Incubus is currently on tour celebrating 20 years of their critically acclaimed “Make Yourself” album. From releasing their first album in 1995, to now having sold over 19 million albums worldwide, the band has a first-hand account of how to create success and longevity in Rock n’ Roll. We had the opportunity to talk with the band’s DJ Chris Kilmore and discuss defining moments in his career with the band and advice he has for those aiming to start their own journeys into their passions.
Interview with Chris Kilmore
Q: So, you guys have been on the road, you’ve had a career for almost 20 years now, what would one obstacle or setback be that really stands out to you. A points where you were like “oh man this is too tough” but you stuck it out and saw it through, and now led you to where you are?
A: I mean, there’s a lot of those moments. It could be as small as getting into an argument with one of the band members on a day you woke up on the wrong side of the bed to, you know, firing a band member. There are completely different extremes. You know, we’ve been through it all in 20 years. We fired our first manager pretty early in our career. There was a point where he wasn’t really up to par with where we were going, he just didn’t really have the skillset to take us where we needed to go and when we realized that. So, another manager came in and he said okay, I’ll co-manage you while we phase him out. And through that process we realized that we’re here and we make these decisions. We fire people, we hire people, we say where we want to go and what we want to play or not. And that process, for me personally, that made it become clear.
There was a point where we had to fire a band member and that was a pretty crucial moment, and then there was point where we had to fire the manager that came on board, so now we’re on our third manager. All of those were key moments because you have to realize that, okay the ship is getting dragged in this direction for whatever reason, how do we right it, and how do we go about that and keep everyone intact at the same time? I think getting rid of a band member was the hardest thing and there would be managers after that, but it’s just something that you have to go through, and the more you go through it, the more you experience, the more you understand you are in control of your own destiny.
You’ve got to make hard decisions. You can’t make them rashly. You can’t make them out of anger. It’s definitely something that you got to dwell on them for a while because those are decisions, just like signing with a record label. That’s a big decision because that record label is going to have an agenda and if it’s not matched with yours, you’re not going to go anywhere and it’s going to be a struggle the whole time. You know, all those big decisions add up and overtime you get to admire and understand what they mean for you, even though they are scary to make in the moment.
Q: So, you have had a long journey, who has helped you navigate that? Are there role models, whether that be someone personally or professionally that you have looked up to as a mentor that has guided you along the way?
A: You know, most of the decisions we make and things where we are going to go and what we’re going to do, we sit down as a band and talk about. So, I don’t want to sound cheesy and say it’s my other bandmates, but it really is them! We are all kind of going through this together and we’ve all had individual experiences outside of the band, and we can bring them back to the table and talk about them. You know, I admire everyone in the band and respect everybody’s opinion. To get where we want to go, we might all want to get the same spot, but we might think that we get there in different ways, different paths to get there. So, in order to figure out how we’re going to move, we talk about it. We run the band like a democracy for the most part. Obviously if someone has a strong feeling or is super adamant about something, then we’ll be like yeah, I’m down for anything. So really, it’s the dynamics between the band that we have that I respect and look up to a lot. In my personal life, if I have questions or I have issues I call my mom or my dad or my wife, and those are key people. But as far as the band is concerned it really is those guys.
Q: You have touched on it a little that you are still out there achieving goals. What would a piece of advice be to someone who is just getting started on their path?
A: I would say, whatever your passion is, hang on to that. Do what you need to do to hold on to that. Because when you do what your passion is for a living, it’s a little easier to lose it, it becomes work. And when it becomes work you have to separate it, you have to tell yourself I do this because I love this, not because I have to. And for me, that’s a great way to hang on to the passion that I have for it.