1999 was quite a year for Limp Bizkit. Their album, "Significant Other," sat atop the Billboard album charts. Rolling Stone hailed them as the lone band that "redefined late-Nineties hard rock." Their Woodstock '99 set is routinely referred to as the hottest moment of the three day concert. All in all, things are definitely happening for this most unique group. Combining rap, metal and the angst filled sentiment of punk rock, Limp Bizkit are the poster-boys for millenium madness.
Noted music journalist Colin Devenish goes beyond the chart topping numbers and concert grosses to examine what has turned this rough and tumble bunch from Jacksonville,Florida into the hottest group on the charts.
|Publisher:||St. Martin's Press|
|Edition description:||1 ED|
|Product dimensions:||6.76(w) x 8.26(h) x 0.48(d)|
About the Author
Colin Devenish is a San Francisco based music journalist. He writes about music for Addicted to Noise/SonicNet.com, BAM, Livedaily, Music365, Rollingstone.com, and Sidewalk.com
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By Colin Devenish
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2000 Colin Devenish
All rights reserved.
The summer of 1990 was a bad time to be Fred Durst. Back home in Jacksonville, Florida, after a stint in the navy, a failed marriage, and fathering a baby daughter, Durst had no real prospects of his own, and there were few people who would have wanted to step into his shell-toed shoes. Needing a job, Fred turned to his father Bill, a retired cop who had recently begun a landscaping business, for employment. Fred lived with his father in Jacksonville while his mother Anita and his brother Corey stayed in his hometown of Gastonia, N.C., so Corey could finish high school. Summer temperatures in Jacksonville hover in the low 90s, with humidity at a sweltering 80 percent. For Fred, working as a foreman for Cloverleaf Pro Landscape in Jacksonville's merciless summer sun could not have seemed farther from the Hollywood Hills he would one day call home.
"I was a foreman at a landscape company, cutting grass in hot-ass Florida. Then I started working part- time at this surf shop. Then I learned to tattoo, and I started doing it part-time just for fun," Durst said in a 1999 interview with allmusic.com. "I fucked a few people up before I was good. Then I started getting really good at tattooing, so I just kept doing it because I was making so much money."
Making the cover of Rolling Stone and mugging for MTV couldn't have been further from inking tatts and cutting grass as Durst was in the early 90s, but even as he manned a mower up one green swath of lawn and down the next, an idea for a band had formed in his head — a band that inside of a decade would top the charts and spend more time on MTV than Carson Daly. Even the most optimistic fortune-teller could not have foreseen that this small town kid who grew up break-dancing in Gastonia, N.C. would trade power mowers for power brokers and skateboarding for Billboarding at No. 1.
Fred was born in Jacksonville but grew up in Gastonia, after his parents returned to the city where his mother had been born when he was one and a half years old. Although Fred and younger brother Corey grew up doing normal kid stuff, like playing Little League and getting into school yard scraps, Fred later said he always felt like an outsider, like the kid in Sesame Street who does his own thing. "I got my feelings hurt a lot. I was the quiet one — always wanted to be the leader of the team, never got picked, you know," Fred told the Washington Post. "Not a sob story — just, like, that kid."
Being different was fun sometimes, like when Fred dressed up as a member of Kiss for Halloween in the third grade. Beaming in black tights, with a silver foil codpiece and knee pads in front of the Durst family fireplace and 70s-style wood-paneled walls, Fred looks every bit the triumphant outsider in a picture taken of the event.
Fred Durst grew up fighting in Gastonia, getting repeatedly pummeled for liking a kind of music that challenged people's conceptions of what music is. By his own admission Fred didn't win any of the fights but he did learn a resiliency and determination that would one day help him and his bandmates in Limp Bizkit battle their way to the top of the heap. "I remember the first fight I got in. I was in sixth grade, and some kid got me in a headlock and I couldn't get out," Fred said to Request magazine. "He thought he had won, but I went up to him when he was at baseball practice a couple weeks later, and I picked up a baseball bat and cracked him right in the knees."
That punch-counterpunch philosophy would later help Fred take detractors' comments and turn them around. When women stayed away from Limp Bizkit shows in droves, Fred came up with the idea for the "Ladies Night in Cambodia" tour. With their male fan base cemented, the band offered free tickets to the first three hundred women in attendance each night. Within a couple years there were as many, if not more, women and girls at the barricades outside the MTV studios screaming for the band, as men.
Located within two hours of the foothills of the Great Smokey Mountains and four hours from the pristine beaches of North and South Carolina, the beauty of the great outdoors was readily accessible to young Fred, but what interested him and eventually became his calling was happening hundreds of miles to the north, in the urban playgrounds and parks of New York City. Part of the first generation to grow up listening to rap, Fred's friends in Gastonia were both black and white kids, and both helped shape his musical tastes. "I've been listening to hip-hop since I was twelve. I grew up in North Carolina, and my friends were black, and I was listening to Michael Jackson and Donna Summer and Led Zeppelin — it didn't matter," Durst told the Addicted To Noise web site. "When hip-hop came out to the world in the 80s, I was feelin' it, and then I just became a part of it — bustin' rhymes, break- dancing and everything when I was like twelve or thirteen years old."
