On the Red Couch with Musician Fred Durst

Mia Quagliarello / March 16, 2016

INGLEWOOD, CA - MARCH 14: (L-R) Singer Fred Durst and guitarist Wes Borland of Limp Bizkit performs onstage at The Forum on March 14, 2015 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Scott Dudelson/Getty Images)

Singer Fred Durst and guitarist Wes Borland of Limp Bizkit perform onstage at ylerhe Forum on March 14, 2015 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Scott Dudelson/Getty Images)

It’s fun to call Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst on the phone. If you miss him, you get to hear his humorous voicemail. If he picks up, you get to talk to a thoughtful and humble man, reflective of the two decades since his popular band’s founding and brimming with passion for the arts, his fans, healthy living (he’s a vegan) and, frankly, life itself. Durst does all his own management and social media, including curating his Flipboard Magazines, which touch on food and health, gaming, photography and even physics. A red couch interview with a huge dose of carpe diem, serendipity and gratitude? Yes, please.

Limp Bizkit recently celebrated 20 years since its founding, which is amazing. When you look back what were the highlights of your career?
Oh my goodness. Well I guess being able to pull off actually getting a record deal from a garage and just somehow navigating an early entrepreneur business and hustle my way into getting some attention. It was a big deal for me to pull that off, because I just always wanted to be a filmmaker; I thought I’d put together a band and direct some videos. Little did I know the band would turn into what it turned into and be a source to tap into some of the different things that happened in my life, being a bullied and tortured kid.

Just being able to be exposed to culture: I’m from a farm in North Carolina, and it’s helped me to see a lot of the world and learn a lot more than I was exposed to. It helped me meet my son’s mother, although we’ve never really been together. I have this incredible incredible son, who’s 14. I love him so much. I love my daughter, too; she’s 25. I would never have had my son if it wasn’t for Limp Bizkit. She [his mother] was one of my dancers. These are the things I look back on. It’s helped me become more evolved as a person.

What would you say the band’s legacy on music is or will be?
I’m not really sure what it is. I think Limp Bizkit is very polarizing. From my perspective, as a kid who was tortured and bullied throughout my coming of age, Limp Bizkit was an outlet to stand up for myself, so to speak. If anybody has found [Limp Bizkit] at one of those moments in their lives, that would be the most meaningful part of it—for me.

I mean I can’t believe it exists, we exist. That all this stuff has happened; it’s sort of taken on a life of its own. I’m like a fish out of water in L.A., blown away all the time by the people I’m exposed to. I wake up every morning at the crack of dawn just super excited and can’t believe what’s happened.


Photo courtesy of Fred Durst

How has your sound evolved over the last 20 years?
In Limp Bizkit, we are what we are; none of us really knew each other before Limp Bizkit, we weren’t friends. When I wanted to put together the group, I went out and sought out the best musicians, who were luckily open to this idea I had. We just get in a room and I’m kind of like a composer or producer and this thing happens. What you hear with Limp Bizkit is just what happens. I’m kind of a ringleader and these guys are talented. We just do what we do without intending to do it.

No matter what we try to do or where we want to evolve, it always ends up sounding like Limp Bizkit. It’s just absurd; I can’t describe it. We can’t even try to make the sound of Limp Bizkit because we don’t know how it’s made, it’s this bizarre thing. It sounds crazy, but it’s the truth. I manage lots of new artists and lots of styles of music that I love and make personally—very, very different from Limp Bizkit—but when we get in a room, no matter what our headspace is, it just ends up sounding like Limp Bizkit. It just cannot change. It sounds a little nutty but it’s the truth.

So then, what does it sound like in a few words?
Well, I always come into Limp Bizkit with an urban approach. The rock parts of it are grounded and brought in by rock elements that others players were inspired by. So, I think it is rock-rap more than it would be rap-rock, from my perspective. A lot of our fans throughout the year wanted more rock, or more of this, and less rap and less that, and I always come from a place where it was The Beastie Boys meets The Cure meets Pantera meets Cypress Hill.

I don’t know how to describe it; it’s an interesting question. I don’t even know what to think about it. I’m Fred from Limp Bizkit, and I’m always gonna be, and for 20 years I’m very, very proud of it. I love performing with these guys a lot because that’s how it started, the feeling that we got when we played together and the interaction that we were able to have with people consuming the sound. An interactive live experience: we give, they give back, we give more, they give back more. We’ve never really been great at writing songs, probably. I don’t know what the sound is really, but I’d say it’s a serendipitous urban collision.

