Despite a cancellation and a police arrest, approximately 500 people in three cities have put their guitars where their mouths are so far, and more than a dozen have gotten to jam with the rhythm section of Limp Bizkit.
In its quest to find a guitarist to replace Wes Borland, the band is holding open auditions at Guitar Centers in cities all over the country. The Put Your Guitar Where Your Mouth Is auditions have drawn an average of 150 players each day in Fresno, California; Clackamas, Oregon; and Seattle, with the try-outs running from approximately 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. in each location.
Bizkit wannabes have been granted between five and 15 minutes to rock for executives from Flawless Records, Fred Durst’s label. String-slingers with the magic were invited back at the end of the day to play with bassist Sam Rivers and drummer John Otto while vocalist Fred Durst watched and bobbed his head to the beat. Those jam sessions ran anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes.
“There was definitely an excitement in the air,” Limp Bizkit’s manager Peter Katsis said. “Kids are definitely seeing this as a unique opportunity to display their talent in front of some people who could really make something happen. A lot of them are bringing their CDs and pushing their bands just as hard as they’re trying to get in Limp Bizkit because they see what’s happened with Puddle of Mudd. From that viewpoint, everything that’s going on is exciting.”
“It’s all about the feel, man,” Durst said right before the first audition in El Cerrito, California. “There’s no looks. We’re definitely not looking for Limp Bizkit Wes Borland clones. It’s just if you like what they’re doing you look at them like, ‘Dude, something’s cool about that cat.’ ” Outside the El Cerrito audition room a sign read, “No solos!” Other than that, there were no rules. Some auditioned with their own songs, others improvised riffs and some were invited to play along with a computerized Rivers drum loop. Durst seemed especially intent on keeping it loose.
“When you came in, what did you think it would be like?” Durst asked the first player to audition, Chandon Pennington. “Did you think you would start shredding or did you think we wanted you to play Limp Bizkit songs?”
The guitarist shrugged, and Durst continued. “We’re trying to get some feedback so we can know how to run smoother. Do it however people want. Beats to put on, shred, play one of your songs, whatever. What do you think?”
“This is the weirdest experience I’ve ever had in my life,” Pennington sheepishly replied. “It’s like all my guitar-playing years have come to this point. This is like the pinnacle.”
Then Pennington started cranking out chunky metallic riffs reminiscent of Megadeth. Moments later, Durst left the room. Pennington was not invited back at the end of the day.
Although Limp Bizkit and their handlers have already checked out around 500 guitarists and are planning to continue the auditions in Boise, Idaho, Wednesday (January 16) and Salt Lake City, Utah, on Thursday, the proceedings haven’t been entirely glitch-free.
The January 11 date in Concord, California, had to be postponed because organizers lacked the proper permit. And on January 13, Durst was attacked in Clackamas, Oregon.
The band was returning to the guitar store following a food break when 18-year-old Richard Petrillo skirted past a throng of fans getting autographs from the band and hit Durst in the back of the head with a coconut cream pie. Two of Limp Bizkit’s bodyguards helped detain the perp while sheriff’s deputies assigned to the event handcuffed him, a spokesperson for the Clackamas Sheriff’s Office said. Then Durst signed Petrillo’s forehead and drew and “X” on his cheek with a magic marker. Petrillo was taken to the police station and placed in a cell for under an hour before being charged with disorderly conduct and five counts of harassment.
Despite the temporary chaos, the Put Your Guitar Where Your Mouth Is auditions have been a success for all involved – especially those who have gotten to jam with the band.
“It was incredible,” said 20-year-old Aaron Tollefsou, who used the name “West Morland” for his Clackamas audition. “It was kind of awkward playing with new people at first and I didn’t really know what to play, so I just played some of my stuff. But it was really great and it gives me more confidence in what I’m doing [with my band Kattis Fly] knowing that Limp Bizkit like what I’m doing.”
Tollefsou added that although he was anxious about meeting his idols, Durst quickly allayed his fears.
“I talked to him for 20 minutes about music and stuff in general,” he said. “He’s a pretty cool dude. He knows a lot about music and we’re on the same wavelength. He definitely wasn’t intimidating at all. He was very easy to talk to and really laid back. He definitely made it an easy experience.”
Seattle finalist Amy Stolzenbach, 32, who plays in an all-female AC/DC tribute band called Hell’s Belles (see “AC/DC’s Angus Young Spotted In Miniskirt”), had an equally positive experience.
“As a musician you always want to challenge yourself and make yourself do something you haven’t done before. So it was kind of like the next step for me to play with a band that’s of that level,” she said. “I’m a fan of their rhythm section. Sam and John are really, really tight, so it was nice to play with good musicians. The whole vibe was really, really laid back.”
Stolzenbach is realistic about her chances of making it to the final audition round, which will be held after the final Put Your Guitar Where Your Mouth Is date in Los Angeles on February 11. Still, she’s hopeful that this just might be her lucky break.
“If they were to choose me, I would join them in a heartbeat,” she said. “The demographic that they’re playing to is mostly male, so it would be a cool challenge to be a female guitarist in that environment. And Fred Durst did say at one point that he thought it would be really cool to find a female guitar player. That’s why I even auditioned in the first place.”