||Limp Bizkit sold 1.5 million copies of their debut record, shared stages with the hottest acts in the world and amassed a gigantic international fan-base before recieving any appreciable radio airplay. The band was among the top attractions at this summer's Woodstock and will be headlining the upcoming Family Values tour. Guitarist Wes Borland recently took the time to share his 7-string secrets with Guitar Center's Dustin Hinz.
GC: Tell us about your guitar. Why do you play Ibanez?
Borland: Ibanez makes the best seven strings, and they're ahead of everyone else, as far as seven strings go. They're always doing something creative and innovative, being a leader not a follower. It's a really an exciting company to work with and they're all wonderful people. The guitar I play now is pretty much an RG7621 with the electronic setup of an AX7521. It's sort of an in-between the seven strings.
GC: How did you get started playing guitar?
Borland: I was 12 years old when I bought my first electric guitar-electric guitar, not. I wonder now if getting an acoustic would have been a better idea than electric, but I didn't, so oh well! My dad's a guitar player, and I am sure that rubbed off. You know I was cutting, like, air guitars out of wood, making a plywood guitars and just going berserk with them in the basement with the radio on. I guess I always wanted to be a performer in some way or other. My parents wouldn't let me have a drum kit, of course! The guitar was the way to go. When I started playing, I used the same set of strings 'til there were two left. It was definitely time to get new strings! I never cleaned my guitar. I have someone who does that now. Actually, no. I have someone who's supposed to do that for me but I end up doing it everyday instead!
GC: What do you think of the guitar rig you have now? What do you use live?
Borland: I think it's too big and too complicated, but it's pretty much what I need. I use a Roland JC120 for clean, because there's nothing cleaner than that. I don't like any kind of distortion in my clean playing. I hate distortion in my clean sound so much that I'm moving from passive to active pick-ups. I also use Mesa Boogie Dual and Triple Rectifiers. Some people may say there's a huge difference between them but I can get my sound out of either the Dual or Triple Rectifier. That's pretty much the best distortion amp for me. A lot of people swear by Marshalls. For me, Mesa is pretty much the way to go. Pedal-wise I use pretty much all Boss pedals because they're indestructible. Ibanez has a new line of pedals that are better than any other. They're well thought out and really made to be live pedals. They're made to take a lot of bumps. They're like little tanks! They remind some of Boss pedals. They've got the quality of Boss with an even more indestructible vibe to 'em. Those will be out soon and I'll probably be using those for, like, half my arsenal of pedals. I just go straight from the guitar into the pedals, into the amps. I A-B switch between the JC120's and the Mesa Boogies.
GC: What's the coolest recent addition into your set-up?
Borland: A brand new Ibanez four-string that has a banjo-sized neck and is, um, as of right now, extremely difficult to play! It's like playing a banjo. The neck is half the width of what my seven-string neck is, so it's taken some getting used to, but it's an incredible guitar. Sounds great!
GC: Do you have a home studio?
Borland: I don't have a home studio right now but I am planning on investing some money into a ProTools rig. I want a mobile ProTools rig that I can have either at home or on the road. I have a friend who is very knowledgeable about ProTools who's going to help me get set up with that!
GC: Your influences are wide and varied and pretty different from your own band. How do these wacked-out influences effect your playing and contribution to the band?
Borland: I've recently gotten even more wacked-out! Significant Other just came out but we're going back into the studio in January of 2000 to make another record that will be out probably in spring of 2000. So right now, in preparation, I'm just sort of absorbing a bunch of different kinds of music. I spent about 300 bucks on CDs over the last week, so you got me at a really good time for that question. I got folk music from Transylvania, John Zorn's Music for Children, the new live Ween double CD. I needed to get that for my Ween collection! I got some Ravi Shankar CD's. Apocolyptica, four Finnish cello players that do all these Metallica covers and heavy metal covers. This guy, Paul Galbraith, who plays an eight-string classical guitar. I got him doing a bunch of Haydn pieces. He breathes a lot on the CD, you hear him breathing in and out really hard the whole time. He gets really excited. It's a little annoying to listen to, but anyway, that's some of the stuff. You can just imagine how that influences what I'm playing in the band.
