POSTED ON APRIL 13, 2011:
Head on his Shoulders
Brian "Head" Welch builds his audience with a clean slate
For Fans of Korn, the departure of guitarist Brian "Head" Welch wasn't necessarily a death knell for the band, but it was definitely a major loss.
As one of the founding members of the band, Welch's guitar riffs were a signature part of the act's sound. Of course, the band moved on and so did Welch, but for many fans there was something missing.
For Welch, it was something he felt he needed to do. His departure was highly publicized and put his conversion to Christianity, battles with addiction and commitment to sobriety in the spotlight. Nevertheless, it was a much needed move that gave Welch a fresh start in his life, music and everything else.
Now, roughly six years later, Welch is out on tour for his solo album, playing to new audiences as well as old fans with a repertoire of material that bridges the gap between his days with Korn and his newer solo material. The current tour is a decidedly Christian bill, featuring Decyfer Down and The Wedding as well as The Letter Black, but Welch is definitely the headline act and main draw for the majority of the audience.
Sonically, Welch's solo material isn't a huge departure from the alternative metal sound that he helped engineer with his previous band. Lyrically, however, his album carries a much more positive message: one of hope and redemption and new beginnings.
When asked how things have changed since his days in Korn, Welch shared that "As far as touring goes, a lot is the same: you go from town to town and wake up in a new city every day, sometimes it's hard to sleep. Now, it's different, though, because it's not all about me. I'm going out there and trying to do something good for other people instead of only worrying about myself."
Brian Welch’s departure from Korn was highly publicized and put his conversion to Christianity, battles with addiction and commitment to sobriety in the spotlight. Sonically, his solo material isn’t a huge departure from the alternative metal sound that he helped engineer with his previous band. Lyrically, however, his album carries a much more positive message: one of hope and redemption and new beginnings.
When Welch left Korn in 2005, it may have appeared that he walked away from music altogether. Any media coverage certainly made it appear that way, but Welch said that wasn't the case.
"I was always working on my solo stuff, I just wasn't touring," he said. "I took time to work on building my relationship with God. I focused on that and on my daughter. I just have a different heart now."
Welch said he could have stayed with Korn and found sobriety, but it just wasn't something he wanted to do.
"I look back and we made some great music. I really like some of my guitar work and am proud of what we did, but that's just not where my heart was at," he said. "What I'm doing now is new and fresh. It may not be filling arenas, but I'm busy making new music and meeting new people."
Helping other people learn from his experiences seems to be a focal point for Welch now, whether through sharing his story in an autobiography or the lyrics to his songs, which focus on everything from his battles with substance abuse to materialism to redemption.
Welch even has a new book, Stronger, out, which is a 40-day spiritual/devotional book that combines scripture readings with his own stories and experiences.
"The book company and I were talking about it and some people are really into devotionals," he said about how the book project came about. "Once I began, it just started to flow, so I feel like it was just supposed to happen."
Amongst other things that Welch addresses in the book is his struggle with depression.
"I've battled with it since 1998, but it got a lot worse as time went by. I've done everything to deal with it: music, prayer, medication, meditation, doctors, therapy," he said. "I'm finally doing better, though, with a mix of prayer, ministry and therapy and some mild anti-depressants, but I try to limit them as much as possible."
Even though Welch remains in music and his new material sounds very similar to what he did with Korn, it also continues to be very different. As he told me more than once, "It's not just about me anymore." And whether it's through his songs, a book, or just the time he spends meeting and talking with new friends and fans, Welch continues to use his past experiences to help others and shed light on the future.
When Brian "Head" Welch's "Over My Head" tour arrives at the Marquee this Tuesday night, April 19, it will surely draw fans of Korn and Christian rock alike. In the process, Welch's new focus will likely change perceptions that each group has of the other and promote unity and understanding, much like his music has since he departed on his solo career. Tickets are $15 and the show starts at 6:30pm.
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