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Interview with Fred Durst - October 1997

Congratulations on the album. It's an intense blend of hip-hop, metal, punk--it's all there. You guys definitely come out fighting on the record. What inspired you to do the spoken intro which takes on televangelists?

Fred: I believe in God. I pray three or four times a day. Sometimes I see on TV a lot of people telling us our music is bad and it's pollution while the televangelist is making a lot of money. It's hard to tell if they're real or phony. They tell us that our noise is pollution. They're saying everything is bad. They throw our music right in there with it. "Music is bad. This music is a bad influence. Kid's shouldn't be listening to this. This is terrible. This is not the way of the Lord and this and that." People don't really know us. I feel like those televangelists--a couple of them in particular--are kind of fake.

Did you grow up with any televangelists around you?

Fred: I grew up in North Carolina right down the road from Jim Bakker. North Carolina is very religious and people just look at you wrong for a lot of the things you do. Even here, in Jacksonville, I've got tons of tattoos and I cuss and things like that, but you know, I still believe in God and I ask God to forgive me every time I sin. Everyone's a sinner. It just made sense with the song. The whole hook is "Pollution." Instead of saying you preach the words about the noise you don't want to hear, I say you preach the noise about the words you don't want to hear. It's like, well, you're preaching and telling me that I'm so wrong--well, that's noise to me because little do you know that my band says a prayer every time before they go on stage and we're not just praying to Buddha or something.

You talked about sinning--are you able to reveal what your most creative sin was?

Fred: I've sinned so many ways it's unbelievable. I've robbed stores. I've had plenty of sex. I've lied terribly. I've cheated. I've been greedy. I've lusted. Everything. I've done it all. I need some support and help from above now. I grew up as a rebellious kid who was always locked up in his room. When I got out, I wasn't bad--I just didn't know what was right or wrong. My dad was an adoptive dad--we didn't get along that killer. I have another brother that's his son. My mom and I were always confronting. It was real easy for me to snap on my mom and for her to snap on me. It was just a weird thing.

Moving ahead to the song "Counterfeit," what exactly around you is counterfeit?

Fred: I came to Jacksonville five years ago. I was trying to put together some bands mixing all of the styles I like. I've been rapping since 1982, DJ'ing since 1985. I've been a punk rocker since 1983. I was just that kid who liked everything except for country. I came to Jacksonville, but there were none of those flavors. So I go around and get a whole bunch of people from different bands to form a group with me. I was the hip-hop side and everyone else was another side, another part. Next thing you know, we start playing out and we get a following and we do good. Then all these bands that were metal who didn't like us started dogging on us--and they're totally stiff dorks with tight jeans, red-necking metal bands. As soon as we get popular, all of the bands start to look like us and dress like us. They're rappin' and doing all these things to be like us. I understand that they're musicians and they want to get in with the in thing, but you gotta be for real. I knew a lot of these bands coming out now when they were total die-hard believing, tight Levis, "metal-in-there-man and hip-hop sucks. That nigger shit, you're a nigger lover." And now they're all on that tip.

What brought you to Jacksonville?

Fred: I was living in San Francisco and I was married and I found out that my wife cheated on me. I got into a fight with the guy and her and I went to jail over it. I just spent a lot of time thinking in jail--it was the first time I had ever been in jail.

How old were you when that happened?

Fred: I was twenty.

How long did you spend in jail?

Fred: About a month. It was terrible. I just said I gotta go start over again. So I went back to North Carolina to say good-bye to some friends and I worked at a skate-park for a while because I was a sponsored skate-boarder. Then I took my car and moved down to Florida and started all over again. I was working jobs doing art for people and I started tattooing and it was just getting nowhere. The band thing was a side thing and I was way serious but nobody was because there was no music scene here. So I just went to see every band I could and found that there was nobody serious but I'd pick one person. Like Sam stuck out of his band--he was serious and go-hard. Wes stuck out of his band and John in his. I said, "hey, I'm really serious. I wanna do this. I wanna mix a lot of things and these are my ideas." I already had some songs written and we started playing those out and it caught on. Then we all started getting the chemistry and writing together and realized it was real. We gave a friend the demo and he passed it on to Ross , producer and people were vibing on us. I was acting like I was my own manager on the phone. I'd change my voice and I'd change my name and was talking shit to all these record companies. Everybody. Just bull- crap, not knowing a thing about the industry, but they were believing me because I'm a good bull-shitter. Then I really needed management because people were flying out too see us and there was no one here to talk to.

That story is actually an interesting segue, because I want to talk about the song "Stuck." You go, "You want to play that game, bitch, you take a dash for my cash." Who's that about?

