Incubus frontman Brandon Boyd expects the markedly different sound of "If Not Now, When?," the group's first new album in five years, to greatly expand the dynamic range of its concerts this summer.
"We are, for all intents and purposes, a rock band, so our default mechanism is to smash a cymbal or fill up space with notes or put a heavy bass line here or there," Boyd tells Billboard.com. But he says the quieter, more textured and ambient approach of "If Not Now, When?" "allows different set of ideas into that fold and...create a diversity in our set, which was there before but there's just more diversity now, and it's fun. It's more enjoyable. It's interesting."
Nevertheless, Boyd adds, "We're still a rock band. We're still playing all the songs from all of our other records, but we've mixed in these other things, so now the set has more kinds of peaks and valleys than it ever did. I'm thrilled with how it's coming together."
Incubus -- which releases "If Not Now, When?" on July 12 -- began honing its new show during a 10-day promotional run during June and Europe. It's now in the midst of a the weeklong "Incubus HQ Live" residency in a converted storefront on Los Angeles' La Brea Avenue, where the group has been streaming 10 hours of live events daily that range from instructional clinics to fan chats, with a concert each night. Incubus played its 2001 album "Morning View" from front-to-back to open the series on June 30, and finishes Wednesday (July 6) with "If Not Now, When?" -- which comes out July 12 -- in its entirety.
"It's just this fun little experiment," Boyd says. "It's a little scary because it's live, but It's very cool. It's very different because it sounds more like a rehearsal studio than it does a 120-decibel concert; there's no strobe lights or anything, and our listeners are standing a foot away from us while we're playing. It's very revealing and, on a bad moment, vulnerable, but I think that's also one of the strengths. I think it will be something that people will talk about, perhaps, as a future model of ways to let people know that you have a record coming out. And by the time we actually get to the stage and have those 120 decibels masking all of our little mistakes and stuff, it will probably seem easy."
Incubus hits New York this week for a July 8 Vevo rooftop concert, a "Live at Letterman" appearance on July 11 and an iTunes Soho session that will be announced that day. The group then jets back west to celebrate "If Not Now, When?'s" release on July 15 at the Santa Barbara Bowl and the 91X X-Fest in Chula Vista, Calif., the next day before heading to the Pacific Rim later in the month. A North American tour begins Aug. 5 in Honolulu, and Boyd says a "more extensive" European tour will follow.
Meanwhile, the group is just rolling out the album's second single, "Promises, Promises," after the first, "Adolescents" reached No. 3 on both the Alternative and Rock Songs charts. Boyd acknowledges that "Adolescents" is "the most... vintage-sounding Incubus track on the record, the closest link to the rest of our catalog," but adds that the song "almost didn't make it on the record. We weren't 100 percent about it; we were toying between that track and a couple of other tracks that are going to end up being B-sides. But it started working on the radio and we started playing it live, and it's a really enjoyable song to play and the kids seem to be enjoying it as well, so it is what it is."