Music Ruined Wes Borland’s Life, So He’s Formed A New Band

Guitarist says he's still in Limp Bizkit, but Black Light Burns give him a voice.

Wes Borland has got a scorching case of cabin fever, and it’s starting to distort his mind. “All work and no play,” Limp Bizkit’s guitarist joked.

He needs to travel. He needs to tour. More importantly, he needs to rock. Before this past Halloween, when Borland slapped the bass for From First to Last during the band’s set at Los Angeles’ Wiltern Theatre, he hadn’t been onstage, with a band, in front of a crowd in years. He can’t remember the last time he even saw a tour bus.

“I’m just super excited to get out there and be out in the world again, and try to be relevant again because I’ve just been out of it for so long while still being in it,” Borland said. Limp Bizkit released an EP, The Unquestionable Truth (Part 1), back in May to meager sales, and didn’t tour in support of it. “I’ve been home four years, and I’m sick of it.”

But Borland’s made good use of his idle time. He’s abandoned his side projects Big Dumb Face and Eat the Day for a new act, Black Light Burns. The band — featuring renowned session drummer Josh Freese, former Nine Inch Nails guitarist Danny Lohner, and Telefon Tel Aviv keyboardist/programmer Josh Eustis — has been working on 17 tracks, 14 of which will make it onto the group’s as-yet-untitled debut. Borland said Black Light Burns should wrap the recording of the disc next month, and Geffen Records will release it in either March or April. The band will launch a full-scale, global tour at some point after the album’s release, he revealed.

Borland, who called Black Light Burns his “main focus,” said the tracks “The Mark,” “Animal,” “One of Yours,” “I Have a Need” (with Limp’s Sam Rivers on bass), “Cruel Melody” (featuring British singer/songwriter Carina Round) and “I Am Where It Takes Me” (with Concrete Blonde’s Johnette Napolitano) are all likely to make the album’s final cut.

“This is sort of the culmination of Eat the Day, this other group that involved Richard Patrick, Danny and Josh called the Damning Well — where we did like maybe four songs, and one of them made it onto the ‘Underworld’ soundtrack in 2003 — and this other solo instrumental stuff I was working on,” Borland explained. “This is stuff from all of these projects that I was sort of frustrated with over the last three years, that all needed a vocalist. And I said, ‘Screw it, I’m going to learn how to sing, and do it myself and write everything and get Danny — who is one of my best friends if not my best friend — to produce it.’ And he was all gung-ho about it.

“The farther we moved on the project, the more the people involved were sort of wanting to make it a bona fide band,” he continued. “And that’s where we are. It’s been a long time coming, and I’m really happy with it. It started as a solo record, and it turned into something we all thought was a lot cooler.”

Borland, whose singing voice sounds like a cross between Marilyn Manson and Jonathan Davis’, said the music has traces of Nine Inch Nails and Limp, but otherwise, “It’s sort of a representation of everything that I’ve been into my whole life. It’s very much from sort of a darker, goth music realm like Portishead and Skinny Puppy and Bauhaus and Depeche Mode, Ministry, all that stuff. I’ve also had a fascination recently with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Interpol, indie stuff. It’s an integration of everything that I’ve really liked and a lot of music that I’ve done that hasn’t really fit in anywhere else for a long time.”

And by handling vocals for Black Light Burns, Borland said he’s finally managed to get a few things off his chest.

“I have had a lot of things to say for a long time that I’ve never been able to say, or heard any other vocalist I have worked with say,” he explained. “It’s weird to try to write lyrics for somebody else. They can’t really get behind what you’re saying or what you want them to say because they didn’t experience it.

“It’s making me really happy to do this,” Borland said. “I’m relieved, because this is a lot more like who I am. In Limp, I am just the guitar player, and I’m not really behind any of the lyrics. I’m more the musical expression. I feel like I’m sort of redeeming myself for stuff I’ve done in the past, and expressing what I want to express.”

So what has he got to say? “Well, the lyrics are sort of about me realizing that I’m a workaholic. Music has completely taken over every aspect of my life and ruined everything. This hunger and this need to play and to conquer, I’ve really felt consumed this year by music and pushing everything else out — family, friends, everything. It’s been a very dark, guilt-ridden path that I’ve taken this year, and it’s really infused the lyrics a lot. I don’t know why this need to create just won’t let me go. Why am I a slave to this? Why is this snuffing out every other light in my life? That’s driving me insane. I can’t do anything but vomit it out and suffer. As bad as it makes me feel, I keep doing it.”

The past year has been especially tough for Borland and Lohner, filled with “breakdowns, breakups and freakouts, things that have halted work and gotten in the way. We’re coming close to the end of the drama and the trauma.”

The guitarist said his commitment to the Bizkit, a band he left in 2001 and rejoined three years later (see “Wes Borland Back With Limp Bizkit” ), has stalled work on Black Light’s debut.

“I’ve been through the ringer with Limp Bizkit,” he said. “Just sort of going, ‘Whaaaaat? What’s going on? What are we doing?’ I am still in Limp, but as far as I know, right now, there’s going to be a tour, and I am trying to plan my tour for Black Light Burns around it, and I’m just going, ‘When is this all going to happen?’

“It’s a real circus sometimes with Limp Bizkit, of being in the dark and not knowing what the hell’s going on,” Borland explained. “Most of the time, I don’t know what’s going on or what’s supposed to be happening. … I mean, I feel like I’m informed in the same manner you’re informed of what’s going on.”

Borland also didn’t quite understand the marketing approach — or complete lack of marketing approach — that Limp main man Fred Durst took with the release of The Unquestionable Truth, an EP he said he’s proud of despite disappointing sales.

“It was sort of a Fred vision to release it like that,” the guitarist revealed. “I’m not sure if that was — I mean, obviously, it wasn’t — a good idea. It did really poorly and no one even knew it came out. I was happy with it, with the aggression level on it. I don’t even know if [The Unquestionable Truth (Part 2)] is ever going to come out. I’ve heard [Fred]‘s been working on vocals for it (see “Fred Durst Says Limp Bizkit Are About To Bring On The Gravy” ). Maybe he has. The music has been in the can for more than a year, and it’s similar to the first half — crazy riffs and some of the best, heaviest riffs I’ve written in my life. It would be a shame if it never saw the light of day. Hopefully, it will.”

For more on The Unquestionable Truth (Part 1) see the feature “Limp Bizkit: What Happened?”