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Ann Arbor, MI's own Taproot sent their demo to Limp Bizkit frontman/business entrepreneur Fred Durst in 1998, not even thinking Durst would call them back personally. To their surprise, he promised the alterna-punk metal four-piece the world. But Durst obviously took too long to deliver the goods, for Taproot -- frontman Stephen Richards, guitarist Michael DeWolf, bassist Philip Lipscomb, and drummer Jarrod Montague -- landed a sweet deal with Atlantic Records. Durst felt betrayed and heavily cursed the band, but Taproot wasn't phased by such rude behavior. Their Velvet-Hammer/Atlantic debut, Gift was released in June 2000 and unveiled the band's tough thrash sound, heavy hooks, and beer soaked vocals. Thanks to the liking of Ozzy Osbourne's son, Jack, Taproot scored a spot at the second stage on the 2000 Ozzfest tour. Two years later, Rolling Stone hailed Taproot as "the next contenders for the new-metal crown." Indeed, Taproot was in the running. They'd spent seven months in Los Angeles recording a follow-up to Gift. The end result was, Welcome, a fiercely introspective second album. Richards had shaped his softer side and it was a bold move for this aggressive four-piece; the press took notice. Even Vanity Fair pegged Richards (and Taproot) as one to watch for their 2002 Music Issue. MacKenzie Wilson

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