Limp Bizkit Biography
Borland left the group in 2001, and Durst, Rivers, Otto and Lethal continued to record and tour with guitarist Mike Smith. Following the release of their album Results May Vary (2003), Borland rejoined the band and recorded The Unquestionable Truth (Part 1) (2005) with Durst, Rivers, Lethal and drummer Sammy Siegler before going on hiatus. In 2009, the band's original lineup reunited and began touring, culminating with the recording of the album Gold Cobra (2011), after which they left Interscope and later signed with Cash Money Records.
Fred Durst grew up in Gastonia, North Carolina, where he took an interest in breakdancing, hip hop, punk rock and heavy metal. He began to rap, skate, beatbox and deejay. While mowing lawns and working as a tattoo artist, he developed an idea for a band that combined elements of rock and hip hop. Durst played with three other bands, Split 26, Malachi Sage, which were unsuccessful, and 10 Foot Shindig, which Durst left to form a new band. Durst told Sam Rivers, the bassist for Malachi Sage, "You need to quit this band and start a band with me that's like this: rappin' and rockin'." Rivers suggested that his cousin, John Otto, who was studying jazz drumming at the Douglas Anderson School of the Arts and playing in local avant garde bands, become their drummer. Durst, Rivers and Otto jammed and wrote three songs together, and Wes Borland later joined as a guitarist.
Durst named the band Limp Bizkit, because he wanted a name that would repel listeners. According to Durst, "The name is there to turn people's heads away. A lot of people pick up the disc and go, 'Limp Bizkit. Oh, they must suck.' Those are the people that we don't even want listening to our music." Every record label that showed an interest in the band pressured its members to change its name. Unbeknownst to the band, the phrase "limp biscuit", known alternatively as "soggy biscuit", is a phrase used in the United Kingdom and Australia for a game in which teenage boys stand around a biscuit or a piece of bread masturbating; the player who ejaculates last has to eat the bread.
Limp Bizkit developed a cult following in the underground music scene, particularly at the Milk Bar, an underground punk club in Florida. The band's local popularity was such that Sugar Ray, who had a major label contract, opened for a then-unsigned Limp Bizkit at this club. The club's owner, Danny Wimmer, stated that Limp Bizkit "had the biggest draw for a local band. They went from playing [for] ten people to eight hundred within months. Fred [...] was always marketing the band. He would go to record stores and get people involved, he was in touch with high schools." However, the band knew that to achieve national success, they would have to distinguish themselves in their live performances. Attracting crowds by word of mouth, the band gave energetic live performances, covering George Michael's "Faith" and Paula Abdul's "Straight Up", and featuring Borland in bizarre costumes. Borland's theatrical rock style was the primary attraction for many concert attendees.
Durst unsuccessfully tried to attract attention from A&R representatives at various labels by pretending to be the band's manager. Later, when Korn performed in town as the opening act for Sick of It All, Durst invited Korn to drink beer and tattoo them. Although Durst's tattoos were unimpressive, he was able to persuade Reginald Arvizu to listen to a demo, consisting of the songs "Pollution", "Counterfeit" and "Stuck". Korn added a then-unsigned Limp Bizkit to two tours, which exposed the band to a new audience. The band attempted to expand their sound by auditioning an additional guitarist, but Borland soon determined that another guitarist was not the answer, and DJ Lethal, formerly of the hip hop group House of Pain, joined the band as a turntablist after a successful practice performance. Joining the band gave Lethal an opportunity to experiment with his turntable technique in ways that hip hop had not allowed him to do, helping shape the band's style. However, Borland left the band over creative differences.
After their performance opening for Korn at the Dragonfly in Hollywood was well received, Limp Bizkit signed with Mojo, a subsidiary of MCA Records. While heading to California to record their first album, the band wrecked their van. As a result of the near death experience, Durst made amends with Borland, who rejoined the band. After a dispute with Mojo, Limp Bizkit signed with Flip, a subsidiary of Interscope Records. Arvizu persuaded Ross Robinson to listen to the demo. Robinson neglected to listen to it until it was appraised by his girlfriend. Impressed by the band's motivation and sound, Robinson produced Limp Bizkit's debut, which was recorded at Indigo Ranch. Durst's problems with his girlfriend inspired him to write the song "Sour". The mood and tone set by Robinson in the studio allowed the band to improvise; a recording of the band improvising appeared as the last track on the album, "Everything".
