A lot of the other guitarists in the poll are friends of mine, so ha ha!” Einziger jokes.

“I want to say thank you to the Incubus fans. It’s obviously an honor and totally shocking that many people think I’m a good guitar player,” smiled Mike Einziger, guitar player for stalwart L.A. rockers Incubus and the runaway winner of our recent “Greatest Guitarists in Alt-Rock” online pool. “We’ve been doing what we do for a very long time, and KROQ has been a big part of our success. They played all of our favorite bands, like Rage Against the Machine, Red Hot Chili Peppers and all of the other bands that were part of this poll. It’s really surreal that Incubus has that many fans that are so supportive, but they are. I’m very thankful for that.”

Starting with a solid field of 30 of alt-rock’s hottest riffers, including Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine/The Nightwatchman), Matt Bellamy (Muse) and John Frusciante (ex-Red Hot Chili Peppers), online voters narrowed the list down to 11. Out of the final 11, Einziger ran away with a whopping 45 percent of the final tally, more than double the number of nods given to the second-place finisher, the aforementioned John Frusciante.

“I seriously wake up every day and I can’t believe that we are able to make music and not have to have a real job. My life’s goal has been to avoid having a real job. A lot of the other guitarists in the poll are friends of mine, so ha ha!” Einziger added jokingly.

Einzinger admired the handcrafted gleaming red $41 trophy, smiling as he read the inscription: Congratulations to Mike Einziger, winner of the KROQ Best Alt-Rock Guitar Player Readers’ Poll. You’re the man, the big cheese, numero uno, head honcho, mack daddy, commander in chief, four-striper, big shot, rock royalty, CEO, sonic superintendent, principal of rock university, foremost fret fiddler…

While Incubus is still recovering from a grueling 18 months of touring in support of their latest studio release, If Not Now, When?, fans of the band can indulge in The Essential Incubus (due for release on October 30), a double disc collection containing tracks from all of the band’s studio albums, as well as rarities like 2005 song “Make A Move” from the movie Stealth soundtrack.

“A lot of the music I grew up listening to was from greatest hits records,” EInziger remembered over coffee in Malibu. “Bob Marley and the Wailers, Jimi Hendrix, the Doors – I was first introduced to those bands through their best-of collections. To be at the point to even have a greatest hits record is, not to sound like a broken record, totally surreal.”

–Scott T. Sterling, CBS Local

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