GC: Do you play other instruments?
Borland: I have two banjos and two basses. I try to play the drums but I don't play them well. Most drummers kick me off their drum kits pretty quickly!
GC: Does having a DJ in the band change how you approach your guitar or the sound you use?
||Borland: No, not really. I think it changes how he plays alot. It's probably changed me a little bit, probably more than I know, working with DJ Lethal. We're still a very rooted bass-guitar-drums unit. Most of the songs are guitar-bass-drums type of compositions. Then DJ and vocals come in. Lethal comes in and kind of puts the icing in the cake. So, he's using his discretion more than I'm using mine. But whenever we work on something together simultaneously, it's almost overwhelming. It's like two guitar players working together. Lethal's thing is not as spontaneous as guitar. He does a lot more research and development type of stuff where he has to go hunt for the right sounds and things. It's really incredible the way he works. His record collection is insane, the number of records he has! We're really happy to have him and happy to have that flavor.
GC: Do you have a practice regimen and if so what is it?
Borland: Play...Don't play...Play...Don't play! There are some points when I just need to not play for a long time. Like right now, I'm not playing at all. That happens sometimes for players, they reach a point when you just know it's right not to play for a while and to do other things and to play other instruments besides guitar. Sometimes, I want to do nothing but practice for long periods of time without really doing anything else but finger exercises or running scales or learning different guitar pieces. Things where I'm really working on dexterity, absorbing knowledge, learning new chords, stuff like that. Then sometimes I just play. Play whatever comes. That's sort of a regimen but It's not real strict.
GC: How does the band write songs?
Borland: Songs get written all different ways. Some songs are made up on the spot. It takes an hour to write the whole thing, start to finish! Sam or I will start playing a part and then everybody else will come in with a new part. Or someone will have written something. Like I'll do something at home and bring in a riff or an idea, a verse, chorus or bridge. Any type of short structure that I've made up and made into a song. Sometimes Fred will hum a melody and we'll build a whole song off of that. It just all depends on what's going on.
GC: How do you warm up before a performance?
Borland: I do a bunch of different stretches and a bunch of different exercises as far as my body goes. I don't warm up guitar-wise at all. I do a lot of physical body stretches and a lot of all-over body warm-up. We have a pretty berserk stage show. If we didn't stretch out before a show, we'd really be hatin' it. If it's really cold, I'll run my hands under warm water to warm 'em up so they're not stiff.
GC: What's up with the family values tour?
Borland: As far as confirmed bands this year that I know right now, it's DMX for the first half of the tour and then Method Man is gonna take his spot for the second. They'll be the third act going on. Filter is in the fourth spot, and we're in the fifth. We're headlining it. It's just gonna be a great tour, a great time! There are two almost positively confirmed acts for the beginning for the first and second slots, but I can't say what they are right now.The tour will probably begin towards the end of September.
GC: What advice would you have for a young guitar player who might want to model his careers after yours?
Borland: I've asked a similar question to other people in the industry and it seems like it always happens a little bit differently with every band. A lot of it is luck, but most of it is being really determined. Writing a lot of songs with your band, making a good recording of your songs, something that represents you well and getting that to as many people as you can. We get a lot of demos, but most of them suck! Just about 90% of what we get is terrible. All I can tell you is to be that 10% that isn't terrible. If you're in that 90% that people think is not that good, just keep practicing and working harder! You're going to make it if you're good. People don't ignore a great band. If you have what it takes, you're going to get a record deal. But getting the record deal is only the first part of it. There's a lot of work after that. It's just the beginning of a long road! I would say concentrate on music and know that there's no quick easy way to get signed. Barely anyone gets successful overnight. There's no secret, no trick!
GC: Have you or do you shop at Guitar Center at all?
Borland: I think it's fantastic! I wish there were a Guitar Center in every city. It's the biggest music store I've ever been in. It's unbelievable. I wish it were smaller so that I could see it all...go there and see the Guitar Center in one trip! But that's why I like it so much, partly too, because it is so huge!