Monday, August 10, 2020

~15,000 word, multi-part essay about limp bizkit

INTRODUCTION: WRITING ABOUT LIMP BIZKIT

sometimes i like to think about old songs i used to know/like and relisten to them now, as an adult, to reevaluate and better understand the music that i liked/was aware of as a kid. for example: "Pump Up the Jam" by Technotronic, "Whoomp There it Is" by Tag Team, "Insane in the Brain" by Cypress Hill, "Jump" by Kriss Kross, etc. Each of these songs, and many others, from my childhood, offer, i think now, a great deal to contemplate/analyze, in the sense of, like, i vaguely knew (about) them as popular songs from 25 years ago because of the radio or movie soundtracks, back before i knew anything about music composition, music recording/production, or the broader cultural/musicological landscape of the time. i have also enjoyed jumping up and down to songs like the above while holding my toddler.

part of my enjoyment comes not just from relistening to a song, but also learning about it online. i spent some time reading about cypress hill maybe 6 months ago - "jump around" was original produced for cypress hill, but then was given/sold to House of Pain, which explains its sonic similarity to other cypress hill songs, for example.

from this interest in relistening to popular and danceable music, i recently listened to some limp bizkit songs (i don't really know why i decided to relisten to any limp bizkit songs for this purpose - it could have been from being reminded of them due to dj lethal because of "Jump Around" by House of Pain).

after spending some time writing personal essay-type posts for this blog, i was trying to think of more topics i could write about, and, while listening to limp bizkit, i remembered several memories about limp bizkit's music which i thought, maybe, at the time, would be interesting to write about, especially if i augmented these memories with research about the band and the time period in which they were popular.

the result is this blog post. it has grown in scope and is now much larger than i anticipated. i had also pivoted, because of this, to thinking about this blog post as a sort of proof of concept for writing/pitching a 33⅓ book about Significant Other by limp bizkit. this most likely won't happen for a variety of reasons, but it's helped me in structuring this blog post and focusing, kind of, on Significant Other by limp bizkit, as opposed to writing, for example, a very large, probably very boring, discussion of the band in a general way.

brief interview interlude with the author by mike andrelczyk

MA: So is this all a blog post?

ZS: yeah i'm not sure actually what to do with it rn. leave it as a blog post, or post some fraction of it and save the rest. or post it all then then continue to work on it for the book. it's like 14k words, plus a bunch of pictures.

MA: Haha dang man. What is it about limp biscuit that even makes you wanna invest so much time into them?

ZS: i don't know, i just kept learning more, and i enjoyed writing it

MA: What was the attraction?

ZS: i think they're interesting because they're like this joke band, universally hated, but i and a million other people had personal connections to their music. so the blog is me trying to understand that and them

MA: Havent read the book but there was one recently about Phish and ICP that explored that idea

ZS: yeah i think it's an interesting topic and applies a lot of places. but i don't really get into it, i think, it's more, like, me writing about writing about them, writing about my experience learning about them

MA: What We Talk About When We Talk About Limp Bizkit

thank you, mike, for helping me write this introduction

i considered including a table of contents here, but then decided against it. i recommend reading it in the order that it is presented, because it is more or less the order that i wrote it. pretend i put a limp bizkit pun in right here, too. that feels like something people would expect.

PART ONE: MY PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP TO LIMP BIZKIT'S MUSIC

my first major memory related to limp bizkit's music is when my dad installed napster on his laptop. my dad excitedly showed me how to illegally download popular music and burn songs onto CDs. at this time i believe i mostly listened to 1-2 songs by limp bizkit and that one "kryptonite" song by 3 doors down. i don't know why i knew about/liked limp bizkit. i assume they were on the radio and/or television, and i remember liking songs by eminem, who was limp bizkit-adjacent, at the time. this was probably the summer of 2000; i remember listening to eminem on the radio in 1999, and that by 9/11 i was downloading system of a down music from kazaa (and later still, by 2005, i was downloading mountain goats music from limewire). this puts limp bizkit somewhere between the two. i don't remember which songs by limp bizkit, specifically, i downloaded, aside from "Rollin'". i don't remember any other songs in general that i downloaded from this era, either.

my second major memory related to limp bizkit's music was related to these mix CDs with 1-2 limp bizkit songs on them. my parents had given me a camcorder as a present, which i mostly used to film skateboarding tricks with/for my other 10-11 year old friends. but i remember i once used my camcorder to film myself lip syncing to the censored version of limp bizkit song "Rollin'."

in the video, i am on my knees, wearing a backwards baseball cap and baggy clothing. i am mouthing along to the song, keeping my lips tightly sealed whenever there is a (censored) bad word. i gesticulate and rock and sway in an aggressive and rhythmic manner, as the song recommends: "Move in, now move out / Hands up, now hands down / Back up, back up / Tell me what you're gonna do now". i think it's probably the best song of theirs for this kind of video.

i felt good about this video and decided to show it to my mother. she seemed ambivalent or vaguely supportive of me and watched with interest. for whatever reason it was decided that my father would also watch the video, after he came home from work, and he became upset about the amount of (censored) profanity in the song. i'm pretty sure i was then grounded because of the video.

i remember how i looked in the video, what i was wearing, where the camera was located in my room, etc. i feel surprised at how well i remember this video. i do not remember many other videos of myself from this time with such clarity, aside from, eg., one wear i broke some toes by jumping off of playground equipment and involuntarily shout 'argh'. i do not believe the video exists anymore - the camcorder used small VHS tapes, which i had very few of, and i usually filmed over the same VHS tape repeatedly to accommodate whatever new ideas i had, such as skateboarding tricks, stop-motion animation, jackass-style stunts, etc. i am happy that this video does not exist. i feel bad for 10-11 year olds today who have the capability of filming themselves doing similar things and are even encouraged to upload them to adult-owned corporations like TikTok as a form of socialization with their peers and strangers. or maybe it will be different, because it will be normal, and they won't feel embarrassment ~20 years later like i do about this video. i am unsure what compelled me to make it or show it to my mother, or why, really, it was shown to my father. i'm also unsure why i chose a limp bizkit song, as opposed to, say, any other song from this time period.

my third and most extensive major memory related to limp bizkit's music is from when i visited my grandparents and extended family in Georgia one summer. by this time my older sister had moved back in with us and she would lend me CDs. i spent 3 weeks in Georgia visiting extended family without my own family, which was the longest i had spent away from my parents by that time in my life. i brought a portable CD player and several of my older sister's CDs, although i only remember listening to one with any regularity, which was Significant Other by limp bizkit. i do not actually remember any other CDs i brought on that trip, in retrospect. i remember spending a lot of time, after my grandparents went to bed, which felt early, to me, as a preteen, listening to CDs in my room, and sometimes watching A Goofy Movie or playing Gran Turismo 2. i spent a lot of time listening to Significant Other. i remember quickly learning that there were not only hidden songs after the last song ended, but there were  numerous hidden tracks in the pregap of some songs. this meant that you could, for example, press and hold the rewind button at the start of track 2, and instead of hearing the CD skip through the end of track 1, it would rewind into the 'negative time' of track 2, where more audio could be stored. i'm unsure, actually, how or why this was a thing, for any reason, but i understand it was a thing, and many artists in the 90s/00s put content into pregaps on CDs. i feel like Significant Other had a lot of pregap tracks, i feel like maybe on every song, or something. i remember these pregap tracks were strange and provocative and often made me feel uncomfortable, like i wasn't supposed to listen to them, or something, but i felt compelled to explore/appreciate the CD in its entirety once i had discovered them.

i do not remember any of the songs on this CD, at all. i could not tell you which singles are on this album. i will, at the end of this essay, try to listen to the entire album again and record my thoughts on it. i'm unsure if these pregap tracks are accessible via e.g. spotify. they're probably on youtube.

BRIEF DIGRESSION: PREGAP TRACKS

after writing most of everything below this paragraph, i spent ~5 minutes trying find conclusive information on the internet about these pregap songs, but finding no clear information except for on discogs.com. the discogs page for this CD notes that there are actually only 3 pregap tracks, with two of the tracks in the same pregap slot, before track 16. however, this pregap slot is ~6 minutes long. i feel like the number of post-song interludes/skits, combined with the pregrap track for track 10, plus length of the track 16 pregap track, plus the fact that it is further subdivided into two separate 'songs' with silence between them, is the reason i had vague notions of 'exploring' the pregap and hidden tracks on the cd. according to discogs, track 16 is silent and ~5 seconds long; it seems to only exist to allow for the extensive pregap tracks. i'm having a hard time imagining the discussions/decision making process involved in making the CD be like this, for example, whether wes borland had opinions on whether to leverage pregap tracks or what to put in them, or whoever had to talk to the cd manufacturing company to confirm the tracklisting and track lengths, etc.

update: i have now done more reading on pregap tracks in general. on the topic of the 'decision process' between artists and labels/production companies, i have learned very little aside from an anecdote about the band they might be giants 'angering' their record company in 1996 by using a pregap track, because these tracks "require a more detailed production process, meaning that the label has to do more work to ensure that the discs are up to snuff during the pressing". it seems that, at least now-ish, this kind of information is specified via special text file called a "cue sheet" (extension: .cue), where metadata (like title/artist), song boundary time stamps, pregap (and postgap) lengths, and other information is specified and paired with an audio recording. i tried learning more about postgaps but have found very little info; i am unsure if it is possible to put audio in a postgap, or what that would mean, when listening to a cd. i am still curious about how the band came to decide on and implement the pregap tracks on Significant Other.

