with Brian "Head" Welch
By Liíl Nipper
Last Friday was
beautiful here in Seattle. As I maneuvered my way through downtownís
traffic enjoying the sunshine and summer-like feel of the day I
thought about the interview I was going to. With the exception of a
couple bands, Iíve not been a big fan of nu metal/alternative metal
and yet, here I was going to meet Brian "Head" Welch, ex -lead
guitarist and co-founder of the band Korn.
Korn was huge worldwide selling millions of albums, winning
Grammy nominations, as well as taking a couple home and living the "rockstar"
life. Yet with all that success so often comes the darker side of
the business and Welch found himself falling into the abyss of
drugs, alcohol, depression and self-imposed isolation. Luckily for
him, unlike others in his position that die too young due to
overdoses, Welch found himself at a crossroads. In 2005, he found
the Lord Jesus Christ, quit Korn and was able to kick his
addictions, setting himself on a new path that would inevitably
bring him back to his music and his fans.
Welch is currently touring, promoting not only his solo album,
"Save Me From Myself," which debuted at #13 on Billboardís Top Hard
Rock Albums, but also his New York Times Best Selling autobiography,
"Save Me From Myself: How I found God, Quit Korn, Kicked Drugs, and
Lived to Tell My Story." Thatís where I come in. I read the book and
was very impressed with this manís life and his newfound spiritual
quest and so thatís what brought me to the Fairmont Olympic Hotel to
sit down and chat a bit with Welch in order to satisfy my curiosity
and to share with all of you.
Welchís manager brought me into his room, which was nice, a bit
small, but comfortable. He apologized for the clutter and I waived
it and said I was just fine and not to worry about me. There was a
knock at the door and in walks Welch. After the typical
introductions and greetings we settled into a couple of chairs and I
asked him how he was doing. The first thing he said was, "Iím cold."
Understandable considering he currently lives in Arizona. I told him
we were actually enjoying warm weather here for this time of year
and that started us off on a friendly footing.
DB: Brian, Iím just going to start by saying that youíve probably
answered the same questions a million times now-- all about Korn,
where youíve been and how you got here.
DB: Iíd like to ask you whatís here for today and what do you see
BW: Like my life you mean?
DB: Yeah, your life, music.
BW: Well, weíre working on the CD promotional tour right now so
thatís here today and hopefully playing a live tour playing live
BW: Hey, Iím cool with all the Korn days and stuff. Itís where I
came from. I wouldnít be here if I werenít there.
DB: Thatís true. do you have any prospects for a tour at this
time? Do you have people pounding on the door?
BW: Thereís people calling and offering you know, but I donít
know. Weíre just going to tackle it, thatís next on the agenda. I
havenít played with anyone besides Korn, so itís going to be
something I got to just jump into head first, just go for it.
DB: Are you venturing out looking for people?
BW: Iím just letting it fall into place.
DB: Letting the Divine kind of bring it to you, huh?
BW: Everything else is happening divinely so you know. I tried to
put out this record like three different times. Doors kept getting
shut and I just gave up. Worked on my book then all of a sudden it
just opened up, so Iím going to let the band thing just happen too.
DB: How did the book deal come about?
BW: They were looking for a record deal actually and people just
werenít interested at the time. The timing wasnít right and my
manager/friend at the time brought me back a book deal instead of a
record deal and I was like, "I donít want a book deal, Iím a
musician." But he was like, "But if you sign this youíre an
author/musician." So I was like, "All right, Iíll tell my story." I
didnít really want to do it, I wanted someone else to write it and I
got a nice guy. A ghost writer you know. He wrote the first chapter
and I just took over from there 'cause he didnít live it so he
couldnít write it right. And so I started writing and 75,000 words
later I was like, "Wow! That wasnít me, that was God-driven."
DB: But you found you had a lot to say though.
BW: Yeah. Once you get into it, it just pours out.
DB: So what about tomorrow are you just going to let divine
intervention take over? Do you have any insight into where you want
to go? What you want to do?
BW: YeaH, I want to get on the road and do some stuff live. Weíve
got people weíve been in contact with. Iíve got a friend in Phoenix,
heís a really good guitar player. Weíre just going to tackle it when
it comes. After this, Iíd like to go out and play again.
Do you miss it?
BW: Yeah. Itís hard though to get out on the road, but Iíve never
done it with all this goodness in me so itís going to be great this
time, I think. I know it is.