Despite the success of live performances of the band's cover of the song "Faith", Robinson was opposed to recording it, and tried to persuade the band not to play it on the album. However, the final recording, which incorporated heavier guitar playing and drumming, as well as DJ scratching, impressed him. Robinson also bonded with Borland, who he perceived as not taking the band seriously. The progressive metal band Tool provided a strong influence in shaping the album's sound, particularly in the song "Nobody Loves Me", which contains a breakdown in which Durst imitated the singing style of Maynard James Keenan. Durst was also inspired by Church of Realities, an EP by the punk band Hed PE, which he listened to during the production of Limp Bizkit's debut.
Continuing the band's policy of using names that would repulse potential listeners, the band named the album by using part of the phrase "queer as a three dollar bill" and adding the word "Y'all" for Florida flavor, naming the album, Three Dollar Bill, Yall$ The completed album featured an abrasive, angry sound which Limp Bizkit used to attract listeners to their music. After the band completed recording, they toured with Korn and Helmet. Critics reacted unfavorably to performances of Korn and Limp Bizkit; Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel music critic Jon M. Gilbertson criticized Durst's performance, stating "The one attention-grabbing moment of Limp Bizkit's rap/thrash show was when the lead singer expressed a desire for gay men to be 'stomped'. Which isn't remotely rebellious. It's just puerile."
Interscope proposed to the band that the label pay $5,000 to guarantee that a Portland radio station play the song "Counterfeit" fifty times, preceded and concluded with an announcement that the air time was paid for by Interscope. The paid air time was criticized by the media, who saw it as "payola". The band's manager Jeff Kwatinetz later termed the plan as a "brilliant marketing move". Durst stated, "It worked, but it's not that cool of a thing." Following the release of "Counterfeit" as a single, Three Dollar Bill, Yall$ was released on July 1, 1997, and was met with minimal response. Allmusic writer Stephen Thomas Erlewine wrote, "They might not have many original ideas [...] but they do the sound well. They have a powerful rhythm section and memorable hooks, most of which make up for the uneven songwriting." However, Robert Christgau panned the album. Despite the minimal response to his band's album, Durst was appointed Senior Vice President of A&R at Interscope.
Limp Bizkit joined the Warped Tour, performing alongside the bands Pennywise, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Sick of It All, Lagwagon and Blink-182. Preceding their first tour with DJ Lethal, Otto became familiar with Lethal's contributions to collaborate with him better on stage. In addition to touring with Primus and Deftones, Limp Bizkit headlined the Ladies Night in Cambodia club tour, which was intended to diversify the band's fanbase, which was largely male, by offering free tickets to female attendees. This plan successfully increased the band's female fanbase.
In 1998, Limp Bizkit toured with Soulfly and Cold on Soulfly's first European tour. Touring consistently increased Limp Bizkit's success, and the second single from Three Dollar Bill, Yall$, "Faith", became a radio hit, leading to a slot on Ozzfest, a tour organized by Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne. In July, Snot singer Lynn Strait was arrested after he emerged nude from Limp Bizkit's prop toilet, and was charged with indecent exposure. Because Limp Bizkit's fans would often break through the barricades, the band was almost kicked off the tour after two days. In August, John Otto spent the night in jail in Auburn Hills, Michigan, on a misdemeanor charge of carrying a concealed weapon, after allegedly firing a BB gun and being arrested for carrying a switchblade.
After completing Ozzfest, Limp Bizkit took a break from performing, and later performed on Korn's Family Values Tour. Durst also directed a music video for the band's single "Faith" in promotion for its appearance in the film Very Bad Things, but was unsatisfied with it, and directed a second video which paid tribute to tourmates like Primus, Deftones and Mötley Crüe, who appeared in the video. Borland stated in an interview that George Michael, the writer of the song, hated the cover and "hates us for doing it".
