If Not Now, When?

Album: If Not Now, When? (2011)

Songfacts®:

  • This is the title track from Southern Californian alternative rock band Incubus' seventh studio album. The group recorded the LP at Blackbird Studios in Nashville and Henson Studios in Los Angeles teaming up again with producer Brendan O'Brien [Bruce Springsteen, Stone Temple Pilots] who was also onboard for their two previous records. If Not Now, When was released on July 12, 2011 via Epic Records.
  • The album's title is a reference to a famous quote from the great rabbi of the Mishnah, Hillel, who said: "If I am not for myself, who will be? And when I am for myself, what am 'I'? And if not now, when?" (Avot 1:14). Frontman Brandon Boyd explained to Spin magazine it comes from his reassessment of life. "I'm addicted to the news," he said. "There's so much at play right now, so many important, catastrophic, beautiful things. This idea 'If Not Now, When?' seems terribly poignant."
  • Guitarist Mike Einziger discussed the writing of the song with Rock Sound magazine: "We like to remain amorphous while we're writing just because making albums is, for us, a constant surprise. We're always coming up with ideas that seem so exciting at first, but often the ideas that didn't seem so exciting at first are the ones that push through and seem to carry the most weight. That song was an example of that; it was supposed to be a really high-energy song, because when I started writing the album, everyone in the band was asking me when it was going to start rocking! So that song was an answer to them. When I started writing it, I had every intention of making it into a high-energy rock song, but it just didn't happen."
  • Frontman Brandon Boyd took to the band's official website to share some thoughts about this song: "In the title track, we set the tone of the album. A stirring in the water somewhere, a long time ago, sends ripples outward. Beautifully. Symmetrically, and relentlessly pulsing out, out, out. They travel countless miles and eventually arrive at shallow waters. Then the triumphant finale. The breaking wave, after gaining thousands of miles of momentum, arcs forward into the future; the wave is about to break. If not now, when? A unique event in space and time. Never to be repeated ever again. Now. Now. Now."
  • The song's music video was recorded at Henson Recording Studios, which Charlie Chaplin founded in 1917 and was subsequently the home to Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss's record company A&M Records. It was filmed in the same room where the "We Are The World" clip was shot in 1985.

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