Save Me From Myself - Brian "Head" WelchTete-a-tete 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.

BW: Yeah.

DB: Iíd like to ask you whatís here for today and what do you see for tomorrow?

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 shows.

DB: Nice.

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.

Brian "Head" WelchDB: 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 touring?

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 explore.

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 dark?

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.

Brian "Head" WelchDB: 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.

BW: Yeah.

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 www.brianheadwelch.net

Thanks again Brian. May you find all that you seek!

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