I love that, that’s pretty great. When you think about music today, what do you love and what do you not understand?
I love discovering new music. I’m a new music guy. I scour SoundCloud and Bandcamp, and I’m always looking for the most raw, most pure, honest expression from anyone I can find. I think there’s a lot of that out there; it’s very inspiring. It’s very noisy in the world and there’s amazing songs coming out every week. Whether it’s really honest or as pure as an Adele, or somebody as cool and hip as The Internet, there’s always something great coming out but it just goes and sleeps so fast because there is so much. So for things to stand out, it’s so relative to your perspective and what moves you emotionally at the end of the day, not necessarily what is popular.

An artist I work with and I co-manage is very big underground, an urban rap group, without commercial exposure at all (Team Sesh). They are only underground and they have a huge following. That popularity is very different among the subculture. On the surface level, using Adele as an example—her talent is undeniable and it is something that goes above and beyond other people singing melodic ballads and things. There is something so pure and real about it that it transcends genres.

How did you discover Flipboard?
I’m kind of a techie guy, and always had my mind on a news app idea that I wanted to do. I like consuming news digitally and conveniently. When I stumbled across it, I loved the interface; it just made a lot of sense—you flip—it was just so basic and obvious. And how things are curated, by the people, the users—I think it’s a pretty damn genius way to discover news, read news and share news.

How did you pick the topics that you curate about?
They’re the things I’m interested in. I’m obsessed with physics and finding something we can all agree on is the answer or what’s really going on here on the most quantum level. I love health and started to become in tune with being healthy and learning more. Everyone has an opinion; there are a billion scientists and doctors but at the end of the day you want to live kind of a pure and healthy life. I love gaming; I’m kind of a nerd like that. I love film. I’m a huge fan of film. I love golf, as well. I’m terrible at it but I just discovered it and I really love doing it.

And now, what does success look like for you?
I think success is quality of life. At the end of the day, the future is easy because it doesn’t exist and the past is kind of painful because it is forever, but in this moment it’s your quality of life and tuning into that and making a moment now, the best you can make it, this is me finally feeling like I am finding and feeling success and embracing it.

I’m not in the get rich business, I’m in stay rich business, rich in quality of life. I just want to wake up and be inspired and feel happy. I don’t know when it is going to go away—meaning my life, meaning anything. It sounds a little kooky or you know, bohemian, but I just really believe it, honestly, and I didn’t always think like that.

If you could have done anything differently, what would it be?
Ohhh man, that is something I learned too. Don’t live in regret. Move forward. Everything I did, I did with my heart, I did with sincerity, I made decisions from my gut. So I could sleep at night. I never did something because of something else. Even my character in Limp Bizkit, my Tyler Durden, I just knew he was that and I knew that he got a license to ill and people are going to forget about this thing anyway, I thought, so Tyler Durden comes out or the guy in the red cap and it’s just on. And I let him do that. Being a shy kid who doesn’t know what to say and all of a sudden you go to another place mentally and you are that guy in front of a camera…I never wanted to be in front of a camera; I wanted to be behind it, but it kind of went the other way. So I don’t know what I would change, and if I really thought about it and had to give an answer the list would probably be so long. I have a lot of embarrassing moments. Being a late bloomer, I probably didn’t make the greatest decision in the moment.

What’s your favorite way to connect with fans?
Meet them in person, face to face. Not on a stage. We are all keyboard King Kongs, know what I mean? It’s like, come on. I love seeing a guy who’s kind of ripping it up, so outspoken and so opinionated. Life from his perspective is the end all, be all and ‘you are an idiot if you don’t think like me and think like that.’ And if you get a moment to meet that person, in person, all of a sudden you see who they are and they see who you are, and it is a beautiful little connection there. Sometimes I reach out to those people privately; I feel so bad that they seem so unhappy and just say something awesome to them, something genuine. Most the time I get a response like, ‘Hey man, I’m a big fan, just talking shit.’ The direct contact is the most visceral, meaningful to me.

What’s something we don’t know about you, outside of your music and film and tattoo artistry?
Hmm, wow, well, I hate horror films because they scare me, but I watch them nonstop to get over it. Might even direct one, but only if its as good as The Shining. But I don’t know if anything could be.

Let me think. I love Chet Baker (start with the album My Funny Valentine). I listen to him everyday of my life. It just does something to me. I love trap music; it’s my favorite type of music.

I’m a vegan. New to being a vegan, but I’m a vegan. I have a little slippage every once in awhile.

There is nothing interesting about me.

~MiaQ is following Fred Durst of course