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Fred Durst Answers for Limp Bizkit’s Legacy

Speaking from a cell phone before a concert in Dallas, 42-year-old Limp Bizkit lightning rod Fred Durst submits that he’s “lucky to be standing on the mountain; no reason to be standing on top of it.” His view was a lot different during the band’s divisive late-’90s-early ’00s peak — a period of platinum albums and criticism engendered by the Floridians’ unapologetically adolescent content, not to mention Durst’s infamously ungentlemanly claim of having bedded Britney Spears and high-profile beef with Creed’s Scott Stapp. He also shouldered blame when violence erupted during Limp Bizkit’s Woodstock ’99 set.

Perhaps owing to the change in perspective, not to mention Limp Bizkit’s tailing popularity throughout the 2000s, Durst’s outlook today is unexpectedly humble, even as his rap-rock foursome readies a comeback with Cash Money Records, who’ve just released the Lil Wayne-featured single, “Ready to Go.” (A new album, Stampede of the Disco Elephants, is tentatively due later this year.) But as the stuff-breaking provocateur explains, folks have always taken his band entirely too seriously. Not us, though.

As recently as 2012 you were boycotting American shows. Now you’re in the middle of a U.S. tour. What changed?
With our discontent with where we were, and our discontent within the corporate world, it made it difficult to fathom exactly what was going to be happening in the United States for Limp Bizkit. Getting off of [Interscope Records] and being able to put together the type of thing I want to put together, which is sort of a hit-the-ground-running nod to the old days, playing the venues we started out in, it’s re-igniting Limp Bizkit in an organic way. It felt like the right thing to do.

Universal distributes Cash Money. Universal is a corporation. Why is that not a cause for discontent?
Cash Money is still an independent entity that’s run by Cash Money. They’re in charge. They write their own ticket. There’s a lot of freedom there. No one at Universal is telling Cash Money how to run the game. I think Cash Money sort of prides itself on empowering their artists to be who they are and do what they wanna do. And as long as they continue to constantly give content that still has the effect that it’s having, I think they’re in a great position to do things the way they want.

Did you see that Paris Hilton just signed with Cash Money?
I know that [Cash Money] makes really consistent moves and they always have a plan. [Signing Hilton] didn’t surprise me at all. They have a vision, they follow through with it, and they act on it. When I saw her in [Rich Gang’s “Tapout”] video, I was thinking, “I didn’t know they knew her.” I know she’s a fan of hip-hop and Lil Wayne, so when it happened, I was like, “OK, maybe it was their plan all along.” These guys, they’re playing chess, I swear — very, very smart guys. Obviously, the success speaks for itself. If it’s about substance, she’s gonna have the greatest producers, the greatest people helping her out. And she’s a brand, so it makes sense to me.

Has the Limp Bizkit brand ever been a detriment?
We honestly don’t try to do what we do. None of us listen to this kind of music. We just get together and it’s what happens when we collide. We can’t change the sound of our music, as much as some of us might go, “Man, we really would like to somehow be relevant or have a song that’s gonna touch everybody.” We’re lucky any of our music ever did. It was almost like a rocket and we were just holding on. We could barely hold on.

Before parting ways with DJ Lethal he called you a dictator. Fair?
Every ship needs a captain for sure. Some people, instead of looking at themselves or maybe troubleshooting something internally, it’s real easy for them to point the finger. And I’m a scapegoat, no doubt about it. That’s the easy way out, to take a stab at me. That was really hurtful but I’m just going to let it be what it is. I’ll always have mad love for him.

Do you think your audience understands when you’re parodying clichés and when you’re embracing them?
There’s something that happens where we’re playing it so straight that it’s absolutely hard to differentiate or pull off any satire. It’s like some crazy character in a film that you love, or an actor who plays the character so good that he’s that guy, no matter what he does. I think that’s the same reason that a lot of people who I despise in the world, the bullies of the world, love Limp Bizkit. It’s the irony that the vengeance in my voice, and the attacks I would make, were against those people. And still now, for those assholes to be out in the fucking crowd wearing a red cap, you’re going, “I can’t be responsible, because they’re just reacting to a sound.” You can’t tell people who can listen to your music and who can’t.

At least you still get to play it for people. Speaking of which, who exactly is at Limp Bizkit shows these days?
Almost half the audience is younger people. I’m so surprised at how many teenagers are here. It’s really interesting. How they’re discovering it, I don’t know. It could be because people tell them they’re not supposed to like it, or their parents grew up liking it. Something is bringing on a younger audience where we are creating a first-time experience and it’s part of a coming-of-age. Will we be able to perform for them when they’re parents? No. There comes a point where I don’t know how dumb I’m gonna look up there singing “Nookie.”

Speaking of “Nookie,” can you clear up whether the lyrics are more bragging-about-women or not-doing-it-for-the-money?
Actually, people skip over the verses. It’s about a sexual relationship, one of my first ones. I was with a girl who was very manipulative and really promiscuous, and I tried to man up and deal with it and then when I started touring she wasn’t interested — she was back home and having affairs with a lot of people I knew. I would come home and be her boyfriend or whatever, not knowing I’ve just been made a fool of and all these people have been screwing my girl. And then I find out about it and I’m not leaving her because of all these vulnerabilities that come along with being emotionally connected to a sexual relationship. And that abuse, and going, “Why do I keep going back to this person?” and then you finally hit a wall and go, “Oh, I’m doing it because I don’t want to think of myself being with anyone else or her being with anyone else.” I just thought of a fun way to say that. Instead of, “I did it all for our sexual relationship,” it was “I did it all for the nookie.” Everything else is in that entire song was looked over.

Another irony!
Oh yeah, buddy. I’m gonna wear that fucking badge forever.