Following the radio success of "Faith", the band was determined to record the follow-up to their first album in order to show that they weren't a Korn ripoff or a cover band; the band began writing an album which dealt with issues deriving from their newfound fame. Terry Date, who had produced albums for Pantera, White Zombie and Deftones, was chosen to produce the album. The band allowed Durst and Lethal to explore their hip hop origins by recording a song with Method Man. The song was originally titled "Shut the Fuck Up", but was retitled "N 2 Gether Now" for marketing purposes. Durst also recorded with Eminem, but the collaboration, "Turn Me Loose", was left off the album. The album also featured guest appearances by Stone Temple Pilots singer Scott Weiland, Korn's Jonathan Davis and Staind singer Aaron Lewis, and interludes by Les Claypool and Matt Pinfield.
Significant Other saw Limp Bizkit reaching a new level of commercial success; the band was featured on the covers of popular music magazines, including Spin, and now found themselves repeatedly mobbed for autographs; the band was allowed to interact directly with their fans on a website established by Dike 99. Durst also moved from Jacksonville to Los Angeles. However, the band continued to be highly criticized by the media; an article profiling the band in Spin and discussing Significant Other claimed that "Limp Bizkit had yet to write a good song", and musicians Marilyn Manson and Trent Reznor criticized the band.
The band promoted the album by playing unannounced concerts in Detroit and Chicago, as radio stations received a strong amount of requests for the album's first single, "Nookie". Significant Other climbed to No. 1 on the Billboard 200, selling 643,874 copies in its first week of release. In its second week of release, the album sold an additional 335,000 copies. On the opening night of the band's Limptropolis tour with Kid Rock, Sam Rivers smashed his bass in frustration over the venue's poor sound, cutting his hand. After his hand was stitched up at a hospital, Rivers returned to finish the set. On July 12, Durst allegedly kicked a security guard in the head during a performance in St. Paul, Minnesota, and was later arrested on assault charges. Further criticisms of the band appeared in Rolling Stone and The New York Times. New York Times writer Ann Powers wrote, "DJ Lethal used his turntables as a metal guitar, riffing expansively and going for effects instead of rhythm. John Otto on drums and Sam Rivers on bass never even tried to get funky, instead steering hip-hop's break-beat-based structure into a backbone for power chords. This makes for a hybrid that would be more interesting if the band did not constantly mire itself in boring tempos, and if Mr. Durst had any talent as a singer".
In the summer of 1999, Limp Bizkit played at the highly anticipated Woodstock '99 show in front of approximately 200,000 people. Violent action sprang up during and after their performance, including fans tearing plywood from the walls during a performance of the song "Break Stuff". Several sexual assaults were reported in the aftermath of the concert. Durst stated during the concert, "People are getting hurt. Don't let anybody get hurt. But I don't think you should mellow out. That's what Alanis Morissette had you motherfuckers do. If someone falls, pick 'em up. We already let the negative energy out. Now we wanna let out the positive energy". Durst later stated in an interview, "I didn't see anybody getting hurt. You don't see that. When you're looking out on a sea of people and the stage is twenty feet in the air and you're performing, and you're feeling your music, how do they expect us to see something bad going on?" Les Claypool told the San Francisco Examiner, "Woodstock was just Durst being Durst. His attitude is 'no press is bad press', so he brings it on himself. He wallows in it. Still, he's a great guy."
Durst saw the band as being scapegoated for the event's controversy, and reflected on the criticisms surrounding the band in his music video for the single "Re-Arranged", which depicted the band members receiving death sentences for their participation in the concerts. The video ended with angry witnesses watching as the band drowning in milk while performing the song. Durst later stated that the promoters of Woodstock '99 were at fault for booking his band, due to their reputation for raucous performances. Despite this controversy, Significant Other remained at No. 1 on the Billboard charts, and the band headlined the year's Family Values Tour. Durst directed a music video for "N 2 Gether Now" which featured Method Man and Pauly Shore, and was inspired by Inspector Clouseau's fights with his butler, Cato Fong, in the Pink Panther film series.
