Vickroy: Korn guitarist to talk about overcoming drugs
By Donna Vickroy email@example.com Twitter: @dvickroy April 17, 2013 6:14PM
Brian "Head" Welch, founder and lead guitarist of Korn, and now Love and Death. | Supplied photo
Updated: May 19, 2013 7:36AM
By his admission, Brian “Head” Welch has been through the ringer.
“Crazy drug addiction and depression, it was nuts,” said the co-founder and lead guitarist of the nu metal band Korn.
Welch, who grew up in Bakersfield, Calif., tried several times to stop, but it wasn’t until he found Christ, he said, that he was able to fill the hole in his soul that kept him high on crystal meth, prescription drugs and alcohol for so long.
Welch, 42, will talk candidly about his addiction, about giving his first child up for adoption and about how his second child, Jennea Marie, became his catalyst for recovery when he visits Orland Park this weekend. He will speak at 5 and 7 p.m. Saturday and 9:30 and 11 a.m. Sunday at Calvary Church, 16100 104th Ave. The public is welcome, and admission is free.
After embracing Christianity, Welch left Korn in 2005 to pursue a solo career. Since then, he’s written a book, “Save Me From Myself,” released a Christian album by the same name and started a new band called Love and Death. His newest album is called “Between Here & Lost.”
Today, Welch has nothing but good news. He said he’s sober, his music is better, he’s tackling vocals and, this summer, he embarks on a reunion tour with Korn. The tour will crisscross Europe, but there are also gigs planned stateside, including stops in St. Louis and Columbus, Ohio.
Earlier this week, I chatted with Welch, who got his nickname “Head” as a kid when friends said his head looked bigger than his body. He talked about his new life and his need to help others struggling to get out of that dark place he knows so well. He also talked about his upcoming visit to Chicago.
Q: How are you doing now? What kind of place are you in?
A: I would say things could not be better now. I went through a time of getting to know myself and this new life and struggling with where I was going. In 2012, everything started to fall into place. Now Love and Death is hitting the road with Korn this summer, playing big places.
Q: How did the Korn reunion come about?
A: I had walked away from all that and started a new band. It was complete, but I when I went to a Korn show last year, they asked me to jam with them. We got such a positive reaction. A few months later, they asked me about a reunion. At first I said no, then I thought about it. Finally I asked them what about my other band and they said, bring it with. Everything went so peacefully, so positive I knew it was meant to be. (For a schedule of shows, visit korn.com)
Q: How has your recovery affected your music?
A: Some say the music is still dark and heavy metal, but I think it has a way deeper meaning. It has more melody in it. I also feel like I’ve gotten to a higher level of writing. That was something I’d lost when I was partying like crazy. It seems like in the past few years, my writing has more passion and creativity.
Q: Why speak at churches for free when you can be performing on stage?
A: I seem to attract people struggling with addiction and depression. By visiting and speaking at churches, I am able to reach people who are hurting. It makes me feel alive to help people stuck in that dungeon. I am really a spiritual man. Christ has given me so much peace and joy that I actually have more fun now. I’m happy. I’m a jokester again. I want to share that with people.
Q: It seems that rock and roll and drugs are so intertwined. Is it possible to hit the big time without getting mixed up in all that?
A: Drugs became big on the music scene in the ’60s and just kept going through the ’70s and ’80s. But I’m meeting a lot of younger bands on the road who are not into that scene. This generation is so creative, it blows my mind. A great number of bands are not ruining their life with drugs. I think it’s very possible to make music without drugs. It’s really cool to see. The thing about doing drugs, it ruins your relationships. Every relationship I had was ruined to some degree. Most got repaired, but they were greatly harmed.
Q: Describe your bottom. How dark was it?
A: My meth addiction was so bad I had two dealers. I was piling up all kinds of mess on trips. I’d have a dealer ship me meth overseas. Having drugs delivered to a foreign country, I could have gone to jail. It was the biggest loser life. Here I had this perfect little 5-year-old girl, and I was a complete mess. I tried to quit a couple of times but couldn’t. I was so afraid of confronting my issues, so I just kept doing drugs, avoiding it. I believe a lot of addicts have a hole in their heart or their soul. It’s something only God can fill. So I tried church. I thought I’ll just try it. I started reading the Bible, praying, talking to God. And I just felt this strength come into me. Christ filled that emptiness, and that was it for me.
Q: How is fatherhood treating you, especially now that she’s in her mid-teens? What kind of music is your daughter into these days?
A: Oh, man, fatherhood is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, especially because I’m kind of a loner. I’m raising her by myself. I keep freaking out that I’m doing damage. But it’s taught me that life is not all about me. Actually, it’s taught me a lot. She’s studying guitar, bass and drums. I told her be careful what you wish for. She loves ’90s music, but she has a good wide range, some pop like Bruno Mars but also Metallica. Right now, Blink 182 is her absolute favorite band.
Q: Following your conversion to Christianity, you went to India to build orphanages, or “Head Homes.” Still doing that?
A: No, now I’m involved with the Mocha Club. It asks people to donate $14 to $15 a month, the price of a few mochas a month, to help get sex-traffic girls in Ethiopia off the streets. (For more information on that visit brianheadwelch.net)
Q: Besides visiting Calvary Church, what’s on the agenda for Chicago?
A: I’ve been to Chicago a few times, and I’ve got some friends there. My daughter’s coming with me. We’ll spend a few days there. I think we’re going to go to the zoo or isn’t there an aquarium with dolphins and whales? We’re going to go there.
Calvary Church is at 16100 104th Ave., Orland Park; (708) 429-2200; calvaryop.org.