Friday, July 17, 2009 | 10:27 a.m.
“No” is not a word Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst likes to hear.
When the UFC told him it was pulling the plug on what was to be last weekend’s UFC 100 kickoff concert, he wasn’t amused.
He loves his art – his music – though Durst also likes to prove people wrong.
He and his bandmates rescheduled that UFC gig of theirs and when they take to the stage at the Pearl tomorrow night, they will have something else to prove, beyond, “No one cancels a Limp Bizkit show except Limp Bizkit.”
It has been eight years since the original Limp Bizkit lineup has entertained an audience on American soil. When they step onstage tomorrow, a room full of fans will be waiting, eager to see what, exactly, this reincarnation is all about.
Will it be the same Limp Bizkit that shot to fame in the late ‘90s with a hard-hitting cover of George Michael’s “Faith,” or has time changed, or – God forbid – mellowed them? Do they have another “Nookie”-caliber hit single up their sleeve, or will their new album, which will be their first full-length studio release since 2000’s Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water, fall flat?
Durst seems up to the challenge. The band is getting ready to record the new record next month and tour the U.S. shortly thereafter.
“The response was just through the roof,” he says of the initial reaction to his renewed-and-supposedly-improved band.
As he stares down the barrel of a few very big months ahead, his attitude could be described as an enthusiastic “bring it” with hints of “just you wait and see.”
After touring the European summer festival circuit for the past few months, Durst feels confident and says his band is ready to bring it home.
“We thought we’d go over to Europe and break the ice and go to some countries that we always dreamed of going to because we’ve never been, and just save the best for last,” Durst says.
Now, they’re ready.
“We’re owning our sound,” he says. “It’s something you can feel deep, deep down inside your soul.”
As for the sound, he says it’s both “really heavy” and “really groovy.”
“It’s Limp Bizkit, that’s for sure,” he assures.
Despite the prolonged absence and focus on respective side projects, the 38-year-old frontman says things have never been better amongst the band members.
“Once we got onstage … we had an amazing time,” he says, likening the reunion to “a blessing out of the sky.”
He acknowledges there has been “a void out there” since the band put itself on the backburner, but he thinks it was necessary.
“We’re artists so we like to peel the different layers of our onion,” he illustrates, and the time off allowed him and the others to explore other avenues and expand their creativity.
Now, he and bandmates Wes Borland, Sam Rivers, John Otto, and DJ Lethal are reaping the rewards.
“The evolution has only made (the band) play even tighter,” he says, noting, “We really needed the hiatus.”
Durst spent his time away from the band doing some recording and trying his hand as a film director, too, but most of his attention remained focused on signing up-and-coming acts to his record label.
Though he and the others were far from bored during their time apart, he says it was only a matter of time before their respective paths led them back to where it all began, to Limp Bizkit.
“We’ve done so many other things on our own that I guess inevitably, after a while, our hearts grow fonder,” he says.
Absence not only made the musicians’ hearts grow fonder, it made them appreciate their craft and return with a renewed zest for performing together.
“It’s just made everything so much more significant,” Durst says. “The songs mean more, on stage together, our interaction with the crowd, everything is just heightened.”
“I don’t know, it just happened,” he says. “I can’t explain it … It just feels like it’s evolved to a new level.”
“It’s almost like it was meant to be,” he concludes.
The group took their recently resuscitated act on the road earlier this year as their “Unicorns N Rainbows” tour visited over 20 European countries before wrapping up in Paris on July 5.
A longtime MMA fan, he says the band was really looking forward to playing UFC 100 weekend in Las Vegas.
He and the others were far from pleased when news came that the show had been given the axe.
“It upset us quite a bit,” Durst recalles, the tension still clear in his voice even as he speaks over the phone from his home in Los Angeles.
Durst is not the kind of guy you want to upset, either; what upsets him only makes him want to work – and prove the naysayer wrong – that much harder.
“It became our quest to figure out how to still have a concert,” he says, noting it was the UFC that cancelled last week’s show, not his band.
The Las Vegas-based MMA organization cited disagreements over DVD rights and issues regarding the location of the concert (the UFC wanted an outdoor event at Mandalay Beach while the band apparently wanted to play indoors, at House of Blues) as the reasons why the show was called off.
Regardless of the UFC’s reasoning, Durst was not amused. He and his bandmates used their official blog to publicly criticize the UFC for using the since-concert to help attract people to the event, only to cancel the show less than two weeks before it was set to take place.
The band wrote that it was “unfair” to fans and acknowledged that many music lovers “have rearranged their lives and bought tickets to be in Vegas.”
Limp Bizkit vowed that the show would go on, first promising to perform on the originally-scheduled date but, when they realized all of the city’s appropriate go-to live music venues were already booked, the band had to renege on their original pledge and instead offer to give the show one week later.
While it would have been easier to cancel the show altogether, or move it to a different city, the band made a conscious decision to keep to the concert here.
“We all unanimously said you know, we gotta have it in Vegas. I mean, It’s just the place to be, the place to do it, and that’s what we wanted to do,” Durst recalls. “That’s when we got with [Palms owner] George [Maloof] and we figured out how to do it … so we’re stoked.”
Once Durst secured the venue, he and his bandmates upped the ante. They decided that not only would they appear onstage as promised, but they would to perform for free.
All 2,500 tickets for tomorrow’s concert will be given away, with the Pearl box office opening the floodgates at noon.
“We just put it all together and it is what it is, it’s a free show in Vegas,” Durst says. “We felt that was he right thing to do, just with all the miscommunication.”
He still feels bad that fans from out of own booked airfare and hotel stays for last weekend’s concert ahead of time, but didn’t get to see the band perform.
Tomorrow’s giveaways and fanfare are all part of an effort, as Durst puts it, to “try to make up for it as best we can.”
Plus, Limp Bizkit wants their homecoming to be a big one.
In yet another effort to connect with fans, the band is allowing their fans to decide what songs they play, through the online fan voting Web site, pickRset.com.
“I don’t think we’ll play anything new, probably,” Durst says. “We play a mixture from all of our albums, we kind of mix it up a little bit.”
Yet as fans ponder the Limp Bizkit retrospective, one obvious question remains. Despite the clichés and the fact that it has been asked a thousand times, it still begs to be asked: Does Durst still, as he so proudly and publicly proclaimed over a decade ago, do it all for the nookie?
“That’s one of those things where I wish people would listen to the lyrics,” Durst replies, surprisingly patient and calm.
Though he’s surely fielded that question more times than he’d like to admit, he still refers to the line as “a fun hook.”
“For that particular girlfriend, the only reason I stayed with her through all the abuse and through all the stuff she did, over and over again, was the nookie,” he explained, yet again.
These days, however, the older, wiser, and recently married Durst says he does it – it being his music – for different reasons.
“It’s who I am,” he says.” I love waking up in the morning and I love getting going and I’m an artist. I love creating things and I’m very passionate about music and films.
“I do it for myself, I do it for my family,” he says. “I just do it.”
The Pearl is the Palms premier concert venue, hosting some of the most legendary and popular names in entertainment.