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Incubus grows up with 'If Not Now, When?'

By Denise Quan, CNN
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Incubus reunites for first CD in 5 years
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The band Incubus is back with its first album in five years
  • "If Not Now, When?" reunites the band, which started in high school
  • Guitarist Mike Einziger enrolled in Harvard during the break
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Los Angeles (CNN) -- The vibe inside the darkened soundstage at 204 Studios in Hollywood is hushed, almost melancholy -- rare for a music video set. But the moody spell mirrors the tone of Incubus' first studio album in five years. "If Not Now, When?" is the Southern California rock band's lushest, most textured record yet.

"It's obvious that everyone's grown up, and in different ways," says guitarist Mike Einziger during a break in filming. "Anytime we make a record, it's just an attempt to capture who we are as people and as a band now. It's like a bunch of photographs of us at a very specific time."

It's been 20 years since Einziger, singer Brandon Boyd and drummer Jose Pasillas formed Incubus as 10th graders at Calabasas High, in a picturesque suburb of Los Angeles. They were later joined by DJ Chris Kilmore and bassist Ben Kenney, formerly of The Roots. In 2008 -- after six albums -- Incubus decided to take a much-needed break to pursue some personal interests.

Einziger enrolled at Harvard, where he's been studying philosophy, science and musical theory and composition.

"It's fun being a student. I had never had the opportunity to be a college student, and it was something I always wanted to do," he confides. "My parents are very proud that I'm studying at Harvard. It's definitely one of those things that makes people do a double-take. They don't think I look smart enough or something."

Boyd used his hiatus to release his first solo album, "The Wild Trapeze," last year. He also spent a lot of time painting in his kitchen studio.

"I've done a couple of art exhibitions," says the singer, "and I got to know my neighborhood better than I ever have, which was awesome. I unpacked. That was really cool."

Even though Einziger was away at school in Massachusetts and his bandmates were 3,000 miles away in California, Einziger says they'd speak about once a week.

"That was the first period of time since I was a kid that I have lived apart from Jose and Brandon," Einziger says. "These are guys that I would see every day, interact with -- and I wasn't around them for a couple of years."

"But we all grow and change as people, so when we all got back together and started playing, we were different people than we were before we left. It was definitely a process, and the struggle to reacquaint ourselves with each other is sort of the beautiful formula that gave rise to this different kind of sound that we've gotten right now."

"There were a few moments here and there where I wondered if we would do another record, and it wasn't for lack of desire," Boyd says. "It was just so much has happened in the meantime, and then there's the uncertainty about the industry, and are we still relevant and do people even want a new record? We started sniffing around a little bit and we decided that there's still room for us, and maybe we could just kind of muscle our way in and see what happens."