BRIEF DIGRESSION OVER


on a limp bizkit-adjacent note, i remember that the georgia trip ended with me staying with my aunt and uncle and my two cousins. i believe, because of my interest in nu-metal, they sent me home with a burned copy of a puddle of mudd cd, which i enjoyed, but then subsequently lost. i have other memories of cousins from this side of my family giving me burned copies of nu-metal/post-grunge music, for example, a cousin whose identity i can't actually recall gave me a burned copy of a spineshank cd, because of my interest in one of their songs, which was on soundtrack for the demo version (?) of some snowboarding video game.

i felt confusion, briefly, rereading through the above and verifying lyrics/album titles, as i realized that recording the video of me dancing to "Rollin'" happened before i listened to Significant Other, even though Significant Other came out 2 years before Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water, where "Rollin'" appears. i like thinking about how we can consume media 'out of order'. i don't think i was aware of whether one album/song came out before/after the other, at this time, maybe. i remember, for example, downloading "any KoRn song i could find" in a semi-manic, obsessive manner using kazaa, without cross-referencing the actual albums that any of the songs appeared on via eg. fansites or the official KoRn site. in this way i had very vague notions of when any one song was released relative to any other song, and was generally unable to distinguish between b-sides, bootleg/demo versions, and official album tracks. i remember making various mixed CDs of upwards of 25 'random' KoRn songs, for example, from what felt like an 'impossible to truly comprehend' library of KoRn music, but which in reality was probably something like 35 total songs, at the time, across 3+ albums. the way that peer-to-peer sharing worked at the time meant that some songs were more 'rare' than others, required more time spent downloading them, were more prone to fail in the process, etc., much like how items/enemies/treasure works in video games.

i realize now that while i originally intended for this post to be about my personal relationship to limp bizkit's music, i actually have very few thoughts/memories about how the music made me feel in any way and many more memories about general cultural/personal things adjacent to limp bizkit. i assume its aggressive nature appealed to me, which seems to be the main reaosn anyone liked limp bizkit.

RELISTENING TO SIGNIFICANT OTHER BY LIMP BIZKIT

ok, i'm listening to Significant Other. i'm 'liveblogging' listening to the album. i use 'quotes' here because it's not really a liveblog but whatever.

1. Intro - this one feels familiar. surprised about the synth(?) sound, as i think of limp bizkit as being a guitar-based band, although in reading about them on eg wikipedia, there is special focus placed on wes borland's 'inventive' guitar playing, so maybe this is a guitar sound

2. Just Like This - i do not recognize this song. feeling impressed by the richness of the rhythm guitar. i remember listening to nirvana recently, for example, and feeling surprised by how thin the guitar tracks sounded, but during the chorus here, the rhythm section is very full and comforting. i'm completely not paying attention to the lyrics. i think he said something about ladies getting naked. more weird synthy guitar parts. he just said 'females,' haha. feels funny hearing him say things like "get up! get up!" in a recorded/studio version of the song. this song feels long. lots of unnecessary studio production choices, his voice is very high pitched...i'm curious about what this was like to record/produce/mix in the studio, as an activity. laughed at the ending, this little 'doo doo doo' guitar thing, haha

3. Nookie - this song is famous. i'm still impressed by the rhythm guitars in the chorus. verse has 'funky' bass/guitar parts, feels like les claypool influence, maybe. i like the layering of guitars in the chorus, the descending lead part that pans hard right and left. i think fred durst is/was bad at rapping. i am interested in this dichotomy of fred durst being the face of the band, but maybe being the worst part of the band. wikipedia notes that dj lethal and wes borland left the band at various times, which feels consistent with this. this song as a similar 'empty'/low energy shift around the same timestamp as in the previous song. feels like fred durst's singing is better than his rapping. i like the more or less tasteful screaming dubs of his vocals in the choruses, so far. fade out seems unnecessary.

4. Break Stuff - unconsciously thought "hell yeah" when the guitar part started. i like this song unironically i think. i think this is the limp bizkit song i've listened to most since i was ~12. i like the way wes borland leverages bending notes and dissonance, feels uncommon for popular rock music. very little dj stuff in this song; feels like the most 'standard' rock song on the album so far. fred durst's delivery is still funny to me, at times. i feel like i usually space out when listening to the lyrics until he says "chainsaw" and then i think "why is he talking about a chainsaw"

5. Re-Arranged - this is another popular single. feeling surprised that they had three songs in a row listed as singles, but the killers did this, i think, the first 5 songs on their first album were singles, which is funny. cool bass line. i like the prechorus's energy, with the cymbals. unsure what the 'purpose' of this song is, if that makes sense. seems like this song is about a breakup. interested in the noodly high-pitched guitar part. but feeling ready to skip this song. loud part has started, feeling like this is the most disappointing song re: guitar composition. laughing at fred durst shouting "you ruin everything / you kept fucking with me" and melodramatic guitar parts at the end of the loud part

6. I'm Broke - bad guitar tone and rapping, haha. seems like this is the 'generic limp bizkit' rhythm, now that i'm 6 songs in. i think he said 'shit in a diaper'. the presence of dj scratching in the chorus(?) makes me think that dj lethal seems to have contributed very little on a song-by-song basis. briefly imagined him taking the 'gig' of 'being in limp bizkit' for the money, being unserious and distant in the studio, laughing conspiratorially at most things that happen in/with the band, etc. Overall feels like a pastiche of the previous songs - elements of Break Stuff and Re-Arranged sort of combined randomly. felt 'mercifully short.' some sort of unrelated funky jam with voicemail messages tacked on at the end? sounds like maybe Shock G doing a bit? i will not look this up

7. Nobody Likes You - Feeling like this is again very similar to previous songs. i like the pinch harmonic in the guitar part. laughing at the 'evil whispering' parts in the verse. sounds like the guy from KoRn has guest vocals on this one? looked this up, this is true, it's the guy from KoRn. i read a comical part of the limp bizkit wikipedia article about limp bizkit's big break coming from fred durst giving Fieldy (bassist from KoRn) a shitty tattoo and then going on tour with KoRn. feels like another aimless/purposeless song. kind of 'bad' section where the drummer fucks around for a while. the guy from KoRn says "Go!" like he does in other songs, haha. i used to really like KoRn. this post would be more interesting if it were about KoRn, maybe.

8. Don't Go Off Wandering - having a hard time paying attention/caring to this limp bizkit cd anymore. this song feels like one where the rest of the band would record the music and think "man why is fred durst in the band," maybe. his vocals feels very 'incongruous' with the rest of the song. there are some strings in this section. i'm feeling very confused by this song, reminds me of scrolling through radio stations with a dial, conflicting songs sort of mashed together. briefly imagined an important music critic describing it as "ambitious" but "still bad" in a review in 1999.

9. 9 Teen 90 Nine - continuing to have a hard time caring/paying attention. laughing at the title of this song. imagined myself pogoing/moshing to what amounts to basically the same type of chorus at a live show across 11 songs for ~55 minutes in 2000.

10. N 2 Gether Now - starts with a sample from a well-known hip hop song? maybe this...is...the famous hip hop song. i looked it up, this was the plan, apparently, the record label asked them to record a normal hip hop song. method man guests on this. sounds like a snoop dogg song i think. i like the "shut the fuck up" repetition, that's pretty good. i like that it is on a limp bizkit cd. i think fred durst is barely on this, maybe not on it at all. oh wait there he is. laughing at the idea of fred durst rapping on a song with a famous rapper. imagined dj lethal laughing the whole time, in the studio. felt tempted to skip the rest of the song while also thinking it's an interesting song, unsure what's going on in my brain. according to wikipedia, the cd single of this song had it at track 3, after break stuff and a non-single song, which is funny/confusing to me. ends with an unrelated jam thing, maybe this was one of the pregap tracks? i'm confused about this.

11. Trust? - felt convinced this was almost the last song, but there are still 5 tracks after this one. cool percussive effect during the verse. i think fred durst sounds best when shouting/growling. high-pitched guitar line sounds like a cypress hill sample (intentional hip hop reference?). enjoyed imagining a 22 year old white man in indiana or ohio memorizing all the rap parts of this song and 'performing' it in his car to his friends while driving to/from a gas station. ends with another weird funky jam, i need to look up if this is how the cd sounded originally or if these are the pregap tracks.

