Limp Bizkit, in guitarist Wes Borland’s own words, is a “polarising band.” A lot of people just don’t like their brash nu metal style, but legions of fans around the world still wait impatiently for new music from the Fred Durst-fronted group and clamber to see them in concert. Ahead of their Australian tour, which kicks off October 25th in Brisbane, Borland told us what we can expect from their shows, why Limp Bizkit won’t “fucking go away” and what it’s like being signed to hip hop label Cash Money Records (hint: it’s weird, in a good way).
Are you looking forward to your shows in Australia?
Oh yeah, especially because this is our first headlining run of dates. We’ve only done festivals in the past, so we get to be more ourselves and not play it safe like we do with a festival set, which is just all the bangers, all the singles and trying to keep it to things people are familiar with. When it’s our own shows there’s a lot more playing around, joking around - well, I guess we kinda act like idiots during festivals too - there’s just more of the back catalogue played, instead of just singles.
Do you have any favourite songs from your back catalogue that you get to play at headline shows?
Anything we have that’s uncommon. Anything that feels like I have to be on my toes a little bit because I don’t remember it as well as the other stuff we play every night, which is easy and there’s never a mistake and is just like riding a bike. Whenever I have to think, “Oh God, we haven’t played this song in a long time,” I get excited because it brings a little bit of nervousness to me and makes me feel more like I could fall off a cliff.
That must make you feel like you’re more in the moment.
Yeah, it’s a lot more in the moment. If we’re playing something more obscure, like ‘Sour’ off Three Dollar Bill, which we played a few times this summer, I know it really well but I’m a lot more aware that it’s happening instead of, you know, playing ‘Rollin”. A lot of the time when we’re playing, the songs are just the background music or the background event to whatever’s currently happening at the show - whatever the crowd’s doing, whatever’s happening on stage, whatever the feeling’s like, who’s there that night - there are all these other things going on that are the main event and the music is just there to support that a lot of the time. So whenever the music somehow becomes the main event for a second, it’s a joy.
Do you get the same energy from audiences these days as you did, say, a decade ago?
Oh yeah. For some reason the people who come to see us still have the same amount of energy and there’s still people who are brand new, that were children our first go around, who are showing up saying they grew up listening to us. The crowds have just as much to give as they ever have, and that’s kind of strange for some reason, but I’m really happy about it. And for me, I still haven’t mellowed at all, unfortunately. I wish that I was mellower and could relax more and could enjoy life with a more toned-down perspective, but for some reason the older I get the more I feel like I’ve missed something. Instead of going, “Ah forget it, I’m tired of all that,” it’s like, “What have I missed? What haven’t I done? What didn’t happen? Let’s try to fit it all in.” I keep going, “Oh man, all these guys that have done Everest and I haven’t climbed Mt Everest. I’m a fool. I’m an idiot. I’m soft.” I keep thinking, “Dude you’re blowing it by riding this rock’n’roll thing. You gotta go conquer something like that so you can say you were on Earth and you actually did something.” I keep getting that kind of feeling, so I might do something dumb in the next couple of years. We’ll see.
I guess feeling like that would be good for pushing your creativity though.
Yeah, those ideas push the creative envelope for sure. But I also feel like there’s other perspectives to look at the world from, outside of music, that I’m missing. Like I need to go build houses in Rwanda or something. I feel like this has been so all-consuming for so long, not that I would ever quit it, just that there’s other things that need tending to, or need to be tried out in some way.
Limp Bizkit has come back a few times when it seemed like it was all over. What is it that keeps the band going?
I don’t know, man. People still want to come to shows - that’s probably the biggest problem not letting it die [laughs]. People should stop buying tickets to shows if they want us to go away, but they don’t. They keep coming and they keep being excited to see us. When we make new music they keep stealing it and hearing it. We don’t have any intention really to sell albums anymore , it’s more about if we can keep making music that we can use for ammunition to play shows. People actually want to hear new songs live, which is really weird for a band that’s been around as long as we have, but they do. I’m so grateful and so lucky that I get to do this and that I’m in a band that, 17 years later, is still able to play.
What will your stage be like at the shows?
I have no idea. I think we’re bringing some stuff but it’s not gonna be like a giant robot or anything like that. I have a new stage costume that’s really intense this go around.
How do you come up with your costumes?
