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"I don't even care if you get it." ...

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Fred Durst has become a sort of pop-culture punch line. ...

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— by Corey Moss

It's 2000, and Fred Durst is getting a gang-spank from a group of Playboy bunnies. A new Limp Bizkit album is about to hit stores and this is how rock music's playboy of the moment chooses to celebrate.

Hugh Hefner has opened the Playboy Mansion to the band and dozens of its celebrity friends, including the likes of Ashton Kutcher, Tommy Lee and Pauly Shore, for a preview of the record. MTV camera crews are documenting the festivities for a special.

In the slurred words of Courtney Love, Durst has "taken over everything."

This has always been Limp Bizkit's specialty. Making a record release an event. A year earlier, it was the headline-grabbing (because cops kept shutting them down) guerilla tour, and a "TRL" appearance that drew an 'NSYNC-worthy crowd. In 2003, it was the making-of-the-album MTV series, a club tour with Korn and spicy videos with Thora Birch and Halle Berry.

So what will Limp Bizkit do to launch their next album?

Actually, their next album was released weeks ago, on May 3. That this is news to so many people should tell it all.

There was no celebrity-packed party, no cameras, no tour, no video, no commercials and not even a single interview. Instead, we got a blog. Fred Durst, sitting in front of his computer in his underwear, promoting his music the same way an unsigned 15-year-old might market his latest batch of bedroom recordings, except with messages so vague it's hard to tell if Durst is even writing about Limp Bizkit at all.

"I love the truth," read a recent post. (The album is titled The Unquestionable Truth (Part 1).) "That's what it's all about. No bells and whistles. No sugarcoating the truth. For some, it could be a bit too much to comprehend. F--- 'em."

In its first week out, The Unquestionable Truth (Part 1) (a collection of seven songs with a full-length album's price tag) sold 37,000 copies, according to SoundScan, a dismal showing compared to first-week totals of Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water (1,055,000), Significant Other (635,000) and Results May Vary (325,000).

So what happened? Did Limp's label give up on them? It's not an inconceivable thought in an industry known for being cutthroat.

"This strategy makes tons of sense from the label's point of view," noted Paul Fischer, a professor in the Department of Recording Industry at Middle Tennessee State University. "These guys have been 'away' for a while, nobody's sure if fans still care about them, so let's find out, the cheapest way possible. Put out the disc and see how many are drawn to it, if it gains some momentum, spin the strategy to highlight die-hard fans and exploit their loyalty to reach a broader audience. And, if there aren't many sales and little momentum, everyone can walk away from the project with the minimum amount of embarrassment."

This is a band whose initial radio success, back in 1998 with the song "Counterfeit," came in part from an unusual aggressive pay-for-play strategy by its label, Fischer pointed out. "Whatever strategy they're trying now likely does not originate with the band itself," he theorized. "They were and probably are very much a creature of the industry."

Geffen Records and Limp Bizkit's management declined to comment, citing a gag order imposed by Durst and signaling that this is all part of his master plan.

Durst denied numerous requests to discuss The Unquestionable Truth (Part 1), but in an interview one Friday afternoon in late February, which was scheduled so Fred could discuss his latest protégés, Ringside, the singer revealed some of the thinking behind his new, un-Durst-like approach to Limp Bizkit.

"I'm the main one in the band right now trying to go anti-everything," he said. "I feel like radio and television are selling so much sh-- these days and that sh-- is not who I want to be," he continued, quoting almost word-for-word the opening lines to "The Channel," the fifth track on the new album. "I don't even care if you get it; it's clear that we're not a part of this, and I don't even want to be a part of it. 'Cause I was a part of it, and getting your intentions out and having it be clear and seeing the heart in it, that's not what it's about in that field."

Durst seemingly started pouring his Hatorade on the media after Results May Vary, which was released to a great deal of fanfare — much of it surrounding his brief relationship with Britney Spears — but stalled on the albums chart.

The new strategy revealed itself for the first time last summer, when, after an unusually quiet several months from Durst, he posted new photos of Limp Bizkit in the studio with Wes Borland — the band's original guitarist, who left back in October 2001 — along with this simple post in his blog: "Well, now the Limp Bizkit fans know about Wes. Pretty dope."

NEXT: Fred Durst becomes a pop-culture punch line, and acknowledges the band's moment has passed ...
Photo: Getty Images/Interscope

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  "The Truth"
The Unquestionable Truth (Part 1)

  "Behind Blue Eyes"
Results May Vary

  "Down Another Day"
Results May Vary

  "Eat You Alive"
Results May Vary

 "Gimme The Mic"
Results May Vary

  "Wish You Were Here" (Live)
America: A Tribute To Heroes

  "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)" (live)
From MTVIcon: Metallica

Live on TRL

 "My Way"
Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water

 "Rearranged " (Remix)
New Old Songs