Fred Durst on joining Cash Money and being the same guy with his hat backwards from 1999
More than fifteen years after the release of Three Dolla Bill, Y'all, Limp Bizkit is back with a brand new album, Stampede of the Disco Elephants, on the Cash Money imprint. In advance of the band's return to Denver in support of that album this weekend, we caught up with Fred Durst yesterday as he was making coffee in Omaha, and we spoke with him a bit about the return of Wes Borland, how Limp Bizkit never died and how the band ended up on Cash Money.
Westword: How's it going?
Fred Durst: Just pulled into Omaha [Nebraska]. Makin' some coffee.
A quick pick-me-up?
I don't know if it does that. I just like to have it in the morning. My mama and my papa used to drink it. I remember the smell of it, and I even enjoy the taste of it a little bit.
How did you get together with Cash Money Records?
Well, we were looking for an out from where we were at the time, and I went into the studio with Polow da Don to work on a track together, and we came up with "Ready to Go." I told him I wanted Lil Wayne on it. He knows Wayne, so he said he'd reach out to him. He liked the track, and collaborated with me. I gave the song to Cash Money and asked them if they wanted to put it out themselves. In turn, they said, "We'd love to, but we'd be more interested in signing you."
It just happened to be the right thing to do to send over that track. That's how it happened. I got on the phone with Baby and Slim and really liked where they were coming from. They are both very smart and just great people and understand how to deal with artists and how to empower artists to be the best they can be without any limitations. It just felt like a great place to be. I knew the news would be a little polar, which doesn't bother me; it sort of completes our entity here. I think Limp Bizkit is the kind of band that can get away with it.
You said the band was looking for an out, so you mean Interscope, right?
How were they limiting you and Limp Bizkit as artists?
It wasn't just us, but it was a lot of things. They just felt this way on being ahead of the curve, and just not having the boundaries of being innovative without chasing our tails. It felt like, you know, unless it was hip-hop or pop, it just wasn't working over there. The team was dwindling down to nobody. It was just headed in its own direction.
I think they were focused on certain urban acts with pop appeal or somehow fitting into the mainstream, as opposed to a dying genre of rock and hybrids of rock and things like that. Plus, when the main guy is focused on headphones and is very successful at that, it just wasn't the right place to be for a rock band.
How do you feel with Cash Money, and specifically this new album, that you'll be able to breath new life into what you say is a dying genre?
That genre, I can't speak for it. I think everything goes in waves. As rare as Limp Bizkit was when we came out in the mid '90s, we are even more rare right now. There is something to be said for that. Mainly what we do is about our live show, and that kind of connection, but it's really rare. There seems to be some place in the world where that voice can exist, and there is no need to hike up to the top of the mountain. We have already been there. It's more like maintaining and being passionate about what we do without limitations and not try to throw all our dough into a cookie cutter.
It's like whatever we feel and are passionate about, and now we feel like rockin'. Maybe it will be catchy and maybe it will not. Maybe people will gravitate towards it, or not. Maybe it's too heavy for anything. There are no moods. It's all about content and being passionate about what we do, instead of trying to milk the cow for that last drop of milk. It's that kind of freedom. We are a rock band, or at least some sort of hybrid of one. We don't have any expectations.
Our fans are the band. The band and what we have accomplished and being a part of the Cash Money family is just being an asset. There is no pressure. They are not asking, "Where's that next song?" It just doesn't exist. I feel like they really empower their artists to be who they want to be, and it really helps you find yourself as you go through waves in life.
You need to look back at the ocean you've been riding and see that it's been a wave for you. Everybody will constantly, no matter how flat the water, or up and down in your individual experience, it's always evolving. Sometimes it will be cloudy, or sharp and focused, but it's about being human and honest that feels right. There are so many other ways I could survive and pay the bills and make money.
I'd say you proved that with directing feature films and the other projects you've had going in the past six or so years. Would you refer to those years as the flat water you and your band?
We've had lots of flat water, lots of glass, and it kind of goes in waves. Looking at it from the outside, you just see it as a bubble. We are real people. We wake up everyday and deal with our own individual lives, and there are lots of up and downs. It's a real saga. It's a great one. It's like Lawrence of Arabia, but with Bizkits.
It's just that time where Wes wanted to go do his thing, and the communication wasn't there. He wanted to express himself and find other outlets, until he realized after a while that he could've always done this and done Limp Bizkit. He's not the elephant in the room anymore. He is Wes of Limp Bizkit, and he knew he had this. He's human. There is no way he couldn't know that what we have is irreplaceable and priceless. Eventually, we all know that we can't find this anywhere else.
