If you have an I.Q. in the triple digits and have ever heard the band Incubus, then you probably don't have a hard time relating to someone who might want to physically harm one of its members. However, when death threats are leveraged against band members by former band members, it's hard not to see it as anything but a pot-kettle-black scenario.
In what is easily one of the most amusing--albeit irrelevant--news items of the week, it was reported Tuesday on TMZ that current Incubus DJ Chris Kilmore, fearing for his life, has taken out a restraining order -- for a second time -- against former Incubus DJ Gavin Koppel, who parted ways with the band in 1998. The order was issued in response to death threats Kilmore received from Koppel (allegedly) over a previous restraining order that was issued after a 2003 altercation, in which Koppel spat in Kilmore's face. According to court documents, Kilmore claims the disgruntled DJ approached him in a store and said, "You will get killed if you don't lift that order ... people get killed in the street for that." Consequently, Koppel has been ordered to say at least 100 yards from Kilmore.
While it seems Incubus' ubiquity on modern-rock radio has subsided as of late, the fact that a DJ who was ousted from the band 12 years ago is still so butt-hurt over missing out on the fame and fortune the other band members managed to inexplicably celebrate over the course of their tenure as modern rock's pre-eminent faux-mystical bro-tards, is frighteningly hilarious.
While the band is now a household name in the arena of active rock's auditory tormentors, you have to bear in mind that I grew up in Southern California, where I had to suffer the wrath of Incubus, and shirtless wood-stained bands just like them, for years before they reached worldwide fame. I've waited half my life for this catharsis, so pardon me while I use this little news story as an excuse to burst into flames over this band.
If a snowboard could sing, it would sound like perpetually shirtless Incubus singer Brandon Boyd. Making Jane's Addiction look like The Velvet Underground, Rage Against the Machine look like Fugazi and Tool look like Black Sabbath, Incubus' music is so sonically repugnant and mind-bogglingly elemental that their multi-platinum success of yester-decade makes all too much sense. The band happened upon a perfect storm of quasi-bohemian depth, emotional urgency, teen-angst and moody technical wankery. Basically, all the elements that fool tools into buying the band's bullshit hook-line-and-sinker, and make them think they're deep and enlightened for doing so. If you don't believe me, then just check out how Boyd himself once described the band:
We have all the elements of being the worst band in the world: a bass player who's got some slap-bass shit, heavy riff guitars, a DJ scratching on the songs, a crazy drummer, and a singer who's in touch with his feminine side. Even our band name is the worst name ever: it evokes imagery of 'Incubus' in death-metal writing, with bullet belts across our chests.
Imagine your brain as a canister filled with ink,
Now think of your body as the pen where the ink resides.
Fuse the two - Kapow! What are you now?
You're the human magic marker, won't you please surprise my eyes?
What's even funnier than Boyd's lyrics is his explanation of them. Take for example the commentary he gave to MTV, regarding the lyrics to their politically charged protest hit "Megalomaniac":
Have you ever seen the movie Three Amigos?...Do you remember El Guapo? He was the bad guy. I think it was Steve Martin at the end who was talking about El Guapo and how everyone has their own El Guapo. It might be your mom, your dad or a tyrant of some kind. And basically I'm using my personal El Guapo... I always appreciate when lyrics are distinct enough that you can tell generally what's going on and appreciate it, and vague enough that you can apply your own meaning to it.... So it'd be great if people could apply their own El Guapos to this song.
I think bands like Incubus are my El Guapo. As bad as they are on their own merits, what's perhaps most troubling about is their malignant influence on other artists. A list of their followers and contemporaries reads like a round-up of side-splitting punchlines. Check it out: Hoobastank, Alien Ant Farm, Apex Theory, Audio Vent, Crazy Town (roflcopter), Chevelle and -- for the local angle -- Framing Hanley, just to name a few.
What makes the TMZ story so hysterical is that it not only involves a former bandmate's vendetta against his successor, but that it involves the position of rock-band DJ, going straight to the heart of what makes their genre so intolerable. Can you even hear the DJ in Incubus? Or is he just there to make them look fresh and musically dynamic? I suggest a pay-per-view cage match between these feuding spinners, in which the only weapons they are allowed to use are their fists taped with shards of broken records -- a tribute to the classic fight scene Kickboxer. I'm sure the Incubus demographic would love to tune in. My money is on Koppel.