In Gastonia, a rural burg of 50,000, music tastes adhered closely to color lines. Fred's enjoyment of a variety of styles aggravated his culturally less advanced peers who thought the rock stars on your favorite records should share your skin color. "There was a jock scene and a bad-boy redneck scene and a black scene. I was part of them all in a weird way," Fred said to Rolling Stone. "Until the Beastie Boys came out, I was called 'nigger lover.' I mean I couldn't go to parties, I would get ganged by so many fuckin' people. I learned how to fight good."
Fred's view of himself as an outsider became more pronounced in high school. If it wasn't listening to the wrong kind of music, it was talking to the wrong girl at the wrong time. Either way, Fred began to see himself as a victim, a point of view that would later carry over to his music. "I once went to a party with this girl, and her ex-boyfriend was there," Fred remembered in Request. "So, I go into the kitchen to get a drink, and all of a sudden I'm cornered by ten guys. They were all pounding on me. I got loose and escaped and they chased me through the neighborhood. I had to climb up on a roof and hide there. That kind of thing sticks with you forever."
Melissa Barnhill of Spartanburg, S.C., hung out with Fred when he was counting the days until graduation from Hunter Huss High, and told the Charlotte Observer that Fred didn't seem to be much of a loner and had his own scene with the skate punks that she admired. "He was just a little skate rat and ran around with other skaters who were into a bunch of different kinds of music. I thought they were really cool because they dressed different. They weren't like everybody else. That's why he might have thought he was an outcast."
The years Fred spent at Hunter Huss High School in Gastonia by his own admission were not spent with his nose stuffed in a book and he was just happy to walk away with a diploma. "I was definitely not a good student in school. I was the teacher's favorite dude, I passed cuz I was, like, kissing my teacher's ass and pretty much I never did my homework," Fred explained in an interview on Modern Rock Live. "I don't even know how I made it. It was like a social event for me. ... I did graduate because they couldn't stand me ... but that's it."
Fred got into his share of scrapes growing up but his wild side was kept in check in part by seeing the things that happened to his dad in the course of his duties as an undercover narcotics officer for the Gastonia police. "I've seen him come home shot when I was real young, and I've seen the people he had to deal with because of drugs and stuff, and that kept me out of it. He's been shot a couple of times, and he'd come home from the hospital, and you're just like, 'Holy shit!' There were crazy raids and shit. The drug dealers attacked him. It was just crazy shit. I remember when pot came into my life, but I never did anything else. I was too scared to."
By raising Fred in the Lutheran faith, Bill and Anita hoped to give young Fred the same values they'd grown up with and a different viewpoint from the pop culture he so readily embraced. Anita explained the importance of religion in the Durst household in an interview with the NME. "I've raised Fred with very strong faith in our family, and Fred is very very serious about his faith. He prays every day and he thanks God for what He's given him. That's the way I raised him and that's what makes me the most proud. I don't think God gives you things because you pray, I think God takes care of you because you pray ..."
When not attending the family's Lutheran church, Fred worshipped at the temple of hip-hop and not just the New York rap that had trickled its way down south. In the same way that the Treacherous Three or the Cold Crush Brothers spun Fred's head right round, hearing Black Sabbath's sludgy riffs made him sit up and take notice of a sound coming from the opposite side of the spectrum. "Back in the day, my cousin had the album opened up and I was like, 'damn, this guy's voice is awesome.' I saw that video, 'Paranoid,' you know, and Ozzy's hair was all in his face, and he was just singing," Fred told MTV. "I think we all like Ozzy Osbourne, I mean, you can't help but like Ozzy Osbourne; his voice, his melody, his music, his everything is great."
Bill and Anita Durst both worked, Bill as a cop and Anita at a mental health hospital and Fred describes his upbringing as middle-class with all the basics covered. Like many parents, Fred told allmusic.com that his insistence on having just the right kind of kicks and clothes, when cheaper quality alternatives existed puzzled them. "It was cool. Probably $50,000 a year, family income. For the 70s and 80s, that was pretty normal. It was nothing special. No name-brand shit. We had to be wearing these shitty shoes. They didn't understand why you had to pay fifty bucks for a pair of Nikes when you could have Kugas for five bucks. That kind of old-fashioned thinking was going on."
While Fred's parents weren't exactly eager to spring for his fashion favorites, they tended to roll with the punches as he grew up and didn't give him flak even when it wasn't exactly clear where he was headed. "Earrings, rap music, punk rock, and crazy clothes, and a crazy variety of friends was definitely not a happening thing for them. But they took it as it went," Fred said to allmusic.com.
