The year was 2000, nu metal was starting to dominate radio and Limp Bizkit were "rollin', rollin', rollin'" with plenty of momentum as they made the jump from supporting their Significant Other album to working on what fans would come to know as Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water.
"We had this huge record to follow up,” guitarist Wes Borland told Louder Sound. “There was pressure, but we didn’t feel insecure or like we couldn’t follow it. We felt really confident going in, and I knew what I wanted to do. I knew it was gonna be different from Significant Other – and better.”
The band lined up Terry Date to join them in producing the album, got some assistance from Scott Weiland and John Abraham on a number of tracks and had Swizz Beatz oversee production for a second version of "Rollin'," subtitled Urban Assault Vehicle that featured guest rappers DMX, Method Man and Redman. Simply put, Limp Bizkit were able to call the shots and were in a position to land just about anyone they wanted for the record.
They had also been accepted for working hip-hop into their harder rock song. Fred Durst recalled, “People were either high on the emotion of things being fresh and exciting in terms of new sounds and urban music coming into heavy music, or they were rebelling against that. People who liked different kinds of music got what they wanted for the first time. It was that one moment in time when the planets lined up and we all got to share that moment together. It meant something to a big group of people who had never been heard before. It was special.”
“It was really good,” says Borland. “We were all [recording] in the same room and we wrote songs and recorded them as we went. I don’t even remember how many weeks we recorded for, but I just remember there was one day that came where we were listening to everything we had, and Fred [Durst] goes, ‘I think we’re done.’”
Bassist Sam Rivers reflects to Rock Sound, “It was all such a blur. The writing process was probably the funniest time I’ve had in my life; parties every night and no pressure. It was so much fun.”
The fun even spilled out onto the title for their album, which combined a pair of "in jokes" for the band. "Chocolate Starfish" came from Durst, who used the colorful term for a part of the anatomy to refer to how some people were viewing him at the time. Meanwhile, Borland had a joke about the taste of a certain water product that carried over as well. “It was my version of Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band. I was the asshole, and the other guys could be the dicks,” said Durst.
That said, it wasn't all fun and games as success started to impinge on the good times a bit. “There were definitely good times, but the record company were piling on pressure, chasing the dollars," said Durst to Rock Sound, later adding, "It was an interesting time in my life. There was all this negativity in the press, my idols and people in great bands, Trent Reznor and different people talking shit about me."
But, as Borland stated, tension was nothing new for the group. "There was some conflict going on, and tension to a certain extent, but that was just the way it always went. When it came to that album, the writing process was actually pretty easy," said the guitarist. Producer Terry Date added, “I wouldn’t say that the atmosphere was volatile, but everyone involved was intense. There were a lot of strong personalities. You had to be on your A-game.”
On Oct. 17, 2000, Limp Bizkit released Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water to the masses, and the response was far beyond what the group was expecting. The album debuted at No. 1, selling over one million copies the first week (1,054,511 to be exact). That still remains the largest first week debut for a rock album since the Nielsen Soundscan era began in 1991. The record would then spend a second week at No. 1 as well.
“I never thought Limp Bizkit was gonna be as large as it was," said Borland. "Then the record sold a million in the first week. It was just ridiculous. There was a point in which things got so big that I don’t remember them getting bigger."
Limp Bizkit, "Take a Look Around"