Intervju med Wes Borland i Black Light Burns/Limp Bizkit.
Jag har vid flera tillfällen fått frågan varför jag intervjuar medlemmar från band jag absolut inte själv har ett musikaliskt intresse av? En fråga jag ställt mig själv också, men saken är den att det är själva intervjun, samtalet i sig, som är intressant. Det kvittar om jag tycker om bandet eller inte. Att samtala med andra människor är förbannat kul, även om de spelar i exempelvis Limp Bizkit som jag fullkomligen avskyr.
Wes Borland är en sådan person. Han är medlem i nyss nämda band men han är också medlem i Black Light Burns, ett band som känns betydligt mer intressant. Dessutom verkar han vara en kul och lite udda person, så varför inte snacka lite med honom?
Jag ringde upp Wes i LA och han var naturligtvis väldigt trevlig. Han visade sig vara ett stort fan av svenskar och Spotify, han målar och har en förkärlek till att klättra i berg.
Wes Borland: Hi Niclas! Where are you calling from?
Sweden. Far away.
WB: Not that far.
Where are you at?
WB: I´m in Los Angeles.
Oh, you are! The city of angels.
WB: Well, seems not like that so much some times.
Right. I´ve listened to the album and I´ve been thinking about the title, “The moment you realize you´re going to fall”. Then today I read an interview with you and you talked about having this moment when you were out climbing. Just wondering, have you been doing that for a long time? Is it mountains or just really big rocks?
WB: I climb whatever. Mountains or big rocks. I´m not a professional climber by any means. Actually my brother´s wife´s brother, he´s a professional climber and he´s great, so he goes and climbs these really scary things. This happened to me when I was in my late 20´s and I used to climb anything without any fear and I was in Joshua Tree, which is a park out in the desert…
WB: Yeah, and they´ve got these huge rock formations and there´s something about the rocks there. Your shoes really grip the rock easily no matter what kinda shoes you´re wearing. You can really go… I mean, you can almost climb vertically up some of these rocks so you can be in big trouble before you even realize what you´ve done. You can get stuck somewhere. I found a crevasse, like 15 meters something. I pressed my back against one side and my feet against the other and I could just walk up by pressing in the crack and I got up to the top and realized I was exhausted. I was way up on this rock and none of the people that I went with knew where I was because I wandered off. Then I saw some climbing hooks at the top, for people to lock their lines in and I went “Oh no! Ok. There´s gotta be another way down.”. I wasn´t gonna try and go back down the crack and I just kept looking for all these ways and the sun was going down and I realized no matter what I did, I was either gonna be trapped or I was gonna get really hurt. I never really had a moment where I realized I was going to fall for sure, that I was going over the edge and I was going “Oh no, that´s it. I´m falling.”, but that´s sort of where the inspiration came from and then I started applying that to everything else in positive and negative ways.
But you climb without ropes, lines or anything?
Doing that, do you first look at the mountain or the rock and try to figure out which way to go, or do you just go for it and see where it ends up?
WB: Well, I used to do that. Now I look carefully what I´m gonna do when I´m out somewhere in the world. After this experience I never go up something that I don´t think I can also came down the same way. Before I would just wildly run up stuff. “Ok, let´s go!”.
Doing stuff like that, is it just a way of testing your own boundaries or what you´re capable of doing?
WB: I think it´s just going somewhere that is more interesting than flat ground. My whole life it´s been that whenever I see a rock or a mountain it´s like “I wanna climb that!”. I don´t know what´s wrong with me or what´s wrong with… I don´t think there´s anything wrong with it, it´s just like “That´ll be great to climb!”. It´s really fun. I like the adventure and seeing things from higher up. We were in Switzerland in the Alps past summer playing a festival and I got off the bus and it was real early in the morning, so I decided to help the crew load in because I get bored sometimes and try to take peoples jobs. (laughs) I was talking to my guitar tech and my tour manager and looking at this mountain ridge and I went “How far do you think that is? Do you think we can get up there?” and they were like “No way, that´s too far! It´ll take you hours.” And I went “No way, we can do that in an hour and a half.”, so I just wanna do stuff like that. We´re not even talking about music anymore, sorry.
It´s cool. It´s very interesting.
WB: Do you climb at all?
No, nothing. I´m not scared of heights or anything, but I just find it interesting. It´s one thing to do it with lines and ropes and a whole other thing to do it all by yourself. This past summer I saw a story on “60 Minutes” about an American guy who did free climbing in Yosemite and stuff like that.
WB. I don´t do anything like that. I´ve never done the things that guy is doing. No, no. That guy is out of his mind.
I read about the album and that there was a thought of creating an environment where it was ok to keep mistakes in the music and even add flaws to the music on purpose. What was the idea behind that?
