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Incubus Guitarist's Life On The Upswing

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Incubus’ Mike Einziger says the group’s current North American tour “is among the best that we’ve ever had, in my opinion.”

Which means the guitarist’s eventful past eight months is on an upswing again.

Einziger and his bandmates shared the elation of having a No. 1 album, the group’s first ever, when its sixth studio album, “Light Grenades,” came out in November. But earlier this year, a longstanding case of carpal tunnel syndrome became so severe that Einziger had to have his left hand operated on — with the risk, of course, that he might never play again.

“I guess I was (scared) for a little while, but I just kind of dove into it head-first. I didn’t really have a choice in the matter,” says Einziger, 31, who co-founded Incubus in 1991 in Calabasas, Calif.

“That’s how I am personally, anyway. I just roll with things, and I knew no matter what, I’d end up making some type of good situation come out of what had happened.”

The good news is that Einziger is indeed playing again, though he says, “I’m not anywhere near at the sort of functional level I was at before, and I’ve had to completely reassess the way I play and even change out the instruments that I use for easier guitars to play.

“I’ve had to make a lot of adjustments,” including a regular regimen of stretches and exercises, he adds. “But it’s getting to a point now where It’s manageable, and I feel pretty good about it.”

And Einziger did manage to do something significant during his time out of action. While he was convalescing and unable to play guitar, he decid- ed to write a symphony. In short order, however, he discovered “there were a lot of gaps in my musical knowledge,” so he began studying five days a week with a teacher, as well as with a “musical mentor” that he’s known for many years.

The project, which is still untitled, is continuing while he’s on the road with Incubus, but Einziger says it’s too soon to rent the tuxedo and pull out the conductor’s baton.

“I’m just kind of writing it in small pieces,” Einziger explains “ ’cause it’s very intimidating to think of it as a whole body of work. It’ll probably be three movements and 40 minutes of music, and that’s a lot of music to write.

“And I completely realize that it can’t just be interesting only because it’s the guitar player of a rock band writing it. It has to stand up to the work of other composers as well. It’s a pretty hefty task for me to endure, but I’m actually excited about it.”

He’s also excited about the state of Incubus at the moment. Ignoring a record-setting second-week drop on the Billboard 200 chart, Einziger says the group is discovering that fans have taken well to the gold-certified “Light Grenades.”

“People are really passionate about it,” he notes. “One thing that’s really amazing about these shows is there’s all these new songs we’re playing, and the entire audience is singing them. Even songs that haven’t been released as singles and songs I wouldn’t think people would know, they know ’em. It’s really impressing.

“So I think there’s definitely a lot of life in the album.”

There’s definitely plenty of life left in Incubus’ road legs. After wrapping up on these shores, the group will hit Europe and South America in the fall, with Australia, Japan and other parts of Asia slated for 2008.

The next Incubus album also is on the quintet’s radar — especially since any leftover “Light Grenades” material has been used up for B-sides and bonus tracks.

“We’ll be starting completely from scratch,” Einziger says, “but that’s how we like to do it. We like to look at our albums as, like, photo albums from a very specific time and place. We want them to be representative of where we were at a specific time, so including older songs would seem strange. Everything we do next time will be fresh and brand new.”

Incubus and Simon Dawes perform 7:30 p.m. Thursday (July 26th) at DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road north of I-75, Independence Township. Tickets are $39.50 pavilion and $30 lawn. Call (248) 377-0100 or visit www. palacenet.com.

Web Site: www.palacenet.com

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