Before you get confused with all these numbers, let’s set the record straight. 8 is not only the title of INCUBUS’ new album. It’s also their 8th full length release as a band that went from funky nu metal newcomers to filling arenas with their rock songs as well as the occasional ballad to balance out the heaviness.
Over two decades after their first record Fungus Amongus back in 1995 and after a 6-year-hiatus following If Not Now, When?, we meet Brandon Boyd and José Pasillas II in a fancy hotel in Berlin overlooking the city. Bravely ignoring the jet lag, the two long-term friends and bandmates admit straight away that they don’t know much about numerology – despite having talked about all things ‘8’ for a day. However, they willingly try to make up for that fact in those 30 minutes we spent with them.
With a child-like enthusiasm, José and Brandon randomly pick eight terms from a wide selection of numerology based conceptions that are often said to resonate with the number „8“. Eight moments full of suspense until both founding members of INCUBUS reveal what they associate with these terms that might have, on a subconscious level, contributed to what we can now hear on 8.
Brandon: That brings to mind for me something that growing up brings with you. Like the kind of invaluable observations and henceforth insight. The insight that inevitable comes with age. I’ve known some older people that say age can also be crushing and cruel sometimes. I’ve definitely gotten a sense of that, occasionally in the past ten years. Where it’s like…ow! Physically. Also some of the emotional realizations that come with that. The insight that you are breakable. In the scope of the universe in certain ways you could be seen as ephemeral. You’re just a thought that is drifting by in the wind. But then, something else that age has brought me, another insight has been that maybe it’s the exact opposite.
‘Maybe each of us is as important as important could ever be and each of us is bringing something to the experience of life that wouldn’t be here otherwise and therefore is invaluable. I guess it depends on the day.’
José: Insight does come with age and experience. But I think you have to do a little searching and digging to get insight. I think it’s a bit of a personal search to want to have insight. Otherwise, you can just live superficially and not look too deep into things. I do that, sometimes. I feel like I need to detach myself a little bit sometimes. Insight is good though, too.
Brandon: Patience is a lovely insight. It’s a place that we arrive at when we have dug around enough. Once you start digging, there are certain things that you find and one of them is to have patience. I’ve learnt to have patience with myself. I’ve learnt to have patience with my loved ones. I’ve definitely become happier as the result of letting that sentiment in on a regular basis. ‘What’s the hurry, Brandon?’ It takes a little practice.
José: I think if you never have patience, you’d be just unhappy.
Brandon: And you wouldn’t be a doctor…get it?
José: Definitely not a doctor!
Brandon: Courage is a huge thing, especially with art. Art has been the most revealing and brutal, but also enlightening educator in my life. Artists are people that are willing to self-reflect to the point of even moving into dangerous areas of self-reflection. Where we are willing to let go of what we know about ourselves. We are willing to challenge our own egos in an attempt to express ourselves more clearly. We’re essentially trying to express ourselves. Anyone of us is trying to express ourselves, but some of us feel like doing so with movement or sound or visual expressions. It takes a great deal of courage to do that and kind of plumb the depth a little bit and see what’s in there.
‘It can be really scary. It can be really brutal sometimes, too, the things that we dig up and unearth. But having a vehicle, like in this case music, has been mostly a blessing. I’m so happy that collectively we’ve had the courage to put our heads together and make music over the years.’
José: Courage is kind of essential for growth and to put yourself out there, whether it’s art or talking to a girl you’re attracted to or a guy you want to speak to or just kind of anything. You can be in fear of the unknown and keep yourself in one place, but it takes courage to put yourself out there. Whether it works out or not, that’s the growth.
Brandon: I need more courage in talking to girls. I’m terrible at it, still, at 41. I see a beautiful woman. I see her see me and I’m just like ‘Shit! What am I going to say?’. I immediately start thinking „What should I say?“. It’s been like three times in my entire life where I haven’t thought about it and I saw a girl thinking „Wow, that girl is beautiful“, she looked at me and I went to talk to her. That never happens to me. So I could use more courage in speaking to the opposite sex.
José: That’s why people use alcohol to knock that in inhibition down.
Brandon: Is that what I’m doing wrong?!
José: The challenge is to have that courage to do everything sober when it’s the hardest.
