Rock Your World
Former Korn lead guitarist, Brian "Head" Welch
By Andy Argyrakis, Senior Music Editor, GospelMusicChannel.com
As the lead guitarist of Korn, Brian "Head" Welch was the ultimate alt-rock A-lister, establishing himself as an MTV icon and selling out stadiums across the globe. But just because the famed player was making more money than he could spend in a lifetime didn't mean he was even remotely happy.
"It's crazy because the higher up we got, the darker I felt," Welch admits phoning in from a promotional tour behind his solo debut Save Me From Myself (Driven Music Group). "The more we got idolized – and I'm just speaking from my experience here – the more stressed out, nervous and anxious I got. You can't go any higher than number one, so once we got to the top, there was nowhere higher to climb."
In the midst of his depression, a downward spiral of alcohol addiction and drug usage began, drawing a rift between Welch and the band that eventually led to his resignation in 2005. But rather than telling the rest of the guys during a formal meeting or even a casual backstage chat, he simply sent an email and asked for privacy to sort out the latest round of personal demons.
"It was just really weird when I left, but everyone knew I'd been withdrawing for about two years prior to that, though they didn't even know I was on drugs," Head explains. "They knew I was a single dad and were always offering support on that end, but I had to literally send them a 'Dear John'-like letter to let the guys knew I loved them but I was leaving. If we would've spoke, they would've talked me into staying and [the letter] was the only way I could deal with it being on drugs."
Even more shocking than the parting of ways, Welch made international headlines within the same time frame after announcing a complete end to substance abuse as a result of divine deliverance. Though he had once casually asked the Lord into his life at a mere 13, the superstar fully embraced the Christian faith after a desperate prayer for his life to be spared. "I just said 'take these drugs away or I'm gonna die' and a couple weeks later, I felt like heaven opened with a revelation of Christ," he asserts. "From that moment on, I knew God was real, and instead of being afraid, I was actually excited to start a new life!"
These days Welch is born again in more ways than just spiritually, reigniting his celebrity status with the books Save Me from Myself and the teenage themed Washed By Blood: Lessons from My Time with Korn and My Journey to Christ, along with the aforementioned album. "I could never write songs like this by myself and I just got anointed by God with [what He wanted me to say]," he confirms of the cuts on Save Me From Myself. "Whether it be the idea of cleansing throughout 'Washed By Blood,' 'Re-bel' talking about abused children, 'L.O.V.E.' about that [prayerful] awakening at my house or 'Flush' about flushing my addictions down the toilet, they all show how God can really change a heart. And yes, the sound is still heavy, if not heavier than Korn!"
And before wrapping up the chat, Welch also adds he's a regular Gospel Music Channel viewer, who especially enjoys the music videos and specials. "I like how it has a lot of variety – from the rock to the pop and everything in between, which is really how MTV should be instead of either rap or reality TV," he suggests. "Faith & Fame is a really good show as well that's always powerful because it's so real!"
FF5's instrument invention
"It's a six-and-a-half-foot-tall, 760-pound drum machine from the future," offers an unflinching Derek Mount, guitarist for the group (who's best known on stage as Chap Stique). "We were on our first tour of Europe all sitting around brainstorming ways to overcome the language barrier of people having trouble getting our tongue-in-cheek humor, so this was one of our daydreams! For two and a half years we looked into every company that makes drum machines [and instruments] but nobody wanted to get involved until our electronic wizard friend jumped on board to help build it. So between our Voltron outfits and this monstrous Speak & Spell, people will be joyously confused when they come out and see us at a show!"
About the Writer
Andy Argyrakis is a Chicago-based entertainment writer/photographer who appears in the Chicago Tribune, Illinois Entertainer, Daily Journal, Concert Livewire, Hear/Say Magazine and Image Chicago (to name few). His record label writing credits include Warner Brothers, Atlantic, Curb, EMI and Universal, with additional photo credits for Fuse TV, Live Nation, Nikon, Pollstar, Celebrity Access, Paste Magazine, MTV.com and Vibe.com. He's also the author/narrator of "Access Matthews" (an audio CD tracing the career of Dave Matthews Band) and spends considerable time on tour, including outings with Arlo Guthrie, The Guess Who, Madina Lake (on Linkin Park's Projekt Revolution) and Gospel Music Channel's very own "Gospel Dream" (where he served as season one judge).
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