Best Of '99: Singer For Chart-Topping Limp Bizkit Named Senior V.P. At Interscope

As executive at Geffen, Fred Durst will help sign bands, produce music, direct videos.

[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 Saturday, July 3.]

Having taken his own band to the top of the rock heap, Limp Bizkit singer

Fred Durst now has a chance to see if he can produce such lofty results

for other acts, as a new senior vice president of Interscope Records.

A former tattoo artist, Durst, who was named to the executive position

this week — the same week Limp Bizkit's second album, Significant

Other, debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart with

sales of over 600,000 — promised to "come in and create a musical

revolution."

The 29-year-old singer's job will include signing and marketing bands,

producing and remixing music and directing videos, according to a statement

from Interscope/A&M/Geffen Records President Tom Whalley, who announced

the move.

Durst joins a long line of musicians who've moved into the business end

of the music industry. Among them are fellow rap-rockers Korn, who

collectively run the Reprise Records subsidiary Elementree Records. The

first act signed to Elementree, Orgy, scored a modern-rock hit with its

cover of New Order's "Blue Monday" (RealAudio

excerpt) and reached #32 on the Billboard 200 albums chart

in March.

"They can approach the artist from an artist's point of view," Howie Klein,

Reprise's chief executive officer, said about musicians who have become

executives.

"They're in touch with the street and the visceral feel of what kids want,"

Klein said.

Another active artist, rapper KRS-One (born Lawrence Parker), is a vice

president of A&R (artists and repertoire, the department that signs and

develops bands) at Reprise.

Durst already has experience as a de facto A&R man, according to

Eric Hunter, a label representative at Flip, for which Limp Bizkit record.

In late 1997, Durst met the Springfield, Mass., band Staind when they and

Limp Bizkit were on a bill together at a Hartford, Conn., club. While

Durst, a Christian, was not amused by the cover to Staind's demo tape

— which depicted a blood-covered Bible pierced by a knife and a

Barbie doll hung upside down on a cross — he was impressed by its

sound and, after a Florida recording session, he helped Staind land a

deal with Flip, according to Hunter.

Raised in North Carolina, Durst began listening to hip-hop when he was

12, incorporating the genre into his already eclectic tastes, which ranged

from pop star Michael Jackson to disco diva Donna Summer to hard rockers

Led Zeppelin.

"When hip-hop came out to the world in the '80s, I was feelin' it, and

then I just became a part of it — bustin' rhymes, breakdancing and

everything when I was like 12 or 13 years old," he told SonicNet Music

News. "It's somethin' I grew up with and just had — I just had

this kind of soul in me. I always loved all kinds of music, but hip-hop,

I could just feel it."

After Limp Bizkit formed in 1994, Durst continued to work as a tattoo

artist in Jacksonville, Fla., and as fate would have it, ended up giving

Korn bassist Reg "Fieldy" Arvizu and guitarist Brian "Head" Welch several

tattoos after that band's first gig in the Jacksonville area.

The three struck up a friendship, and the next time Korn came through

town, they snagged a Limp Bizkit demo tape and passed it on to their

producer, Ross Robinson. The Limp Bizkit buzz soon grew to a roar, seeing

the band to a tour with House of Pain and another with the Deftones. Labels

also came knocking; the band chose the indie, Flip Records.

Hunter said Durst's ambitions and his experience working with Staind

should allow him to thrive in the executive position. "I can't see him

leaving the music, but I could see him doing both full-time," Hunter said.

"That's how efficient he is."

Durst also has experience making videos. He directed the clip for "Nookie"

(RealAudio

excerpt), the manic radio single from Significant Other

that's #7 on Billboard magazine's modern-rock chart. He also directed

the video for Limp Bizkit's hit cover of George Michael's "Faith"

(RealAudio

excerpt).

"He has terrific vision, and he's very enterprising," said Jordan Schur,

the owner and president of Flip Records, adding that he helped negotiate

Durst's new arrangement with Interscope, Flip's distributor.

"He's worth any and all ambitions that he and the company have," Schur

said.

In the Interscope/A&M/Geffen statement, Durst said, "I'm proud to have

this position, but it means nothing unless I take the title and put it

into action. Interscope has already done amazing things to shock the world,

and now I'm going to come in and create a musical revolution."

Matt Case, a concert promoter for Universal Records' Pacific Northwest

office in Seattle, said Limp Bizkit's and Korn's newfound power at their

respective labels indicates a direction for rock 'n' roll in which the

music continues to draw on other forms while tapping into the frustrations

of disenfranchised youth, as the two bands do with their own music.

Universal is Interscope/A&M/Geffen's parent company.

"There's a big, big wave coming," Case said. "When Family Values [a tour

featuring Limp Bizkit, Filter and others] hits in the fall, there's going

to be a tsunami [a tidal wave]. You'll see those bands riding high."

(Senior Writer Gil Kaufman and Staff Writer Chris Nelson contributed to this

report.)


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