Back in 2001, Limp Bizkit had sold 14 million records and frequently clogged New York’s Times Square with their appearances on MTV’s Total Request Live. But by the time they put out 2005’s The Unquestionable Truth (Part 1), the band (without guitarist Wes Borland) was releasing albums without advertising pushes and SoundScanning 37,000 in the first week.
In a joint statement released last Thursday, Fred Durst and Borland announced they were ready to get Limp Bizkit back together. But the question remains: Are we ready for Limp Bizkit? It’s no industry secret that the landscape has changed in the eight years since this lineup was actively touring and releasing records. Heavy music comes with eyeliner instead of fitted caps, rap-rock bands like Linkin Park have traded beats for ballads, and Fred Durst is best remembered for his macho posturing and public tantrums instead of a lasting music legacy. So will a reanimated Limp Bizkit work in the year 2009?
“It depends if the statute of limitations is up on Limp Bizkit being the most hated band ever,” says Tom Beaujour, editor in chief of metal magazine Revolver, who put Durst on the cover in 2000. “Like, is it acceptable to like them? It’s okay for people to like Poison and Warrant again. Bret Michaels is a TV star. Is it okay to like Limp Bizkit again? I don’t know. Hopefully for them it is.”
What’s certain is that rock radio isn’t playing the Bizkit as much as the band’s contemporaries. Rock stations like Q101 in Chicago and New York’s 101.9RXP fill their playlists with ’90s brooders like Pearl Jam and Stone Temple Pilots and Bizkit cohorts like Linkin Park, Staind and Puddle Of Mudd. But rarely do they dive into “Nookie.”
“We played all Limp Bizkit,” says Danni, assistant program director and music director for New York active rock station 92.3 KRock. “We had huge ratings. It was all about Limp Bizkit. And then there was sort of a shift and people stopped caring and stopped wanting to hear about the angry side of things. Nowadays, with people losing their jobs right and left, I feel like it’s more of a banding together. Even the stuff from the ’90s, like some of the Pearl Jam stuff, that angst-ridden stuff, just doesn’t really work as muchâ€¦ I think there’s more of a positive spin on things with the new president and people trying to be positive about the economy.”
“It’s possible that aggression and escapism are just what the public needs right now,” counters Beaujour, who notes that rap-rock is bubbling up again in “screamo-crunk” bands like Hollywood Undead and brokeNCYDE. “Having said that, barely anyone making money in the music business right now is doing it selling stuff to 15 year olds. Generally, 14 year olds do not look at 40 year olds and think they’re cool. If the 30 year olds get on board, they’re set. Hey, Aerosmith did it.”
Danni also sees hope in the older demographic, mainly the people who remember them the first time around: “I liken them to Creed in a way because people want to hate them, but they don’t. They don’t really hate them. Everybody owns those albums, everybody loves ‘Nookie.’ If they go out and tour, as long as their ticket prices are reasonable, I think they’ll be fully welcomed back.”