Q&A: Wes Borland of Black Light Burns and Limp Bizkit
With his eerie masks or stone-faced looks, Limp Bizkit guitarist Wes Borland seems unapproachable. But during a recent phone conversation with SoundSpike, he was more than happy to talk about his avant garde alter ego, Black Light Burns.
Borland created this monster in the mid-2000s and released its debut, "Cruel Melody," in 2007. The album featured guest appearances by Danny Lohner (NIN), Josh Eustis (Puscifer) and Josh Freese (Guns N' Roses). A year later, Borland followed up the album with a collection of covers and B-side material dubbed "Cover Your Heart."
In 2009, Black Light Burns toured with Combichrist and contributed the track "I Want You To" to the "Underworld: Rise of the Lycans" soundtrack. Borland put the project on the back burner while he toured with the reformed Limp Bizkit. But this year, he resurrected Black Light Burns and released "The Moment You Realize You're Going To Fall."
Borland spoke to SoundSpike about the solitary vibe of "The Moment You Realize You're Going to Fall," the status of Limp Bizkit and the joyfulness of Black Light Burns' shows.
SoundSpike: In listening to "The Moment You Realize You're Going To Fall," it seems like the songs would be fun yet challenging to replicate live.
Wes Borland: Exactly. There are going to be times when I wish I hadn't written so many staccato words into parts of songs. [Laughs] During rehearsals, I've was going, 'Oh my God.' I was trying to keep up with them. I can't believe that I'm pulling it off.
Compare "The Moment You Realize You're Going to Fall" to "Cruel Melody."
The first record, I had a lot of help and there were a lot of different people involved in doing appearances and collaborations on the record. This one I didn't want anyone, really, involved much in it. I ended up writing a lot of it by myself and wanted to not to make it the opposite of the first record, but definitely take it somewhere else. It wasn't totally intentional to make it in solitary, but that's what ended up happening. I locked myself away and recorded the record and gave it to our old drummer who was really involved at the time, as far as the recording process went. I went back in the studio and finished it by myself. So, my old drummer and guitarist Nick [Annis] played on the record. Before, there were so many people involved.
Why did you opt for this format?
It just ended up being that way. I thought I just ended up liking doing it alone more. I didn't have to interface with anyone that much. I could get down into the creative process of making the songs. The only time the record left my control was when I went to get constructive criticism from other people.
Which process did you like better?
I think I'm going to do it the same way on the next one. I do want to bring in a couple of people to split the difference between this record and the last one. We'll see what happens. I'm not even sure what I'm going to do for the next record. The idea is to do an EP that quickly follows this album because we were gone for so long between records. I don't want to make that mistake again.
Was the length of time between albums due to your playing with Limp Bizkit?
What is the status of Limp Bizkit?
We're in the studio. We've been doing a bunch of different sessions for a new album. It continues. Everything's moving forward as far as the making of our new album. We're supposed to be touring in the very near future, hopefully in America. We've been touring outside of the States for the last four years. I think we're ready to finally play some shows here.
From what I understand, Black Light Burns and Limp Bizkit are both on new labels.
Limp Bizkit is on Cash Money and with Black Light, it's not really a label. It's sort of like a distributor that we just sort of have a 50/50 deal with. They're actually the same ones who distributed "Cruel Melody" through our old label. Our old label disintegrated and went out of business. It's sort of being on the same label but not really.
What was the songwriting process for "The Moment You Realize You're Going To Fall?"
I don't know. I never really stopped writing after "Cruel Melody." I just sort of kept going. It was just me demoing in my studio alone just writing songs, writing songs, writing songs. Most of it was written between 2008, 2009, then completed afterward.
Did you find that the songs changed a lot over time?
No, not too much. They were what they were. I wrote some additional songs that I thought fit in nicely with the record. Most of the songs stayed as they were. I added a little bit to them, made some arrangement changes. But for the most part, they were the same.
Do you have the new songs written already?
Yeah. There are some things that didn't make it on the record that are developed ideas. Record writing ,as far as Black Light Burns, is an ongoing process. I just have to stop at some point, but I'm always writing.
Is it hard to finally say, "OK, I have to stop now'?
Yeah. It is and it's not. I don't know. Sometimes I feel like nothing is ever finished and you have to abandon it at some point. I think that's true with painting or music or whatever it is. I just say, "This makes sense. All this makes sense. This covers this time period. That represents me in this time period. Starting now onward will be representing me in the next time period," or whatever.
What kind inspired the record?
I think there were themes from the first record that continued over. Some of the themes I continued to write about on the second record. I also stopped watching television in 2005. I think I've gotten more being away from that, disgusted with the idea of people constantly being on the hook from TV programming, being confined to their couches and never living and leading their own lives. Living through these characters that don't exist and these TV shows that never have a payoff. I started thinking about the world that way, where people have Western world problems in safe little bubbles and manufacturing things to be upset about because they don't really have any problems in their life. There's no war going on in their front yard. They're not starving. They have nothing to want for really, so they have to make up things to want for. I think a lot of that disheartening acceptance of boredom by society in the Western world fueled a lot of the lyrics. That's my unhappiness with that. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I'm secretly wishing some life-destroying event would happen so that everybody could go back to square one and has to fend for food and hunt and gather and garden. Seems like people would learn who they really are. I do wish for it and I don't, because I'm comfortable, too, just like everyone else. I wish there was some sort of medium area where I really don't want to let my life slip by and not have something to show for it. We don't really interact with humans that much. Now that we have social media, you can watch anything on demand. Order food and be separated in your car, and you don't have to talk to anyone ever if you don't want to. That's frustrating to me. It takes the love out of life. I don't know. I think some of those things are explored on the record. Sorry for ranting.
That's OK. It was interesting. So, what can fans expect from your live shows?
Part of it depends on the audience. We sort of feed off of what's happening in the room. Our shows are pretty nuts and they're pretty personal. We talk to people in the crowd a lot. After the show's over, we come off the front of the stage and go into the audience and hang out. It's very intimate, I would say, but it's very slippery and usually I get cracked in the face with the microphone, or fall on the drum set. It's kind of a wild time, but friendly.