12. No Sex - guitar intro feels familiar. i recognize this song. quite possibly this is the song i listened to most, which feels 'on brand' for me as a preteen, cf. "adam's song" by blink-182, etc. i can't believe this is a real song. "should have left my pants on last time / you let me dive right in" is hilariously bad, to me, as an adult. feels like a KoRn song, re: wobbly/detuned guitar parts and how fred durst is singing. chord pattern in chorus is confusing/uncathartic. feels possible that wes borland thought the song was exceptionally bad and insisted on using a difficult-to-navigate chord pattern in the chorus sort of as a joke. laughing at fred durst talking about self worth in the context of sex, imagined this song instead being written for/covered by sinead o'connor to massive critical acclaim instead.

13. Show Me What You Got - did Pitbull rip off limp bizkit with his 'mr. world wide' bit? laughing at fred durst listing off cities. now he's rhyming with cities. this is really bad, haha. this is the 3rd-4th time i felt asking why a song on this cd was written/recorded. feeling surprising amount of existential dread about art while listening to this cd. feels like maybe it was intended to be, like, an introductory song for live performances, and should not have been recorded in the studio, let alone put in as the 13th song on a cd.

14. A Lesson Learned - felt surprised this was the song, i thought it was another funky interlude on the end of the last song. another example where fred durst is by a wide margin the worst part of the song; feels like this would be an otherwise pretty good triphop song. imagined a shitposting critic  in 2001 infamously accusing radiohead of ripping off limp bizkit because of this song and getting 400+ death threats, talking about his experience on fox news, maybe.

15. Outro - sounds identical to Intro, maybe Intro is a shortened version of Outro, which seems strange. unsure why intros/outros are a thing for hiphop groups. fred durst (?) with lowered vocals makes a jab at nsync. i enjoy the idea of groups instantly dating their albums due to pop-culture references made in anger/provocation.

16. Rant (Matt Pinfield) - a little skit. this track was originally a hidden track, but is listed separately on spotify. reminds me of the built to spill album that does something like this. sounds like something i would have downloaded from kazaa, put onto a cd, and made my friends listen to, because it was 'funny'/interesting, which is something i did, actually, with a recording of the guy from KoRn talking about why they named their band KoRn, in an interview (i recommend looking this up). guy keeps addressing fred durst as "fred." funny that his name is "fred." just realized his name is "fred." i feel like this is a thing, famous people who are referred to with their full names in public, so just their first name sounds weird.

i can't think of where to include this, but here are some fun facts about Significant Other according to discogs.com:
1. there are 62 editions of the album listed, including bootleg cassettes (ukraine)
2. flip/interscope released a 2xLP vinyl version of the album as part of the original release (maybe because of nu-metal dj culture?) and near mint copies are relatively reasonable, in my opinion, for an album released 21 years ago (~$35)
3. the cd version was 'enhanced' which means you could put it into your computer and access bonus content. this enhanced cd included a limp bizkit wallpaper (confirmed by daniel bailey) and a link to a website (?)

i did some additional reading on wikipedia after the above listen-through and i think this is my favorite thing i've read so far (update: i have since enjoyed many other things that i have read):

In a 2008 interview with British rock magazine Kerrang, guitarist Wes Borland said the following about how the lyrical content [for 'Nookie'] turned out: "The music was cool, but I didn't like the lyrics at all. The funny thing is that Nookie was actually the working title. When we were in the studio there was a porn magazine that had the word 'nookie' on the cover, so I was like, 'This song's called Nookie!', I never thought someone would actually run with it. I suppose it's all my fault."

i feel validated in my assumption about how wes borland felt about everything, based on this quote. i also like the idea of the band recording music with one or more porn magazines just 'around', seems insane/weird.

the second favorite thing i learned is that they considered naming the band Blood Fart. when talking about limp bizkit with mike andrelczyk, he said that he mostly felt a dislike for the band because of their name, and i excitedly told him that this was exactly why limp bizkit picked that name, according to wikipedia and other sources (and why they considered names like Blood Fart). i feel like a good person to be researching/advocate for limp bizkit at this stage.

PART TWO: WES BORLAND

since writing most of the above ~4k words about limp bizkit, i've been thinking and reading more about limp bizkit. i feel fascinated by limp bizkit and a strange urge to continue writing about them, with, currently, a specific interest in wes borland. i intend for this section to be where i explore my personal feelings on reading/learning about different aspects of wes borland.

wes borland is the guitarist for limp bizkit. reading about wes borland, through his interviews and quotes, and his wikipedia article, i have come to view him as probably the band's most tragic figure. i feel a profound sadness when i think about wes borland, now. i briefly considered power ranking the members of limp bizkit in terms of their tragicness, knowing that wes borland would be most tragic. i assume fred durst would be second-most tragic due to him being the face of the band - the most frequently and visibly insulted member of the band. many people may take this to mean that he is the most tragic member, but i believe he is not; fred durst has an attitude that allows him to embrace/feed off of the shittalking directed toward him, while wes borland's place in the world is simply sad.

wes borland is, as i understand it, an inventive and talented guitar player. i've read about his arbitrary and technically challenging decisions re: composing and performing limp bizkit's music, from complex guitar tunings to playing all the songs on their first album 'without a pick' to writing with 7-string guitars to writing with 4-string guitars to pioneering something he calls "dive-bombing" using "tremolo locking" (i play guitar and i don't know what that last thing means). his wikipedia article has an extensive gear list as well. i feel sadness, on his behalf, that all of this appears to be pointless/unrepresented in the music itself, as most of limp bizkit's music 'sounds' or 'feels' relatively straightforward in terms of guitar parts. i am sure that bands covering their songs do not use the convoluted C# guitar tuning, for example, or insist on fingerpicking the chorus in "Stinkfinger." i believe this is, to a lesser extent, similar for the drummer (whose name i have not bothered to learn), who apparently was in "avant-garde" bands prior to limp bizkit. wes borland seems to be the main compositional force of the band, and took (takes?) great pride in his approach to composing and performing music that, ultimately, is more or less a punchline for nearly an entire generation or two.

update: i have listened to ~50% of Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water and i now understand what is meant by "dive-bombing" using "tremolo locking", and i agree with the general consensus that it is a very effective, compelling guitar technique.

wes borland also, from what i gather, has an extensive, unsuccessful history of 'trying to escape limp bizkit.' he has started several other bands, all to minimal acclaim and near-zero popularity. he is quoted as musing that he was unable to 'join' other, more popular/respected acts, such as Nine Inch Nails and Marylin Manson, simply because of his association with limp bizkit; however, he did in fact tour as a member of Marylin Manson's band, but - and this is funny to me - eventually left, telling a reporter something like "yeah it's the Marylin Manson show over there". this, too, i believe, is part of wes borland's tragedy, in that i believe he is still, even after decades of being a member of limp bizkit, to some degree 'naive' about what it means to be in/perform as part of a popular/established rock group. as of 2020, all of his non-limp bizkit musical proposals have fizzled out. he has left and rejoined the band several times. he is now, from what i read, waiting for fred durst to 'pick' which of the 20-30 songs they have recorded for the next limp bizkit album, which feels tragically detached/business-like.

listening to songs like "My Way", and others on Significant Other, and reading about him online, i understand that wes borland has consistently viewed himself as an experimental, innovative artist in spite of being in the band limp bizkit. he is a talented and inventive musician - listening to "My Way", for example, i believe that, if the music had been used some kind of different vocal performance/vocalist, it would be a canonically-accepted "great song." i believe that he has grand visions and strong aesthetic propensities, which seems confirmed by his various (failed/unpopular) bands, visual art projects, and even a convoluted video game proposal; he is both prolific and ambitious, both as a part of, and in spite of, limp bizkit. he has done his best to channel his energy, and to challenge himself as a performer/composer, via limp bizkit. but limp bizkit is ultimately a cage from which he will never escape, in a way that seems like it's from a greek myth, or something.

wes borland has also been divorced 4 times.

i spent ~20 minutes googling variations of "wes borland depression" and "wes borland suicide ideation" with various extended search filters, e.g. "-chester" (to exclude discussion of linkin park's chester bennington committing suicide), but i was unable to find him discussing any potential issues with depression in any interviews. i also spent ~20 more minutes looking for his contact information. i would like to interview wes borland, i think, but i'm not sure what i'd ask him about.

in googling wes borland, i learned many new things about wes borland, but i'm having a hard time writing anything else that would be compelling about wes borland. based on reading a compilation of contextless wes borland quotes, i spent ~15 minutes futiley googling for pictures of his exposed penis, for example, which i thought would be interesting to write about. one thing i enjoyed learning about was that in 2017, playing in sterling heights, michigan, wes borland 'disappeared' into the mosh pit at a limp bizkit show. i enjoyed reading an article that summarized the incident, and quotes fred durst getting worried on stage, and saying "Aw shit. Wes, can you hear me? Is he giving me a signal? Everybody get down... I can't see Wes. Turn the lights on, man! I gotta see. You guys please, please be careful, all right. Bring it down, bring it down. Okay, I see him now." Something about him saying "Wes, can you hear me?" and "You guys, please be careful", like the phrasing of it, strikes me as being earnest, endearing, and loving.

anyway, i've now decided to pivot to times wes borland shittalked people in a public way, which seems like a good way to frame things i've learned about wes borland.

