An interview with Holiday Kirk, CEO of Nu Metal

His Twitter page crazy ass moments in nu metal history is the online hub of the genre’s resurgence.

Art by Tyler Farmer.

Slipknot are headlining sold-out amphitheaters, Limp Bizkit’s Wes Borland is dressed like a b-movie villain and Fred Durst is eager to break stuff. Mudvayne’s blood-draped Chad Gray is wishing his enemies were “sucking on a motherfucking tailpipe.” In case you need confirmation, this wasn’t just happening at the beginning of the ‘00s. It’s happening right now. 

The genre of nu-metal was largely forgotten after the early aughts — CDs relegated to dusty thrift store bins and JNCOs hidden away in the family attic from prying eyes — but the synthesization of palpable angst into equal parts rapping and screaming was bound for a resurgence. As tried and true as any laws of physics, turn-of-the-millenium cultural fascinations have emerged in the collective consciousness. Tramp stamps are returning to lower backs (nature is healing), Eurodance novelties are being resurrected via Applebees-playlist-core interpolations, and Woodstock 99 has been mined for a headlining Netflix docuseries. In 2023, it’s no surprise that nu-metal is back in style.

While this is apparent in physical spaces like festival grounds and local venues, it can also be sensed online, most notably on a key Twitter account: crazy ass moments in nu metal history. Run by admin Holiday Kirk, what started off as a meme page became a space to celebrate the music with lifetime fans and expose new listeners to a genre that spoke to those before them. There’s of course still humor — a key component that Kirk highlights as part of nu-metal’s appeal — but what’s evolved into a dedicated Discord community and podcast speaks to a serious appreciation of a genre so maligned during its unceremonious dissolution from public view.

Trying to understand the inner machinations of why nu-metal has attained a second life, I spoke with Holiday Kirk about the creation and evolution of crazy ass moments in nu metal history, shared shame in Staind phases, and the importance of classic acts continuing to carry the torch. 

Mike Giegerich: First off, Happy Fred Durst Friday. When did you first discover nu-metal and who were your gateway bands?

Holiday Kirk: You know, I first discovered nu-metal in that way where you’re just raised listening to alternative rock radio. But I think it’s more interesting to say when I discovered nu-metal the second time around. My gateway band was Deftones. When I suddenly realized that White Pony was a respectable album and I was allowed to get into it. So it was Deftones. And then I got into Life Is Peachy by Korn for just, like, a hot second. And then I kind of fell off again for a little while. And then — this is always so weird to say — but I got into Staind. I had a big Staind phase in my mid-late 20s, which is always rough — down horrible — and that has aged very poorly. But yeah, that was another one where I was like, “Oh, this is great. I love this.” And then I got into Cold, Chevelle, and just kept following that thread into more and more obscure…I mean, I went in both directions, I got into more obscure bands, like Simon Says and Stepa and Mad Capsule Markets, acts like that. And then I got into the bigger stuff like Limp Bizkit and Korn again, and Slipknot. And I’ve just been tugging on that thread ever since and keep following it through and I discover stuff all the time.

I also had a Staind phase in my early-to-mid-20s. 

It’s fucked, right? You look back and you’re like, “What was I going through?” You’re down terrible if you’re getting into Staind in your late 20s.

Especially being conscious of what Aaron Lewis is like these days. 

He was a piece of shit at the time, but he was one of those political Boomer types. He wasn’t, like, a transphobe. I used to have songs of his on my best nu-metal songs list. And then he decided to be that and then I took them off, which is fucking fine, because those songs are, like, you know, I had that phase. But even outside of him just being a terrible person, the music has aged terribly. It gets worse every time I put it on. So you know, appreciate you for getting me into the genre, Aaron, and I still think you guys have like, four or five great songs, but I’m over it.

Yeah, I actually almost got the Staind logo tattooed during that phase which was a post-ironic thing.

Wow. You were down — woof, man — I was never close to that. Getting a Staind tattoo in your mid to late 20s in the year of our Lord 2020s is incredible. I’m glad you didn’t go that far. That’d be tough to explain.