Even though Gastonia couldn't have been farther from the urban landscape where rap was beginning to evolve into the style of music that would dominate the charts in the late 90s, the friendships Fred made at a young age gave him a peek at where the music was going. "I had a lot of black friends, and all their relatives lived in New York, so they had all the stuff from New York right there in the 80s, right when hip-hop started coming out," Fred told allmusic.com. "For break-dancing and skateboarding and everything, it was just the right place to be. I had a couple friends who were into what I was into: break- dancing, rapping, deejaying, skateboarding."
Honing his style included listening to the best emcees at the time and studying their flow and picking up ideas from them. Just as a young guitarist drives his family crazy with his first clumsy runs through "Stairway to Heaven," Fred wore the grooves off his favorite rap records and practiced rapping like his hero Rakim whenever he got the chance. "The way he rhymed and would go into mind trips and move the crowd and just go crazy yet still is so monotone," Fred recalled in the Q&A released with Limp Bizkit's first record. "He had so much power, I went and saw them in concert and I was like, 'Oh my gosh, man.' This guy Rakim is insane. He moved me so much, I used to listen to them nonstop."
As Fred became more versed in hip-hop culture, rapping in front of the mirror and break-dancing on the kitchen floor didn't cut it anymore. Wanting to show off his mad skills, he sought out competitions and public venues to show his stuff. "When I was young, I'd go to hip-hop contests, and I just did it," Fred told allmusic.com. "I was doing talent shows and break-dancing contests at the mall against people — just crews battling and rapping with a beat-boxer. Then I actually got turntables and a mixer in '85 and started to learn how to deejay."
While Fred was wearing out the soles of his Kugas perfecting his break-dancing moves, Wes Borland, a couple states away in Nashville, Tennessee, was banging his head to the sounds of Metallica, Anthrax, and Testament and nodding along to the punk rantings of the Circle Jerks and Minor Threat. Nashville is known for being home to the Grand Ole Opry and wearing its love of country on its rolled up flannel sleeve, but the music scene there failed to capture the imagination of young Wes Borland. Wes's musical heroes in junior high and high school wouldn't have been caught dead in cowboy boots let alone singing about lost women, sick horses, and regrettable decisions made after too much whiskey. "My father plays acoustic folk music. I got my first guitar when I was twelve. I grew up in Nashville, [but] I didn't want an acoustic. I was completely anticountry!" Wes told Maximum Guitar.
Wes initially expressed an interest in playing drums — putting the pots and pans in the kitchen through the paces — but when the idea of his percussive practice in the Borland home failed to appeal to his parents, he settled on the guitar and began taking lessons from a member of their church. Wes recalled for Maximum Guitar, "I would bring in something, and my teacher would go, 'I've never heard of the Damned. Don't you want to play some Merle Haggard?'"
Wes didn't have to go any farther than down the hall to find his first bass player, as his younger brother Scott soon picked up a four string and began thunking out bass lines to accompany Wes's noodlings on the guitar. At an age when most siblings spend all their free time finding new and innovative ways to torture each other, Wes and his younger brother Scott put their creative energies toward music. "Up to this day, my brother is one of my best friends in the world," Wes told Guitar One. "For him picking up a bass for the first time, and me picking up a guitar and having something that we could do together — something that we could actually help each other get good at, and that we could do together — was just awesome."
Life at home meant Wes showed his face at his father's Presbyterian church a little more often than he might have liked and had to toe the line as long as he lived under the same roof as his parents. "I was baptized and pretty much made to go to church every day of my younger life," Wes said to launch.com. "That was pretty much the rule. If I was living in [my parents' house] I had to go to church. That ended when I was about eighteen, after I moved out. I'm not a real big fan of organized religion ... . Growing up in the home I did, I had a fine childhood — there was nothing wrong with it, but I'm searching for other truths right now."
Even though Wes felt confined by the hours he logged in unwilling worship, he told Guitar World that his parents encouraged him to have an open mind, even when his interests were sometimes at odds with their beliefs. "No matter what I got into, both my parents were really involved; they always knew what I was doing. I remember in junior high, some kid had a copy of this occult book called The Necronomicon, which at that age was a really evil, exciting, weird thing to know about. ... So I went home and said, 'I want to get this book.' And my dad went, 'Okay, let's go get it.' We went to the book store and we got it, this horrible, evil thing, with a pentagram on the front. He said, 'When you're done with it, let me have a look at it.'"
Growing up the son of a Presbyterian minister might not seem like a gateway to life as a rock star, but Wes credits his father with encouraging his interests, even when it involved putting himself in situations that would make most God-fearing Christians cringe. "When I said I wanted to go see Judas Priest and Megadeth and Testament, he took me to the concert," said Wes in Guitar World. "He said he had a great time, and laughed about somebody passing a joint to him."
Excerpted from Limp Bizkit by Colin Devenish. Copyright © 2000 Colin Devenish. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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I shake my head. "This is why I stopped talking to you. All you want is fu<_>cking more children." I stand up and walk out.
If you are a true hardcore LIMP BIZKIT fan, then yu gotta buy this book. It's filled with interviews and quotes from magazines and a COMPLETE biography of all the member from their birth to the recording of Chocolate Starfish and the HotDog flavored Water!