Brian « Head » Welch (Korn): God and Metal

Brian "Head" Welch - KornThe Hellfest storm has abated, the wind has died down and the sand has settled. Calmly. Peacefully. Head, Korn’s co-founder and guitarist, who left the team in 2005 only to come back in 2013, has met God and His son. He has spent time away from the rock business to write and publish his first autobiographical book, the aptly named “Save Me From Myself”. Since then, long before he was even back in Korn, he’s been spreading the good word and sowing his Christian ideals in the metal world. At the end of the month, French-speaking people will be able to read his second book, “Stronger: Forty Days of Metal and Spirituality”, a collection of his favorite verses and the personal thoughts that go with them.

In the leather-smelling Gibson bus, Head is waiting to answer questions regarding his faith, his beliefs and his dogma. What are his thoughts on extreme metal bands? What is his position nowadays in the rock business? What do some of his tattoos mean? As you’ll see for yourself, the man doesn’t so much turn the other cheek as offer to hug the entire world.

Brian "Head" Welch - Stronger

« A lot of these bands out here, they don’t know what they’re doing. They think it’s just metal and that it goes along with the scene, you know, the devil look. »

Radio Metal: Your second book will soon be published in France. In the introduction you explain that each chapter begins with a verse from the Bible, it’s meaning and how it speaks to you, but also with a story about your life. How did you choose these verses?

Brian « Head » Welch (guitar): I chose the verses by asking God, because there are so many verses. I was telling Jonathan [Davis] earlier that I went through the Bible for years, especially the New Testament, over and over and over… So I just remembered places in the Bible, scriptures that really spoke to me. It was pretty easy.

Do you read the Bible from front to back?

No. I read it in [different times]. I read a book, then I read another book… I jump all over. I haven’t read from Genesis to Revelation. Leviticus is hard to get through…

What is your goal with this book?

I want people to know how to meet God, how he really is, how good he is, how non religious he is… He’s so awesome! The relationship with God is the best high you could ever find. I spent my life trying to get high off whatever! Drugs, alcohol and everything… All that stuff is a counterfeit, it’s fake. I’m not saying don’t drink because people who drinks with moderation aren’t ruining their lives. I’m saying that the relationship with God is the highest high you could ever experience. Because he’s invisible and eternal, and you could tap into that now and experience that. There’s nothing like it.

How can you deal with the rock business, with all the drugs and alcohol, with festivals and other bands?

I limit myself. I only drink one twelve-pack. I only do one line of coke and one joint every day. No more! [Laughs] Just joking! I’m not afraid of it because I’ve seen it, and I’ve been there. I don’t see cocaine ever. I’ve smoked pot a lot, you know, beer and smoking pot… We were drinking all the time but… You know, I’m not scared of it. I have great stability, obviously. It’s like a calling from God, I’m supposed to be here. How can you speak to people about the love of God if you’re not with people that don’t know it? If they don’t know the love of God, then they have other pleasures they wanna do. Which I understand! I did all the pleasures I could find because the ultimate pleasure I didn’t have. I’m just here to love people. That’s all!

Don’t you sometimes feel isolated?

No, because a lot of times I’m happier than a lot of people [chuckles] that are drinking and doing all the partying. You know, I’ve had wine too. Last year I’ve had some wine but then I started to have a little too much and so I stopped again. I was like: “Wait! I don’t like it that much!” I just did a couple of times but… But I don’t feel isolated because on top of that, I’m usually a happy person, being out here, around the people. There are other people in all kinds of bands – Slipknot or Papa Roach – that are doing the same thing as me. Maybe not… Some of them are seeking God but some aren’t and they’re just sober. So there’s all kind of people like that. It’s not like it used to be where everyone’s like: “Ahhh!” Trying to kill themselves, you know! I think there’s more wisdom in the rock genre now.

You’ve got a lot of Tattoos. Can you tell us the meaning of some of them, especially those representing two verses of St. Matthew?

