Limp Bizkit singer Fred Durst is an interesting guy, and by interesting, I mean he's "that guy": the person who will say or do something worthy of a head scratch at the height of their career (see: Woodstock '99) that will overshadow any musical or artistic output they have for decades after.
Enjoying somewhat of a renaissance thanks to nü-metal going retro this year, Limp Bizkit—and as a result, Fred Durst—are in the spotlight again. But could Fred have committed another act of platonic-shift awkwardness by claiming to "despise jocks"—arguably a sizeable, if not substantial portion of Limp Bizkit's fan base?
In a case of what may be perception being everything, a slightly confounded Durst told entertainer Bill Maher in an interview during his Club Random podcast that, "People call [Limp Bizkit] 'jock rock'… I mean, I despise jocks, 'cause those were the guys beating my ass all the time."
Let's park the bus here for a moment add some color to the context: Durst was speaking about his own life and experiences. And if we really want get into platonic shifts through the decades, nothing could have been more unpredictable than the complete obliteration in the 1990s of the jock-metalhead-punk holy trinity of hatred that ruled the late 70s and 80s. So, I'm certain Durst speaks sincerely when he talks about taking more than a few beatdowns while still on the come up.
But in the 90s, suddenly heavy music—traditionally outsider music and the sound of deviancy on wax—was for everybody. This was thanks in part to the grunge bands kicking down a lot of doors for other bands to smash through — Pantera, Rage Against the Machine, Korn, Deftones, and yes, Limp Bizkit, all being the primary examples.
Maher touched on this phenomenon when he spoke with Durst of the populism that was so key to the rise of nu-metal. "There was a feeling around that turn-of-the-century time, and it was angsty," said Maher. "It was like you captured that, you know, 'I'm just pissed and I'm gonna break shit.'"
To his credit, Durst—seemingly wanting to control the narrative—told Maher plainly, "I was bullied my whole life. Tortured, bullied… I was really this peon kid in my city, at school, and ultimately the vehicle I used to put behind Limp Bizkit was, 'Oh, man, I'll use this microphone to fight these guys back!' But the irony was: the bullies that tortured me were dressing like me in the audience. So this massive art project turned into the most ironic thing… and here I am 25 years later going, 'Wow, this is unbelievable!'
While I couldn't possibly relate, I do understand what Durst is explaining, essentially trying not to look a gift horse in the mouth, after the same horse had been kicking him in the balls every day since birth. That "most ironic thing" Durst and Co. created is now intertwined within such a convincing argument about fame, and is at the same time both historical and hysterical. Because, after all, what did Durst famously say just minutes after fans literally broke Woodstock '99 and promoters pulled the plug on Limp Bizkit?
"We didn't do anything wrong."
Careful what you wish for, friends. You can watch the full interview with Bill Maher and Fred Durst just below.