Best Of '99: Limp Bizkit Speak To Today's Youth In Sound, Style, Industry Pros Say

Band's creative exploration of metal's merger with rap has built a large and loyal fanbase.

[Editor's note: Over the holiday season, SonicNet is looking back at 1999's top stories, chosen by our editors and writers. This story originally ran on Wednesday, June 30.]

Chart-topping rockers Limp Bizkit are crossing musical boundaries, speaking

the language of today's youth and, most important, giving music fans a

unique blend of the attitude and angst they so crave, artists and industry

professionals say.

Asked to explain the chart-topping success of the rap-rock band's sophomore

album, Significant Other, rockers, radio professionals, concert

promoters and music retailers agree Limp Bizkit are of the times.

"They're in touch and have their finger on the pulse of what young people

seem to be feeling," said Matt Case, promoter at Universal Concerts in

Seattle, adding that Limp Bizkit satisfy an audience of "diverse tastes."

Significant Other, which was released June 22, knocked the Backstreet

Boys' Millennium off the #1 spot on the charts in its first week

of release, selling 634,874 copies. Featuring the single "Nookie"

(RealAudio

excerpt), the album finds the Jacksonville, Fla., group continuing

to explore a landscape of modern rock and metal merged with hardcore hip-hop.

"The fact that Limp Bizkit are out there doing what they do is wonderful,"

Ian Astbury, singer for the recently reunited Cult, said Wednesday. "It's

reminiscent of a lot of what I've heard before but it's done in a more

contemporary way. They're great at what they do."

Aaron Axelson, program director for KITS-FM in San Francisco said Limp

Bizkit's music embodies "the intense cross-pollination of various genres

by kids on the street."

"It really represents and personifies a badge for their generation," he

said. "This music represents their lifestyle."

The group — singer Fred Durst, guitarist Wes Borland, bassist Sam

Rivers and drummer John Otto — formed in 1994 in Jacksonville, Fla.

Former House of Pain turntablist DJ Lethal joined in 1996 after the demise

of that Los Angeles hip-hop group. Limp Bizkit's debut, Three Dollar

Bill Y'all$, hit stores in July of 1997.

Their musical predecessors, Korn, are widely credited with paving the way

for Limp Bizkit's success by exploring a similar style of rap-inflected

hard rock and by generating a buzz about the band.

But many, including Limp Bizkit, predict that Significant Other

is going to establish the quintet as a force of its own. "Korn set us in

front of their public and we gained our own public, and there's always

talk of, you know, being on people's coattails," Durst said in February.

"I think this record is something we're proud of because it's gonna

separate us. We're not only still in the family, but we're not going to

be considered one and the same anymore, I don't think."

The paths of Limp Bizkit and Korn first crossed in 1995, when Durst, a

tattoo artist, gave tattoos to two members of Korn after a show by that

band in the Jacksonville area. The next time Korn came through the

northeastern Florida town, they picked up Limp Bizkit's demo tape and

gave it to their producer, Ross Robinson. Labels came calling soon afterward,

and the band signed with Flip/Interscope.

Many in the industry pointed out that the so-called "family" of rock-rap

acts, which also includes such bands as the Deftones, has demonstrated

an unprecedented camaraderie that has helped secure a large and loyal

fanbase.

"They all do a really great job of exposing each other's music," Lisa

Worden, music director at KROQ-FM in Los Angeles, said. At that station,

DJs are spinning the Significant Other songs "Nobody Like You"

(RealAudio

excerpt), featuring Korn frontman Jonathan Davis and Stone Temple

Pilots leader Scott Weiland, and "Just Like This" in addition to "Nookie."

Some industry people point straight to the manic "Nookie" as contributing

immeasurably to Significant Other's impressive first-week sales.

They say the song affirmed that Limp Bizkit — whose only previous

hit single was their rendition of pop singer George Michael's "Faith"

— can strike a nerve with original material.

" 'Nookie' is a hit record — it's funky, infectious, has attitude,"

Axelson said. He added that the song shows evidence that Limp Bizkit are

developing their songwriting craft, while keeping the intensity they

debuted with on Three Dollar Bill Y'all$.

Limp Bizkit raised eyebrows in 1998 when their record label, Interscope,

bought radio time for the single, "Counterfeit," from Three Dollar

Bill Y'all$. As part of the controversial marketing strategy known

as pay-for-play, the song aired on the Portland, Ore., station KUFO (101.1)

for five weeks with an announcement that made note of its sponsor.

Afterward, "Counterfeit" was so popular among listeners that the station

added it to its regular rotation. Still, it wasn't until "Nookie" hit the

airwaves that the band really began to make its case musically.

Also subscribing to the notion that "Nookie" has been pivotal to the band's

career is Joe Kvidera, general manager at a Tower Records in Chicago,

where Significant Other sold 90 copies in less than a week. "We

never dreamed it would be so hot," Kvidera said. "We weren't expecting

it at all."

On the artist side of the industry, both Astbury and Wayne Static of the

industrial-metal band Static-X attributed Limp Bizkit's success partially

to good timing.

"Their stuff is catchy," said Static, whose band is receiving rock-radio

play with "Bled for Days." "It's just right at the right time — it's

where fashion's at and where music's at."

(Staff Writer Chris Nelson contributed to this report.)


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