TIMES WES BORLAND SHITTALKED PEOPLE IN A PUBLIC WAY

update: it has been very difficult, but rewarding, to find instances of wes borland shittalking people. if you know of any other examples, please contact me.

199?: i found an angelfire webpage from 1998 that includes a lot of unsourced details about wes borland joining limp bizkit, which is a topic i have had a hard time researching using sources other than angelfire websites. according to this angelfire page, wes borland auditioned for the band while fred was out of town, and later said "If [Fred Durst] was in town I woulda realised he was a dickhead immediately...And not joined the band". this feels like a good method of shittalking fred durst. i feel like wes borland's approach to shittalking is usually couched in being funny/meek...using exclamation points...like he has this "i'm being interviewed" method of shittalking people, which seems good. in this same angelfire page, wes borland shittalks limp bizkit's music, as well, which is funny to me.

i'd like to note, here, that the angelfire website i pulled this from has pages dedicated to biographic information for each member of limp bizkit. wes borland's is the longest, closely followed by fred durst's. dj lethal's page is ~4 short paragraphs, mostly in praise of his work with House of Pain. the bassist's page is ~2 paragraphs. the drummer's page is about 1 sentence. this, i feel, is an appropriate allegory for how i have come to perceive the members of the band, relative to one another.

2006: i had read, several times, about a "feud" between wes borland and fred durst that happened over myspace posts, but was disappointed to find out that during the feud, wes borland was relatively polite, while fred durst wrote a minute-long song accusing wes borland of not being in limp bizkit for the right reasons, or something, after wes borland admitted, somewhere, to thinking that the only good reason to remain in limp bizkit would be to make money. this was mostly shittalk adjacent, for wes borland.

2009: just prior to rejoining the band (i'm consistently unclear about when wes borland left/joined limp bizkit over time), wes borland remarked that limp bizkit's music is incoherent (my word for it), in that it's "cool music" with "random lyrics over it," which i consider, tecnically, shittalk about fred durst. around this time we see bonus shittalk from marylin manson, since, i guess, wes borlamd left the marylin manson touring band to rejoin limp bizkit around this time. marylin manson said, about wes borland rejoining limp bizkit, "I’d rather set my dick on fire than join something that I hated."

2011: i watched a youtube video of wes borland being interviewed for some reason. in it, wes borland says, on the album Gold Cobra being well-reviewed, "It's hard to believe that we would ever get a good review from a music critic." throughout the interview, wes borland looks incredibly uncomfortable and on the verge of sighing loudly, maybe. not sure this counts as shittalking, but i thought it was funny.

also in 2011, the music blog/website Antiquiet posted a 1-star review of Gold Cobra, which resulted in wes borland DMing the editor on twitter, primarily because of the reviewer's negative opinion of fred durst; wes borland was able to somehow get the review raised to 3 stars. this doesn't have to do with shittalking, but feels 'inexplicable' to me in a provocative way.

2015: wes borland posted on instagram to, in my opinion, mercilessly shittalk people who like limp bizkit and other bands that play music like limp bizkit, during a nu-metal themed cruise ship concert thing: "Can’t wait to see me some roided out tribal tattooed spray tanned Jell-O shot filled bohunks do their best drunk MMA impressions in the top deck mosh pit... I’d like to give a shout out now to all the other over-the-hill late nineties/early 2000s bands going on the cruise: Let’s give these people the raging alcohol fueled nostalgia fest they’re paying for guys! I know we can do it if we tune down low enough!" in attempting to "clear the air" after this post, he admits to not listening to/liking nu-metal music, which is funny to me. i find the idea of a musician not liking the genre of music they write in interesting.

2017: wes borland shittalked the guy from Staind over what seems, to me, to be very little (the guy from staind commented negatively that wes borland views los angeles, instead of florida, as 'home', while talking in an airport). on a podcast, wes borland said he wishes "nothing but the worst" for the guy from Staind. the guy from Staind talked about it during a live performance after, clarifying that wes borland is "bougie," in spite of the guy from Staind have a net worth of $9 million (althought admittedly this seems lower/sadder than i expected, but still more than i will ever be worth). i like the idea of them arguing like this, publicly, in 2018. i like how this 'feud' seems fueled by very little, on it surface, but probably has a deep, tangled knot of personal slights, shame, and a sense of purposelessness going back something like 25 years. i recently heard that one Staind song on the radio and thought "i should listen to the rest of the album, it seems like a pretty good song," but i think it will be, on average, worse/more boring than a limp bizkit album, probably because of the lack of wes borland, knowing what i now know about wes borland and his contributions to limp bizkit's music. listening to Three Dolla Bill, Y'All currently, this feels confirmed, to me, that limp bizkit is 'better' than Staind. i will not learn the guy from Staind's name. he is now a country musician, from what i gathered via reader comments on a fox news article about how Staind got a record deal because of limp bizkit, and confirmed via wikipedia. i think it's interesting and 'appropriate' that fox news would post an article about the guy from Staind, i think, because of his pivot to performing country music. i think it's weird/unnatural for fox news to post about music for any reason, based on what i know about fox, but this seems to make sense, regardless, due to fox news' and country music's conservative predispositions.

briefly imagined making part three of this blog post about Staind

PART THREE: STAIND

since thinking about Staind, i started reading about Staind. i learned that Staind is from massachusetts, which makes me more confused/curious about the wes borland feud, unsure why the guy from Staind would be so upset that wes borland viewed los angeles as home as opposed to jacksonville, florida, while the guy from Staind is from, and lives in, suburban/rural(?) massachusetts.

i am currently reading a 1st person bio by some member of Staind that is hosted on an angelfire website from 2000 which seems to confirm/comment on most of the origin story content on wikipedia (self-released first cd, attempt to get limp bizkit to like them/listen to them but that fred durst was 'revulsed' by the album cover, fearing they were satanists, but then signed them to his record label subsidiary based on their live performance). finally learned - accidentally - that dj lethal is named/goes by "lee," or did in 1999. i'm feeling very 'compelled' to continue reading this (auto)biography hosted on an angelfire website, maybe because of the lucidity and openness of the speaker. i am also getting more context for why the guy from Staind cares about jacksonville, florida, as they traveled there to work/record/perform with limp bizkit prior to getting famous/popular. seems the guy from limp bizkit cares deeply for/about fred durst, who encouraged the guy from Staind to sing more than scream, which seems, to me, integral to Staind getting popular/famous. this (auto)biographical snippet is from just prior to the release of their 1st major label album, in 1999. the author refers to jacksonville, florida as "jax." author is not 'the guy from Staind' (still not learning this man's name) but some other member of the band.

please enjoy this picture of fred durst looking affectionately at the guy from Staind during a live performance that i found:

Staind Has Breakout Moment In Biloxi - October 31, 1999
fred durst looking affectionately at the guy from Staind during a live performance

LISTENING TO BREAKING THE CYCLE BY STAIND

i now am 'liveblogging' Break the Cycle (2001) by Staind, which has the only song by them that i am familiar with. the album cover seems different than i remember, i think i remember an album cover with a man's face on it, but this one has a sort of shadow tree. after a brief review of Staind album covers, i'm unsure what happened/what album i'm thinking of.

1. Open Your Eyes - intrigued by how quiet the vocals are mixed relative to the rest of the instrumentation, maybe just compared to limp bizkit. in my experience recording music and interviewing musicians, i understand that quieter vocals (aside from in eg. shoegaze) is a hallmark of lack of confidence in the vocalist's performance. his voice sounds sort of like the nickleback guy's voice. his lyrics seem more 'poetic'. felt briefly compelled to look up the name for what he seems to do with his vocal melodies, something called, i imagine, like a "sustained minor 6th" or something, similar to the melodic themes from The Downward Spiral or the vocal/synth melodies used by Black Moth Super Rainbow. realized i've been barely paying attention to the actual song. guitar seems thin and washed out.

2. Pressure - noticing lots of phaser/chorus effects on the guitars. rhythm guitars still sort of thin, maybe poorly EQ'd. more "metal" influence than i expected, based on the single i am familiar with. felt unsure what the 'purpose of Staind's music' was, briefly. less overtly aggressive than limp bizkit, for example, vaguely sad/meloncholic, but with 'riffs.' there was some very quietly mixed screaming towards the end, which added to my confusion.