WB: The first record felt too clean. Too perfect and I had a reaction of that by making this terrible covers record in 2008. I liked the songs, but the production was so bad on it that some of it is unlistenable to me now and to many other people. We didn´t have any money and it had all these wild songs. I was kinda inspired by “Aphex twin”. He did that whole record that sounds like broken glass and fingernails on a chalk board and is really irritating and I was like “It´ll be fine:” (laughs) “Let´s just make this as irritating as possible and make the production super extreme.”. I don´t know what I was thinking. (laughs) But I´m sort of glad we made it. The production could´ve been a little bit better, but that idea, I think I got it right on the new record. To have a good production that also has a lot of chaos and a lot of wild sounds. I just hate how everything in music is so… you can hear the cutting and pasting. “This is the same chorus that you´ve heard before exactly and with the same vocals on it.”. I hate that and even people in rock do that.
But with the music of Black Light Burns, I get the feeling that you can really work on that music for a long time until you get it perfect?
WB: Yeah, you could and we worked on some things for a long time. I think some of it were the samples and the crazy noise. Getting the right sound. Are you familiar with circuit bending?
No, not really.
WB: Ok, there´s this whole group of nerds called circuit benders that take old Casio keyboards and Speak and spells and all these electronic toys from the 80´s and they go in and start messing around with them with a soldering iron and wires. They put all these contact points on the circuit board inside the keyboard and bring out potentiometers and different kind of controls and then they sell these things on ebay. They have all these extra things on them and they will just like infinitely loop and have distortion inside of them and they sound like they´re broken. I´ve bought a few of these over the years and I really wanted to use them on this record, so a lot of the things that took time on the record, was me just hitting record in ProTools and letting one of these things just vomit all over the place. They´d make this insane noise and then I´d go through it and kinda tailor the noise. Take the things that were interesting and use them in songs as parts. That took a while, but most of the drum takes that we did live, because some of them are samples, are just sort of not edited. They´re kinda like “There you go!”. One or two takes and past them together.
I also read that Mr Bungle is a big influence.
WB: Oh yeah! Mr Bungle is from my childhood and they´re fantastic and has been an influence through my whole life for sure.
Have you ever been in touch with Mike Patton about doing something together?
WB: I´ve met him a few times and he´s always been super nice and said stuff like “I´m interested to see what you´re coming out with in the future.” and that´s it. That was a great moment in my life when Mike Patton said that he would be interested to see what I have coming out later in my life. “Thanks man!” (laughs) “Ok, either I can take that as you don´t like what I´m doing now or you´re just being nice.” I don´t know. (laughs) Either way I´ll take it.
This album is kinda tied together with the first one, right?
WB: Yeah, we started witing… We did the first one and then I had a couple of these songs written within months after the first record and then we stopped and we did the covers record. We didn´t even tear down from the covers record in the studio. We just started recording drums for this one right away.
Cool. When you went into the studio, how long did it take to come up with the finished album?
WB: I think most of the songs were written in about seven months, as far as they were probably about 75 % there. I did more vocals on them and hashed them out more in my home studio and completed most of it at my home studio. Then I wrote a few new songs, like “Bakelite” and “The colour escapes” were written after the major portion of the album was written.
Black Light Burns and all these other projects you´ve done, is that because you don´t get an outlet for that in Limp Bizkit or is it just to come up with cool music that interests you or just to see how far you can go?
WB: I think all of it. In Limp Bizkit it´s a collaboration between several people and even though I love it, Limp Bizkit is fun party music and I love the shows and the experience, I´m artistically confined in some ways, where I have parameters. I think that´s why I explode visually to where I´ve got all these costumes and all the crazy stuff that I do live. The guitar parts are a lot crazier because I feel everything is being forced into one area, but in Black Light Burns a lot of that stuff mellows. It´s still visually crazy, but the crazy goes out into everything else and isn´t forced so much into one area. I get a chance to explore and like you said, just try new things and make cool music that I´m interested in.
With you dressing up on stage and all the other stuff you do, do you have a general interest in arts? Do you paint and stuff like that?
WB: Yeah, I´m an oil painter and I do most of the album covers for Limp Bizkit and I did the Black Light Burns album covers. If you go to the Borlandgallery.com you can see tons of my paintings. I went to high school of the arts and I was a sculpture major in high school and then moved on to oil painting in college and just basically stuck with oil painting. I guess I continued to sculpt too because I make my own stage props and stuff like that. I´m not really a guitar player I think, as much as I am a visual artist. I always kinda felt like a painter that got lucky playing guitar.
Can painting help you musically and the other way around, can music help you paint?
WB: I´ve never known any difference, so I guess yes. They definitely have a relationship for me, but maybe other people have a better time with just painting or just playing music, because they don´t have the other one being a nuisance or clouding the thought process. For me they really go together.
Your interest in arts, is that something that came from your parents? Did it come early on?
WB: Yeah it was my parents. It´s a stupid story but they noticed I was drawing faces of people on the beach in the sand when I was like one or one and a half. They bought me crayons and they said I just went nuts. I don´t ever remember not drawing. My grandfather was an artist so maybe that´s where it came from.
You were born in Richmond as I understand it. How long did you live there? Did you get into music and all that in Richmond?