I’ve got a lot of Matthew’s! I‘ve got the eyelid tattoos, it’s Shekhinah and Kabod, the Glory of God manifest. Kabod is the heavy, weighty presence of God, and Shekhinah is the sweet presence. It’s more like the feminine attribute of God, and Kabod is the masculine. Because it’s said in the Genesis that God created man in his image, male and female. So male and female come from God. That’s just a different aspect of his glory, which I love! Because he’s the most beautiful and the sweetest but he’s also the most powerful being ever. But he’s the most gentle being ever too. He’s everything! Wow! I’m starting to feel that right now! [Laughs] I just get really excited and I start to feel his presence, so thank you for asking that question! I needed that…

And what about the cross with the soldiers?

Oh yeah! The cross with the soldiers, it’s… There’s this picture of soldiers putting an American flag, I don’t know where it came from, but I put the cross there instead of the flag. That was a unique, very unique… One of my friends does t-shirt designs and he found the soldiers with the flag and put the cross there for me. So it’s a unique piece of art that’s on my chest.

Brian "Head" Welch

« Everybody here on earth has a choice. God gave everybody a choice to live how they want to live! So, no one’s gonna change anything trying to make people live a certain way. »

You said: “I want to go deeper into things of the spiritual realm.” How do you apply that in the short and long terms?

Oh, that’s a hard question! [Chuckles] Okay, let’s just say how do I apply it. I apply it by time. Time is like a currency and we spend time – what we spend time doing? So, though I’m battling it right now, I choose to spend time – like extreme time – with God. I choose spend like an hour in prayer, an hour in worship, an hour in reading the Bible or another book and talking to God through it, and then I’ll go back to prayer, and then I’ll be quiet, kind of just in contemplation with him. So, at the end of the day, it’s like hours and hours a day that I spend with him, when I’m not busy. That’s the biggest for me: spending time. And he’s invisible… The Bible says: look to the unseen and not to the seen, keep your eyes on the unseen realm. Basically it’s talking about the eyes of our heart and the eyes of our spirit. I choose to be extreme about it. It says: those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled. To me that means hunger. Who is righteousness? God is. He’s everything right about it. So I hunger and thirst for that, so I’ll be filled with more to go deeper.

God never asked you to quit the metal scene even though some of the visuals in that scene can be very aggressive or blasphemous, I’m thinking of bands like Marduk or Behemoth. On the contrary you understood one day that your destiny was to compose metal songs. What can you say about that?

Love covers a multitude of senses. Jesus was on the cross and they were shouting things at him, they were blasphemous and they were mocking, and he just said: “Father, forgive them.” A lot of these bands out here, they don’t know what they’re doing. They think it’s just metal and that it goes along with the scene, you know, the devil look. God’s not uptight about it. Paul was killing Christians and then the next day he’s blinded and sees Jesus in all his glory. There are a lot of Pauls out there. There’s Paul everywhere! That’s how I look at it.

Do you sometimes listen to these bands?

[Disgusted tone] No! [Laughs] That’s not my thing. But whoever does, let them do what they want! I’d give anybody a hug. I don’t care if he says… You know, Korn at one point put a shirt out that said: “Korn gave Head to Jesus.” Because my name’s Head and they were trying to be funny with it, and I’m back in Korn and Jesus didn’t get offended by that. So I’ll hug anybody. I don’t care.

You’re in France, so you’ll have to kiss everybody…

Oh yeah, so it’s like [doing kisses] on the cheeks? No tongue, no French kiss, right? Okay. [Laughs]

Every year a lot of people desperately try to cancel the Hellfest. These people are Christians. They say that they feel offended by some bands. What would you say to those fanatics?

Everybody here on earth has a choice. God gave everybody a choice to live how they want to live! So, no one’s gonna change anything trying to make people live a certain way. You can’t do it. You can’t change people. I would just say, if they’re offended, they should just not go there. Just stay away! Go to your own thing! But don’t [imitating people shouting], because then it makes everyone thing that Jesus is gong [again imitating people shouting] “I hate metal! I hate what you do!” Because then it makes everyone think that Jesus is like that. He doesn’t hate anybody. He hates the sin, he loves the person. So I just think the fanatics just have it all wrong because everyone gets the choice and they get to do what they want with their lives and their bodies and everything.

Interview conducted 21th, june 2015 by Virginie Mardirossian.
Retranscription: Nicolas Gricourt.

Brian « Head » Welch official website: www.brianheadwelch.net.
Korn official website: korn.com.

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