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Backwash

A couple of days before Limp Bizkit and its muscle-bound posse arrived in the parking lot of the Arvada Guitar Center, where one of 23 dates on the band's current and highly publicized search for a new guitarist was scheduled last week, a teenage boy in Portland, Oregon, greeted frontman Fred Durst with a cream pie to the face; according to photos available on buddyhead.com, the point of impact was somewhere above Dursty's right ear, with little splotches scattered around his normally red-baseball-capped and curiously large head. Despite the fact that the Colorado auditions were held in very close proximity to many pies of all flavors (there's a Perkin's just across the parking lot from the Arvada Guitar Center), no one who turned up this past frigid Friday morning thrust anything Fred's way except for autograph books, homemade demo tapes and hopeful little faces.

When the 189 guitarists finally did make their way, one by one, into a small, airless room where Danny Wimmer, head of A&R for the Durst-owned Flawless Records, was presiding over the first round of auditions, they were told to plug in and jam out their best original music -- for exactly one minute each. For many, that original music consisted of a screeching death-metal riff played with maximum distortion at highest volume. When Wimmer invited select players to fill an extra minute with something melodic that they'd written, he was routinely greeted by blank stares. "You know, a melody. Like a song. A verse going into a chorus," he explained. In many cases, the auditionee responded by offering an elongated version of a screeching death-metal riff played with maximum distortion at highest volume.

For a guy who spends most of his time in the company of someone as famously simian as Durst, Wimmer was surprisingly polite and encouraging. Only occasionally did he lament the fact that, while he paced in the audition room for eight hours at a time, his tourmates sat in a warm tour bus, pulled bongs and mingled with good-looking girls who just wanted to say hello. It was Wimmer's job to select up to ten players who'd be invited to play with the full band later in the day. In Denver, however, only two made the cut: Brandon Martinez, a nineteen-year-old from Fort Collins, and Robert Coyne, who, Wimmer proudly pointed out, was "a black guy." (Wimmer also noted that while 99.9 percent of the applicants were male, the few ladies had "totally smoked." Limp Bizkit, he added, thought it would be completely "bomb" to find a "chick guitarist," perhaps to push out those unpleasant memories of young women stripped naked and abused during the band's set at Woodstock '99, or of the teenage girl who died during the Bizkit's Big Day Out event in Australia last year.)

It was also Wimmer's job to appease those who suspected the band was in the midst of a cross-country PR stunt, one that would falsely raise the hopes of thousands of players who'd been led to believe that they might actually have a shot at instant rock stardom courtesy of father Fred. ("Ever Wanted To Be In a Rock Band? Do you Play Guitar? Do You Like To Travel and Meet People? LIMP BIZKIT WANTS YOU!!" read the ads that appeared in publications all over the country, including Westword.) Wimmer swore that Limp's search was nothing like that of the Red Hot Chili Peppers a few years back; that band held a cattle-call audition before enlisting Dave Navarro, a guitarist whose only prior credential was doing time in an obscure Los Angeles outfit called Jane's Addiction. Rather, the goal was not only to recruit a replacement for departed Bizkit member Wes Borland -- the guy with those creepy black contacts -- but also to scout talent for Flawless. Indeed, many of the aspiring ax men who looked at Wimmer with puppy-dog eyes once their minute had passed were given a business card and an invitation to send in demos.

"Call me," Wimmer said, telling one young hopeful that he didn't even need to see a photo of his band. "It's all about the music, man. What you look like is not the least bit important to me." (Never mind that Wimmer didn't actually include his name or telephone number on the cards he handed out; for the record, the complete listing is Danny Wimmer, 2200 Colorado Avenue, 4th Floor, Santa Monica, CA, 310-865-1000.)

In the crowded gallery of the Guitar Center floor, however, Limp's lackeys were slightly less inclined to adopt a family-of-man approach to their quest. As the line moved slowly forward, the band's production manager, a tattoo-sleeved fellow named Yeti, passed the time by making fun of those who'd shown up to play.

"I was hopeful at first that we would find somebody this way," he said. "But this whole process is so painful. It's becoming less and less likely that this is going to work. It takes about thirty seconds for it to be painfully clear that they suck.

"Look at some of these people," he added. "We've had all kinds. Long-hair dudes, old people, full-on rocker types. Guys with mullets. I guess we might consider a guy with a mullet, but we'd have to tell him right away, 'Dude, we're going to have to cut your hair.' Bust out the Interscope imaging department."

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