WB: I was born there but I only lived there for a year. I don´t remember it. Nashville is where I started playing guitar and wanted to play rock and not country or blues. That´s where I got into punk music and started listening to Minor Threat, Black Flag and Circle Jerks and all that California punk rock stuff that was happening. Then I heard “Kill ém all” with Metallica and that was it and I was a riff chaser.
A good start. Limp Bizkit then? You´ve got a new record deal. How do you feel about the music industry today? I read that the album “Significant other” sold about 600 000 copies in its first week, but these days if you sell that in three years, that´s pretty damn good.
WB: It is really different. Here we go! Let´s start the engine. The way things are now, there´s no money in selling records anymore, but making them is very cheap. The scale has tipped. Now anybody can make a record for nothing and they can do it at home and it sounds great. Because of that and the internet we now have this over saturation of music everywhere. Some of it´s great and there are people that have made records probably for free at home and they would never have been able to put anything out before. You have all this great music, but you also have all this shitty music that people are putting out. Boat anchor music. It´s really hard to find that good music. It´s like a needle in a haystack. Thank god there´s Spotify and stuff because sometimes those things will send you to other things that are similar to what you´re listening to. You have some sort of navigation through the mess of stuff and I think it´s getting better. The scales have tipped and everyone´s trying figure out how to deal with it after the fact. Things like Spotify are great and they are going to, at some point, start providing income to artists again so they can keep making records, but as of right now it´s impossible for people to sell records, unless you´re a titan like the Lady Gaga´s of the world. It´s sad because a lot of people aren’t going to be able to afford to make music their lives and make that second follow up or third record. How many more records are we gonna have that make bands into legends? There´s probably a Led Zeppelin out there that just the carpet pulled out from under their feet because they don´t have time or money to go on tour anymore, so all the things they could´ve been in their career are gonna be gone because they have to wash dishes to pay the rent. That´s the biggest loss, people not being able to afford to make music. We´ll see what happens. Maybe it´ll start happening to where they can afford to just devote their lives to music. Black Light Burns records are selling like shit, but somehow everyone seems to have heard it. I get people saying “Oh, the record´s amazing!” all day long and people who tell me they love the record, but they haven´t bought it. That´s where we are. No one´s buying the records and that´s even worse for other bands. It´s a scary time, but I have some kinda hope that they were just headed through a valley and there will be a peak, that makes sense for everyone. You can all get music for way less than you would have been paying for it in the past and we can all somehow make money from record sales again. Not the amount we were making, but enough so people can make a career out of it. That would be great.
Definitely. What´s the status of Limp Bizkit then? I read you were in Miami recording.
WB: We´ve been doing several different things. We´ve been in Miami. We´re on Cash Money now and we´re the first rock band on that label, which is crazy. That in itself is just weird, but in a good way. It totally makes no sense and it makes total sense at the same time. That´s been going great and we´ve been doing songs with their producers down in Miami. I´ve been working at Fred´s house a lot, playing guitar and writing songs with him. I´m actually starting to write some vocals on Limp Bizkit songs. It happened the other day, which is a new development and strange and good at the same time. We´ve been doing some band stuff in a few different studios, but we´re getting ready to go back into a studio in October and hash out a bunch of the demos that we have right now. We´re shooting a video tomorrow (September 7) for a song we did with some Cash Money people. It´ll be interesting.
Are you looking at a record release later this year or early next year?
WB: I think early next year. We´re gonna actually be finishing it, hopefully, in October and then it´s highly doubtful we´ll get it out by the end of the year.
Is it gonna be “classic” Limp Bizkit music or are you gonna take it in a whole other direction?
WB: I think it´ll be a mixture of both. There´s gonna be some classic Limp Bizkit stuff and some stuff that’s more musically rock and a bit more experimental and there´s stuff that´s gonna be super Cash Money club type stuff. It sounds all over the place, but when I think of what we´ve done in the past, it´s always been like a mix of pop elements with rock and some songs being completely rock and some songs have been completely hip hop. It´s really the same. It´s the same thing with different players involved.
You mentioned the covers album and that it´s hard listening to it today, do you feel the same with some Limp Bizkit stuff? How do you look at old stuff?
WB: I´ve heard the old Limp Bizkit stuff so much and most of the time I won´t listen to a record after it has come out. Especially when we start playing the songs live and songs live tend to change a little bit. Sometimes it´s weird to go back and go “Oh, so that´s how it is on the record!”, because we do it live like this now. I don´t really regret anything that I´ve done. I don´t really regret the covers album. I wish the production had been a little bit better, but you know what? Fuck it! (laughs) We did it and it´s important that I learned the lesson, because I learned a lot even though it didn´t come out the way I intended. It was a good release for the most part.
By the way, my main partner in directing the videos is from Sweden. I´m obsessed with Refused, The Knife and Fever Ray and all these Swedish bands. Anytime someone´s from Sweden I immediately go “Oh, they´re fucking cooler than we are!”. (laughs) There´s something about you guys. You guys have it together in a way no one else does.
Thanks! Great talking to you Wes.
WB: Thanks man!