Korn guitarist Brian “Head” Welch talks about multi-tasking with Love and Death while returning to Korn and much more
If you are not already a fan of Korn or his other band Love and Death, meeting or speaking with Brian “Head” Welch will easily turn you into one. Brian is a bundle of positive energy and he’s never had more to be excited about than he does in 2013. Welch is currently promoting and touring with both bands, even playing with both on some days and his creativity is at an all-time high. When Love and Death met with critical and fan support many on the outside were hedging bets on whether Brian would return to Korn as he was clearly happy fronting his new band. The best case scenario has transpired now with Welch solidly back in Korn, touring and set to release a new album, “The Paradigm Shift” including the killer new single “Never Never” all while touring and re-releasing a deluxe edition of the excellent Love and Death debut “Between Here And Lost” which originally came out early this year. Needless to say, Brian is busy so I was glad to be able to catch up with him for another interview after we spoke last year, read on….
Legendary Rock Interviews: Hi Brian, it’s been a while since we last talked and I told you about meeting you backstage at Ozzy on that early Korn tour (laughs).
Brian “Head” Welch: I actually remember that conversation (laughs). Cool, cool.
LRI: Last time we talked, Love and Death was still being called “Head” and you had just put out the EP and told me that you were friendly with the Korn guys. Now you’re back in Korn and working this great Love and Death album so my question is this; Has everything gone according to plan promotion wise as far as Love and Death?
Brian: Totally, totally! Dude, it has gone totally according to plan because we set up the album with the EP just to get the name out there and then we got the album out there this year and it has absolutely been growing, especially recently. It seems like every show we have done since the album came out has been bigger and bigger, way more so than in the beginning. It’s as if everything has risen like two or three levels, we’ve tripled our merch sales, it seems like our crowds have tripled and people are singing the lyrics loudly. I’m enjoying everything with Korn and really happy with where Love and Death is it and it feels really good.
LRI: The album is being re-released in deluxe format which should be interesting since the original format had killer artwork and design that kind of mirrored the lyrical content and sound. What went into or inspired the overall presentation of “Between Here And Lost”?
Brian: Oh thanks man. The actual album concept is all about walking through difficulties and getting through them which seems to be what I’m good at in life. Our bass player came up with the name and I just thought it fit perfectly with so much of the lyrics and the overall idea. When I saw the artwork for the album, there were a couple different choices you know, but when I saw that picture it just made sense. It looked like desolate land and tied it all together, it all went well, the title, the band name, the packaging and everything.
LRI: Interesting videos and visuals have always been a big deal for Korn dating back to the very beginning and it seems that all those elements are still a big part of your work with Love and Death, is that fair to say?
Brian: I appreciate you saying that man, yeah Korn has some award-winning videos and I don’t ever want Love and Death to not keep things interesting visually either. So far with the videos that we’ve done I think we’ve really hit the mark as far as having a smaller budget but still making quality videos. We’re all real happy with the way that the videos have turned out.
LRI: You’ve obviously been vocal about being a Christian musician and I know that sometimes that comes with some added scrutiny that goes far beyond the music. Your YouTube channels, your Twitter and Facebook pages as a Christian band can sometimes become a battleground for political or religious discussions rather than just keeping it at face value. How do you deal with that personally?
Brian: A lot of those people who turn it into that, I just don’t see eye to eye with them, the ones who get all uptight over that stuff. Sometimes I wish they would just go into their little bubble and stay in their world and leave me and my people alone. We’re just here on this earth to love people and connect with them and we don’t judge anybody so yeah, it can get irritating. So I can try to put across that aspect to them but at the same time, that’s the trap right there and I don’t wanna fall into their game either so….
LRI: You have a message but the beauty of it is that it never gets overly preachy, never turns off the general fan or the Korn fan, it’s just basic life stuff, something anyone can relate to, religious or not.
Brian: Yeah dude and we are all messed up, no matter what your faith is, even if you have no faith. We are all screwed up, dirty, jacked-up human beings in one way or another and everyone needs to lighten up and admit that and just enjoy the music.
LRI: You’ve been pulling double shifts playing with Korn and opening up shows with Love and Death where you’re touring all over the world. You’re talking to me right now from a hotel room. Does your mind ever flash back to the differences between what you and Korn might have been doing 15 years ago on the road and the fact that you’re Skyping with your daughter from your room now??
Brian: Yeah, it’s crazy! I mean, back then I was just up to no good, up to no good at all, to the point where I really just ended up sick. Not necessarily sick in the sense of throwing up but just feeling sick and ill every night, towards the end of every night on tour back in the day. Now I really feel like we are having a better experience overall, it’s such a contrast from how it used to be, it’s a total 180.
LRI: All of the things that are involved with touring beyond the time you are on stage can be draining and the old demons can come in just from monotony or boredom. How are you staying sane out there?
Brian: I’ve found a lot of peace just working on music and staying busy with both of these bands (laughs). I know what you mean though, the demons can definitely creep in and they still do but now instead of getting drunk for like a week binge, I will find myself on a sugar binge for like 5 days. I got sick from eating sugar, like crazy, almost eating disorder levels of consuming sugar (laughs). Then I fell into this dark depression because it made me feel all horrible; sugar makes me feel depressed for some reason after I eat it. It’s a chemical thing, it’s not like I’m being some whiny crybaby, it’s just chemically, for my make-up or whatever, sugar makes me feel really horrible. I don’t know if the grind on the road is just the loneliness or just the wear and tear on your emotions but all of the factors that make you think and feel normal can get clouded when you’re on the road, even when drugs and alcohol are out of the equation. It happens to everybody but you just get through it and it makes the moments onstage that much more rewarding.
