As Limp Bizkit's nationwide search for a new guitar player nears its final week, ringleader Fred Durst finds himself still pondering the departure of eccentric crowd-pleaser Wes Borland.
After reading Borland's first interview since he left Limp Bizkit, in which the guitarist explained how playing in the band had become too much like a job (see "Wes Borland: Why He Left Limp Bizkit"), Durst said he felt sad, angry, confused and excited.
"It seems to me like he wanted the article to feel like we're making music for money and he wasn't down with that and he just wanted to get back to music," Durst said Monday from the Guitar Center in Queens, New York. "But I hope that's not what he was saying, because it just seems so rude and wrong, because we love what we're doing and we don't want to turn the page and say that about him, because that's just not right. We don't want to get into some type of war like that, but we read that and we read another line about 'this is what it feels like to be sellouts' or something."
In Borland's interview, he said his decision to leave was artistic and not personal, yet that hasn't stopped Durst from wondering if there was something he did or said that pushed Borland over the edge.
"The only thing I could remember saying to him before he quit was, 'Are you really going to wear Birkenstocks on the ["America: A Tribute to Heroes"] telethon?' I think that upset him 'cause he started wearing Birkenstocks [often]," Durst said.
Durst also recalled an ongoing argument he had with Borland over his strong opinions about other bands. "I would always be, 'Hey, man, don't dog those bands out,' and every once in a while he would dog one of those bands out," said Durst, who explained that his own much-publicized "dogging" of Creed was never about their music. "I could see that he was against that, me trying to say, 'Don't say that.' "
When Borland called Durst to announce his departure, Durst was on the video set for the "What's Going On" remake he worked on with Artists Against AIDS Worldwide (see "Durst, Aguilera, Stefani Hope To Open People's Eyes With 'What's Going On' Videos"). Durst made his own hard rock version of the song with several singers and Limp Bizkit's Sam Rivers and John Otto on bass and drums. Durst asked Brian "Head" Welch from Korn to play guitar on the track, which he later thought might have also angered Borland.
"Wes was having writer's block for the new record," Durst said. "I told Wes, 'Hey, if you come up with any sick riffs or anything, we need to save them for our record while you're in this writer's block.' I wanted to put together a medley band anyway. I'm not performing on the song. I think that kind of made him unhappy."
The last night they were in the studio together, Durst said Borland was in a bad mood and was giving one of Limp Bizkit's assistants a hard time. Durst watched the guitarist go through frustration spurts and distance himself from the band, but he did not figure Borland was unhappy.
"We did make one song at rehearsal, and it seemed like he loved it. I thought he was so into it," Durst said. "He really gets into [Limp Bizkit] onstage and he really seems to vibe off the energy and the crowd, so it seemed like he loved it I mean, every show."
Now that Borland is gone, Durst has told himself that the show must go on, which is part of the reason Limp Bizkit did the Put Your Guitar Where Your Mouth Is tour, to be certain they looked in every corner of the country to find the perfect replacement (see "Limp Bizkit Scouring 22 Cities For New Guitarist"). Durst has met with hundreds of guitar players who have shown off their own material and jammed with Rivers and Otto. Auditions have not included Limp Bizkit songs, and the band has declared it is not looking for a carbon copy of Borland.
Still, the thought of performing and recording with someone new has Durst a little frightened.
"I think to myself all the time, 'What if the guy is totally opposite of Wes? What's that gonna be like if [he or she is] really normal and average and nothing crazy, but he plays this great stuff?' " Durst said. "It's gonna be different, 'cause I'm used to me and Wes making eye contact onstage and just knowing when the time is right in the show where we're both like, 'This is the sh--.' I just miss that, and you know, going, 'Holy sh--, that's what he's looking like tonight. That's crazy. I can't believe he thought of that.' Something new every day.
"We wouldn't see Wes ever," he continued, reminiscing. "We never saw Wes until we went to do our prayer, and he would just show up looking the way he looked and we'd go, 'That's phat.' It was always dope. He has this vision, this artist thing about him that can create and draw, and he's just really, really talented in a creative way. He's not the business guy. He's just a creative person exploding at the seams with a very cool, unique style of everything he does."
Durst, who said he wears both the business and creative hats in Limp Bizkit, understands how Borland could have felt like he was selling out. Durst just hopes his band isn't portrayed as sellouts because Borland felt that way.
Although he admits wanting to reinvent the Limp Bizkit sound on their next album, Durst is intent on that process happening naturally, he said, starting with finding a new guitarist. He has not set a time limit on the search and repeatedly declared, "It will happen when it happens."
"We could have already grabbed 30 people off this tour and went and wrote songs. I've definitely heard riffs here and there and things, but it's just gonna be that special person that comes to the plate as a fifth member that has something to give us musically, that really makes us emotional. What we do is natural, and so everything about this guitar player can't be contrived. It has to be completely organic."
While traveling the country, Limp Bizkit have spent time in their tour bus writing music. They plan to go into a studio when they return to Los Angeles and continue writing and, if they need to, auditioning guitarists. "Right now, we're going, 'Oh f---, Fred you can play guitar, but you can't play that good,' " Durst said.
Borland said his departure from Limp Bizkit would be good for his ex-bandmates because he was holding them back from what they wanted to do. Durst said he's not sure what Borland was referring to, but that there have been positive things that have come out of it.
"This is like losing someone in your family," Durst said. "It's been a real bonding experience for the guys left in Limp Bizkit to really get a lot tighter and to just really be there for each other. So it's just that type of therapy."
Fred Durst and Wes Borland discuss their split on this week's edition of MTV News' Chart Attack, premiering Friday at 5 p.m. ET, and encoring at 10:00 p.m.