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