In 2000, Durst announced that the band's third studio album would be titled Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water. The press thought he was joking about this title. The album title is intended to sound like a fictional band; the phrase "Chocolate Starfish" refers to the human anus, and Durst himself, who has been frequently been called an "asshole". Borland contributed the other half of the album's title when the band was standing around at a truck stop, looking at bottles of flavored water, and Borland joked that the truck stop didn't have hot dog or meat-flavored water.
In June 2000, Limp Bizkit performed at the WXRK Dysfunctional Family Picnic, but showed up an hour late for their set. An Interscope spokesman stated that there was confusion over the band's set time. During the band's performance, Durst criticized Creed singer Scott Stapp, calling him "an egomaniac". Creed's representatives later presented Durst with an autographed anger management manual during a later appearance on Total Request Live. In the summer, Limp Bizkit's tour was sponsored by the controversial file sharing service Napster. Durst was an outspoken advocate of file sharing.
During the 2000 MTV Video Music Awards, Durst performed a song from the upcoming album, "Livin' It Up", as a duet with Christina Aguilera. In response to the performance, Filter frontman Richard Patrick called Durst a "pop-lovin' piece of frozen dog shit" and claimed that "Fred getting onstage with Christina Aguilera embarrassed us all." In response to the negative reactions to the performance, Durst remarked, "I already told you guys before, I did it all for the nookie, man." In response to Durst's remark, Aguilera commented, "He got no nookie."
Released on October 17, Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water set a record for highest week-one sales of a rock album with over one million copies sold in the U.S. in its first week of release, with 400,000 of those sales coming on its first day, making it the fastest-selling rock album ever, breaking the record held for 7 years by Pearl Jam's Vs. Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water was certified Gold, Platinum and six times Multi-Platinum. The album received mixed reviews, with Allmusic's Stephen Thomas Erlewine writing, "Durst's self-pitying and the monotonous music give away that the band bashed Chocolate Starfish out very quickly -- it's the sound of a band determined to deliver a sequel in a finite amount of time." Entertainment Weekly writer David Browne named it as the worst album of 2000.
During a 2001 tour of Australia at the Big Day Out festival in Sydney, fans rushed the stage in the mosh pit, and teenager Jessica Michalik died of asphyxiation. In court, Durst testified he had warned the concert's organizers Aaron Jackson, Will Pearce and Amar Tailor and promoter Vivian Lees of the potential dangers of such minimal security. After viewing videotapes and hearing witness testimony, however, the coroner said it was evident that the density of the crowd was dangerous at the time Limp Bizkit took the stage, and that a cage was put up around the band. Durst stated that he was "emotionally scarred" because of the teenager's death.
In October 2001, Durst released a statement on their website stating that "Limp Bizkit and Wes Borland have amicably decided to part ways. Both Limp Bizkit and Borland will continue to pursue their respective musical careers. Both wish each other the best of luck in all future endeavors." Durst also stated that the band would "comb the world for the illest guitar player known to man" to replace Borland.
After holding a nationwide audition for a new guitarist, called "Put Your Guitar Where Your Mouth Is", the band recorded with Snot guitarist Mike Smith, but later scrapped their recording sessions with Smith. Durst told a fan site that he had a falling out with Smith, saying "We are the type of people that stay true to our family and our instincts and at any moment will act on intuition as a whole. Mike wasn't the guy. We had fun playing with him but always knew, in the back of our minds, that he wasn't where we needed him to be mentally."
After recording another album without Smith, the band scrapped the new sessions and assembled a new album combining songs from different sessions. During the album's production, the working title changed from Bipolar to Panty Sniffer, and was completed under the title Results May Vary. Under Durst's sole leadership, the album encompassed a variety of styles, and featured a cover of The Who's "Behind Blue Eyes", which differed from the original's arrangement in its inclusion of a Speak & Spell during the song's bridge.
