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Incubus Awarded Environmentalists of the Year at 24th Annual Waterman's Ball

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For the surf industry, last weekend was prom.

The Waterman's Ball, hosted every year by SIMA (Surf Industry Manufacturers Association), brings together all the leaders in the surf world to celebrate the sport and raise hundreds of thousands for organizations fighting to keep the ocean clean.

Following previous honorees like Eddie Vedder and Jack Johnson, this year Rob Machado presented Brandon Boyd and Incubus the environmentalists of the year award. It was great to see the band's ongoing efforts recognized next to those of surf legends like Fernando Aguerre, PT Townend, and Jon Rose.

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The event made it apparent that if you're a surfer, calling protecting the place in which you thrive "charity" would be misleading. Jon Rose may have explained the philosophy best with "Do what you love and help along the way," a line that I know resonated with everyone in the audience.

For the past 10 years, Incubus has taken a similar approach to its own nonprofit, The Make Yourself Foundation.

Following a decade of fundraising initiatives, we recently launched an Urgency Network campaign where fans have the opportunity to win a surf lesson with Brandon Boyd for learning about some of our favorite organizations. Many of which being the same that SIMA supports.

As I was asked to write a tribute piece for the Waterman program, I thought I'd repost it here as an opportunity to share the story of MYF, what we're up to today and what it all means to me.

Thanks SIMA and cheers to a great night.

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From the program:

It trips me out to think how radically different my life would likely be if the band Incubus didn't exist.

In high school, I'd go on surf trips with my friends to San Clemente over summer break. As a Pennsylvania native, Southern California felt like a different planet from my home back east.

I was envious of the culture, and the people who got to experience it year-round. I too wanted to live a life of sunshine, surfing, sativa and Sublime. But alas, summer would eventually end, and California would go back to being a distant dream land.

For me and I think so many others around the world, Incubus became the musical embodiment of the the fairy tale. Songs like "Are You In?" That house in Malibu overlooking the ocean... Discovering Incubus was like discovering a portal into the California state of mind.

The songs served as a glimpse of consciousness during an otherwise unnerving time - Light grenades, as Brandon Boyd would later put it.

That's the real power of music and that was the magic of Incubus.

They were selling out arenas around the world, and soon recognized an opportunity to leverage this new platform to give back.

As guys who grew up surfing and going to the beach, they naturally began by setting their sights on organizations who shared their love for the ocean. This lead to an ongoing history of working with groups like Heal the Bay, Waterkeeper, Surfrider Foundation, Reefcheck and Save the Waves.

It quickly became apparent that they needed a more efficient way to focus their charitable efforts, so in 2003 Incubus decided to start their own nonprofit called The Make Yourself Foundation.

Having this foundation offered a new way to connect with fans and together raise money and awareness for nonprofits they cared about.

They've sold live album bootlegs, participated in surf tournaments, partnered on art projects, and continue to auction-off VIP meet and greet packages for every show to fund the foundation. Now in it's tenth year, MYF has raised over $1.6 million and supported more than 60 nonprofit organizations.

Last summer, Incubus and The Make Yourself Foundation partnered with Linkin Park's Music For Relief organization during the co-headlined Honda Civic Tour.

They worked with Reverb to green the tour, which included recycling both backstage and in front of house, coordinating more eco-minded choices on tour buses, and facilitating offsets for the emissions produced on the tour, amongst other efforts towards a sustainable traveling rock circus.

In addition, the bands used the tour to generate funds for their organizations, and together raised over $350,000 in just 16 show dates.

Most recently, The Make Yourself Foundation partnered with Richard Branson's Carbon War Room to bring attention to the Ten Island Renewable Challenge -- a project to transition 10 islands to operate completely on 100% renewable energy.

The band contributed merchandise, memorabilia and a $50,000 grant in an effort to teach and inspire people about a more sustainable planet. Never before working with any musicians or celebrities, the partnership set a new precedent for Carbon War Room and Incubus became their first bridge into the public consciousness.

My journey with the Incubus World has been a long, strange trip.

I am incredibly grateful to get to work with such a talented, and yet completely humble group. The Make Yourself Foundation was always geared to be simple, so the thought of receiving an award for environmental work probably had never crossed the minds of Brandon and company.

The reason they do it?

Because they can.

When it comes to something like responding to a disaster, or an opportunity to educate, there's no need for convincing. That's why my job is so easy - they get it.

Incubus has been a band now for over 20 years, and a huge inspiration to me, long before ever meeting them. I'm excited for them as they enter into a new chapter both collectively and as individuals.

I can only imagine where it'll lead, and what these 5 guys will continue to accomplish throughout their lifetimes.

Photos: BRENT HILLEMAN