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Incubus front man Brandon Boyd true to his art

  • Story Highlights
  • Incubus' Brandon Boyd has been indulging in a love of painting
  • Band has new greatest hits album out, will hit the road in July
  • "These were the things I was supposed to do," says Boyd
By Denise Quan
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LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Brandon Boyd blends into his Venice, California, neighborhood like any other resident.

The members of the band grew up together, says Boyd, and encouraged him to write songs.

Brandon Boyd, front man for Incubus, is going on the road with the band in July.

He surfs. Shuns Starbucks in favor of the local smoothie shop. Walks his French bulldog, Bruce.

Oh, he also paints and makes music with his multiplatinum rock band, Incubus.

The quintet hits the road on a North American summer tour in July, and just released a greatest hits collection called "Monuments and Melodies." The packaging features artwork by Boyd, who held his first solo art exhibit at Mr. Musichead Rock Art Gallery in Los Angeles last fall.

The showroom is on the Sunset Strip, a stone's throw from the clubs that were host to Incubus' first gigs. The most spectacular paintings are large, fantasy-inspired pieces drenched in burgundy or aqua.

Usually, the artwork springs to life in a corner of the singer's kitchen, where an easel permanently resides. It's a zen-like space, with high ceilings, glossy concrete floors and warm, burnished wood. But instead of the requisite Buddha statue, there's a rubber rabbit's head for inspiration. The muse seems ironic and appropriate, especially since Boyd swears his home was a brothel back in the 1900s.

CNN talked to Boyd about collaboration, the fulfillment of art and finding the perfect wave. The following is an edited version of the interview.

CNN: Isn't it ironic that you had your first solo art show before your first solo album?

Brandon Boyd: I've actually thought very little about solo work up until just very recently. Most of it is because in my band, Incubus, it is very much a collaborative effort. I do what I do in the band, and everyone plays their respective parts, but in the end, we are sort of a democratic process. We meet in the middle for a lot of the songs, and I think that's why we sound the way we do -- because it's sort of five minds meeting in the middle.

With my art thing, it's completely self-indulgent. Video Watch the singer discuss his art »

CNN: So what does art fulfill in you that you don't get out of music?

Boyd: To me, it's like the difference between a pen and a paintbrush. Music draws from almost the identical place as art does, which really is that intangible -- it's like you're pulling from the ether. I don't know where it comes from. Nobody really does. It sort of arrives when it wants to. ...

I've been painting and drawing and taking pictures as long as I've been writing music -- and I've actually been drawing longer than I've been writing music. I didn't go around looking for it. It kind of found me.

CNN: Your parents always encouraged you to explore your artistic side.

Boyd: My parents are wonderful, and I'm really lucky -- but my mom has always been almost exclusively a right-brained person. She goes completely on her feelings of things, on her intuition, and so she instilled that in my brothers and I. And she also instilled in us from a very young age the importance of visualization -- visualization as a tool towards manifestation in your life.

And so, from a very young age, if I didn't feel well, she's like, "Well, draw what's happening and draw a solution." If I had a stomach ache, I would draw a picture of my stomach, and I would draw what I thought the bad germs looked like -- and, you know, they had little robber masks on and stuff. And then I would draw a good germ, and of course it had a cape, and some tights, and he had a washcloth in his hands, and he could fly around and clean up the bad germs. And for some reason, I would always feel better afterwards.

CNN: Did you ever visualize and draw what you wanted to achieve in terms of your music career, too?

Boyd: Sometimes, yeah. But the guys in the band -- we kind of grew up together, and when they were like, "We want to play music, let's start a band. You should be the singer," I was like, "OK." I'd never written anything before, I had never even really sang, but they knew that I knew how to draw, so it seemed logical that maybe I could write lyrics or carry a tune.

So I always just sort of visualize lines, I would visualize a melody, and then sound it out to them, and they would help me sort of guide it through the instruments. And eventually, I got good enough at it that I was able to do it completely on my own.

CNN: When you finish a painting, is it very much like finishing a song or finishing an album?

Boyd: Yeah, there is definitely a sense of accomplishment. Very rarely is there any confusion as to when a painting or a song is finished. You just know when it's done. Someone wise once said when they were asked the question, "How do you know when you're done with a painting?" And they said, "How do you know when you're done making love?" I always thought that was a great analogy.

CNN: Did you ever think, "I need a fall-back job, like being an accountant, or a lawyer, or someone who works for IBM?"

Boyd: I feel very blessed, but no. I knew from a very young age that these were the things that I was supposed to do, and I actually made some very adult decisions when I was a teenager based on the knowledge that this is what I was going to do. There was really no question about it.


CNN: What else do you want to do?

Boyd: Painting and art are obviously in my focus, but I dream about getting a really big tube at the Bonsai Pipeline sometime in the near future.

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