Fred: Once I started bull-shitting everybody and trying to get these record deals, a woman named Kathleen Tobin in New York got a copy of our tape from a local guy named Don Smith. And then she starts calling and we're all "That's cool, she wants too manage us, that's cool, she wants to shop it. We'll meet up with you. We're this and that"--we were hyping it up. But then we're like "Man, you know what, we're gonna keep it low down. We don't want to work with you." She's like, "I've already shopped your thing, too. So whatever record deal you get I demand a big piece of. I will sue your ass off!" We were like, "What are you talking about?" She kept calling a hundred times a day, getting on the phone and going "You piece of shit mother fucker, don't you hang up on me you son of a bitch! I got every right! I'll sue your fucking ass off!" And then it became this crazy thing--we started recording our conversations. She was psycho. I changed my number and she called the telephone company and told them that my relatives had died and that she needed to get in touch with me. She said she was from Blue Cross. She got my new number from the phone company.

Wow, they gave it out?

Fred: Yeah, two times! I finally said, "If you ever give this number out again, I'll sue the phone company." We never heard from her then. As soon as we signed to Flip--although she wasn't aware of it at the time--she somehow ran across Flip and wanted to send them a demo. Jordan (Schur, the president) got a fax from the woman and he's like, "Look, I don't want to deal with you. My boys in Limp Bizkit have had some dealings with you and I'm in there backing. That's just the way it is." She faxed Jordan back, saying "I'll sue your ass!" Just freaking out crazy. So we wrote "Stuck," man. It's all about her. I just wrote it in the third person cuz a lot of people deal with not only managers but girlfriends and boyfriends and a lot of people who are greedy. And I don't understand where those people come from. I wrote it so everybody could relate it to someone who's giving them shit. But it's all about that woman from New York for me.

Switching gears to "Nobody Loves Me," what inspired this one, Fred? There's that line: "Nobody loves me/I'm going to go eat worms."

Fred: It's like people who don't know me--they stereotype you automatically. You get no love unless you have something to give 'em. And then, all of a sudden you're respected and you're good and everything. You get no love from anybody when you're nobody, when your small with your band because that's the way this industry is. That's the way people are. That's the way club owners are. That's the way everyone is--friends, everything. For a time, we were given no love. People were like, "You guys get a record deal unless you have something to give 'em. And then, all of a sudden you're respected and you're good and everything. You get no love from anybody when you're nobody, when your small with your band because that's the way this industry is. That's the way people are. That's the way club owners are. That's the way everyone is--friends, everything. For a time, we were given no love. People were like, "You guys get a record deal and sell some records and I'll give you some attention." I understand why those maniacs go insane. They maybe get treated one way wrong too much and then something happens and their heads snap. For me it was: "Whether you like what I'm doing or not, I'm gonna keep playing my music, keep doing what I'm doing 'til the day I'm gone. I'm gonna keep producing bands and doing everything I can." When my mom used to ground me and I got upset, she'd say, "Oh, nobody loves me, I'm going to go eat worms." So it was like this saying that I used to get pounded with by my mother. She had this little cross-stitch on the wall that said "Nobody loves me, everybody hates me, I think I'll go eat worms." Here's how I look at it: since nobody loves me, I don't owe you a thing.

There's a lot of rage in "Sour." What triggered this one?

Fred: That song is about a girlfriend going through a bad time. She really got off on saying things to hurt me. She was living with me and I supported her. She would find my weaknesses and say everything she could to hurt me--anything I would hate. Every time we'd get into a crazy argument, she'd say so many things to hurt me and I'd get upset and snap. I just couldn't take it anymore. I would freak, but it would be my fault. She's blaming me because I got upset about her or I because I yelled back or punched a wall. It was the most crazy up-and-down thing. But I say, "There's no one to blame but you and who gets the blame." It's like, that's the classic tale. Finally, I realize in my world I don't need that. I'm just insecure like that. I want to be with someone, I need that part in my life to be fulfilled and finally I just said, "Get your bags and hit the trail." We recorded that song at the studio while all of this was going on.

There's a great lyric in there. "Intensity is something that I'm made of and certainly I'm not afraid of."

Fred: Thanks, man, 'cuz I am an intense person. I'm extreme. But I'm really nice to everybody--like, I try to be. Everybody asks me for everything. I feel bad for people a lot of times. I'm always looking out for everybody. At the same time I can be real intense because--I don't know--there's something wrong with my brain, or something. I'm made of it and I'm not afraid of it. No matter how bad ass you can get, the little smack in the face you're gonna give me when leaving me won't damage me--maybe I'm sweating it right now, but you'll regret it in the long run.

"Stalemate." Looking at some of the lyrics here: "Habitual cruelty. You bark your orders with such a degrading dialect." What's going on here?

