Left, Ben, the guy who has Fred Durst's old phone number. Right, Fred Durst.
In 2011, I found myself in possession of Fred Durst’s personal cell phone number. At the time, I was in the middle of a short period where I struggled to find work as a touring guitar tech. One of the only gigs that fell into my lap was through a friend who gave my contact info to the Limp Bizkit frontman and noted nookie enthusiast. The band needed to fill a tech job for a tour of Japan they had coming up, and things were looking hopeful for me landing it.
Durst and I exchanged some calls and texts over a few days, making sure we were a good fit, and it seemed like it was all-systems-go. I actively stopped looking for other work and planned for my trip to Asia with nü-metal’s seminal rap rockers. Then there was a stretch of silence from the Limp Bizkit camp.
The tour was coming up in a couple of weeks and I still didn’t have my flight information, or any other information regarding the job. Since Durst was the only contact I had, and he was managing the band at the time, I waited for him to call me back, but didn’t want to pressure him too hard. A week before the tour, I followed up with him via text and he told me he was at his kid’s birthday party so he couldn’t really talk. A couple of days later, when I had pretty much given up and resigned to the fact that I was out of a job once again, I got the email confirming what I had suspected: I wasn’t going to be doing the tour and I had been sitting around waiting for nothing.
I was kind of pissed off about it and the way it was handled. Waiting until the last minute to send a two-sentence email felt like a real dick move. So a few months later, I decided to pull a dick move of my own. While out with a couple of friends, they asked what had happened with my potential Limp Bizkit gig. I gave them the rundown of how I felt screwed over, and they offered to give Durst a call. So I gave them his number and told them to have at it, old-school Buddyhead-style. That night, one of my friends contacted him pretending to be a woman he had met in Japan and Durst sort of played along with it even though the texts were coming from a number with a New York area code.
As with most poorly kept secrets, the number spread throughout my circle of friends. Then it found more people. And even more. Soon enough, the number was disconnected.
Drunk at a BBQ recently, my friend remembered that he had the number and decided to give it a call. To his surprise, there was an answer. The person on the other end was not only very nice about it, but also claimed that he was a Limp Bizkit fan and had been getting calls to that number pretty much every day since he got it. I reached out to him to see what was up.
Noisey: Tell me a bit about yourself.
The guy who has Fred Durst’s old phone number: My name is Ben, I'm 31 years old, and I'm currently a Marine Corps recruiter in Los Angeles. I like Chinese food, long walks on the beach, and hiking.
When did you first get this phone number and when did you realize you may have someone’s number that may be famous?
I got this phone number the day after Thanksgiving last year. They asked me what my zip code was and I couldn't remember. So instead of looking it up, I rattled off the first one that came to mind—90210. I thought it was kind of humorous, and went with it. They gave me a list of numbers and this one was the one that stuck out to me. 867-5309 was already taken.
I realized this was the number of someone famous, or at least really popular, when I started getting phone calls about band-related things and party invites. It wasn't until I got a call from Virginia that I was let in on who this infamous "Fred" was.
How did you figure out it was Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit’s old phone number? What were the calls or texts like from people thinking they were reaching Fred?
Probably the fifth phone call I received, I ended up talking to one of the guitarists from Gwar and I talked for about five minutes before I was able to convince him that I wasn’t Fred, and he told me exactly who Fred was. I'm pretty sure Fred Durst is a pretty private guy. Everyone who calls doesn't believe me that I'm not him, which makes me think he pranks people a bit. The calls are usually pretty straight-up: his old managers calling me to ask opinions on different prospective ideas, party invites, the occasional “we’re going to New York, you should go.” Recently, I've been getting phone calls from France and Belgium as well. Apparently this guy travels a bit.
What’s the weirdest thing people would ask or tell you? Do you think most people were calling because they seriously thought it was Fred’s number and needed to contact him or was it mostly people calling and texting to prank him?
I've had people tell me I sound like him. But for the most part, it sounds like they actually wanted to get ahold of him. Fewer pranks than you'd think. The occasional drunk dial. No lingerie models begging to meet up, though. I'm still hopeful.
Fred Durst, possibly getting prank called at his former number, we're not sure. Via Youtube.
Are people generally understanding that you aren’t Fred, or do they require convincing? Like, maybe they think he’s trying to avoid them or something?
It takes a while, but for the most part, they understand. Like I said though, Fred seems to live a private life and likes it that way. I was told he didn't give this number out to everyone. A few of his old managers didn't believe me. They kept calling for a week trying to catch me slipping up, and maybe I'd just finally accept that I'm Fred.
Have you ever considered changing the number, or is it just part of you now?
No, never really considered it. I'll keep it, unless Fred wants it back. I'm not shy and talking to people—and talking to celebrities—is awesome. Seriously, how often do you get drunk dialed by random drummers? Nevermind. You probably do a bit.
Do you think it’ll get old?
Not really, I've actually started looking forward to them.
So, full disclosure, I was partially responsible for spreading his number amongst a small group of friends who may or may not have abused it until Fred eventually disconnected it. One of those people called the number recently while drunk at a party which is how we found out that you had it, and inspired this little interview. He said that you were a nice person and that you said, “At least it’s someone cool.” Are you a Limp Bizkit fan? If so, have you seen them live lately? What type of music do you listen to?
I used to be a huge fan, but haven't heard them recently. I've never been to one of their concerts. I like hard/heavy metal—Five Finger Death Punch, Atreyu, Trivium, Cold.
If you had to do it all over again, when you first realized what you had gotten yourself into with this phone number, would you have had it changed?
No, it's pretty cool.
Is there any message you’d like to pass on to Fred? I can’t guarantee 100 percent that he’ll get it, but being that I feel a bit guilty for some of the prank phone calls you may have gotten. It’s the least I can do.
Fred, my answering fees are ten bucks a call. Vanilla Ice says “What's up, Ninja!” Your old manager wants to take you out to lunch. Some producer wants your idea on a four-girl group—I say do it. Belgium misses you. France said they love and miss you, too.
Finally… You aren’t actually Fred Durst trying to avoid talking about Limp Bizkit for this interview, are you? If so, sorry for giving your number out five years ago. We’re even now, right?
[Laughs] No. Although…
Brian Diaz is a tech for hire. He will not give away your phone number, he promises. Follow him on Twitter - @briankeithdiaz