There probably are Incubus fans that were disappointed that the group's newest release is just a four-song EP, Trust Fall (Side A). After all, it's been four years since the rock band's previous release, 2011's If Not Now, When?
But from the sound of things, fans should be happy that Incubus is even around in 2015 to release any new songs and play live shows, such as the one on Sept. 4 at Reno Events Center. Singer Brandon Boyd said the group ended its touring cycle for If Not Now, When? not knowing if Incubus would still be a band.
"We almost didn't get back from the last touring cycle," Boyd said in a mid-July phone interview. "It was particularly arduous, emotionally and physically."
Boyd didn't offer specifics about what problems existed within the group, but it was obvious that the five band members had reached a point that was close to no return.
"I really think what occurred is the cracks in the pavement sort of overtook us for a moment in time," Boyd said. "There's like five stories in music, in art, entertainment. Some of those stories include drugs, some of them include relationships falling apart, some of those include money, those tried and true pitfalls or landmines, so to speak. And we basically stepped on every single one of them.
"We'd taken little breaks here and there, but (we needed to) take a real step back where there was at least the possibility that maybe we had let this project, Incubus, sort of run its course," he said.
So Incubus went on hiatus and its five members – Boyd, Mike Einziger (guitar/keyboards), Jose Pasillas II (drums), Chris Kilmore (turntables, keyboards) and Ben Kenney (bass) – went their separate ways.
For Boyd, the break gave him the chance to make his second solo album, Sons of the Sea, a 2013 release for which he co-wrote songs with producer Brendan O'Brien. Boyd also was set to try his hand at musical theater, having been cast as Judas Iscariot in a new production of Jesus Christ Superstar. But the musical tour got canceled.
Having time open up in his schedule, and coupled with an offer from film soundtrack composer Hans Zimmer to use one of his studio spaces, Incubus was enticed to regroup and make new music.
"Everything was just falling into place," Boyd said. "So we just decided to get up our gear and start messing around with no plan, really. And we did that for a couple of months, really, with no plan, and all of a sudden we had a handful of songs."
Incubus opted to release the Trust Fall (Side A) EP – with its four edgy rockers that take some sharp turns in their arrangements — simply because there wasn't enough time to do a full-length album before the band needed to prep for its recently completed summer tour with heavy rock band Deftones.
"We wanted to tour this year," Boyd said. "And doing an EP gave us the opportunity to put something out that we really liked and go on tour and we could play all of the (new) music."
In looking back on Incubus' return to action, Boyd said he thinks taking the break from each other was exactly what was needed for the band to move forward.
"I think by allowing that kind of scary thought (of breaking up) into the fold, it was liberating in a way," Boyd said. "Everyone just had the space and time and the moment to really find out what they were doing aside from Incubus. And I really think that gave us all individual perspectives on what we have together.
"So as we came back into the fold together and really started to just play, with no other intention than to be around each other, it was refreshing again," he said. "In a way, it gave us this feeling like we were starting over, which is such a cool thing, especially after almost 25 years."
After starting out a quarter century ago with a then-popular rap-rock sound, Incubus has considerably diversified its sound within a guitar rock framework. The band notched its commercial breakthrough with its third album, 1999's Make Yourself, on which the band dialed back on the rapping in favor of a sound that blends heavy riff-driven songs with strong melodies. With the chart-topping single "Drive" leading the way, Make Yourself went platinum.
Three more hit albums – Morning View, A Crow Left of the Murder and Light Grenades – followed, with the group continuing to broaden its sound to encompass everything from textured ballads to frenetic rock, while also solidifying its place as one of the most popular hard rock bands. But If Not Now, When? failed to extend the streak of platinum albums, and it drew a mixed response from fans.
With things within the band also heading off track, Incubus went on its hiatus. As it began anew, the group decided that the fresh start should include a house-cleaning on the business side of its career with a change in management and record labels.
"We'd been with our record label (Epic) for about 17 years, and the last couple of album interactions we had with them didn't feel like their head or their heart was in the right place," Boyd said. "That being said, we had an incredibly long and incredibly successful run with them.
"But as the record deal started to come to a close, we were also coming to the end of a successful run with our manager, too," the singer said. "So, we're kind of calling it a tree shaking. We grabbed the tree by its stock, and we just shook it really hard for a moment, and a lot of the dead leaves and stuff just kind of came falling down, and it was wonderful. So now we have this sort of brand new tree to climb on, and it felt, once again, so refreshing and everyone was really revitalized when we came back together."
With a new label, Island Records, and a new manager named Johnny Wright, Incubus "definitely feels like a renewed organization, for those reasons and for so many others, too," Boyd added.
Boyd said the band plans to return to the studio in the fall, but is unsure if the next release will be a companion EP to Trust Fall or a full-length album. For now, Incubus is returning to the live stage and giving fans an arena-worthy show that includes songs from across its career.
"We didn't necessarily set out saying 'Let's make the biggest and craziest show we've ever done,'" Boyd said. "We approached it more from showing up 100 percent and being there in all of our capacities, and somehow it's turned into the craziest sort of visual/audio offering we've ever had."
Catch their revitalized tour at the Reno Events Center Friday, Sept. 4. Get your tickets now!