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Incubus Bassist Ben Kenney Talks New Album, Moving Back to the East Coast

Ethan Miller, Getty Images

Last summer, over a span of six days, Incubus celebrated their 20th anniversary as a band by renting out an art gallery in downtown Los Angeles to perform and connect with their fans in an ultra-intimate setting.

The band documented this unique experience on high-quality video and audio, which makes up the much-anticipated release, Incubus HQ Live.

On Aug. 14, Legacy Recordings will release a 2CD/1DVD and 1CD/1DVD version of these live performances. On the heels of this release, and just before the start of the 2012 Honda Civic Tour with Linkin Park, Noisecreep spoke with Incubus bassist Ben Kenney about the album and the band’s future.

Ben, what was it like last summer when you played the gallery in Los Angeles? Did playing for such a small crowd throw you off?

It was incredibly fun for the band – really sweet. And what was really special was the fact that since we were playing new music, we were also making press run without leaving home! It gets hard to grind out press tour sometimes after all of these years. You end up getting asked the same thing over and over so it’s hard to get excited. But with these shows, we were home so it was relaxed, there was no stress of travel and it allowed us to just be ourselves and give the fans something special in a unique setting without worrying about the usual stuff you think about once a record is done and you have to go out and talk about it.

Incubus has always enjoyed a pretty special bond with fans. What does that mean to you guys?

The fans are the reason the band still exists. I mean that seriously. There are people that attach good meaning to what we do – people that have made this band part of their lives. I mean, people came from other countries to be at the HQ shows. Clearly this matters to them. And that matters to us. I mean, you do something every day like we do, and it’s a job of course at a certain point, in that you lose some perspective. But the fans remind us and ground us and reminds us that we as a band are bigger together than we are as individuals. I mean, when someone tells you that their day is better because they listened to your music – are you kidding me? That’s just the most powerful thing.

Watch “Promises, Promises” from the New DVD

You guys have a big tour with Linkin Park starting up – does touring still have the same appeal for you that it did years ago?

On a certain level it does. It’s still very exciting, but you can get lost in it really easily and so you have to be careful. You hit points out there where you may not be ready and you have to focus on what you are doing and when the light goes on you have to be ready to deliver the best show you can. For me, I also love meeting people and being in different cities. Sure, you’re away from home and missing things – that’s the bad in it – someone back home is sick and you are in Portugal or something. But I do like to get out and after touring so much I have the benefit of having friends in many places so that when we roll I can get a local’s perspective on the place. I get to experience places through the eyes of people I trust and that makes the road very tolerable.

Unlike the rest of the guys, who primarily are from California, you come from New Jersey. How different was your musical life from theirs? What did you grow up listening to and going to see live?

In Jersey, local bands were the center of my universe. Because of how accessible bands were at bars like the Stone Pony and the Brighton Bar, man, I could see both locals bands and even some national touring bands. Biohazard, Sick of it All, Helmet, I saw everyone back in the day, all the major hardcore bands. It was just unbelievable. And I remember seeing the Ramones. That was unforgettable. They just gave you this idea that they were timeless and that their music was so simple that it would just matter forever.

There’s been some talk about another hiatus for the band after this tour. Can you confirm?

I can. Once this run is over in fact I think I’m going to move back to the East Coast, to New York. I’ve been in California for about ten years, I love it, but I’d like a change for a while while the band recharges. We will be doing our own things for a while and getting back in touch with other parts of our lives.

But you’ll be back for sure?

Oh yeah. We just the need the space to go out and live some life. We will get some ammunition to come back and do it again. We will recharge and definitely be back and believe me, this break will make coming back better. That’s just how we are.

Incubus HQ Live will hit stores on Aug. 14.

Legacy Recordings

2012 Honda Civic Tour Dates:

08/11 – Bristow, VA – Jiffy Lube Live*
08/12 – Uncasville, CT – Mohegan Sun Arena*
08/14 – Boston, MA – Comcast Center
08/17 – Camden, NJ – Susquehanna Bank Center
08/19 – Atlanta, GA – Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
08/21 – Detroit, MI – The Palace of Auburn Hills
08/22 – Cincinnati, OH – Riverbend Music Center
08/24 – Chicago, IL – First Midwest Bank Ampitheatre
08/25 – Indianapolis, IN – Klipsch Music Center
08/27 – Dallas, TX – Gexa Energy Pavilion
08/28 – Houston, TX – Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
08/30 – Denver, CO – Comfort Dental Amphitheatre
09/04 – Vancouver – Rogers Arena
09/05 – Tacoma, WA – Tacoma Dome
09/07 – Mountain View, CA – Shoreline Amphitheatre
09/08 – Los Angeles, CA – Home Depot Center
09/10 – San Diego, CA – Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre

*Linkin Park and Mutemath only

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