3. Fade - more metal, more phaser/chorus effects. was briefly reminded of Jesu, maybe I should listen to Jesu instead of Staind. i wonder if people ever talk about Jesu and Staind in the same breath. i was very into Silver and Conquerer by Jesu ca. 2014. this song sounds like it might have been a single...the chorus feels incongruous with the verse, like it was sort of spliced together, or like someone recommended they write more radio-friendly choruses and they took this 'literally', writing radio unfriendly verses/bridges paired with radio-friendly choruses. he said something about living in darkness. seems to be admonishing the 'you' in the song of not being his therapist, or something. i think this song might be bad. he did that "sustained minor 6th" thing again toward the end; i feel validated in having picked that out after one song and a vague memory of another song, hearing it now in a third. confirmed on wikipedia that this was a single.

4. It's Been Awhile - this is the song everyone knows. i felt briefly that it should be spelled "it's been a while", unsure, feels like something with an exception maybe. i like this one still, i think, as it seems more focused as a 'i am simply sad' song. doesn't try to 'rock out' in any incongruous way. sounds like maybe there is an acoustic guitar track in the chorus, to flesh out the tone and mood. lyrics seem straightforward in an 'earnest/good' way. noticed he double tracks the vocals in the chorus. guitar lines overall seem more complex in terms of layering than i expected, maybe 4-6 layers playing different things in a way that gives the impression of simply being multitracked barre chords, or something. learned on wikipedia that this song was in Donkey Konga 2. i have since looked up more about "a while" vs. "awhile," felt very frustrated/confused by non-linguistically-consistent terminology used to describe when each is used (eg. recommendation is that "awhile" is used as an 'adverb' as in "i studied for awhile", but this is not an adverb). i feel ~80% confident it should be "it's been a while", cf. "it's been a week".

5. Change - a return to the compositional approach of songs 1-3. feeling like most people who bought this CD would have stopped listening during the first verse of this song. vaguely metal 'riff' with bending notes in the chorus, noodly phaser guitar in the verse. vocals are quiet again, thought he was 'mumbling' at some point, which surprised me, like, it seems strange that this was not challenged by a producer or studio engineer. briefly imagined the record label people 'not giving a shit' about Staind during most open questions/decisions in the process of making, producing, or marketing their albums. impressively thin/bad 'grindcore'-esque breakdown and devil screaming.

6. Can't Believe - starts with a funky drum line. quickly moves into 'typical Staind bullshit' but with the 'bad' screaming from the last song. feels like a filler song. more of the "sustained minor 6th" vocal melody. enjoying the thought of people who know more about music than me actively shittalking the guy from Staind about this over coffee at ~8:30am on 9/11/2001, just before the twin towers fell.

7. Epiphany - acoustic guitar and very filtered drum beat. felt low level sense of dread while noticing that the song is over 4 minutes long. felt compelled to look up whether it was a single, like their 'Disarm', a sad ballad with strings. uses a chord shape that i associate with smashing pumpkins. looked it up, not a single. very boring song. i feel like this album is very poorly mixed. would be interested in reading a long-form exposé on the mixing and mastering of this album. skipped around fro the last 1.5 minutes, skipped to end. nothing interesting. according to wikipedia, this may have technicaly been a single, but the wording on the topic is confusing. after reading wikipedia articles about limp bizkit, staind, seether, and spineshank, i feel compelled to make a blogpost where i rate/review/comment on how wikipedia articles are written/edited for the varying levels of 'succesful' nu-metal bands.

8. Suffer - laughing at the hard-panned devil whisper of "sufferrrr..." in the intro. awkward drum part that makes the song feel unstable. more lyrics about feeling hate. enjoying the vaguely black metal chord pattern in the 2nd half of the verse which leads into another incongruous chorus. googled "staind 'black metal'," not finding anything of note, mostly ledes for unrelated articles/products hosted on pages about Staind. feeling frustrated about how SEO has made the internet kind of unusable, in a way, when looking up stupid stuff like this. considered DMing someone i know from high school who is a big fan of metal music. [update: ok i DMd him. waiting for a response now. ok, he prefaces by saying that in every way except for the actual chords themselves, it is not black metal-y, eg. there is no tremelo picking, the tone is way off, etc., HOWEVER he confirms that the chords do seem black metal-y (his term). i feel exceedingly validated. talking about this blog post/limp bizkit/staind with him in DMs, i realize i'm coming off to him as way overboard, maybe, with my interest in Staind and limp bizkit. i sent him the cover at for Staind's first cd, for example. feels like he's trying to 'escape' the conversation. ok, sorry brad, thank you for your help.]

9. Warm Safe Place - starts as what sounds like a song by the cure, then goes into their most interesting 'metal' riff, so far, imo, with bends/hammer-ons, maybe, then more phaser/chorus guitar bullshittery on the verse. vaguely sounded like a song from final fantasy 7. he's singing about having demons. strange vocal harmony, sounds like a robot maybe, or that song...i can't even begin to try to look up what the song is i'm thinking of...nevermind. looked up how many songs are left, felt despair/anger about there being  4 more songs after this one. enjoyed thinking about three 20 year old vaguely depressed men listening to this album in a grey mazda in the summer of 2001 with their mouths tightly closed.

10. For You - thought of the phrase "butt rock" when guitar started. on hearing vocals, realized this was a single. tried predicting what the chorus would sound like before it started, but was unable to remember it. i think part of the vocal melody is 'good', maybe, but is 'treated unfairly' by the rest of the song. realized, with a sense of disappointment, that i would probably try to/feel good about writing a chorus similar to this, guitar-wise, for my own band, Three Trucks. [update, when i asked brad about the black metal nature of Suffer, he used the term "butt rock" to describe Staind. seems good that we both thought of that term].

11. Outside - acoustic guitar. maybe this was the last single? yes, based on lead guitar part. feeling impressed that they had 4-5 'moderately successful' singles off this album. trying to predict the chorus again...unable to. oh man, ok, this chorus, yes. this is good. good bass and guitar tone, good multitracked vocal line. more and more curious about learning more about how the guy from Staind viewed black metal as an influence. considering trying to contact the guy from Staind just to ask this question.

12. Waste - Curious about what those shitty cymbals are that these nu-metal bands use. more "sustained minor 6th" vocal melody. good guitar feedback lead in, i feel like maybe there's very little feedback in the rest of the album, so this stood out to me. noticing chorus is pretty short, compared to the verse. more final fantasy 7 vibes, something about the drums and bassline? thought the word "metallica" when listening to the chorus guitar riff. reading back on previous entries while bored, surprised i felt so positively about the previous song. laughing at the heavy "fuck that / fuck you / fuck him" prechorus/bridge. enjoying the idea of record label executives listening to this and thinking "i do not feel capable of judging whether this will be popular or not" but still doing a lot of cocaine/not caring but still wearing suits. vague image of the son from sopranos in my head. there's a twitter account dedicated to him liking nu-metal.

13. Take It - Only song so far that keeps the metal riff through the otherwise low-key/quiet verse. thinking maybe there was some kind of argument within the band where the lead guitarist insisted on it and the frontman guy 'gave up.' accepting that this could be many fans' favorite song for this reason. bass has a rattly growl sound to it, seems funny. chorus feels 'complex'. really noticing the bass tone on this one. feels like maybe this whole song was recorded separately from the rest of the album. feels possible this is an 'extended cut' of the album on spotify only, maybe. ends with final fantasy 7 vibes again. imagining this kind of vibe being an integral, but now mostly forgotten, aesthetic property of the turn of the century, somehow.

i now feel confident that limp bizkit is better than staind, having listened to/analyzed Significant Other and Breaking the Cycle.

LIMP BIZKIT 'VS' STAIND, IN MY BRAIN, AUGUST 2020

ok, it's been (awhile) (haha stupid joke) since i wrote the last thing and i now feel conflicted. i have since tried relistening to both albums in a more casual way. i also heard "It's Been Awhile" on the radio again last night and have had, alternatingly, "Outside" by Staind and "Break Stuff" by limp bizkit stuck in my head for ~3 days. i tried learning the chorus to "Outside" on my melodica while my toddler ate blueberries. relistenining to Significant Other, i kept feeling bored, while i've been feeling compelled to relisten to the Staind singles, at least, which i think are, on average, better songs than limp bizkit's singles, maybe, and the reason for my compulsion to listen to them more than limp bizkit.

i just looked up the guy from Staind on twitter to see if i could DM him for an interview but his DMs are closed. i scrolled briefly through his twitter and felt vaguely depressed. he describes himself as a "musician, father, patriot," seems sponsoed by a cbd oil company, and has heavily advertised a "live from the couch meet and greet" experience for which he sold tickets, offering to have a casual conversation with fans and play acoustic guitar songs on his brown couch for them. he's also toured in 2019 and 2020 while wearing a MAGA hat. i wonder if there are any country artists who aren't republicans. briefly googling this, seems like more country musicians were supportive of obama, but now some, like garth brooks, are 'apolitical', i think out of fear of losing fans/money if they shittalk trump, who they probably think is a piece of shit.

i also learned that the guy from Staind was in an "acoustic grunge duo" prior to Staind, and they had a song called "bonghits for breakfast." i'm growing increasingly interested in learning more about the guy from Staind's relationship with marijuana.

ok, i don't know how to transition from this section to the next section. here is another section:

PART FOUR: BRIEF INTERVIEWS WITH POETS ABOUT LIMP BIZKIT


giacomo pope

giacomo pope, like me, is a vocal fan of the song "Break Stuff" by limp bizkit. i learned this while talking to him and other people about limp bizkit, because of this blog. many ideas that ended up in this blog post, or which were never used for the blog post, started as things i had said to giacomo pope or others in private messages. i felt good and validated when i learned that giacomo pope unironically liked "Break Stuff." and i felt a sense of additional interest in this since that song has an inexplicable reference to a chainsaw and giacomo pope's forthcoming book of poems is ~50% about a chainsaw. i decided to speak with him about limp bizkit.