Results May Vary was released on September 23, 2003, and received largely unfavorable reviews. Allmusic reviewer Stephen Thomas Erlewine panned the album, writing, "the music has no melody, hooks, or energy, [and] all attention is focused on the clown jumping up and down and screaming in front, and long before the record is over, you're left wondering, how the hell did he ever get to put this mess out?" The Guardian reviewer Caroline Sullivan wrote, "At least Limp Bizkit can't be accused of festering in the rap-rock ghetto [...] But Durst's problems are ever-present - and does anybody still care?" Despite criticisms of the album, it was a commercial success, peaking at #3 on the Billboard 200.
In August 2004, Borland rejoined Limp Bizkit, which began recording another album, The Unquestionable Truth (Part 1). In March 2005, Limp Bizkit participated on the Summer Sanitarium Tour, headlined by Metallica. At the tour's stop in Chicago, IL, attendees of the concert threw items and heckled Durst from the moment he walked on stage. With the crowd chanting "Fuck Fred Durst" and continuing their assault on him, Durst threw the mic down after six songs and walked off stage, but not before heckling the crowd back. An article in the Sun-Times stated that the hostility was started by radio personality Mancow.
In May, The Unquestionable Truth (Part 1) was released. Sammy Siegler took over drumming duties for the band for much of the album, which featured a more experimental sound, described by Allmusic writer Stephen Thomas Erlewine as "neo-prog alt-metal". At Durst's insistence, the album was released as an underground album, without any advertising or promotion. Borland disagreed with the decision, suggesting that it was "self-sabotage": "Maybe he was already unhappy with the music, and he didn't really want to put it out there."
The album received mixed reviews. Stephen Thomas Erlewine praised the music, calling it "a step in the right direction -- it's more ambitious, dramatic, and aggressive, built on pummeling verses and stop-start choruses." However, he felt that the band was being "held back" by Durst, who he called "the most singularly unpleasant, absurd frontman in rock." IGN writer Spence D. similarly gave it a mixed review, as he felt that the album lacked direction, but that showed potential for the band's musical growth.
The Unquestionable Truth (Part 1) sold over 1,000,000 copies worldwide, peaking at #24 on the Billboard 200. Following the release of the band's Greatest Hitz album, the band went on hiatus. Borland stated that it was unlikely that a sequel to The Unquestionable Truth would be produced and that "As of right now, none of my future plans include Limp Bizkit."
In 2009, the original lineup of Limp Bizkit reunited and launched the Unicorns N' Rainbows Tour. Durst announced that they had begun to record a new album, which Borland titled Gold Cobra. Borland said that the title does not have any meaning, and that it was chosen because it fit the style of music the band was writing for the album. The band recorded a spoken intro written by Durst and performed by Kiss member Gene Simmons for the album, but it was left off the completed album. The band also recorded additional "non-album" tracks, including "Combat Jazz", which featured rapper Raekwon. "Shotgun" was released as a single on May 17, 2011. The song is noted for featuring a guitar solo by Borland, something that the band is not known for. "Shotgun" received favorable reviews, with Artistdirect writing, "['Shotgun'] feels like Bizkit approached the signature style on Three Dollar Bill Y'All and Significant Other with another decade-plus of instrumental experience and virtuosity, carving out a banger that could get asses moving in the club or fists flying in the mosh pit."
Gold Cobra was released on June 28 and received mixed to positive reviews. Allmusic's Stephen Thomas Erlewine called it "a return to the full-throttled attack of Three Dollar Bill Y'All. IGN writer Chad Grischow wrote, "Though far from their best work, Limp Bizkit's latest at least proves that their 2005 Greatest Hitz album may have been premature." Metal Hammer writer Terry Bezer appraised the album, writing "Aside from the odd duff moment, Gold Cobra throws out the hot shit that'll make you bounce in the mosh pit over and over again." The PopMatters website ranked Gold Cobra as the fifth worst album of 2011. It has sold around 75,000 copies in the United States, peaking at #16 on the Billboard 200; however, the band left Interscope after the album's release.
In February 2012, the band returned to Australia for the first time in 11 years, to perform at the Soundwave festival. Durst dedicated the shows to Jessica Michalik, who died during the Limp Bizkit performance at Big Day Out 2001. On February 24, Limp Bizkit signed with Cash Money Records.