LRI: The obvious question you keep facing involves you returning to Korn for the dates and the new album. Given respect to your bandmates in Love and Death, was the decision to come back into the fold something you had to kick around in your head for a while?
Brian: Yeah, in the beginning it was. At first it was like “Is this meant to be?” first of all. Then after that it became “Ok, so how is this going to work?” and then of course, after that it was me talking to everybody in the band about it. The really cool thing is that I’ve found a way to keep Love and Death out on the road here opening a lot of dates with Korn so now everyone is happy.
LRI: Everyone is excited to hear the new Korn album this fall with you back but to me one of the really cool things is that it seems like a lot of people have really become fans of BOTH bands as I’ve become. I like seeing all the positive comments from Korn fans about Love and Death and vice-versa. As big of a band as Korn is, it’s still created a situation where the one is mutually beneficial for the other in many respects.
Brian: First of all, I really appreciate the support you’ve given Love and Death and your diggin our stuff, that means a lot to us. Second of all, yeah man, that mutual respect is the whole thing. I went into this with Korn and Love and Death knowing that if it’s NOT gonna work it’s going to be really easy to figure out right away, there’s gonna be snags and forks in the road and someone is gonna not agree with something. None of that happened though so everything just kind of slid perfectly into position and everything landed precisely where it needed to land for this to happen as far as my returning to Korn. The way everything fell into place it just feels like a win-win for everybody involved and it’s seriously been a fun year. It really has.
LRI: Does it feel amazing to see the old school Korn fans expressing love for the Love and Death sound despite it being a different beast than Korn? Is that super rewarding to have in the back of your mind as you work on the new Korn record?
Brian: It really is rewarding to hear that from everyone and you know I can’t stop talking about our producer Jasen Rauch because he really played a big part in our process and he helped us so much to get the sound that we were going for. He’s an awesome writer and producer and he knows we have to have our own sound and the way he works allowed us to have that unique sound that you’re talking about and I look forward to working again with him in the future but yeah, I am so stoked that the old school Korn fans and people in general are diggin the Love and Death album and it is definitely making me feel like we went about it the right way. We were focused on songs, it had to have songs that stood on their own. My first solo album was kind of my thing and I wanted to do it my way but it was just me whereas this time it was still my way but I wanted to get a real group of people together to really hone in on the best songs we could do, as a group. It’s still me and it’s still my heart and it’s real personal but in a broader sense I think all the songs can relate to people more. I really think we achieved that and created something that stands on its own but also has that ability to appeal to fans of my other stuff. I’m stoked with it.
LRI: If someone would have told me ten years ago that a member of Korn would be doing this uplifting, heavy music with a Christian angle while still putting out killer music with Korn I would have told them they were a head case….
Brian: I would have laughed at the thought right along with you (laughs). I would have been holding some drugs and I would have just looked at you and said “You’re stupid, get away from me!!” (laughs).
LRI: A lot of people are much more into the idea or receptive to the idea of Korn now that you are returning to the band. All respect to those guys but some people have questioned the motives. To be semi blunt, are you guys really all connected as brothers again or is this simply a great, calculated business move?
Brian: You know, everyone’s human. Everyone has mixed motives inside of themselves, me too but I’m tellin you, hanging out with these guys, connecting with them, working with them again and just seeing our lives happen. I’ve known these guys my whole life but I’m seeing these guys lives again and a couple of them, their kids are hanging around and it’s all about family which is huge. What we were talking about earlier, the win-win situation, that’s just it, it’s all win because we get to hang out, all of us, all of our families, some of which we haven’t seen in years. I think it helps the whole Korn family with me coming back but I think it also helps what I’m doing with Love and Death. Everyone’s happy in every way with the end result no matter whether the beginning motives for one person might have been for Korn first and friendship second. I don’t know, I don’t think that’s the case but even if it was it is still a great situation for me.
LRI: So much attention has been placed on how YOU have changed in the years since you left Korn but do you think sometimes people tend to overlook that your bandmates have evolved or changed in those years also?
Brian: Yeah dude, and they really have, every single one of them, the only one I can’t really speak on cause I haven’t hung out with him is our old drummer David but I wish nothing but the very best for him also. I am telling you, I am stoked to be telling you, that ever since I’ve been working with the Korn guys again, it has been amazing. Everyone’s positive, everyone gets along, there’s no drama anymore and it’s such a change that at first I was tripping out (laughs). You’re right though, everyone talks about me but all of those guys have evolved in their own way and people forget about that.
LRI: I’d like to see the new Korn and Love and Death on vinyl. Are you thinking about new ways to get physical product to people?
Brian: We are, we totally are. The industry is hard, especially getting the actual hard copy to people sometimes, if you’re not in Walmart or whatever. We are absolutely talking about ways to do vinyl for collectors and all of that stuff.
LRI: It’s the only way I buy anything and my preferred way of listening to stuff.
Brian: Really???!! That’s awesome. So you actually drop the needle and listen to it rather than just buy it to keep it? That’s a trip, that takes me back. That’s fun cause that brings back memories for me. I should do that. That would make music interesting again.
LRI: You need to. Holding the package, opening the shrink wrap and dropping the needle is ritual, it’s a ceremony.
Brian: (laughs). I like that. You’re gonna inspire me to do that again. They’ve got all these new turntables now that you can hook up your computer and iPod to.
LRI: Yeah but I just power up an old tube Pioneer whether I am cranking something new like “Rival Sons” or my old “Diary Of A Madman”.
Brian: Right on. Those two albums, “Diary” and “Blizzard” are just stuck to my memory forever, bigtime. Weren’t those albums bigger than life? Even to this day when you listen to them it is still just so good. It’s crazy how important those early albums were to us metal kids. That just proves that if you take time with your music it can live forever man.
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