ZS: Tell me about your relationship to the song "Break Stuff" by limp bizkit.

GP: I was playing a [Chronographs] gig back in 2011. Our band was headlining the show and we were having fun. Half way through the set, our other guitarist's shit broke. While he was fiddling with the wires fixing it, I played the opening riff to break stuff. A few people in the crowd laughed and whooped. As I was playing the riff, our singer suddenly started with “ITS JUST ONE OF THOSE DAYS” and the drummer kicked in with him and suddenly we were playing an impromptu cover of break stuff to a room of people. The whole crowd started jumping around and being silly and singing along. It’s one of my favourite band memories.

ZS: what was your guitar tuned to, at the time? how had you come to learn how to play break stuff prior to that improvisation?

GP: Probably drop C# and I learnt a lot of nu-metal when I started playing guitar. I used to sit in my room and play along to slipknot and lamb of god albums while I played Warcraft III with my bro. "Break Stuff" is an easy song and like "Blind" by Korn, it’s one of those classic nu-metal songs that’s immediately recognisable from the opening guitar riff.

ZS: in your experience learning nu-metal guitar riffs, would you say that wes borland's guitar parts stood out to you in any way relative to other nu-metal guitarists?

GP: When Wes got it right, I think [limp bizkit] had some of the most catchy, meaty riffs. They were never flashy and had a good feeling. They were always very simple. A lot of [limp bizkit] songs I find incredibly bad / boring. Recently I was listening to their mission impossible theme and thought it was good / funny. I think generally nu-metal had bad guitar parts. I think they were too focused on DJ guitar scratches.

ZS: were you generally a fan of limp bizkit around that time? where would you rank limp bizkit relative to eg. slipknot and lamp of god and korn? (by that time i mean when u were learning riffs)

GP: I was a fan of limp bizkit before Slipknot. I think I listened to significant other at the same time I listened to the 2nd Eminem album. I used to listen to the album a lot when I was 11-12 years old I think.
I never really learnt Korn songs. I can play some by ear. Same for Limp Bizkit. I learned Slipknot before Lamb of God. Slipknot is easier. Lamb of God was the most fun to play.

ZS: that's interesting because i was trying to figure out i had had gotten into nu-metal around that age, and i think eminem played a huge role. i feel like i should go back into this blog post and explore that a little bit. but back to "Break Stuff," i want to ask you about the role that song played in the writing of Chainsaw Poems and Other Poems

GP: Hahaha consciously it didn’t play a role at all. The original idea for chainsaw poems came from reading a poem by... [Google’s name]...Evan Gill Smith.

ZS: What poem is that?

GP: It was in epiphany lit magazine. I’ll send a photo when I’m home. Anyway it had a chainsaw in. Or a saw. Or a sawed piece of wood. I can’t remember. But I remember thinking “chainsaw is now a poem word.” And then I thought “Zac did 50 barn poems. I could do chainsaw poems.” And then I wrote like 15 chainsaw poems and sent them to Joey at TNB as I thought that Joey would like them. At no point in doing these things was a consciously thinking about Limp Bizkit. But I could still jam "Break Stuff." So who knows.

ZS: How big of a role do you think unconscious bias/influences/themes have on your writing process?

GP: I think almost all my poems feel like they follow some inspirational seed and the rest of the poem feels intuitive. As a result I would say the poems are reliant on my unconscious processing patterns in poetry. What makes something feel like a poem word to me has no external logic. For example. Words that feel like poem words: Horse, egg, teeth, blood, chainsaw, sorry, sweat, snake, dirt, light (sunlight not weight), fear, sobbing. Words that don’t feel like poem words (currently): Duck, coffee, donkey, gambling, hammock, Robin, light (weight not sunlight) fat, laughing, tonsils, liver, fungus.

ZS: would you rather go down in history as the wes borland of ~2020's independent poetry or the guy from Staind of ~2020's independent poetry?

GP: Wes.

ZS: why?

GP: I don’t even know if I know a staind song. Staind is a terrible band name. Wes Borland had cool eyes and he wrote the riff to "Break Stuff." That seems good.

i'd like to thank giacomo for taking the time to answer my questions about his personal relationship to limp bizkit's music. thank you, giacomo.

dan eastman

dan eastman is a writer who was born in 1986. his debut collection of poetry, Watertown, will be published by back patio press in 2021. we talked briefly over twitter dm about my limp bizkit blog post because dan asked if i was aware of the beef between wes borland and the guy from Staind. i sent dan a screenshot of the end of section 2 to confirm to him that i had heard of this beef, and then i decided to expand this section into a general 'interviewing authors about limp bizkit' section and asked dan about limp bizkit.


DE: probably nothing more than superficial thoughts and opinions. i don't think they're very good lyrically or musically but maybe that makes sense. they sort of embodied the pre-9/11 tendency to give in to our baser tendencies. "break stuff? give me something to break!" don't mind if i do. say what you will about the quality, it was anything but stoic and detached. people seemed fully engaged then. i wonder if outward aggression is better than inward sadness. i'm trying to determine whether its a strictly juvenile male thing, this need to openly and violently relieve stress/frustration with the way things are. there were women jumping around in those videos, too, after all. that's definitely something to consider here. i sort of lament that time in history. fashion seemed wholly unimportant. maybe i'm looking at the past with cerise glasses, as it were. but tom green got a comedy career out of playing with feces and dead animals. these out of shape dudes in limp bizkit were a hit at woodstock and made the term "nookie" popular somehow. this was the forefront of popular culture. there's something so anti-socialite about it that i can't help feeling nostalgic for it.

ZS: that's a really interesting perspective, the sort of working classness/unfashionable sense that they maintained/turned into popularity. but i think fashion was important then, i remember being very conscious of fashion. like fred durst's image was very particular, the red hate, the adidas

DE: ah, i was 13 and wanted JNCOs so i guess you're right there. i guess i mean fashion seemed dirtier? it was this skateboard chic stuff. most of the stuff nowadays, even something presented as grimy or filthy seems overly *cleaned up* or made presentable: the illusion of filth. but the fact that limp bizkit sucks, if sucks is something that can be seen objectively, maybe amplified scumminess?

ZS: the idea of embodying "sucks" is cool, that's insightful i think. i wonder if your perception of how fashion is now, asusming it's right, is based on the internet. like, people don't 'do' outdoor life anymore. but in 1997, like, your life was hanging out on the street corner or going to gas stations or whatever. skateboarding, driving around. as opposed to just sitting and tweeting

DE: that's a fair point. most of my early teens were spend wandering around town with whatever social circle i was with at the time, generally doing nothing. one time i was driving with a friend i met around 11th or 12th grade. we "ironically" decided to put significant other in the cd player of my car. but we were kind of put off by it. i think the fact that we did it ironically is more cringe-inducing than the actual music. like, that time of life when i did things ironically bothers me. this driving must have been around 2007-08, kind of tagging onto your note about culture, it was that moment that i can pin when i realized the culture had changed. usually i don't notice it until well after.

ZS: how did you notice it had changed?




i'd like to thank dan for taking the time to answer my questions about his personal relationship to limp bizkit's music. thank you, dan.

daniel bailey

daniel bailey has many books of poetry out, including The Drunk Sonnets and Halleluja, Giant Space Wolf. his next book of poems, A Better Word for the World, will be out on Apocolypse Party press in 2021. an original indie lit blogger from ~2010, his new blog is horse juicedaniel and i have spoken briefly before about attending "X-Fest", which showcased mostly nu-metal/post-grunge music around the time we attended (separate years/locations) in the early 2000's, so I know he had a nu-metal phase, or at least appreciated this kind of music, at some point, and so probably had some thoughts on limp bizkit.

ZS: What was/is your relationship to limp bizkit like?

