Incubus Mines Hits, Rarities For 'Monuments And Melodies'

Incubus' "Monuments and Melodies" started out as "a contractual obligation," according to guitarist Michael Einziger, who tells that he and his bandmates "weren't really excited at first" about putting together a best-of collection. But they eventually changed their tune.

"It was almost like we were trying to come up with an excuse to go on tour for the summer," Einziger explains, "and we started really thinking about the idea of putting out a greatest hits album and having that as the excuse to accompany the tour we were planning. And then as we started planning it, it became really obvious that greatest hits records are really important to the legacy of any band. I was introduced to most of the groups I grew up listening to -- artists like Jimi Hendrix and Bob Marley and the Doors -- through their greatest hits records.

"So we began realizing that it's in fact really an honor to be able to put together a greatest hits package, and it started becoming nostalgic, like watching a home movie. It's really cool to take a step back and look at this collection of music we've spent all these years writing and playing. It's humbling."

"Monuments and Melodies" includes one disc of hits from Incubus' six studio albums as well as two new songs, "Black Heart Inertia" and "Midnight Swim," recorded in Los Angeles during Einziger's last winter break from Harvard University, where he's been "just taking courses for personal enjoyment." The second disc features rarities, including a newly recorded cover of Prince's "Let's Go Crazy." The set is also available on four vinyl LPs, and copies of the album come with a unique code that will allow buyers to access a new section of exclusive music, photos and other material at a special section called The Vault on the web site.

Incubus' tour for "Monuments and Melodies" gets under way July 9 in San Diego. Einziger says he expects getting back on the road will get the band started on writing for its next album -- the follow-up to 2006's "Light Grenades" -- though any firm plans for that remain open-ended.

"We're kind of playing it by ear," Einziger explains. "We've put records out with almost boring consistency every two years since '96 or something like that. It's nice to just sort of have no defined plan and be able to take our time. We're at a point now in our career where we can kind of just do what we want. There really isn't any pressure on us outside of the pressure we put on ourselves, so we'll see."