any tunes from that era are conspicuously absent from Monuments and Melodies, as he says those songs “continually haunt me in the darkest portions of my dreams.”
The collection’s first disc brings together all of the band’s major hits, such as “Drive,” “Pardon Me,” “Warning” and “Stellar,” as well as two new songs written specifically for the compilation. The second album comprises odds and ends that didn’t make Incubus’ previous LPs, including a faithful, recently recorded take on Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy,” the first cover song the band has ever put to tape. It’s a song Incubus has been known to close its live sets with, but the band had trepidations about making a studio version.
“That song definitely walked a very fine line for us as far as whether or not it should have been done in the first place,” Boyd says. “We thought it would be sort of sacrilegious to try and redo it. But as we were mastering the album, somebody said, ‘Just finish the Prince song, just to see,’ so we finished it and said, ‘Dammit, it sounds really good. Fuck it.’ And we just put it on there.”
Incubus will hit the road starting today (July 9th) in San Diego, with plans to play primarily a hits set, but also to dig out a few tracks from the band’s earlier days, particularly some tunes from the band’s 1997 album, S.C.I.E.N.C.E., which haven’t been played in years. “We didn’t hate these songs, but we played them 500 times, so it was time to put them away,” he says. “We had started to morph them just for the sake of changing them, but now we’re playing them verbatim in their original incarnations, and they’re really fun.”
Boyd predicts that the band will end up writing the bulk of its next record while on tour, and there’s a chance that a few new tunes may pop up here and there. But in the meantime, he’s content to do a bit of reminiscing and deliver the hits. “Time definitely flies when you’re on the road all the time,” he says. “I blinked and I was through my twenties. We’ve had a year at home and normal life has kind of crept its way in for the first time, but now everyone’s getting real excited and is ready to go and rock out for a couple months this summer and get back into that chaotic bubble again.”