Tennessean.com   Saturday, 10/02/04


Incubus offers no apologies


Incubus wasn't really trying to rock the boat or the vote in 2004 when the band released its acclaimed new album, A Crow Left of the Murder, but in this extremely reactionary election year, its hit single Megalomaniac has become a rallying cry and a bull's-eye for people on both sides of the presidential campaign.

For those who oppose the incumbent, the message of Megalomaniac is as clear as its chorus is coarse: ''Hey megalomaniac/You're no Jesus/Yeah you're no (expletive) Elvis . . . Step down. Step down.'' Musically, it is equally confrontational with a monstrous rhythm attack and a riotous fist-pumping melody that quakes with sincere ferocity.

People who were expecting something a little lighter from the band that piled up platinum success primarily due to its sensitive rock ballads were certainly blown out of their chairs upon hearing this one. But Brandon Boyd, Incubus' lead singer, was equally taken aback by the backlash to the single and its even more controversial video (which paired images of Hitler and Stalin with a Bush-like character flanked by slogans such as ''Heroes Don't Ask Why'').

''When we wrote this song and did the video, in no way was it a lash out against George W. Bush,'' Boyd says. ''I was thinking specifically, in mind, about a person whose (identity) is inconsequential and, for lack of a better term, inappropriate. But I think that it's a beautiful thing that people have attached their own idea en masse to the song. It will probably go down in history as that 'anti-Bush rock song.' ''

''It's funny because Floria (Sigismondi), the woman who directed the video, wasn't even making an anti-Bush video,'' Boyd recalls. ''When she cast that guy, who looks a little bit like George W. Bush, and this is coming straight from her mouth, 'That's a friend of mine who I thought looked like a good businessman with big ears.' But it has reflected the cultural perspective or outlook on things. But the song wasn't a lash out at him, it was just, like, 'What do you see in this ink blot?' And I saw one thing and everybody else saw something else.''

Regardless of intention, Incubus and Boyd certainly haven't shied away from politics, and Boyd is quick to unashamedly share his views, unafraid of the backlash that has beset artists such as The Dixie Chicks and Linda Ronstadt.

''The people who are bashing human beings, American citizens, for their opinions, those are the most un-American people out there,'' Boyd says. ''When people start allowing that kind of behavior, that's when we start walking back into the dark ages. That's like saying we should only let politicians elect the president. (Laughs) Well, in a lot of ways that's how it works with the Electoral College.

''I applaud The Dixie Chicks and Linda Ronstadt. I applaud anybody who has the courage to do that because they have the right to do it, and if you're not exercising your basic rights, you're basically just handing them off to somebody else who will probably end up using them against you.

''I think this is our generation's struggle. There are a lot of bands coming out and writing songs about (politics) for the first time since the '60s and rock is finally correlating their efforts again. It's funny. I saw this thing on the cover of a German magazine that said, 'Thank you, George Bush.' They were thanking him because all these bands were writing all these great songs about him.''

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