Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst is a man of few words these days. As he explains backstage at KROQ's Weenie Roast on Saturday in a rare interview, he is very deliberate in everything Bizkit does in 2019. "I like the mystery in a world that's not mysterious," he says.
It's not because he wants to be difficult or aloof. He just keeps a very small circle these days. In fact, he only agrees to this conversation an hour before he and his Limp Bizkit bandmates take the stage at Doheny State Beach in Dana Point, Calif., because of the trust he gained in this reporter after we met at an October 2016 Rock to Recovery benefit ("We met under really amazing circumstances, I believe"), where he shared the stage with Chester Bennington, whom I had known for years since doing a book with Linkin Park in 2004. When Bennington died months later, Durst and I spoke about our mutual friend at length.
It was out of that friendship he felt comfortable enough to speak about why he doesn't do interviews anymore, the mystique that surrounds Limp Bizkit and why he is enjoying the band's current resurgence.
I spoke with Travis Barker before you did Musink. And we agreed, it feels like the timing is right and people have been so receptive to Limp Bizkit. How much are you enjoying this resurgence?
It's not a linear journey, it's interesting. There are peaks and valleys and hopefully you just keep evolving and your long lens of light keeps finding that perfect depth of field and that place where things will become a little more crisp, a little more clear, you understand things. And I think with Limp Bizkit, it's consistency of the passion for what happens with us when we get together. We can't manufacture it in a false sense, can't fake it. So we're actually having a lot of fun because we're appreciating it now more than ever. And this boomerang effect of times and trends and vibes and now the Internet has created a platform for Limp Bizkit to be discovered without it being slammed down people's throats. They're actually searching out things that are different than what they're being fed and Limp Bizkit gets to fall into that part where we're not being fed to them, they are discovering it. It's like a boomerang effect where you can only pray for it to come back right, or you threw it out there right. You don't really know what's gonna happen in life. I wake up every day grateful, and this Limp Bizkit resurgence feeling is so amazing 'cause each night I look out at these bigger and bigger audiences than ever before. I say, "How many people, it's your first time?" And it's everyone raises their hands. And it's really interesting.
I remember talking about it with Greg Dulli of the Afghan Whigs. And he said after they reunited one of the things that kept the band going was playing to new audiences every night who had never seen the Whigs and they were so excited to be there. Are you finding that as well?
I love the Afghan Whigs! That's exactly it. You can't go back and be vulnerable again, yelling and spitting out things in a microphone to no one. That's what we did. No one was listening. Now when they're listening it's like, "Oh shit, what am I gonna say?" We have this thing where people have never even experienced the party or the vibe or the Bizkit spirit 'cause that's mainly what we are. We're not great singers or songwriters; we're entertainers, people who react organically to what happens. So we're really fortunate that we get excited when we get up and do what we do and feed off of people who've never really felt it before. It's like a strange thing we never would have saw coming. But I consciously made an effort a while back to pull back and not milk it, not tour all year long, not put out tons of records. I feel like a messenger; I'm waiting on the message. I'm waiting to truly feel and believe what I'm saying as shallow or deep as you may perceive it, if it means something to me, I can say it. If it doesn't, there's no reason for me to chalk it up and put it out. I think with Limp Bizkit and our peers, we're the band that kind of hasn't been doing anything, except for waiting on that message. And there's something really beautiful about the reward, the payoff that's happening. We're just kind of gonna be us and stay us because I don't think we know how to do anything else.
You just directed a film with John Travolta. Because of the successful career directing films, it seems like you wouldn't face the pressure other bands do who only have the one creative outlet.
Actually, believe it or not I still need to be as creative with Limp Bizkit as possible. I suffer a lot from not milking it. I mean financially there's nothing coming in when you're not out doing it. But I had to make that decision it's about the integrity of it. It's about what I believe Limp Bizkit is and what it is to me. So I suffer financially because I don't do it. We get offered lots and lots of money and lots of things to do and I just became very good at saying no.
Do you feel that is part of the reason fans are so receptive to Limp Bizkit? Because there is now a mystique that surrounds the band from not doing everything?
You've got to be very selective with it. I don't know, man. There's something very strange about the money part, where you wish you could say yes all the time but I can't. It would just not be honest. Yeah, maybe I did expose myself too much in the beginning because I was a kid who didn't know four people on the planet who talked to him and all of a sudden everyone wants an interview, everyone wants to talk to you and you're doing this and this and you're going, "Yeah, this is cool." Then you go, "Oh, they flipped that really weird." Or, "Wow, why did I say that? 'Cause now they used that." Now I'm gun-shy to it and I really don't have anything to say. I go, "Why don't you look on the Internet or look up some old stuff because you're asking the same fucking questions and the answers are right there? I'm not gonna refine them for you." I like the mystery in a world that's not mysterious.
That mystique is special.
I wish I knew that before though. I'm a kid from a farm in North Carolina, so I was a little behind the curve on everything when Limp Bizkit was put together and it took me a while to catch up to where I probably should be. So I made some interesting decisions in the beginning. I can't go back and change them so I can live with them, but I feel like, "Man, I wish I was a little more wise back then or someone was coaching me." That I could have talked to someone. But all we are is now and somehow the most hated became a commodity to go, "Let's have some fun 'cause Limp Bizkit is gonna be there." And that's what it was all about in the first place: having some fun.