Fred: It says, "Your veins flow with poison, please acknowledge my present. This precious gift I behold, which is my talent, you discard like trash." It's like who cares if you don't appreciate anything I do--you have never listened to one song I wrote. You don't give a fuck. The song also says: "To dominate, it's in your nature, you selfish brat. I can't believe you had me strung out over you like that." And then in the second verse, it goes: "Strange things occurring, happening over and over and over again. Habitual cruelty." Like it's in their nature to be mean. To be dogging me out like that.

Was this song directed at one person or is it a whole group of people that were just trying to hold you back?

Fred: It was directed at one person. A real up and down psycho thing I was going through. I was starving for attention and support to know what I was doing was good, and I wouldn't get it. This person would always say, "Me. You need to spend time with me and be with me. You can do that all the time. One minute you think you're all this and the next minute you think you're all that." My feeling was now I'm going to get mine 'cuz I've proved myself. I made my record. I proved myself to myself and now I believe in myself a lot more. I always did, but I just feel a lot better now. Now I'm going to get mine. It's like a total emotional song.

Listening to the record is very draining but at the same time it's very empowering. I think it really inspires people to piss on all the people who try to hold you back.

Fred: It's those people that a lot of people don't ever say anything about. They just deal with that kind of person in their life or they just keep it inside or talk behind their back. I'm trying to let kids know that they might not be the only ones in the world that have those people in their lives. Everybody does. I feel alone, sometimes. I get panic attacks. I feel helpless and alone a lot. And all this stuff has happened--I just want to keep it real. I got so much drama and shit in my head about my life, I could just write ten records.

Where did "Clunk" come from?

Fred: "Clunk" is about a guy I've had to deal with for a long time--someone who really is just your friend one minute and the next minute he turns on you and talks shit about you. He has a real bad temper thing in his head. He always wants to fight his friends when he gets drunk. He's that guy at the party who just turns on you and wants to fight you. Talks shit about you to everybody. Tries to ruin you. Fucks with your girlfriend and thinks that everybody owes him respect. I try to stay away and the next thing you know I'll get a call and he'll be cool. And I'll be like, "that's cool, man. It's all good." Next thing you know he's talking shit or wanting to fight me because he's drunk for no reason. I hid from this guy and tried to avoid him for so long. So many people like that--obnoxious, drunk assholes--have two different personalities that change all of the time, claiming everybody owes them. I let this guy move into my apartment and he got me evicted 'cuz he spray-painted the wall and cussed out the management. Crazy, man. The most insane person I've ever met in my life. The dude has such an ego. As I say in the song, I told him: "Drop that ego before you crash. Before the headlights are simply glaring in your eyes and you're going down. What's the matter with the life that you're leading? Well, when you're bleeding, everyone is thinking how much they hate you instead of helping you. It's not too late dude, it's just that time for you to zip up that grill and take a deep breath and look around, there ain't nobody left. You're just a target. Bullseye. And still you walk around like a clown in a force field. See I'm not crazy, you're the one who's crazy, institutionalized"--that's from Suicidal Tendencies.

It's so volatile. As a listener, it's very exciting to hear this. I know it's hard to go through pain and anxiety, but you project it in a way that ironically is very infectious.

Fred: Awesome. That's what I want. I couldn't just sling out lyrics. I can do that real good, but I wanted to make sense and not just sing about peaches and beer cans and trees and rims and things like that. I have a lot of hip- hop in me, but I wanted to get across in a way where a lot of people who don't really get hip-hop, but like it, get it. I say a couple of words kind of crazy you can mistake for something else, but I try to say everything in a way where all of the people in this new generation and all the kids can get it. I don't promote violence, but I promote expressing your fear, anger, love and frustration in any way that you can.

The last song anybody could ever imagine to receive such an intense makeover is George Michael's "Faith." How did you come up with that one to re-do? It's a mind blower.

Fred: I love George Michael, man. Everybody loves 80's music. Everybody loves George Michael, whether they admit it or not. Something about him was always killer, always smooth. He's just real awesome. George Michael, I felt, got a real corporate push thing and a real glam thing and it worked against him. But you gotta have faith and you gotta believe in it because it's good music anyway. Our music is good music and he just moves me, man. It's just one of those covers that I've always wanted to do. Instead of saying what I was supposed to say in the middle of the song, I screamed "Get the fuck up!" Everybody was sitting down in the studio when I was recording the song and I looked at everybody and said it and everybody got up and started jumping and moshing in the studio, right in the vocal room. It was awesome, man. It was that release. I just want people to take a second look at George. A lot of people think he's some cheesy guy.

"Stink Finger?" Who are you pointing it at?