DB: You feel like youíre in a space where you can go out there
and know that this is all going to be a new chapter, new way of
BW: Yeah, everythingís new. Everythingís cool. Iím looking
forward to justÖ I can fit in anywhere now and just be at peace. I
like people. Itís crazy 'cause itís the opposite of what I used to
be so Iím good to go, as long as my daughterís taken care of. If I
have someone to home school and stuff so I can take her on the road
with me. If that doesnít fall into place, then Iíll do it later on,
but Iím sure it will.
DB: Yeah, things have a way of working out. Do you see musicians
that are on the same path as you coming into play?
BW: They need to not be raging partiers 'cause thatís not good.
Iíve been down that road and itís not where Iím at right now. But
they donít have to have my beliefs I donít think 'cause look who
played on my album. They werenít Christians. Just so they knowÖ Iím
all about God, but its just music. To some people it will be a
message of spirituality and others itíll just be music, so it
depends on the person.
DB: you donít want that kind of lifestyle around now. I mean,
backstage and all.
BW: No I donít want that around. I just donít want it, you know?
DB: Have you been around it much?
BW: No. Itís going to be a different lifestyle. People can hang
out and stuff, itís just not going to be gallons of JD and endless
beer and craziness going on.
DB: Sounds like a good plan.
BW: Yeah, leave that to the new bands coming out that want to
DB: Those with younger, stronger livers. (laughs)
BW: (laughs) Yeah, exactly.
DB: I listened to your songs on your MySpace page. I like the
combination of hard-driven music with a positive message.
BW: Oh cool. Itís like love and war type of music. Itís heavy,
but thereís always some euphoric peace somewhere in the song.
DB: Since this has all come about, do you find you can sit and
write mellow stuff or is that not in your nature?
BW: YeaH, I mean I think thereís a lot of mellow stuff in these
songs. Even if they're heavy, thereís a melody underneath that if
you took the heavy guitars out it could be like classical or
atmospheric, trippy music. Even on the song called "Rebel" itís like
screaming, screaming and then it drops down to this piano part.
Yeah, that opened up to me, the spiritual side opened up to me and,
uh, thatís pretty cool. I like that. Iíve always loved melody.
DB: Did you ever think that the music you wrote before kind of
derived from pain and anger and things like that?
BW: Back in Korn you mean? Yeah, well maybe not the guitar and
music, but the lyrics definitely came from a place of anger and pain
and resentment and bitterness. It was just like Jonathan screaming
about stuff he went through and thatís basically what Iím doing
now, but I always have a song of victory somewhere. Instead of just
saying F-you and all that. But itís similar, you can feel pain in my
stuff. You know Iím begging for help being addicted to drugs.
Thereís a Korn song about that on our first album, so people can
relate to it I think.
DB: "Were you surprised then that you still had the drive of the
music-- the same progressions, beats, yet this was light instead of
BW: I was actually writing softer music when I gave my life to
Christ and I was praying, "What am I doing? Where am I going to go?"
and I know he called me. People think Iím crazy sometimes, but I
really felt that God led me to do the heavy music. Itís what I am
and then all of a sudden these songs started coming out and thatís
where I got my album. I believe it was a gift from God through me to
people. Itís inspiring.
DB: Maybe because youíre still writing the same kind of music,
you will still be able to reach the youth and the fan base that you
had with a better message.
BW: Yep. And justÖ even if itís not like me trying to give them a
message, a lot of people are listening to what I went through as a
testimony and itís like thereís power in someone sharing what they
went through, you know?Especially if itís real and they're not
making stuff up just to have a cool song and for everyone to like
them. If theyíre sharing whatís inside, itís powerful, itís
spiritual. Thatís what spiritual stuff is, it's like letting all the
darkness come out to light and sharing it and overcoming all the
evil. Thatís what we all struggle with, right?
DB: Yes, to some degree.
BW: Weíre always fighting, trying to be nice to people when they
are rude, so we donít lash back-- or trying not to eat that extra
piece of cake. Itís always something weíre trying to stop ourselves
from doing, right?
DB: I have to say that given this was your first venture writing
a book that is. I really couldnít put it down, Brian. I was really
touched by your humility and just your spirit.
BW: Thank you.
Just being around musicians and that kind of lifestyle. Well, you
made it real clear in the book. You had the records, you had the
tour buses, the money, and the fame. You had people around to do for
you, what you needed 24/7 and yet you didnít take it all in. You
didnít fall as far into all of it as the others did.
BW: I donít know, I felt like a fish out of water all the time. I
had everything I wanted and I felt like a fish out of water. Thatíll
make a person miserable, you know? You have what you want, but you
donít feel right inside. Itís crazy.
DB: Did you know then like, "Wow, this isnít where itís at"?