DB: I had a burned copy of Three Dollar Bill, Y'all and I had a copy of Significant Other. I listened to the latter quite a bit for a while. I just loved how heavy it was. I'm pretty sure I stood up and said something profane when I first heard the heavy part in their cover of "Faith." They definitely weren't my favorite nu-metal band, but they did provide me with a gateway to the better bands of the genre. Before long, it became difficult for me to appreciate how bro-y most of their songs were. There were so many other bands performing their angst with more nuance and craft, though I did appreciate Wes Borland for being the weirdo of the band. I related to what he did more than anything.

ZS: Do you remember how you got those cds? Were they gifts? Did you burn them yourself?

DB: I got Three Dollar Bill, Y'all from my friend Brandon who had a CD burner and would regularly burn me CDs in exchange for getting him Mr. Pibbs and Fruitopias from the school cafeteria's machines. He hooked me up with a bunch of good ones: SOAD's debut, a Mindless Self Indulgence album, a couple Slipknots. Brandon and I actually talked about starting our own nu-metal band, though we never wrote any songs or agreed upon a name. I wanted to call it Disposables, which is a stupid name, and Brandon, correctly, vetoed the name despite not having any other band names to offer himself. I just wanted to tune to drop D and yell some shit. I don't think I actually had my own CD burner until I had moved out of my nu-metal phase.

ZS: i feel like a lot of us back then had that same experence about pretending/trying to start a nu metal band, haha. i just had a flash of similar memories. do you think your interest in nu metal in adolescence has or had impacted your poetry, now, as an adult/father/published author?

DB: Yeah, nu-metal definitely channeled the stupid side of the adolescent male emotional experience. It really felt like instant gratification to listen to it as an aimless, walking/talking boner. Over time, I've grown to really appreciate music that gets to something primal in more subtle ways. I think, as far as writing goes, I try to write toward a feeling, always something undefinable. If I can define the feeling, it's not worth channeling. Nu-metal was all about channeling angst and animosity, and I'm not interested in that as an adult. There's no time for that when you have a family, though I will still listen to a band like Deftones, who really matured way beyond nu-metal and made this sophisticated heavy music with lyrics that defy interpretation. Deftones were always my favorite band from that specific era. I always appreciated how nu-metal wanted to be confrontational and to refuse to play by the rules of metal or pop (which many nu-metal songs were structured like pop songs) or rock or anything else. Much of it hasn't aged well, but it was its own undeniable thing, at least. I think that was a valuable lesson to learn early in life, that it's ok to seek an aesthetic that is not popular or that directly conflicts with accepted modes of expression and beauty. That has definitely carried over to my approach to writing, though I think that approach definitely has been refined through the evolution of my musical taste after nu-metal. I think of my nu-metal phase as an early high school thing, but I also transitioned into other types of bands like punk bands (Anti-Flag, Hot Water Music, Fugazi), more Indie oriented band (Flaming Lips, Silver Jews), and some of my most vivid music memories from high school involve lying on my bedroom floor and spending countless hours listening The Books' Thought for Food, which is the furthest thing from nu-metal. But all of these bands were doing things that felt unique to me. I think nu-metal's brashness created the need to find music and seek art that did that in increasingly nuanced ways.

ZS: that's something i've seen come up throughout researching/learning about/talking to people about limp bizkit, this idea that they (and other bands) leaned into ugliness, or unpopular things, stupidity, etc., and in that way there's this sense of finding freedom.

DB: Nu-metal definitely carries that stigma, and I think much of that was earned. Songs like "Break Stuff" and some of the childish moves like naming an album Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water (yeah, we get it, guys) multiplied by the violence at Woodstock didn't help alleviate those views. I sometimes wonder whether nu-metal was helpful or harmful to adolescent boys. I feel lucky that I was able to grow out of that ugliness and recognize it for what it was, but I think a lot of guys that I know probably weren't able to gain that kind of self-awareness, for whatever reason. I also remember listening to Spineshank and feeling like whatever new chemicals were swirling around my adolescent brain could actually be given release. Similarly, I had to recognize how toxic writers like Charles Bukowski could be to young male readers, and I really evaluated my own ethos as a writer and reader. For me, I think it was valuable to be exposed to things like Limp Bizkit and Bukowski for exactly that reason: it showed me how complex of a thing it can be to balance both confrontational aesthetics with thoughtful content. I decided early on, as a writer, I wanted to do something that was both challenging (for me as the writer) + cathartic. That's a very vague description of intent, but I think my point is that the primal nature of nu-metal (even when ugly) cuts to one of the most basic aspects of humanity, which is passion, both damaged and enlightened. With nu-metal, it often felt crude or rudimentary, but that's where artistry comes in. That's why I consider Deftones to be the best band to come out of nu-metal. They evolved to incorporate sonic elements that were often beautiful. Lyrically, they evoke a feeling rather than explain it.

ZS: last question, would you rather be the wes borland of ~2020's poetry or the guy from Staind of ~2020's poetry?

DB: W
ithout a doubt, I would rather be the Wes Borland of 2020's poetry. He followed his muse in some pretty weird directions. I haven't heard much of his non-LB output, but what I've heard is weird, and weird is better than conforming to the current style, even if that weird isn't something I'm personally interested in listening to. I don't think I could do the makeup and colored contacts, though. And I'm pretty sure the Staind guy is a Trump supporter, so that's an automatic disqualifier. He also veered into country music, which is not for me. I remember liking their first album, but I can only remember the song "Mudshovel." Then they had that big hit "It's Been Awhile," which veered more into that post-grunge style, which was a dark time for anyone who cared about innovative music. That song is so boring and repetitive and slow.

even though i disagree with him about "It's Been Awhile," i'd like to thank daniel for taking the time to answer my questions about his personal relationship to limp bizkit's music. thank you, daniel.

mike andrelczyk

mike andrelczyk is a poet with several published books, including The Iguana Green City & Other Poems and Dissolving (a book of haiku). his next book of poetry, Gateway 2000, is forthcoming from Ghost City Press. instead of an interview with mike, who i've been talking with about limp bizkit in a casual way throughout the writing of this essay, i've decided to simply include a list of what i think are good/funny things he's said, i think in order to stop me from talking about limp bizkit so much:

1. "alt lizkit"
2. "[i] love that the best limp bizkit fact is a wrong fact"
3.  "[i] feel like basically Limp Bizkit sucks"
4. "Who is this Wes Borland guy everyone keeps talking about? Is he like alt lit?"
5. "What’s more experimental than an obsessive bizkit phase"
6. "You’re living your writing man. Snagging free future and listening to trash rock"
7. "[i] would rather listen to a paint can than bzkit"
8. "Def gonna write a poem called free future now...U can add a part where we talk about free future if u want"
9. "Im raging over here. Just broke a fucking lamp to that poem. Lamp Breakzit"

even though i disagree with him about limp bizkit, i'd like to thank mike for taking the time to talk to me about limp bizkit. thank you, mike.

ok, here's another transition.

PART FIVE: ANGELFIRE

i have so far in the previous four sections based the majority of my research on many disparate, uncited, and belligerently informal angelfire pages and websites. i feel a deep-set interest in these websites. in sharing my newfound love/re-appreciation for angelfire websites with my friends (as pertains wes borland, most specifically, but also limp bizkit and staind, in general ways), giacomo pope noted ignorance as to what angelfire is, which lead me to want to write about angelfire.

angelfire was/is a free, ad-based webhosting service, similar to geocities. it was popular from, i would guess, 1998-2002, back when the internet was very different. in the year 2000, there was no social media, aside from chatrooms and direct messaging services such as aol instant messenger, and there were no central repositories for information/links, like wikipedia. the internet was a very decentralized place, relative to today, and services like angelfire allowed people (including children/teenagers) to create and share websites. these websites would also have guestbooks, where other people could leave comments of interest, support, or denigration. most communication was via these guestbooks, forums (when applicable), and email. some websites would form a "web ring", each linking to two others, allowing "web surfers" to browse several thematically-related websites in a loop.

in my resarch into limp bizkit, i have come to feel fascination re: angelfire websites hosted to discuss and share information/pictures/rumors/reviews/interviews about/with limp bizkit. i believe that you could similarly find a variety of these angelfire sites from ~2000 for any moderately popular musical group at the time (for example, Staind). i have also seen many of these sites serve as personal repositories for general interests/media, with pages dedicated to bands, movies, etc. In the year 2000, google and other search engines were unpopular and crude, and, i believe, google image search did not even exist. these websites thus served an important function in hosting/sharing images; compiling and sharing pictures of wes borland seemed to be a very big draw for these sites, for example, with many disclaimers noting that the long load times (due to the size of the images) were worth it, so you could look at and appreciate the images of wes borland, and disclaimers that users should link to the angelfire site where you found the picture if you intended to put it on your own website.

i would like to note that i felt surprised by how many of the 'webmasters' for these wes borland fansites were ~14 year old girls. while several of the sites i read were made by ~14 year old boys (one was from norway, for example, who liked fantasy books, The Matrix, and limp bizkit), the majority seem to be made by girls. i believe, based on my research, that this is because they were simply horny for wes borland. but i think it's important to note that girls played an active and important role in this world of creating and maintaining angelfire websites, which is probably obvious for some readers, but, i feel, important to point out nonetheless. i think it's cool and good. i think i generally assumed that limp bizkit was/is mainly appreciated by young men, and not young women, and these websites have challenged my assumptions.

i never used angelfire ca. 2000, but i used geocities, probably around 2002-2004, to make a variety of websites with different scopes and purposes. for example, i made a geocities website for my improvisational noise band, to host mp3s and, embarassingly, poetry. geocities offered a straightforward (but sometimes frustrating-to-use) visual editor to place elements and modify their appearance, although i learned rudimentary html code to augment the sites in various ways. i was never a part of any 'active' community via these websites in the way that many of the wes borland/limp bizkit fansite webmasters seemed to be, based on their guestbooks and references to feedback, online friends, etc. i do not think i was ever obsessed with a particular band enough to want to create a fansite, aside from maybe smashing pumpkins, although i was active in various forums around this time, for, example, the band Calamine (they recorded the theme song to sealab 2021). i feel a sense of jealousy regarding my more isolated/isolating experiences online pre-social media relative to these limp bizkit fan community members.

