HOMETOWN Ann Arbor, Mich. LATEST ALBUM Welcome (Velvet Hammer/Atlantic). REASON YOU’VE NOTICED THEM Their hit ”Poem” propelled Welcome to a top 20 debut. Oh, and that now-famous expletive-ridden phone message they received from Fred Durst. HOW THEY WOULD DESCRIBE THEIR SOUND IF THEY WERE MUSIC CRITICS ”An individual style that is very unique to modern music,” says singer Stephen Richards. ”Definitely not nu-metal.” HOW WE WOULD DESCRIBE THEIR SOUND Nu-metal. TARGET DEMOGRAPHIC You know those kids who get their allowance but Incubus hasn’t put out a new album for more than a year so they don’t know what to spend that $20 on at the mall? Those people. FASHION SENSE Just call them GapRoot. TRIUMPHANT TALE OF HOW THEY BEAT THE ODDS ”On Limp Bizkit’s first record, there was an address to send demos to,” says Richards (the band also includes guitarist Michael DeWolf, bassist Phil Lips-comb, and drummer Jarrod Montague). ”Fred liked our demo. But after not really seeing anything come out of that for two and a half years, we signed up with a manager and started showcasing for other labels. Then Fred got ticked off and left the message.” IF THEY WERE A BREAKFAST CEREAL, THEY’D BE Count Rockula. STOCK QUOTE ON THE PITFALLS OF DURST ”Initially, Fred’s interest drew a lot of attention. But we were worried about being pigeonholed. And now a lot of people perceive us as the band that turned Fred down, so we still ended up being pigeonholed.” INSTANT CHARISMA FACTOR (OUT OF A POSSIBLE 5) 3. FUNKY FACT Richards and DeWolf once had a band called V.O.D.: Volume Overdrive (er…wouldn’t that be V.O.?). ARTISTS WHO NEVER LEAVE THEIR TAPE PLAYER Queen’s Greatest Hits, the Deftones’ White Pony, Alice in Chains’ Dirt. WHAT’S NEXT A European tour early next year.