BW: Well, I was there and I thought this is where it should be,
but inside somethingís saying this is not where it is for you. But I
thought, "What do you mean? My whole life is about music. Why do I
feel like this inside? Why canít I just go a day without drinking?"
It was crazy. I didnít understand. Life didnít make any sense to me
and I wasnít humble before, I was wild. I was being honest in the
book. Those were my true feelings inside, but on the outsideÖ
(laughs) I was a good guy though, people always said I didnít act
like a rockstar, but I was pretty wild. I think people could see
through me. I was trying to be really wild, but I really wasnít that
type of person.
DB: Do you sit now and think, "Wow, I had no idea when I was
there that I would be here today. Where I am now?"
BW: Oh yeah. If you would have told me four years ago I would
have said, "You're crazy, pass that joint to me youíre smoking too
much." But umm it was real. Accepting Christ and finding out about
it in the church, I was like "Yeah, right," but when I went home and
started talking to God it became real. I was like, "Whoa!" What I
was experiencing was spiritual, by myself. I didnít really hear a
lot about that stuff talked in the church, so it was a trip. I need
a real thing happening. Something more than dry religion.
DB: Yes, well we all need that. Thatís not where itís at. Itís
not spirit is it?
BW: Thatíll drive you away. Itís like when it comes to rules and
regulations, a country club kind of vibe, no way, thatís not me.
DB: Youíre just going to go from here and see where youíre taken
and see where youíre needed?
BW: Yeah, Iím just going to try to take care of my kid, thatís
number one, well, my whole relationship with God is number one, but
they go together and then all this stuff letting God live through me
and letting all this happen. Itís crazy 'cause I almost lost
everything in the beginning of '08. I had all these businesses and
they all fell through at once and I was sitting there thinking, "OK,
Iím going to move and do something else." I really didnít care.
I just love to be connected with God and I didnít care, you know
I did all that. I said, "If you want stuff to happen, you want to
live through me and do stuff, then youíve got to do it. Iím not
going to strive. Iím happy with you" and then, right when I was at
my worst spot, doors started opening. I got my record label and then
within a few months my albumís out its just crazy. Itís like my life
symbolized that cross. Youíre like dead on that cross and going OK
and then, resurrection! Things just went bam! and popped open and
here I am talking to you. Itís pretty cool.
DB: Itís very cool. You use the word "crazy," you seem a bit
concerned, I donít want to put words in your mouth, maybe a little
concerned about what your fan base was thinking.
DB: How are you feeling now, are you at a point where youíve
found you donít mind what someone is thinking?
BW: Well, youíve got to be able to talk to people 'cause you want
to be able to reach people, you donít want to alienate anyone. I
believe what I believe, but Iím also wiser now as far as how I act
and talk about things. I just feel it out and I know what I can
share like my personal and spiritual life and what I should keep
quite about. Sometimes you just got to put a lid on it (laughs).
Just connecting, having a relationship instead of saying, "Well the
Bible says this" and so on, you donít do that. Youíre a walking
testimony of divine love you know.
DB: Thatís nice. Itís good.
BW: Itís better than just blurting out what you know, trying to
puff up the ego.
DB: (laughs) Well, thatís part of that rockstar stuff.
BW: You can fall into it with this God stuff too.
DB: So you donít care what the masses think, youíre just going to
do your thing and whoever hears, whoever gets something out of it
and youíre OK with those who sayÖ
BW: Yeah, I used to be that guy, that would say, "Oh god, this
guy's crazy." This guy, when I was on drugs and needed someone to
help me, this guy came to me trying to talk about Jesus and I said,
"Youíre a Bible banger, get away from me you freak." He was an old
punk rocker that used to beat up people and he was saying, "The Lord
just delivered me" and I was like, "Youíre weird, go!" So I know
where theyíre coming from and when they call me weird I say, "I
know, man. Your spiritual eyes just arenít open. Itís all right."
But weíre also human and so itís like a dart sometimes. A littleÖ
(fist to his chest)
DB: Do you have anything else you want to say or share?
BW: Not to just put the album out there, but I communicate best
with music, thatís why I want to get the album into peopleís hands
and ears and hearts and spirits. I just appreciate my fans that
didnít bail out when I went through my crazy stage, when I got a
little too nuts after the methamphetamine abuse for two years. They
just taught me a lot about faithfulness and loyalty, so I just want
to thank them.
Iíd like to thank Brian for keeping it real. It was a great
pleasure to talk with him. Heís a really nice guy and remarkably
calm in the wake of such major change. He is truly an inspiration as
to what faith is all about. Check out his MySpace page.
www.myspace.com/brianheadwelch His official site is
Thanks again Brian. May you find all that you seek!