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Wes Borland - Limp Bizkit

Wes Borland - Limp Bizkit

Musician, Producer
Wes Borland

Limp Bizkit’s Wes Borland is one of the most influential rock guitarists on the planet. Winner of the Metal Hammer Riff Lord award in 2018, Wes is also a solo artist and founder of the bands Big Dumb Face and Black Light Burns. He uses Aston Origins on his stage amps to capture his awesome signature guitar sound...

Limp Bizkit, Big Dumb Face, Black Light Burns.
Wes uses these Aston mics:
Origin
Spirit
The rough streets of Florida

"I did Wing Chun Kung Fu when I was between 8 and 16, and my teacher was also a guitar instructor at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. I was over at his house one-time and he showed me his weird, heavy yellow electric guitar, it might have been a Steinberger or something, it had no headstock (or I don’t remember it having one, you know how memory is…!) I just remember thinking ‘this is such an amazing object; it feels so professional’ I thought it was cooler than my dad’s guitar!

Now I know it’s not though, because my dad has this Martin D-18 from 1963 which is a really amazing. It’s been the family guitar forever. My dad would play acoustic guitar all the time, he was very into Paul Simon and Jim Croce. My parents had a limited amount of vinyl - the first record I got into was this old Moody Blues vinyl that I would listen to all the time. Seeing my dad play all the time, him showing me songs, I got into electric guitar.

We moved from Nashville to Florida when I was 12. I was skateboarding all the time at that point. When I got to Florida I couldn’t really skate because there were shells in the concrete, meaning all the streets were super rough. I wasn’t about to go find a new martial arts class, so I just said ‘No, I’m going to play guitar’. I didn’t have any older siblings, or any friends, I didn’t know anyone, so I just ended up sitting in my room, practicing.

I like playing acoustic, but I tend to play electric most of the time. I use acoustic when its necessary for certain things; for percussion on a lot of recordings, just in the background supporting. Similar to how Radiohead uses acoustic guitar when they go heavy, as if it’s almost part of the drumkit or part of their percussion."

Limp Bizkit

“I was talking with a friend recently who’s trying to break into the gay nightclub pop world, about the possibility of musical success. He’s a singer and a dancer and looking into things like getting support from alcohol companies, to sponsor his shows, pay for the lights - he’s got this whole route planned out! He asked me how long it took me, after I got into music, to find success. At first I said ‘Oh I worked for a long time’ but then I realised, ‘No I didn’t! Bizkit got signed nine years after I started playing guitar!’ I just shut my mouth for the rest of the conversation….

I met John Otto [who would become the Limp Bizkit drummer], and his best friend growing up was Sam [Rivers] the bass player. Fred [Durst – vocalist] was from North Carolina and we met him after he had moved to Jacksonville. We were all in different bands at the time, but after high school as people in our bands started peeling off to go to college or start working for their fathers, or whatever they were going to do, we were the people left that still wanted to the band thing.

Fred started kicking people out of his original band. He’s very cognisant of what’s going on around him, it was his business to find out about every other band in town and who the people in the bands were, and he started stealing people from bands, or taking people from bands that had broken up. He found John, and then John approached me and said, ‘If you want to come over and try out for what I’m doing, our guitar player just quit’. And that was Limp Bizkit.

I went over and met all the guys except for Fred. They had a show coming up so I learned all the songs and then met Fred the day of the show. He was in Philadelphia interning at a tattoo studio at the time. He came in on a train and played the first show that night. We started playing more shows and writing more songs, slowly replacing all of the old songs, and that’s what became [debut album] ‘3 Dollar Bill’; all of the songs that we were writing that were replacing the old songs.”

Astral Hand

 “I’ve got another band called Big Dumb Face, which is a side project; and then another band, that I’ve retired for the time being called Black Light Burns. Black Light Burns was more of my serious band for a while, but it became me working under my own name as Wes Borland, and that’s when I did the record ‘Crystal Machete’ and then an EP called ‘Matadors and Daughters’. Now I’m working on a full length follow-up to that under my own name called the ‘Astral Hand’.

I’ve used a lot of Aston’s mics, for overheads on drum kits, I’ve used them to mic acoustic instruments and I used the two Spirits on my tiny piano, and it turned out amazing, it was great. I mean, it sounds so incredible just having the stereo signal on the little piano, it really brought it to life. I usually pair the little piano with a Rhodes, or an electronic instrument - I have a great Balanese Kontakt program which has an instrument called a Gangsa, I’ll sometimes pair the piano with that.

And those microphones, the Aston Origins, I don’t really have to do to much EQ to them. What I get just ‘is’. I put them right through my centre console, which is a 1981 Neotek Series 1, 24x8. It’s the same console Steve Albini has in his studio B at Electrical Audio in Chicago. People call them the poor mans API, but they’re just very transparent and sound really good.”

Sounds like THAT amp now

“I try to follow a lot of what Steve Albini does and try to buy the same mics he buys. He’s very practical, and I love his drum sounds and his techniques and the way he mics things. He’s always said, ‘I don’t really care about the mic pre’s, I think 80-90% of what you’re getting in a signal chain is from the microphone, not the pre.’ I know other people disagree with that, but to test that I put the Origins on the Neotek pre’s just to bring them up on the board next to each other and they just sounded incredible. I A/B’ed that with API’s and it sounded the same, pretty much.

Brian Worthing, who is the best FOH we’ve ever had - he’s also exclusively with the Foo Fighters when they’re on tour - walked into my dressing room after the show the first time we put an Origin on my JC-120 and just said, ‘I got to tell you man, after putting that mic on your amp it completely changed everything. That amp sounds like THAT amp now through the PA. I don’t have to EQ it; I don’t have to do anything with it. I want you to tell whoever is responsible for that mic that you know, that I am blown away and I would love to talk to them about their microphones’.”

Out-takes

Q. Who are your favourite artists?
A. 
Aphex Twin, hands down across the board. Refused - I think ‘The Shape of Punk to Come’ is the best recorded rock record as far as a hard record. It’s so tight, and I love the production on it, and I love almost all the songs on it. I think there are times where it doesn’t punch as much as I feel like it should be punching, but I think that record is super important. I think ‘Songs for the Death’ by Queens of the Stone Age borrowed heavily from their production.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds was the most entertaining, captivating live show I’ve ever seen.

I love Godspeed You! Black Emporer, they’re the instrumental orchestral/rock people who did that main song on 28 Days Later. I also really like Haxan Cloak. He’s an English guy who moved to LA. He’s amazing . He just did the soundtrack for [Horror movie] Midsommar.

Q. If you weren’t working in music what would you be doing?
A. 
Initially I was going to go to art school because I really wanted to get into special effects for film, sculpting monster heads and doing special effects and make up effects.

Drawing and painting is something that I’ve always done since I can remember; I think my parents noticed I was drawing faces on the beach at a year and a half old and got me a set of crayons and then it was just something that came naturally from there. I’ve always constantly wanted to work at it. I’ve done sculpture, blacksmithing, photography, and design but I always gravitate more towards oil painting. I think it’s the best most classic median where you can take somebody and really achieve a huge impression on them. I’m working up to having a set of paintings, a body of work, that I like enough to showcase it all together at the same time in one show. I’m shooting to that Fall of 2020, or early 2021.

Q. What is the first song that made you cry?
A. '
Hope There’s Someone' - Anthony and the Johnsons

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