To call Brandon Boyd an 'artist' is an understatement; he's a poet, lyricist, painter, muralist, illustrator, musician and activist. Coined as "elegant, nuanced pop" by Billboard, Boyd's Sons of the Sea whimsically augments his known Incubus works, delivering a comfortable landing into a familiar avian dream. Now, with his second solo album and third art book under his belt, Boyd seems ready–but is not rushing–to reconvene with Incubus.
We chatted with the talented frontman to discuss Sons of the Sea, and wound up reminiscing about his favorite '80s movies and what he misses about the '90s.
OC Weekly (Jena Ardell): You've described the sound of your solo album The Wild Trapeze as: "…a guy in a room surrounded by toys who has an undying enthusiasm for finding out what each toy does, and has been given full license to make as much noise as he pleases."
What things would be you be surrounded with to represent the sounds of Sons of the Sea?
Brandon Boyd: The toy analogy is a pretty good analogy, but in Sons of the Sea, it's as if an expert toy maker were in the room with me, that being [producer] Brendan O'Brien. Or if we were in a candy factory, [O'Brien] would be Willy Wonka and I would be the enthusiastic, young chocolate lover (laughs). I might regret that analogy at some point, but whatever.
Ten years ago, your tour rider with Incubus included: a case of Corona, Diet Coke, some ginger ale, peanut butter and jelly and some deli meats. What requests are on there now? They must have changed a bit…
They have changed a little bit. We're still pretty low-maintenance when it comes to our backstage rider, but it's gotten a little more maintenance. I've become a gluten-free person in the past two years. Not so much by jumping on the bandwagon, but [because] I found out I was allergic, so there is now a pile of gluten-free snacks and all of these wheat-free products for me [backstage]. I don't drink soda either, so now there are different selections of teas. I think we now also have a bottle of Glenfiddich, at least 12-year-old aged scotch in the room, too, just to supplement our lifestyle a bit.
Is it true that you're lactose-intolerant? Did anyone else find that ironic that you were lying in a pool of 'milk' in the "Come Together" video?
It is true, unfortunately, yes. (Laughs). Those who thought it was milk, I hope they would find the irony in that. Fortunately for me, it wasn't milk because I probably wouldn't be alive right now because I had to submerge myself in it and it was getting in my eyes and going in my nose. What is was though was actually dolphin drool. We collected as much dolphin drool on the incoming tide as we could the week before. Fortunately, dolphin drool is lactose-free and cruelty-free. Don't believe me. It was an all-purpose movie magic fluid.
Was the video for "Come Together" shot in one take?
Yes, it was a one-take thing. There are pivotal moments when you can see a worried look on my face and that was both worried that I was going to slip and injure the young lady who was sitting on top of me and also a worried look that I wasn't going to get the take because we could only do three or four takes in total because we were running out of the [liquid] and you can only reuse it so many times.
Who are some visual artists you would like to one day collaborate with?
I would really love to work with [illustrator] Aubrey Beardsley one day to figure out a way to resurrect the long dead, or [figurative painter] Egon Schiele, that would be really cool too, but they're dead so I don't know if that's going to happen anytime soon.
Who are some living musicians you would like to one day collaborate with?
Y'know, there are so many, but there's a part of me that has this weird default mechanism which assumes they wouldn't want to work with me, so I never really entertain the idea with any seriousness. I would love to collaborate with Bjork one day. And I would love to collaborate with Antony from Antony and the Johnsons. I think he has an unbelievable voice.
You've mentioned Fast Times at Ridgemont High was partly 'visual inspiration' for the song Come Together, so we're assuming you're a fan of '80s movies. What are some of your favorites?
Wow, the '80s was a treasure trove of classic bad cinema, wasn't it? I have many favorite movies from the 80s; Fast Times at Ridgemont High I think is one of them. Better Off Dead is another favorite. I really like Blade Runner. I could go on forever about this. I really liked the Rambo movies growing up too (laughs). Labyrinth. The Dark Crystal… amazing. Really anything Jim Henson was associated with the '80s is OK by me.
What's one thing you really miss about the '90s?
I miss being a teenager (laughs). Whenever I miss being a teenager, I remember the good things, but the bad things also come flooding in, like being devastated by a bout of acne or horrible feelings of insecurity when you want to talk to the girl who is a grade older than you and you feel devastatingly shy. I don't miss those things at all. Sometimes, sometimes, I'm going to stress on the sometimes, I do miss the music that came from the '90s, but that also kind of shows my age. I think once we crest the age of 30, in whatever generation we come from, we start to miss the music of our teens and twenties, and it seems like everything that got made then was better than it is now. I know that's not true, but I am occasionally smitten with the music of the '90s and early 2000s.
Is it true that you're working on a novel?
No, that isn't. I wish it were true.
And because we see your dog on Instagram so much: is your dog Bruce named after any particular, famous Bruce?
No, he is not actually. He chose the name. He told it to me in a psychic communication one day. He was about three and half months old and I went to the place where he was living and he was leaning up against a tree and staring out into a field, quietly. It was almost as if he were, like, mediating. I had a name in mind that I was going to name him–it was Grenouille from the Book Perfume–but he looked at me with these piercing brown eyes and said 'My name is Bruce; don't call me Grenouille'.
You can catch Boyd with Sons of the Sea in February. For a full list of tour dates, visit Boyd's website. Boyd's art book, So The Echo, which features his writings, photos, drawings and paintings can be found here.