The Weekly interview: Incubus drummer José Pasillas

Incubus plays the Joint September 5-6.
Chris Bitonti

The band’s latest release, Trust Fall (Side A) is a four-song EP. Why did you choose to release an EP versus a full album? It’s just experimenting with how we create music and put out music. We’ve been doing the same thing for 20 years now—we write a record, put out a record, tour behind the record—and eight records later, we thought we’d try something different. It almost seems obsolete to put out a full record now; the attention span of the population isn’t there. I’m the same way. [And] we thought putting out a few songs would give us time to go out and tour behind it a little bit and, at the same time, in between tours, write and record music.

The plan was to do a Side B, [but] we’re now talking about putting out a full record. We’re not sure. We do have a lot of material that’s being written and recorded, so we’ll finish that after this tour. There’s a lot of options, which is a good thing.

Lots of bands are putting out music in smaller doses these days, but I wonder if it makes a big enough splash to rise above the noise. There’s no guaranteed way of anything anymore. It’s really just if radio catches a song, and for us “Absolution Calling” did well. We’re doing really well with ticket sales, better than we’ve done ever, which for not being on tour for a really long time is kind of miraculous.

The four songs on Trust Fall have four very different sounds and styles. Was that intentional? Those were just the four songs that we worked on the most, and we thought it was a good snapshot of where we’re at. We like to be dynamic within our records, and one song to the next is usually pretty different, just like one record to the next is usually pretty different. I would say that the jumps between [these] songs may be a little more drastic, but it’s just sort of what came to us.

Will the next release will be related conceptually? It’s really hard to tell. The music that I think will be on the next installation will be different for sure. We’ve got a lot more mellow stuff that we’ve written, and a handful of more frenetic stuff, so to see where it’s gonna go will be interesting. As soon as we get back, in September, our goal is to hone in on maybe 10 or 12 songs and finish them and see how it goes.

You’re doing two nights here over Labor Day Weekend. Are you planning anything special to change up the shows? We change up the set from night to night, take each show, see what we’ve done, see what we want to do and make a set before the show.

Are there certain songs you feel like you have to play every night? We’ve got so many singles that have done well that we have to put in a bunch of songs. We could play 22 songs of all singles, but that wouldn’t be any fun for us, because there are so many deeper cuts that we love to play. The hardest thing for us to do is make up a setlist, because you cannot please everyone, and we never do. We just do the best we can.

Incubus has been a band for 20 years. Is it still fun performing, or is it more of a job now? We’re having a great time. I mean, we’ve taken time between records—we take the much-needed rest and then we’re ready to go. The best part about playing in a band for myself is bringing the music to life playing shows. That’s always been our strong point, and we still have a good time and I think when people come see us they can see it. Sure, after four or five weeks of doing it, it does become difficult and tiring and sometimes we’re on autopilot. That’s why we don’t tend to go more than five weeks, because that’s the point where we’re just exhausted.

I also wanted to talk a little bit about the Make Yourself Foundation. Can you tell me what it is and how you’ve been helping out with other nonprofits? We’ve always been asked to help out with all sorts of nonprofits and charitable organizations since we started to do well, and we’ve always helped out when we could. After a couple years we thought we’d concentrate our efforts by starting our own foundation. That’s why we came up with the Make Yourself Foundation, and we’ve been doing it for many years now and it’s been great. Every year, we put money toward this foundation and at the end of the year, we delegate what organizations we want to help out. We pool the money through tickets, merchandise, auctions. At the end of the year, we usually have a big stack, and we sit down as a band and go through it, talk about it and see where it goes.

What are some nonprofits you’ve supported through the foundation? Heal the Bay has always been one. Surfrider Foundation. A lot of environmental stuff, that’s where most of our efforts go. Those are some great nonprofits doing really good work, and we’ll continue to help out however we can.

Incubus September 5-6, 8 p.m., $70-$195. The Joint, 702-693-5222.

  • The singer-songwriter, who performs three shows at Encore Theater, hasn’t played a concert here since 2010.

  • “I think the experience and the communal vibe of tour is really reparative to sick, isolated, creative people who stay at home with their cats ...

  • The band recently announced its first return gig—June 22 in Anaheim, California—and will bring three-fourths of the lineup that made its final album to the ...

  • Get More Music Stories
Top of Story