Definitely dodged a bullet. So how did the Twitter account come about? And did you expect it to gain this dedicated cult following?

You know what, I’ve been working towards getting some sort of Twitter following for a really long time. I’ve always wanted to be a Twitter micro-celebrity [laughs]. And when I started that account, though, it was sort of trendy, these “crazy ass moments” accounts that started with the “crazy ass moments in American political history.”  They’re the originators and then I just started my own because there was kind of an encroaching trend about that. And it just became really easy right away to find crazy ass nu-metal moments. It’s just the most crazy ass genre in music history. There’s so many, but I don’t think the account really started cooking until I allowed myself to just post music videos and then allowed myself to just post literally songs with no music videos, because then that became how I could go from being like a “haha funny” account to an account that turns people on to stuff they’ve never heard before. And that’s so much more important than just being the meme guy.

Sometimes you’ll post, for example, a car commercial with a nu-metal song in it. And I’m curious about how you do this deep diving to find these hidden gems.

You know what, I used to do deep diving, but now I’m blessed to have a community of people that tend to bring these things to me. I have a Discord server that’s full up with some of the greatest people you’ll ever meet. Two people actually met on that server and are dating now. I hope they have a child so I can be like, “I brought a life into this world.” If you’re reading this, sorry. But yeah, so that, and then I also can comb my DMs every once in a while when I’m feeling really uninspired and usually can turn up a good thing or two that way. But it’s always just a matter of knowing what threads to follow. Wrestling is always a gimme. And then MTV stuff; looking for MTV stuff is usually good because MTV really took to the nu-metal personalities and whatnot. It’s mostly just about keeping an open communication with your audience too … and not closing yourself off to your little Twitter bubble. I think that’s how it stays interesting, is you just keep trying to construct a community.

I think that lends itself to genuinely being part of a resurgence, rather than isolated people experiencing nu-metal and not talking about it.

If I just stuck to this being “crazy ass moments,” it would be over. This would be dead. It just wouldn’t matter anymore.

Totally. With you trying to actually turn people on to the genre, what are some underrated aspects of nu-metal that you feel aren’t recognized enough? And are there any misconceptions that new listeners might have?

You know what? I think a big misconception is that it’s very misogynistic. And while I’d never pretend that isn’t a part of it, it’s usually confined to just a couple bands. I think I was working on an article in which I tried to acknowledge the misogynist side of nu-metal and I actually struggled to really find a lot of good examples. Limp Bizkit has some and then there’s some lesser known like Crazy Town, or Methods of Mayhem [that] have their moments, but typically, I think a lot of that stuff has actually aged well. Because it comes from a place of such juvenile angst [and] pettiness that it’s hard to take seriously or get offended by it.

I would love to hear from people that got offended by “I did it all for the nookie” because I don’t think you can. I think it comes off as too silly, too goofy to really be offended by it. And I think that’s debatable, too. If someone stepped to me and was like, “That song is offensive,” I wouldn’t argue with them about it. But that’s just how it’s always felt to me.

Anyway, an underrated aspect of it is how funny it is. I think that [with] almost every nu-metal band — or every good or great nu-metal band — there’s always something about them that’s just funny. System of a Down can’t get any goofier; that’s such a big part of their appeal. Deftones were doing songs with Korn and rapping Ice Cube’s verses on those, and Limp Bizkit speak for themselves. I think usually with all the greatest nu-metal bands, you can find aspects about them that are funny. Even the dead serious ones like Slipknot, they were very serious, but they had things about them that I think were a little goofy or a little funny too. And I think that’s really suffocating about rock music and a lot of post-millennial rock music is that it just tries to take itself super seriously and it’s boring.

While nu-metal went dormant for a decade, two decades, you still had bands like Slipknot and Korn selling out amphitheaters and carrying on the genre. What do you think enabled bands like that to become legacy acts and persist through a dry period of nu-metal?