BRIEF DIGRESSION: SCREENSHOTS OF ANGELFIRE SITES DEDICATED TO WES BORLAND


here are some screenshots of angelfire sites dedicated to wes borland, to give you an idea of what they look like:














and here are some screenshots of a site dedicated to shittalking limp bizkit/nu-metal (there are/were many angelfire sites dedicated to shittalking limp bizkit):

BRIEF DIGRESSION: THE ARMPIT

brief aside: after a little bit more research about limp bizkit fan sites, i learned that fred durst was interviewed for a fan site about the departure of the guitarist who replaced wes borland in ~2003. looking up the citation for this, i found an mtv news blog post about it, which states that the fan site was "www.thearmpit.net". this website still exists, but requires a log-in to access. the website has an official twitter account, but it has not posted since 2018. on facebook, its last three posts were celebrating the site's last three birthdays. i have learned that the armpit started in 2003, years after these angelfire websites, but has/had become a sort of de facto forum dedicated to limp bizkit, with one of the members even posting directly on the forum in 2015. myspace started in 2003. i'm vaguely curious about this transition from angelfire/guestbooks to forums and social media ca 2003. there seems to be no overlap between the two approaches to fan websites, althought i'm sure if i did more research, i would discover that forums were big ca. 1997 and angelfire was still popular with some fandoms ca. 2005, maybe.

BRIEF DIGRESSION OVER


a lot of people have written essays/etc. in praise, criticism, and/or study of this angelfire era of amateur web design and i don't think i'd be able to contribute anything new on this front. but i could summarize my thoughts/feelings on this topic by saying that i think it was 'good'. these websites were expressive, strange, and unique. i think a lot of best-practice (web) design hinges on the design being 'invisible', where content is forwarded and design is meant to be unobtrusive. but in these websites, the design is often incredibly intrusive, but, i think, this is an example where the form serves as a component of the function, maybe. i think it's good, like 'outsider' or 'independent' web design, which appeals to me, especially now that the internet experience is dominated by mobile-friendly social media feeds and preformatted squarespace/wix/wordpress websites, which are often, ironically, buggy, jittery, poorly formatted, and riddled with ads.

here are some interesting (limp bizkit) images i found on various angelfire websites, as an homage to how angelfire wesbites were often used to collect and share images:

http://www.angelfire.com/poetry/courtney26181/images/jayleno/willsmith_8-24-02.jpeghttp://www.angelfire.com/celeb/wes/images/marraige.jpghttp://www.angelfire.com/celeb/wes/images/anchor.jpghttp://www.angelfire.com/celeb/wes/images/xwes8.jpg

i have a strong desire to talk to someone who ran/maintained one of these webistes. i have (uselessly) emailed 7 email addresses of webmasters who created/maintained wes borland/limp bizkit fansites on angelfire ca. 2000 (each email address has since been deactivated). i tweeted out an earnest attempt to find/connect with one of these webmasters but i think people thought it was a joke, or maybe not enough of a joke, to retweet it. i twitter serached "limp bizkit angelfire" and replied to two tweets from 2015 (from active accounts) asking to interview them as people who have claimed to have run limp bizkit angelfire fansites. i still have a vague hope to find someone who created one of these websites so i can interview them as part of this blog post, eventually, but i feel like this won't happen in time for my arbitrary deadline of august 12 to post this blog post.

PART SIX: ADDITIONAL TOPICS TO EXPLORE

i now feel like i'm running out of ideas to write about that would be interesting for other people to read about as opposed to suggesting that they read about them on their own time.

i feel conflicted about writing/researching more about limp bizkit (specifically Significant Other). some topics that i have yet to write about, but which interested me, include:

1. limp bizkit being the first confirmed "pay-to-play" band in the 90s (flip records paid a portland radiostation $5k to play "Counterfeit" some number of times over 5 weeks)
2. fred durst's spirituality
3. the band's relationship with marijuana and other drugs (wes borland claims, in a rolling stone interview, that the band abstained from (heavy) drugs, although the drummer or bassist of the band has, at some point, developed a liver condition due to heavy drinking)
4. angelfire website track-by-track reviews of Significant Other and Breaking the Cycle (as compared to my reviews)
5. the napster-sponsored free-to-enter "back 2 basics" tour in the summer of 2000, of which very little information exists online, aside from press releases/news articles about its announcement
6. the guy from Staind's relationship with marijuana (he was on the cover of high times in 2002 and seems to tweet about marijuana in a casual way)
7. a list of potential interview questions for wes borland, the guy from Staind, and/or fred durst (briefly felt compelled to ask fred durst, for example, 1. if he has ever felt despair, 2. his thoughts on poetry, and 3. about his relationship with his father, after reading an angelfire-hosted interview/biography about the guy from Staind and his relationship with his father)
8. an interview with my older sister about her nu-metal CDs ca. 2000
9. an interview with my parents about the video of me lip syncing to "Rollin'" by limp bizkit
10. angelfire and other sites dedicated to hating fred durst/limp bizkit, with emphasis on 'former fans', who rejected the band when Significant Other was released (promising avenue for pitching this as a book about Significant Other)
11. more explicitly 'negative' things about the band which i have backgrounded/presupposed uncritically in the blog post so far, including their bold, early-career homophobia, mysogony, toxic masculinity, and potential sexual predation (exhibited in lyrical content, interviews, and live performances), how it relates to popualr culture, etc.
12. the reporting from ~2003-2005 that music by limp bizkit and other nu-metal bands (and other american pop musicians) was used to torture prisoners in iraq and afghanistan. i read an article mentioning that many of these groups had filed freedom of information requests concerning the use of their music as part of torturing prisoners, but i didn't follow up on the results of these requests
13. the controversy surrounding woodstock '99, where limp bizkit performed more or less during a riot, which included credible reports of rape in the mosh pit. originally, in working on this post, i decided not to research the woodstock performance because it seemed to be the only real 'controversy' anyone seems to mention about the band, and thus wouldn't be interesting for me to write about as i wouldn't be able to contribute anything new to the topic. however, i have since read about the incident and feel like the mosh pit rape allegations are less discussed and would merit writing about if i were to continue writing about limp bizkit ca. 2000, especially as regards this incredibly bleak quote from the woodstock event promotional team used in a washington post article in 1999, which feels like something someone would include in a poorly-written satire:

incredibly bleak quote from a wahsington post article in 1999


CONCLUSION

i have now written >15k words (including some words by a few other people) more or less about limp bizkit. i have noticed myself consistently 'interested' in this topic, adding content and thinking of new things to write about, daily, for ~10 days. i have, in this time, felt self-conscious about my internet presence, which has more or less revolved around sharing snatches of what i have learned and updating people on the progress/length of this blog post, and i have felt self-conscous about my relationship with my close internet friends, who i have bothered even more.

having read through everything above to proofread/edit, i felt consistently surprised at how 'short' this post, and each section therein, still feels. i still have a strong desire, i think, to flesh this out into something much longer. i felt, recently, that this blog post would serve as a decent pitch for a full-length book about Significant Other, between the already-written content and the above proto-outline for more content. i have since briefly looked into pitching the 33 1/3 book series to make this post into a book proposal (i have enjoyed several of these books in the past and there are none in print about limp bizkit), but i discovered that open pitches for new books closed on july 1st of this year (i started this blog post on ~july 29th) and that the official website (which was down for a few days) notes several, i feel, arbitrary and purposeless requirements for a pitch, including the submission of a CV, a 1-page marketing plan, and several, different-lengthed summaries. i have also read seveal blog posts written by people who have successfully and unsuccessfully pitched the series. i now feel less of a desire to do this kind of work/pitch this book to them, and would rather make the book myself, or have the book made due to someone else approachign me about it.

ok, thank you for reading my blog post about limp bizkit.