I just springboard off of the last thing that I did and either try to top it within the same realm or completely disengage and react to it like it’s my enemy and I need to do something completely different. This time has been a “topping it” thing. The last few things I’ve done I’ve coalesced into one really hot singularity and then I got on the phone with the people that did the Tron and Iron Man and Batman suits, and I talked with them and we came out with something outrageous. It’s kind of inspired by jellyfish and undersea life.
Is your new album, Stampede of the Disco Elephants, all wrapped up?
Nah, we’re almost there. We’re getting there; we’ve done two in-studio sessions with the whole band and I’m working on post production elements and icing-on-the-cake kind of stuff, like interludes and album sequence at my house. Fred’s doing vocals at his house. So we’re trucking. We’ve got some stuff that’s mixed and finished, which may be released as singles before we release the album, just to keep the pot hot.
We’ve heard ‘Ready To Go’ already. Is that a good representation of the sound of the new album?
It’s a good mix, it’s a good average of the sound of the album. There’s stuff that’s more hip hop and club-ish and there’s stuff that’s more outrageous and experimental, but it all sounds like us. It’s not like we’re “reaching for the stars” or trying to adapt to a sound that doesn’t sound like us. It sounds like us.
Will you get many solos on the album? I know that’s something you like to keep to a minimum.
Yeah, probably. I had a few solos on Gold Cobra and there are some solos on this but they’re either totally traditional solos - where I’m sort of making fun of a guitar solo and also playing a guitar solo at the same time - or it’s just like melodies in the music that just flow and are “there.” I’m kind of always making fun of myself and what I do but also there with it in the moment at the same time. I think it’s sort of, what do you call that, tongue in cheek? Or not taking yourself too seriously. I’m very serious about not taking myself too seriously.
The same thing can be said for Fred’s lyrics, right?
Yeah, it’s just not taking anything for granted and not taking ourselves too seriously.
Do you think a lot of people don’t get that about Limp Bizkit?
I don’t know how they couldn’t, how they could be missing that. It seems ridiculous that anybody wouldn’t get it. I think people are just annoyed by us. We’re a very polarising band and we’re a very in-your-face kind of band and we won’t fucking go away [laughs]. I think that annoys people in a way. But for some reason people are still fascinated by talking shit about us in the press, which I think is great. It doesn’t really bother us anymore. I used to get all hurt over it and be all, “Ohhh I want people to like my band,” but then I realised people do like my band. It’s just, you know, some people don’t and that’s the way life is, so stop being a fucking baby. Take what you can get, son!
What’s it like being on Cash Money Records?
It’s been interesting. The most interesting thing so far was seeing how supportive they are of everything we do. The second thing is seeing them get really excited about rock, because looking at us through their eyes, you see how they’re just getting it for the first time. They’re like, “Whoa, electric guitars and real drums” and they get so excited because it’s so new to them. I get excited seeing them get excited about it. I listen to it in a new way after they react to it or whatever. And it’s been really good for me to be in that world for the first time and see how everything in that world works. I like how they build their artists by having the new artists collaborate with their older artists that are already established. It’s so smart in the way they do it. It’s so casual and you feel so at home doing that because they have this whole studio in Miami on lockdown and they have all their artists working all night long, every night. They always work at night, they don’t work during the day, it’s really weird. They’ll come in and out of studios and just lay down verses and collaborate and deal with all the paperwork later. It’s just a very cool, laidback, supportive environment that’s weird for us to be a part of. But the weirder it is, I think it’s not weird in some way. It goes along with all the other weird things that happened to us in our career so it’s perfectly normal.
While you’re recording and touring with Limp Bizkit, is it nice to take time out from being frontman, like you are in your other band Black Light Burns, and to not be doing everything?
Yeah, it’s different. I like how different the two things are. They’re both challenging to me in different ways. Black Light’s challenging because I’m carrying most of the weight of everything on myself. We tour in a van with no crew and I’m having to drive and it’s exhausting. It’s a lot of work but it also keeps me humble and helps me not take for granted how great it is to be in Bizkit. That’s really important for me because it makes me go, “Oh my God, I get to be on a bus and don’t have to drive tonight. This is awesome!” But in Black Light I can’t do the amount of make-up and I don’t have the freedom to do the amount of extraordinary stage appearance type of things that I do in Bizkit because I have too many jobs in Black Light. There’s not enough time for me to spend hours doing some sort of wild stage costume. That’s how I get to shine in Bizkit while also being the alien that doesn’t talk and lets Fred have the mic. It’s like Borat and Ali G.