Well they never stopped. I mean, all of those bands kept going for better or for worse. You can debate the merits of the albums they put out during the really down periods of nu-metal. 2008 to 20-fucking-17 was just like an arid wasteland for nu-metal. The albums that were put out there, again, you can debate the merits of. But one, I don’t think any of those albums are a complete wash, and two, the fact that they just kept going does mean something. I guess it is debatable, like you could imagine where Korn disappear after, I don’t know, Untouchables, and then come back way later, [and] how much that return would be anticipated, and how much of that vacuum would have been filled by people reassessing their legacy. I do think there’s something to be said about sticking with it and never throwing in the towel and really never resting on your laurels, never really becoming a legacy act. I think that really striving to stay contemporary, that means something. 

That Korn scenario is similar to Mudvayne’s trajectory. 

Yeah, that’s a good point. They disappeared. They hung it up for a while. And I think their comeback tour was very successful.

It’s impressive to see. Do you also see a resurgence in new bands that are outright nu-metal or taking cues from the genre?

Yeah, for sure. And I’m curious as to what shape it is going to end up taking. But I am seeing these younger bands just jumping straight into nu-metal and being less shy, less ashamed of it. There’s still a lot of really critical elements of nu-metal I’m not hearing from these younger bands that I feel like would do them really well …. It’s much like the sense of humor, and some more of that go-for-broke attitude. But they’re definitely bubbling up. And it’s really good to see.

In terms of this nu-metal resurgence, do you think that a big part of it is aesthetic nostalgia, like how fashion comes back in waves? Or do you think that nu-metal is really speaking to people again in 2023?

It’s both. We’ve descended into this era where everything is dead serious and consequential and also super goofy and stupid at the same time. That was kind of the crux of the entire Trump era that I guess isn’t even fucking over yet. Everything that he seemed to do was both horrifying and so, so awful, but also stupid as fuck and impossible to take serious at the same time. We constantly lived like that and I think that people have kind of overloaded on making sense of that seriousness, versus taking it seriously and finding it funny at the same time. And I think the aesthetic qualities of nu-metal are also unbelievable, because with bands in the grunge era or the New York garage-rock revival, you could only go so far. You can only buy so many leather jackets or flannel shirts. Whereas with nu-metal, every fucking band looked different. All the big bands had crazy distinctive styles about them. Every nu-metal band seemed to have something that you could point to and be like, they looked like this. And that resonates for sure.

Even second-tier nu-metal bands like Mushroomhead had their own, very unique look. And that reminds me of what Limp Bizkit have been doing on their return tour the past few years. Fred Durst is wearing the old man outfit and I think that speaks to what you’re saying. It’s both funny and genuinely enjoyable. It’s been really cool to see people say, “You know what? Fuck it. Limp Bizkit was cool and fun and we’re going to embrace it now.”

The old man dad-vibes thing that he did is genius. Genius. Unbelievably smart. I mean, it’s one of those things where you remember this guy is fucking really clever. Because so much of the problem with bands aging and getting older, especially nu-metal bands — because nu-metal is so much about the movement, that head banging, the pogoing, the jumping, the running around — is that obviously you get older and you can’t do those things anymore. So to consciously acknowledge that you’re older and make it a whole part of your image was so smart on his end, and it really was part of what made that comeback impactful.

Definitely. I’d like to end with a scenario. If you could time travel to Woodstock 99, what band would you see?

I would definitely see Korn. I was gonna say that I would also see Sevendust, but if you’re giving me one set, I would see Korn. And not just because it is what it is. But also because that was the first night and that was really like the only good time to be there … the festival just went screaming downhill after that and it was a miserable place to be. I don’t know where I’d stand, though. Can I be backstage? Please say I can be backstage. Can I be VIP?

Absolutely, you’ve got VIP access.

Fuck yeah, Okay, totally Korn because that crowd scares me. I wouldn’t know where to stand in that crowd. That crowd is what freaks me out, really, but yeah, that’s undoubtable. 

To me, that’s the most iconic aspect in the video of them opening with “Blind.” Stretching out the intro guitar to that sea of people.

That’s the apex of the genre. That performance is where everything hits the top. That’s the mountaintop. That’s the peak.