No modern American rock band is as equally reviled and adored as Jacksonville natives Limp Bizkit. According to its authorized 2000 biography, frontman Fred Durst picked such an off-putting name specifically to turn off casual listeners of its once-revolutionary blend of hip-hop and heavy metal. For years, Durst, Wes Borland, Sam Rivers, John Otto and DJ Lethal would emerge onstage with their middle fingers lifted in mock salute to the audience. And the band’s latest single, “Ready To Go,” kicks off a raunchy, debasing six-minute run with this choice lyric: “Go fuck yourself.”
But the confrontational ruse has somehow worked: Limp Bizkit has sold upwards of 40 million albums, and for a time they were lauded as the biggest rock band in the world. Today, Limp Bizkit boasts more than 3 million Facebook friends, and Durst has 1.5 million Twitter followers. But the confrontational frontman insists that 2013 holds fresh new things for Limp Bizkit, even if the 42-year-old is still singing about “drinking gin till we pass out and fall on the floor.”
Folio Weekly: Limp Bizkit’s new single, “Ready To Go,” dropped last month, and features a defiant chorus: “They say the rock shit doesn’t rock anymore.” Is that your statement on modern music?
Fred Durst: There’s a lot of great music out there, but the rock genre has been lagging, and we’re trying to throw some flames on it. Revive that fun, loose, don’t-give-a-fuck shit that will get you pumped up, you know? I love good melodies, but it all feels kind of tame. Sometimes you gotta rock out in a different way.
F.W.: Lil’ Wayne appears on the song, and the band recently signed to his Cash Money label. How did that relationship come about?
F.D.: I’d always heard that Wayne was into a lot of things other than hip-hop, and when we signed with Cash Money, him and I started hanging out on the skate ramp at his studio in Miami. That’s how we broke the ice — I think he was surprised that I’m an old-time skateboarder, so we hit it off pretty well.
F.W.: He subscribes to a similarly fearless, this-is-me approach as Limp Bizkit, huh?
F.D.: The guy is very talented. He’s got analogies and metaphors that are so good, to me it doesn’t matter who likes ’em or dislikes ’em — same as it doesn’t matter who likes or dislikes Limp Bizkit. His effort is A+, and the guy is a rock star.
F.W.: What’s changed for you, when it comes to the songwriting on upcoming album “Stampede of the Disco Elephants”?
F.D.: It’s all about having fun for Limp Bizkit. Some days, I have to come in and get something off my chest, and I’m really fortunate I have this outlet. Some songs are [lighthearted] like “Ready To Go,” and some are really serious and way too fucking deep. It’s a form of therapy, but in the long run, we’re just excited to be having so much fun again.
F.W.: Limp Bizkit has sold almost 40 million albums since 1997, with three multiplatinum records to its name. Is that level of success still achievable?
F.D.: That’s never gonna happen again, nor do we want it to happen again. That was an unbelievable moment in life, and the fact that we accomplished it without even trying was a miracle. But we’ve been there and done that. We’re not chasing our tails or playing the game anymore. People are still doing numbers — Justin Timberlake just did incredible numbers [with his new album]. But we saw what it was like on top, and it’s really fucking cold and lonely. So we’re happy to be down the mountain a little bit, rubbing elbows with our bros, meeting cool people, and not having to live like that anymore. I wouldn’t change [that success] for anything, but I would never want it to happen again in my life.
F.W.: You must be excited to kick off your upcoming U.S. tour in Florida, with Jacksonville’s Welcome To Rockville the second date.
F.D.: We’re extremely excited and very passionate about being from that neck of the woods. We’ve been through a lot of peaks and valleys, but the one great thing is we’ve always been true to ourselves. And we keep doing this because we love it. To kick this thing off down in Florida, especially at Rockville? I don’t think my tone of voice can measure up to how much we’re really looking forward to it. It’s going be a fun party. Hopefully everybody brings their A party game, along with a lot of really, really skimpy bikinis. A lot more women than men would be awesome. We’ll see what happens, Jacksonville, but we’re ready to rock.