LIMP BIZKIT CAME TO NATIONAL attention under a bad sign — right there on the front page of the New York Times. The band's label, Flip/Interscope Records, had done the shrewd and unthinkable: It paid a Portland, Oregon, radio station to play Limp Bizkit's ''Counterfeit'' as an advertisement for the band. And the company paid to have it played over and over again until listeners started requesting to hear the rap-metal outfit's single in full.
The band's Three Dollar Bill, Yall$ has since gone on to sell almost a million copies; Limp Bizkit toured with Korn on the Family Values Tour and generally made a spectacle of themselves wherever they went. Now, the band's third single, a caustic rendition of George Michael's ''Faith,'' is climbing the charts, just as the band is heading into the studio to record its second LP. Limp Bizkit's lead singer, twenty-eight-year-old Fred Durst, has been called everything from a ''lunkheaded misogynist homophobe'' to a ''new metal hero,'' but to hear Durst tell it, it's better than not being called at all.
So, what did you do last night?
I was watching the Mike Tyson fight at Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell's house. I know Goldie's daughter Kate Hudson.
Would that have happened before you became famous?
Fuck no. This kinda shit I get off on. I'm at parties with Jack Nicholson, Dana Carvey. I'm at places where they hang out — I'm on all the A lists. You get rock-star parking.
Why do people think you're a thug?
'Cause my music's loud — because I scream and explode — people think I'm gonna be walkin' around beating up people, drinking, doing coke, fucking all these chicks. But I don't drink, I don't smoke, I'm celibate.
What do you mean by celibate?
Well, not for the rest of my life, but I don't fuck around anymore. I really want to find the girl I'm going to marry. I think I just fucked too much when I was younger. I abused it with all my old girlfriends — we'd fuck five times a day.
C'mon, you're always playing to the girls, signing breasts and carrying on.
I play up the pimp thing on purpose. Like, when I'm on MTV, these chicks are fanning and massaging me. It's not like I attracted 'em off the street. We fuckin' hired 'em. I want everybody to be thinking I'm having the time of my life, but I'm single and miserable. I'm lonely. I'm experiencing the best things in my life, with no one there to share them. I'm a hopeless romantic. I'm not the stereotypical rock star. People are having a problem that I'm not fitting my image, and they're obviously not listening to the lyrics.
But they do say that your lyrics are misogynous.
That's because I said the words whore and bitch. My whole record is about my girlfriend who put me through the ringer for three years and my insecurity about it. It became this big thing.
You were a rap-lovin' kid at a predominantly black Southern junior high school. You must have caught some flak.
All the time. Back then it was a big deal to be hanging with black kids, rapping, break dancing, beat boxing. My white friends loved A Flock of Seagulls and Ratt. Then the Beasties came out and all my preppy white friends were like, ''Oh, rap's cool.''
How do you feel about your label's pay-for-play radio ad now?
It worked, but it's not that cool of a thing. Some stations won't play your shit even though kids want it, so we had to pay to get 'em to play it. We were on the cover of the New York Times. It couldn't have been better, even though it was negative. At first, I was like, ''Ah! What the fuck did I do?'' But the name Limp Bizkit got on MTV; it got in the paper. Even after the [paid radio] time expired, we stayed at Number One.
Now that your cover of ''Faith'' is a big hit, have you gotten any feedback from George Michael?
I heard that he loves the song. We asked him to perform ''Faith'' with us on New Year's, but George thought he might come off looking funny. I wouldn't make fun of him. I grew up on his stuff, from the Wham! days. He always looked good, had supermodels in his videos. I didn't know he was gay — that didn't matter to me.
The song you did with Korn, ''All in the Family,'' was pretty homophobic.
I called Jon [Davis of Korn] a fag, he called me a fag. We were just poking fun at each other. We didn't mean it in any homophobic way. But, of course, it's another reason to not like this obnoxious band, this guy who starts riots at shows, stage dives, pulls chicks onstage, tells promoters to kiss his ass. You gotta hate this guy. Well, I hope it turns into the guy you love to hate.