4. DESIRE FOR PEACE & LOVE OF HUMANITY
Brandon: Amen. That we can also use much more of. Not only a desire for peace, but an implementation of peace. A need for peace. Not too long ago, José and I finished reading the same book called Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. We have a tendency, right now, to think that we’re more violent and less peaceful and more in upheaval than we’ve ever been. Doesn’t it feel that way? The facts are that we’ve never been more peaceful in the history of the planet since we’ve started measuring these things. We’ve never been better to each other. That doesn’t mean that things are perfect, not by a long shot. It just means we used to be way more violent.
Most people die now of diabetes and diseases of overeating than they do of malnutrition. More people kill themselves than kill each other. It seems like the opposite, but then you just look at the larger scope of history and this author does that. It’s really revealing. But it feels weird to say that right now because of all the weird stuff that is happening in the world. You turn into the news any day of the week and think – oh, we’re screwed. This is going to hell in a handbasket. Right now before our eyes.
‘We have to keep perspective on things. I think, we have to keep working towards peace and love of humanity.’
José: That’s one of the things that blows it to such a proportion – it’s in your face everywhere all the time now. When in fact, like Brandon was saying, religions fighting one another for the last almost 2,000 years there’s been more death because of that probably than in the last few hundred years. Anything you turn on, the tv or the phone, it’s just constantly bombarding you so it seems like the worst state we’ve ever been in. In a lot of ways it is…
Brandon: Because we know better. That’s why it is worse. We could argue that. It’s a very interesting book.
One of the sentiments that stuck out is the author using this one beautiful line:
‘Sugar kills more people than bullets now.’
Brandon: Dude, we are so professional.
José: Look at us right now!
Brandon: Look at us – our haircuts, the state of the shave…hands on the hips, we are professional! Have you ever seen two more professional people?
José: It doesn’t get better than this. I’m just grateful that my profession is doing what we’re doing now.
Brandon: It’s cool that our profession allows us to have tattoos on our hands. That would have been unhireable, basically, in any other jobs. Unless you’re a tattoo artist.
José: I think I did it on purpose to remind myself I would never get a 9 to 5 job.
Brandon: This is a lovely segway. What is your greatest ambition, José?
José: Whether it’s music or art, I just want to leave some sort of impression. For better of for worse. It’s kind of a journey and it’s all experimental, really. Maybe it leaves some sort of impression, whether it’s positive or negative or thought-provoking.
7. HARMONY & BALANCE
Brandon: That’s great, I’m glad I pulled that one because my ambition is for balance. I try to achieve balance by checking in with myself periodically and seeing how I feel in a very real visceral sense in my heart. Do you feel like you are being kind to yourself in this sort of multi-faceted, multi-personality self that all of us have? Any number of selfs lurking around inside of us. So we kind of have to check in with that committee that speaks for all those selfs. I think all of us in the band are doing a pretty good job of striking some kind of a balance between our ambitions and our needs and desires.
José: I think I’m more balanced and harmonious than I’ve ever been, even though I’m sure I can use more as time goes on. I think I’m heading in the right direction.
8. KARMA – GIVING & RECEIVING
José: I’m a firm believer in giving and receiving. Not just physical things. Energetically, too. I feel we all share the same energy, come from the same energy, go back as energy maybe one day. It’s hard to always have good karma when I lose patience, when I’m unbalanced or unharmonious, but it’s always something to strive for.
Brandon: Most people when they talk about karma, they talk about reincarnation. They talk, literally, about reincarnating. If that were real, that would be amazing. I’m not saying I don’t believe in it, but I think it’s unlikely. In a way it is possible. All of the things we are made of are infinite. The things that make us the most us are not finite qualities, they are infinite qualities. So when we die, I suppose those infinite factors don’t necessarily die. Maybe they just change shape. I like thinking of reincarnation.
‘As far as giving and receiving, I’ve always been a firm believer in what you get is what you give.’
There’s another saying ‘As above, so below.’ There is biological evidence for that. You see an iceberg and there is this whole universe below it that is holding it up. You can translate this into human relationships. So far for me, it’s been a good way of going about my life. Knowing that what I give into relationships or friendships or music I will probably get back in some form. So I put a great deal of effort and care into it. I do the best that I know how to, I should say.
José: Without any expectations. It makes it more earnest and true.