Fred: That's about my neighbors. They've got the most perfect front yard. The guy's out in his fuckin' bushes with little scissors and shit all of the time. Our house looked like the nasty house of the neighborhood. We didn't cut our grass for a month and there were always a lot of people over. In the back yard we have a skate board ramp and we always go over to the fence to take a piss. They've seen us doing it before. They came out one time and I said something and the guy gave me the bird. I was like, "Dude, if you've got a problem we can take it to the curb. I've got no problem with you." They used to call the cops all the time on us. Things are a lot different, now. And I've made money, I've got a lawn service and my roommate doesn't live with me. Now my yard is nicer than theirs. It's like a big ironic thing goin' on. But when I wrote the song, I was like "I gotta get you outta my way!" They were gonna move for a while. They had a moving sign up. I know you're supposed to love thy neighbor but how can I love this guy? He just had this thing for us for a while when he lived here and the cops were always here, and it was just stupid. There was a policeman who lived beside him with the same story. It goes out to both of them. And I'm tellin' them, "Put yourself in my position, man." I'm a poor guy living this thing and I'm all busy doing music all of the time. I didn't care about my yard for a while. But I've grown up a lot since then. Their "Stink Finger" was their middle finger they'd use to flip us off.

"Indigo Flow." That one seems really autobiographical.

Fred: Field Dogs. Fieldy from Korn. Reference to Sugar Ray. Funk Doobiest. Danny, who owns the Milk Bar here in town, he let us play here. That's the only place we've ever played in Jacksonville. He totally supported us and did some mad advertising to get a huge following. I gave a shout out to Fat Harry Tyler, a big promoter here in Florida. I gave a shout out to Cheetah, "Line 'Em Up Cheetah"--the dog at Indigo Ranch where we recorded the record. Richard, Rob and Chuck were the engineers at Indigo Ranch. Ross Robinson, he's our producer. My mom and dad. Sage, my girlfriend. The Planet, that's the radio station here in town. They would always play our demos. And God. I tell God that I love Him. And right when the song goes into the heavy part, I do the Florida Seminoles' chant, but only people from here are going to get that. It was just a vibe that night, and I wanted to give props to everybody and I wanted to put Jacksonville on the map because nobody has ever done it yet, no band except for Lynyrd Skynyrd and that was a long time ago.

What's up with "Leech?" What inspired this one?

Fred: "Leech" is about a couple different guys who were constantly around because we were blowing up. They were bugging us, giving us demo tapes. Everywhere we'd go they'd show up and they'd be hanging out. Nobody liked them, nobody was friends with them, nobody got along with them and they were just always around us. That song is about those people who are around for no reason, always showing up, always pushing themselves on you.

Fred, why do you think you attract all of these insincere people?

Fred: I don't know. I really don't. Maybe it's just the city I'm in. Maybe I'm a magnet for the bad relationships and a magnet for everything. I really don't know.

The album ends incredibly with the long spacey epic "Everything." It pushes music some place else. It's kind of a bit of industrial/ambient. It has all of the elements in there.

Fred: We're not gonna make all of the songs like "Stuck" or "Counterfeit." This is how we felt when we wrote this record. This is the vibe. Just take it as it is and just deal with it. I have everything. I don't need anything at all because I have everything right there in that studio. I had my band, I had Ross, we had candles. We were just improvising. You miss about five minutes of the intro because we were improvising and I was just feeling it. I was like crying. We were like going off. Ross ran into the studio and said "Richard, record this." So he recorded us improvising. That's just how we were feeling so that's a total improv. We never played that song before you heard it on that tape. We just made it up right then as it went. We didn't mix it, we didn't do anything. That song sits as it lays. We were like, with our record being a roller-coaster as it is with all of the different styles and sounds, we're gonna close the record with this because I love this song. This song is one you can sit back and release to, you can feel sad to, you can feel happy to, you can get stoned to, you can make love to. It's a song for everything.

In closing, if you had to isolate the three records or songs or albums that inspired you, could you name them?

Fred: The only hard-core punk album, I would say, is Suicidal Tendencies' debut album. I listened to that for so long when I was young. I felt like Mike Muir because I had parents telling me I was crazy for what I did. That song "Institutionalized" is a listened to that for so long when I was young. I felt like Mike Muir because I had parents telling me I was crazy for what I did. That song "Institutionalized" is a classic song. It's the same thing he said.

If you had to pick a hip-hop record that defines it all for you?

Fred: Back in the days, I would probably say Erik B. and Rakim, "Follow The Leader." The way he rhymed and would go into mind trips and move the crowd and just go crazy yet still is so monotone. He had so much power, I went and saw them in concert and I was like, "Oh my gosh, man." This guy Rakim is insane. He moved me so much, I used to listen to them non-stop.

Is there one metal album that would be indispensable?

Fred: The new Deftones is amazing, as a matter of fact, and the Korn records. Back in them days I was listening to "Siamese Dream" by the Smashing Pumpkins--that was a big influence on me and so was Tool's "Undertow." Tool is one of my favorite bands in the world. Their new record is blowing my mind. They're not really metal, metal...