“grunge wasn’t supposed to be fun, but it was for us…”

by liza darwin

We'll always know and love Brandon Boyd as the frontman of Incubus. And while most musicians would be content in a multi-platinum rock band, turns out this California resident is busy pursuing other projects on and off the road. He's a visual artist, operating fairly under-the-radar with local exhibitions, brand collaborations, and book releases. We spoke with the painter/ musician after the Incubus tour about his talent for multitasking, the grunge scene, and what he wants his next "slash" to be (hint: it involves clothes)....

Hey Brandon...so where in the world are you calling from right now? I actually just got home from being on tour in Europe.

How was that? It was actually kind of rough; being on tour is a mashup of lots of different things. It's fun and adventure, but it's also chaos and no sleep and no rest. This trip and the time of year was a little rough because there was no sun [laughing].

Besides Incubus, you're also really involved in visual art...how did you get started? Before music it was my main hobby. I was resolute in one thing growing up, and as a kid I was like, ‘I'm going to be an artist!' I knew I loved to draw and paint, and that was my whole thing. When I was a teen I was obsessed with music and it was an advantageous time period- during early '90s- I was witness to all the fun that gruge was. Grunge wasn't supposed to be fun, but it was for us. It was supposed to be dark and brooding [laughing].

Are you able to do both music and painting at once?

I can multitask, which is good. One of the things I've learned how to do in my adulthood is facilitate the actual impetus to create something, whether it's to create a song, draw a picture, you know. But it's hard to predict when that creativity will strike.

How do you prepare for that? I bring a small set of tools with me anywhere I go- sketchbook, pens, and watercolors. On tour I'm mostly focused on the music, but I tend to sketch as well, so at the end of the tour I'll have lots of sketches that turn into bigger drawings. Most of the stuff in my art books are sketches from tour, actually.

You collaborated with Hurley a while back... any more fashion plans in the future? I'd love to do something more fashion-oriented. It's been a matter of timing and I haven't really put it out there. This is the first time I've vocalized an interest in fashion. My girlfriend owns a vintage clothing store in Santa Monica, and she shows me how much creativity goes into the design of a garment. Two people can wear the same thing so many different ways.

What up and coming artists are you personally excited about? Too many to mention! It's kind of a wild time in art- part of it is because how much access we have to witness each other, to be inspired by each other. It does get a little bit daunting because I see how much talent and inspiration there is out there, and I feel a little bit lazy sometimes. I keep my ear to the track and use that feeling of being humbled by younger people as inspiration. Vania [Zouravliov] is this young kid of Russian descent who does these kind of gothic, morbidly sexual ink drawings, similar to where Beardsley left off.

Last question: if you had to make a mixtape for NYLON, who would you include?" I've been enjoying new new Grizzly Bear record, so I would put their song "Southern Point" on it. Also, Oh Land- "Wolf and I." And I love that James Blake song....what's it called? [starts singing]

"Limit to Your Love!" Yes! He's amazing.

See more of Brandon Boyd's artwork here.


Art Installation, 2008

"Two for Flinching"