At the end of 2008 or 2009, he said he was sorry and wanted to do it. We were like, "Fuck. Let's go." There was a little lull there, but we are ready. We have so much fun playing live. The recording process is a little different -- it's not as fun as playing live. We have always been a live band that just had to go make songs. We are kind of backwards. If you don't see Limp Bizkit live, you might be missing half of the picture.
Do you think through all of that -- the waves, the big release, the smaller ones -- what sticks out to you as the legacy, or the defining moment from the past fifteen years? With Wes coming back, it's almost a rebirth, but like you said, Limp Bizkit never died, it just took a hiatus.
Limp Bizkit has a spirit about it -- that it is what it is. It's not the band members or the songs, it just is. At a time when walls between genres were really melting, it was more ordinary for young people to grow up with lots of styles on one plate that they enjoyed, more so than ever in the '90s. It wasn't so crazy for someone to like rock and also like Wu-Tang Clan and Cypress Hill, you know? It's not crazy for them to like the Cure, or some form of alternative music that couldn't be considered rock, I guess.
I'm one of those guys that just happened to have a reason to grab a microphone. I was one of those kids that got bullied and tortured a lot, and obviously I'm a big kid that continues to get bullied and tortured, but that's just the way it goes in my life. Some people are given, or dealt, the same cards, and I can identify with that. You just have to be that person for some people, and just be that punching bag.
Instead of being bruised and worn down and maybe doing something really bad in retaliation, there was a microphone. There was a way to stand up for myself and other people who are experiencing that, no matter what time of abuse they are going through. With that said, you can't always be crying about it. You have to forget about it and have some fun and live your life. It's about staying alive and surviving and understanding why we are underdogs, and at the same time, just let it go and have some fucking fun.
Something just clicked and connected with a lot of people; that sort of remains on the nameplate of our legacy. No matter what we do moving forward -- we are doing some dope shit with Cash Money with some different things coming out -- I'm still Fred from Limp Bizkit with his hat backwards from 1999, and that's alright with me.
Do you think you welcome that bullying and almost antagonize it? On the new single, "Ready to Go," you've got a line that says: "The one that had Britney droppin to her knees." That's a reminder of what was going on back when -- do you kind of welcome that bullying now?
I think for me it is tongue and cheek. With hip-hop, there is an element of braggadocio, some seriousness, and now it is even more metaphors, and they are insane and bizarre. You can flow and say what you want. So for me, that was a little stab, like something that was manipulated in the past and really upset me, and I didn't retaliate. I had my moment with Howard Stern, just being a little too green to not react and just keep your mouth shut.
After awhile, you go, "I know what's up. Other people know what's up -- people that really know." It was sort of a nod to not letting it get me down and not giving a fuck about it, but "I know you know, and if you ever get a chance to hear this song, or that line, you know." It was one of those types of things. It is only one line of one moment of one verse, so it's not needed to focus on it. I can just keep flowing because we just push record, and I just let go what I am feeling in the moment.
There was a moment where I was like "Man, I wonder if anyone was paying attention to that one; I don't know where that came from." And here, you're the first person to ask me about it, so it hasn't even been pushed to radio, and I'm like, "Oh shit!" So many things can be manipulated. I'm an easy scapegoat. It's easy to pass the buck over here. I got a bag full of that bunk shit. People can put it over all day long.
That was one of times in my life where I was vulnerable. There was a system of people involved that twisted and manipulated. So, you know, that was a lesson learned. I don't think I would change anything because my intentions are pure and sincerity is something I will always value. I'm just a redneck kid from North Carolina that somehow got thrown in the mix.
That first time was like going to Disney World. There was a castle, and all this stuff... it was just so stimulating for a person like me who is sensitive and passionate. I didn't get a chance to be a kid. It just became a lie at that point. It's like some Willy Wonka, where I want to touch it all. I look back and I'm like, "Oh shit! That's wild!" I'm not worried about it now.
Before we close, can you give me some hints on Stampede of the Disco Elephants?
It is exactly what it is: It's a stampede of creativity from Limp Bizkit. It's a stream of consciousness. I don't think it can sum itself up on the album. It's a stampede of what Limp Bizkit is all about right now. There will be a nice and tidy thing called Stampede of the Disco Elephants, which is what we are doing with Cash Money, but I think it's just a bunch of disco elephants because we are a bunch of rock guys. But we love that groove. It's going to be a little unpredictable, which is what Limp Bizkit is. We get in that room, and we don't have any plans. There are going to be a lot of surprises around every corner. Unfortunately, we can't reproduce everything we create.