We speak with Kyle Adams of Melbourne’s Incentives. Why? Cause they dropped a hot as fuck EP yesterday, that’s why!
Sure, Incentives are, more or less, still the new kids on the block in the Aussie heavy scene. So they’ve done the usual; play a bunch of Melbourne shows, release a couple tracks here and there, you know how it is. However, they also outdid many bands twice their size and toured New Zealand last year for their first ever tour (more on that later). Oh, and until just the other day, they put out a debut EP by the name ‘Dusk’ (read our review of it here and stop being a scrub). So while they’re still a relatively new band in the grand scheme of things, the wheels are indeed moving. Of course, their youth doesn’t mean that they don’t deliver the goods, as ‘Dusk‘ proves otherwise.
Now, the title of that release comes from their song, ‘Place Holder‘, a track that was written in the space of three hours, (which is apparently unheard of for the band’s writing process, I’m told), hence its name – placeholder. Adams explains the album’s title and turns out, it’s not just a cool title to give your latest release either.
“On Place Holder, there’s a lyric “It sets with the sun”, so with that song title, placeholder, it relates back to the lyrics as it’s not permanent. A lot of the themes on the EP deal with a cycle; with a pattern. So much like in a relationship, you can just go around in circles. So with having Dawn and Dusk being first and last respectively, we thought that it represented the lyrics on a broader scale.”
I find that that song in particular, ‘Place Holder‘, really shows the best elements of the band’s heavy and melodic sound mixed into one. Personally, I’ve always aligned their sound alongside Counterparts, In Hearts Wake, and Volumes. Turns out, I’m actually pretty close on the money about the band’s sound and influences.
“With Counterparts, definitely. They are the one band that we all genuinely love. A lot of our clean sections, and in a sense, the way I deliver some of my vocals comes from them. With the metalcore side of things, we’ve all loved someone like Volumes. That’s where Max [Hopkins, guitar] gets a lot of his influence. So we take all these inspirations, mix ‘em up and hopefully make them sound somewhat unique“.
Well, it may not be wholly unique but, it’s a solid fucking sound!
Now, that Counterparts vibe the band has is perhaps felt the strongest on ‘Better Off’, their most recent single and music video. Unlike prior single/video ‘Self-Decay’, this wasn’t just a glorified play through video and had a narrative to it, a narrative that is definitely influenced by older horror films.
“We had a few ideas at the start, and we wanted it to be quite dark and quite grimy. Initially, we wanted something like the movie Nosferatu, but the place we were going to shoot in would’ve cost us a lot of money to do. So, we moved it out to the forest, changed the story up a bit, and that was definitely influenced by movies like The Blair Witch Project”, says Adams.
Well, the forest setting and the black and white filter really nails that tone home, me thinks.
“It was definitely us having fun and rather than trying to be serious”, the singer continues. “For instance, at the end, you’ll see us lift up this gnome statue [seen from 2:33 onwards]. That’s become our band mascot, so to speak. We literally found it in Kmart one day and wanted to include it a shot or two, but it ended up being much more of an integral element.”
Now, my first thought upon watching the clip was that the kidnapped protagonist was being pushed into the woods so that he could find himself or go through some sort of character-defining trial. Then he’d come back a stronger person, a better person, and everything would be tip-top. Y’know, all that positive shit the heavy music scene does with clips like this. But nope! The band stuck clear of that cliche, and the dude just ends up being sacrificed to a Death-eater looking deity by a forest-dwelling cult. Cheery stuff, for sure, weird gnomes and all.
During the filming, the band was approached by police while filming, and not because they were starting fires with their red hot tunes. No, because they were fucking trespassing on a reservoir near Ballarat for the filming of the clip. Adams explained what went down.
“We had just finished up the narrative shots. It was about 2 or 3am and we decided to begin filming the performance shots, and Joe noticed these police lights when he was walking up to get his drums. It took the police about ten minutes or so to walk 100-200 meters as I think they were a little concerned, seeing us through the trees and all. I think they may have even background checked Max, as his car was up there, to make sure he wasn’t a certified criminal or something. At the time, I think we were all thinking, ‘Oh shit, are we going to get criminal records for this?’ They got our statements and said that we were definitely breaking the law. But what was hard to pick up was they said they were going to leave, because as far as they were concerned we would be leaving soon too…I think they were hinting that maybe we could keep going, but I think we made the right decision and moved along and not risk it.”
Yeah, good call! Also, there are your tax dollars at work, people!
Alongside the obvious writing and playing, a lot of content by the band has been created in-house. For instance, guitarist Max Hopkins directed and edited that video, whereas Adams designed the initial artwork for the EP’s cover (above if you somehow didn’t notice). This DIY aspect is something that works in the band’s favor and I’m not the only one that agrees.
“I’m generalizing here, but a lot of bands will outsource for their artwork, videos and all that. A lot of our designs, the merch too, has been designed by me. Which has saved us a substantial amount of money. With Max too with the music video, that all helped out an incredible amount. We’re lucky we have the skill set to do those things, as it saves money for other things, like our PR.”
Your band’s PR is always good to get covered, especially when you have a tour coming up, which Incentives do. But the band’s tour in July/August will, in fact, be the group’s first ever Aussie headline tour. But if you remember the start of this piece then you’ll know that it’s not their first ever tour…
See, in early 2015, Incentives actually supported Hand Of Mercy and Depths on a short tour over in New Zealand, something I find very interesting and also quite funny. I mean, very few bands can have that to their name; that their first tour wasn’t even in their own country and with our nation being one giant island, that makes this all the odder. But Adams says that if it wasn’t for Hand Of Mercy stepping in (I am really just counting down the days until that band reforms) than Incentives NZ adventure may have never happened.
“When got the offer, we thought it wasn’t real at first. Like, surely this can’t be legit, you know? Originally, Hand Of Mercy wasn’t going to be on the tour, as it was initially us, Depths, The Inquisitor and Dead Dreamers. But Dead Dreamers had to cancel and I thought that’d be the end of it. But then we got told that Hand Of Mercy was keen to do it and I had a real fanboy moment, for sure. Meeting up with them at the airport and touring with them was kinda daunting at first, but they were such great, down to earth dudes. It’s kinda funny that we did this international tour with such a well-respected band and now finally, we can do the home one. It’s probably about time for that”, laughs the front man.
But that run was over in Mord- I mean, New Zealand. This new tour is for the motherland now, and yes, it’s probably about time they have a local run, too. Especially with ‘Dusk‘ available now, a release that the band poured so much into. Of course, the band isn’t going to be alone on this tour, as two fellow upcoming local bands will be joining them – Coves and The Diamond Construct.
“The bands we have on this tour, Coves and The Diamond Construct, are both killer bands. It’ll work perfectly, I think. I actually haven’t been to half of the states that we’re going to, so it’s going to be a pretty interesting run”, Adams excitedly states.
Well, I do sincerely hope that this is just the first of many tours and interstate trips for the band. Keep that shit up, lads!
Incentives are on tour from July 29th to August 7th, so suss the dates (and their new EP) below and go get a mic grab.
Main photo credit: Andrew Bromley