Interview: Brian “Head” Welch of KoRn
Interview: Brian “Head” Welch of KoRn
“Head” Welch from KoRn… if his name and band aren’t attention-getting enough, his diverse talents (even beyond his work in KoRn) definitely are. I’m always intrigued by people who take risks and share their other, lesser-known talents beyond what made them famous. For “Head,” he’s an accomplished writer and speaker, as well as one of the ‘head-shredders’ for the multi-platinum, nu-metal stalwarts, KoRn. Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with “Head” just before KoRn’s blistering set at the Northern Invasion festival held in Somerset, WI. I asked him about his newest book, With My Eyes Wide Open: Miracles & Mistakes On My Way Back to KoRn, and about the latest single, “Lo Lamento,” from his very kick ass solo project, Love and Death.
From Nelson Books:
“With My Eyes Wide Open is the guitarist’s account of the brutal, eye-opening, and decade-long trial by fire after leaving KORN, from the perils of fathering a teen lost in depression and self-mutilation to the harsh realities of playing solo and surviving the shattering betrayal of a trusted friend. In this intensely inspiring redemption saga, perhaps the most inspiring is Brian’s radical decision to rejoin KORN (surrounded by a lifestyle he almost lost everything to) and reconcile with the tribe of people he once considered family.”
Tommy Leu: How excited are you about the release of your new book, With My Eyes Wide Open: Miracles and Mistakes on My Way back to KoRn?
Brian “Head” Welch: Really excited! It was a lot of work, and, like my first book, was really gut-wrenching to write, in some spots. This one was too, and this one hurt in some ways more.
Why is that?
My daughter, the stuff with my daughter. I don’t want to give it all away, but there were tears hitting the computer keyboard when I was writing it; that’s for sure.
That’s intense. Was this book tougher to write than your first book, Save Me From Myself: How I Found God, Quit KoRn, Kicked Drugs, and Lived to Tell My Story?
You know what’s crazy…? Both books have good and bad sections in it. The first book, when I wrote about my life before, it was like utter hopelessness. It was like: “I want to die, and if I didn’t have this little girl, I’d probably kill myself.” The second book is like, a big dark cloud over me, in some spots, but I knew that the sun would shine again.
In the trailer for the new book, you talk about it being about restoration.
Can you expand on that?
Everything, like, my whole life, man, I was a drug addict. I was an alcoholic. I was angry, bitter; I was filled with rage. I went through all that, and when I cleaned myself up, I got a little nutty with religion, and then I ended up being foolish with my finances and all this stuff, and I lost everything. I battled all this stuff, but in just the last year or two, I feel like everything has been restored. The anger and the rage, is like, they grew wings and flew away.
What do you attribute to that? What happened?
It was just my faith, and then also, time, getting help, raising my daughter. There was a point in time, I think, for me to get to a place where I can have peace and be happy. I did have peace, but when I left KoRn, it was like, up and down, and up and down. I just really feel like I’ve watched everything be restored: my inner life, my daughter’s life, my financial life, my everything.
Is there any pressure to follow up your New York Times Bestselling first book, or does that not matter at this point?
No, not at all. I don’t think this one’s going to hit a New York Times Bestseller [list], but it doesn’t matter, I’m just doing [my thing]…
This book feels even more personal to me. I’ve got two teenage step-daughters, so I can really relate.
Oh, do you? How old?
15 and 16.
Whoo! How’s that going?
It’s going; but it’s tough at times. We’ve got boys at the house these days now, one girl is in a band, and it’s just so nuts sometimes.
So weird, right?
It’s crazy! I’m like, “Wait a minute, wait a minute, what’s going on here?” Haha…
We’re all the same. I love to hear [stuff like that]… It’s just weird.
Is it harder to write and record an album, whether it be with KoRn or Love and Death, or to write a very personal book… as you’ve done?
Hmmm, it’s more time consuming, so I’d have to say the book. Both are a lot of work. It just seems like … Yeah, the book. It’s just… you’ve got to go over and over and over and over it.
How long did it take you to write this book?
A long time… I’m guessing a year and a half, or so. Then I turned it in, and they go, “Oh, yeah, that’s not done yet.”
They said: “You’re going to have to get someone to help with the story arc because it’s just blotch, blotch, blotch, blotch… too many sections” and I was like, “Okay, send me someone.” They’re like, “Um, you’re going to have to hire someone. We don’t do that.” I was like, “What?”
That’s why the co-writer came into play this time? Is this the first book with a co-writer?
I had one the first time, too.
Okay, I didn’t realize that.
I had a lot of help from a guy named Adam Palmer on my first book. He just wasn’t on the cover. I guess it was the deal that they made. He helped me a lot. He helped me from the beginning. So I thought I could do it this time [on my own] because I had a book under my belt. I turned it in, and nope… Denied.
A New York Times Bestselling author, no less.
Let’s talk about [your solo project] Love and Death. I love Love and Death! Really interesting and cool stuff.
Thank you, man.
I was surprised that I was going to like it as much as I did honestly. There’s so much melody in it, combined with these buzz-saw guitars all at the same time…
Yeah, I love the guitars!
Yes, it’s that combination that really makes it work. So, “Lo Lamento”… the brand new single. Tell us about that.
The song started off with JR Bareis – he’s a guitar player for Islander now – and Jasen Rauch – he’s the guitar player for Breaking Benjamin. They got in the studio, and they started writing it. I didn’t do much writing on the guitars and stuff. I did a little bit, I think. They came up with some lyrics for the … What part was it? Yeah, they did the pre-chorus, first, and the chorus. Another guy named Mark Holeman had an idea for the chorus because the chorus for “Lo Lamento” used to be on “I Wait For You” on our first record.
Yes, I know that track.
They came up with that. I took it back home and started writing the verses and stuff. The song seemed like it was about infidelity, after seeing it call come together. I was just thinking like, someone, some dude screwing up his marriage, being very sorry, you know? I don’t know why I came up with the Spanish thing; I just thought it sounded different.
What does ‘lo lamento’ actually mean?
It means deeply, deeply, deeply, sorry.
Deeply sorry… all right. That’s deep.
Like, I just screwed up my life sorry.
[The song] tricks you, because you’ve got that nice piano intro; it’s all mellow and cool, and then all of a sudden, BOOM!
Yes… (singing the chorus…)
>> For a limited time, “Lo Lamento” is being given away as a free download to anyone who purchases the new book through BrianHeadWelch.net.
Is there another album, a full album from Love and Death coming out?
Yes. It will have more quality songs on it [like “Lo Lamento”].
When’s the new Love and Death album coming out, approximately?
Late November, early December 2016. If not, early next year.
Brian, thank you so much. The new book is great! Looking forward to new Love and Death soon as well. Thanks so much for your time. It’s been a pleasure.
Thank you, brother.
This piece was originally published in RockRevolt Magazine, May 2016.