By Kory Grow
Limp Bizkit guitarist Wes Borland, who cowrote the band’s “Break Stuff” and “Nookie” and also fronts his own group, Big Dumb Face, is using his ire at how an album review interpreted his ex-wife’s latest record as fuel for a legal action against her, accusing her of defamation. The filing also cites an interview that ex-wife Carré Callaway (aka indie rocker Queen Kwong) gave the same writer for another publication. Callaway rose to prominence using the Queen Kwong name about a decade ago, after her moody, personal music caught Trent Reznor’s ear; the group has toured with Nine Inch Nails and its music has featured on Peaky Blinders. Borland’s filing, obtained by Rolling Stone, claims she attempted to profit off his name by talking about him.
A judge for the third judicial circuit of Michigan’s Wayne County, the family division court, will hear Borland’s petition Tuesday morning. Borland specifically asked for Callaway “to show cause why she should not be held in contempt for her refusal to comply with this Court’s Judgment [the divorce decree].” The divorce agreement, signed by both parties in 2020, states that “neither party may make speeches, give interviews, or make public statements that defame the other party.”
A 2022 Bandcamp Daily article about Callaway, cited in Borland’s filing, claimed Borland gave Callaway three days to leave their Detroit-area marital home with several rescue cats after the marriage fell apart. She is quoted as saying that one of the cats, Daisy — whom she eulogized on her album’s “The Mourning Song” — “died a week after he left because he was the only one who could care for her.” Borland’s filing also claims a review in Flood magazine of her 2022 album, Couples Only, by the same author, Mischa Pearlman, repeated those claims and suggested one song, “Emdr Atm” “details the kind of purported ‘gaslighting’ Ms. Callaway claims she received from Mr. Borland.”
The document claims, “These statements intentionally do what Ms. Callaway was expressly prohibited from doing: They adversely affect Mr. Borland’s public image and reputation that he has built over a twenty-plus–year career” and are an attempt at “destroying Mr. Borland’s extraordinary and hard-earned professional reputation.” Borland is asking for $5,000 for “costs and attorney fees” and for the court to sanction Callaway.
The review, which provides background information about Queen Kwong’s songwriting, states: “She’d been living with him in Detroit, with a whole host of cats they’d rescued, only to be forced out of the house they’d made their home. She was given three days to move out, to rehouse all the cats, to say goodbye to a life and a marriage and a husband she thought she knew. She was also ostracized by those in the music industry who felt they stood more to gain by being friends with Borland than with her.”
Callaway, who married Borland in Oct. 2016 and filed for divorce in Jan. 2019, stands by her comments. “The TRUTH CANNOT BE DEFAMATORY,” she writes in a statement to Rolling Stone. “This action is simply a tactic to bully, intimidate, and silence me. This is an attempt to financially ruin me, exhaust my physical well-being and denigrate my credibility with the explicit intent of causing harm to my career. This is an overall attack on freedom of speech and artistic expression. What does it mean for indie musicians like myself —who can’t afford to even tour these days — to have to worry about fighting frivolous lawsuits. What does it mean for women who are already afraid to tell their stories? What does it mean for journalists if their words can be spun to silence the very women they’re trying to give a platform to?”
“Mr. Borland filed a post-judgment motion asking that the Wayne County, Michigan Family Court enforce specific Judgment of Divorce provisions that both parties agreed to abide by as part of their 2020 divorce settlement,” the guitarist’s attorney, B. Andrew Rifkin, tells Rolling Stone. “Mr. Borland’s post-judgment motion has nothing to do with any issues beyond what each of the parties agreed to do as part of the finalization of their 2019 divorce case. The parties’ Judgment of Divorce requires both Mr. Borland and Ms. Callaway to refrain from ‘… mak[ing] speeches, giv[ing] interviews, or mak[ing] statements that defame the other party.’ Mr. Borland has fully complied with that provision, and he is asking the Family Court to make clear to Ms. Callaway that she has the same obligation to comply that Mr. Borland has.
“Mr. Borland wishes Ms. Callaway the best in her career,” Rifkin continues. “He does not wish to limit her artistic expression, but as part of their divorce settlement, both parties agreed to keep their opinions about their divorce private and refrain from making negative public comments about the other party.”
During their marriage, Borland briefly played guitar in a touring line up of Queen Kwong. It is unclear why he left the group, but in a 2017 NME interview he suggested that he regretted attaching himself to her work. “[Being in Limp Bizkit has] definitely been destructive to my wife’s indie band, Queen Kwong,” he said. “Having me associated with it has cost her.”
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