Brian ‘Head’ Welch was the epitome of a rock star in one of the biggest bands in the world, but he nearly lost everything.
The guitarist quit metal titans Korn at the height of their fame in 2005. After becoming a born-again Christian, he took a step back to deal with drug addiction and personal issues, and to focus on raising his young daughter as a single parent.
During this time away from Korn, he released 2008 solo album ‘Save Me from Myself’, a project that later evolved into his new, alternative metal band Love And Death, who released their debut album in 2013. Brian has since rejoined Korn in 2013, but his Love And Death project remains active and now, after eight years, the group have reunited, using their respective lockdowns to create the band’s second album ‘Perfectly Preserved’, which was released last week.
We sat down for a chat with Brian about the new album, feeling like “a laughing stock” when he quit Korn and covering Justin Bieber. Here’s what we learned.
He’s not afraid of writing about dark themes and sharing his experiences
Love And Death’s new album ‘Perfectly Preserved’ is deeply personal, but Brian says that he’s used to sharing his life in this way: “I felt like I needed to share the dark points of my life, the dark thoughts, the dark patterns that I fell into, because I want to help others who are still there. I want people to know, ‘Look, you can get out of it, too – I got out of it’.”
He feels he became “a laughing stock” when he found God and quit Korn – but being an inspiration to fathers was worth it
Brian made headlines when he emailed his bandmates in Korn to say he had found God and was leaving the band. “I was kind of the laughing stock of the rock world,” he says. “I was coming off drugs, so I was saying weird things, but I had the courage. People respect my courage to walk away on behalf of my child.
“Yes, I found the faith and I did all that, but it was [also] the respect of a father that had so much love for his little girl that he made a huge sacrifice and a huge just exit from success, fame and everything, to focus on her. The coolest thing is I’ve seen a lot of dads thank me, because they became better fathers because of what they watched me go through. That’s priceless.”
He loves a good pop song
There’s an unusual choice of cover on ‘Perfectly Preserved’: ‘Let Me Love You’ by DJ Snake and Justin Bieber.
“I remember driving with my friend in downtown Los Angeles, and we were listening to everything from heavy Cannibal Corpse to The Weeknd to DJ Snake and Justin Bieber, and I heard that song for the first time,” he recounts of the first time he heard the Bieber bop. That is a killer song!
“It’s a little bubblegum-y or whatever, with it saying “let me love you”, but don’t we all want love in this world? I thought it was a good song; I felt it in my soul.”
It’s not the first time the band have done a pop cover, either: “On the first album we covered [‘80s new wave belter] Devo ‘Whip It’. We like to do covers that make people go ‘whoa!’” he explains.
Head roped his pal Lacey Sturm from hard rock band Flyleaf to lend her vocals to the track. “I really had the vision of having a female singer on it,” he says, “and my head went right to Lacey because I love her. She’s amazing!”
Download festival is home to one of Head’s most rock’n’roll memories
Pandemic allowing, Korn are booked to play Download Festival this year – and it’s a festival Brian has vivid memories of. He recalls playing the festival with Korn in the ‘90s, back when it was called Monsters of Rock; egged on by the response from the rapturous crowd, he started to head-bang onstage. “I was banging my head so hard, and I lifted up my guitar up and I hit my head,” he tells us, pointing to his eyebrow. “To this day my hair doesn’t grow right here. I split it open like an MMA fighter and there was blood all going down my face and guitar.” He adds with a grin: “It was awesome!”
Korn have some top secret plans
In a previous interview, Brian hinted that Korn have “some really exciting news”, but he remained coy when we prompted him for more details: “I can’t do it because our manager said that that’s all I can say. You know, it’s not like there’s paperwork signed and whatnot, and so I just can’t go there. There’s a member in the band that got in trouble for some things in the past and it’s not pretty so I don’t want to do that.”
One thing that the band might now be doing, though, is celebrating 20 years of Korn’s classic 2002 album ‘Untouchables’. When we asked if they had any plans for a birthday bash for the record, Brian couldn’t believe that it’s been almost two decades since it first dropped.
“I totally forgot that it was 20 years coming!” he exclaimed. “I’m going to text my manager now… We have to celebrate! Just know, if we do something, it’s because you said something. I haven’t heard anybody mention a celebration of any kind!”