Nice Guy Freddie
After September 11 2001, Fred Durst vowed to turn over a new leaf. Angry Fred was dead. Caring, sharing, Cuddly Fred was born.
The year had begun in tragedy with the death of teenage Limp Bizkit fan Jessica Michalik following a crowd crush during the band’s set at the Big Day Out in Sydney, Australia. Limp Bizkit left the Big Day Out tour under a cloud, blaming “shitty security” for the incident.
But, speaking at the inquest into Michalik’s death via a video link-up from his LA home (Durst claimed to be too scared of flying and unable to find time in his schedule to testify in person).
Fred admitted to feeling mortified. “It was so over whelming that a young girl came to see her favorite band and left in a coma and died”, he said. Coroner Jacqueline Milledge criticised Fred’s “inflammatory” onstage comments for exacerbating the situation.
The terorist attacks on New York and Washington changed Fred’s philosophy, at least for the sort term. In october 2001 he told MTV he was dropping his long-standing feuds with Creed frontman Scott Stapp, Slipknot, Trent Reznor, Christina Aguilera and others.
“To spend out lives disliking someone or something”, he said. “If everyone doesn’t come to their sense and realise we’ve got to let all that go, then they’re as blind as the people who are killing us. All of my differences are gone now. I care about you being alive, and I want you to care about me being alive. Who knows what the world has to bring in the future?”
When guitarist Wes Borland left Limp Bizkit in october to work with his own band Eat The Day, Durst even wished him to best of luck – in public at least. The Bizkit boss also spent some time hanging out with Courtney Love. “He did tell me, ‘I have 30 accoustic songs – you should hear them. It’s the other side of Fred”, she scoffed. This, it seemed, was Bizkit’s new sensitive direction in the making.
Telling Rolling Stones he was a “totally different person” in 2002, Durst said: “The next record is going to be different because everything I’m feeling is different now. Everything I’ve felt that was very sensitive and positive before is times ten. Everything that I’ve felt that was negative, that was personal and very emotional, has become null, almost. I don’t even have time for it”.
His comments on the Iraq war at the Grammy Awards in February 2003 seemed to back this up: while award organisers allegedly banned onstage anti-war proclamations, Fred was one of the few stars to speak out, saying: “I hope we are in agreeance that this war should go away as soon as possible.” For the first (and last) time Fred was playing on the same team as Thom, Damon and all the other socially conscious rock stars.
This was a new side of Cuddly Fred. Caring, sharing, feeling out pain. It couldn’t last, of course: two months later he posted on the band’s website saying: “We are putting out an album for our country’s victory!! out soldier kicked so much ass!! I am proud to be an american!!”
The contradiction in his actions, it seems, passed him by.