Korn’s Brian ‘Head’ Welch: “Go and do pop or hip hop. It's the only thing that’s selling”

(Image credit: Jimmy Fontaine)

Brian ‘Head’ Welch is metal’s prodigal son. The guitarist who quit Korn, found God, and returned a stronger, happier person. Following the release of Korn’s old- school-sounding The Nothing, we found him happy to chat all things music, faith… and poop. You guys didn’t hold back when it came to questions on The Path Of Totality, sobriety and SpongeBob.

Since you came to faith, how have you found navigating through a music genre that’s so widely associated with the Satanic?
Elliot Leaver (Facebook)

“I don’t think I’ve met any Satanists in rock’n’roll, so I don’t even think about that – it’s just what I do. I love the vibe of rock music – it’s who I am. And my faith is who I am too, so it can combine easily for me. Everybody has free will to choose what they want to do in life, and if they wanna be a Satanic band, then they can be a Satanic band, and I have nothing to say to them about that. I respect and love everybody.”

Can we have a metal version of The Path Of Totality album? It’s been so many years since it was released, I still can’t listen to it from start to finish because of all that techno shit in it…
@levente2805 (Twitter)

“Ha ha ha! That’s funny! I don’t think that’s gonna happen, because we like to play some songs live, but we leave the past in the past, and wanna write fresh, new music. To each their own, if they don’t like all that, they don’t have to listen to it all the way through.”

Do you ever feel confused when someone in the band does a coin-flip and calls out ‘Heads’?
@HorrorNevermore (Twitter)

“Ha ha ha! That’s happened in the past once or twice. ‘What?’ That’s how I’d react. ‘Head’s, what? What’s mine?!’”

Do you have any advice for new bands?
@Makodero1 (Twitter)

“Probably go do hip hop or pop music, because that’s the only thing that sells. I’m joking! You’ve gotta be in it for the long haul. You’ve gotta have patience and dedication, and write, write, write – hundreds of songs – because a song could change your whole career. It’s not like you’re trying to sell out – you’re just honing your craft and getting better every time you write a song.”

When you first rejoined the band it was around the Path Of Totality era with lots of electronics. What’s your take on that album and the direction the band have taken since then?
Ben Willmott (Facebook)

“I love that they did that, and they got some really cool songs out of it, like Get Up. We still play that live, and the crowd loves it. You’ve got to have a passion and a desire for music, so if they didn’t go in that direction, they might have been bored. We can still take stuff that they learned in that era and use it in music we write. [But] I didn’t join Korn to do that type of music. We had conversations about that – me and Munky wanted it guitar-heavy, so we compromised.”

Who would you most like to work with in the Christian music scene?
Steve Sowerby (Facebook)

“Is it mean to say I don’t really have anybody I wanna work with? I listen to instrumental music, that has the atmosphere where I can focus in on the spiritual realm and connect with Jesus there. I don’t listen to Christian music. I don’t have anything against it, just sometimes… words aren’t enough, you know? With instrumental, I can contemplate, and meditate, and kind of go there in my being, if you will.”

(Image credit: Roadrunner Records)

What was the moment when you realised you had to get sober?
Chris McDonald (Facebook)

“It was when I was in Europe. I had my speed dealer and my meth dealer send me eightballs through FedEx when I ran out. So when I was sending illegal drugs through FedEx, I thought, ‘I think I need to get sober.’ Thank God, I didn’t get caught. That person is long gone, so I’d never do anything like that again. But that scared me, because I was like, ‘I’ve gone too far to get my drugs, now. I’m a junkie.’ So it was time to change.”

When was the last time you crapped your own pants?
Debs Copper (email)

“Ha ha ha! Maybe when I was drunk, 20 years ago, possibly? But I don’t have a memory of that. I’ve never crapped my pants in my life except when I was in diapers. So I’d say diapers – I don’t have a funny story. One second. [To his friend] So these are fan questions. [To Hammer] My friend’s here, and he’s probably going, ‘What’s she asking you?’ Ha ha ha! He’s like, ‘They’re weird!’”

Metal Hammer: “Well, we are, but that personally wasn’t from us, that was from Debs Copper. She’s gonna be happy to have her question answered.”

Head: “OK, can you put some of our dialogue in there? Because it’s pretty funny! I’m trying to think about when I’ve crapped my pants and that’s gonna read good! And then you can tell them I do have slight constipation problems, so I don’t crap my pants easy.”

Metal Hammer: “Oh, what a shame!”

Head: “It actually works out good, so I don’t have accidents!”

Do you have a warm-up riff when you’re practising/soundchecking?
@RJ_Fraser (Twitter)

“I do have to practise this riff on You’ll Never Find Me. I screwed up one night so bad, that the guys in the band and our crew made videos of me and my really bad mess-up. They called it a ‘train wreck’, so they made a video of a train hitting a car, with my audio of the train wreck that I played that night. So they had a lot of fun with that. You’ll Never Find Me is a riff I have to play over and over before we go onstage so I don’t mess it up. And then Metallica, Master Of Puppets. One. Metallica’s songs are very hard to play for some people, especially people like me, so they get my wrists warmed up and my fingers warmed up pretty good.”

Think you guys might cover any Faith No More tunes on your big joint tour? @SpiritWalkTalk (Twitter)

“Ah man, that’d be amazing – it’d be a dream come true. We’ve covered We Care A Lot [released on Metal Hammer’s Decades Of Destruction CD in 2016]. I’d love to do something off The Real Thing. We know a couple of those guys, but we don’t know all of them, so we don’t know their personalities. So it would be cool if we could, but we’ll see!”

Who would win a 30-man nu metal Royal Rumble?
Jacob Hennessy (email)

“I don’t know what’s nu metal nowadays. Some people will combine Slipknot and Korn, and even System Of A Down – I read an article that put them in there. Who in nu metal can I take in a fight? I’d probably say Jim Root. I can knock him out. I don’t care if he’s eight feet tall. I was just looking for the biggest guy. The other guitar player, that big old guy, Mick? Yeah, so Mick and Jim, we’ll go two against one. Put it out in the media and we’ll see if it really happens! Ha ha ha! ‘Head challenges Mick and Jim Root to a fight.’ That’s awesome!”

What is the present state of Korn Kovers? Will it ever be released?
@HEM3KA (Twitter)

“Oh! We have five or six done, and Jonathan was really hyped on the idea of doing unique covers, just something fun. So we need to get back into that frame of mind. With this time off, that maybe that could be a good idea – something to do while we’re home. Tell them, ‘Thank you for the idea!’”

Why have you opened a health spa? That doesn’t sound very metal.
Lana Flame (email)

“Ha ha ha! I opened Zivel because there’s a lot of pain and discomfort in the world, and I like to bring healing to people. The spa’s got amazing things to do that. Not everything has to be metal, you guys! People need to rest and heal.”

I saw a picture of you with a SpongeBob SquarePants movie poster. Who’s your favourite character, and why?
Diego (email)

“Patrick. 100%. [Puts on Patrick voice] ‘SpongeBob!’. Because of his voice, and he’s so stupid. He’s happy-go-lucky. I really love SpongeBob, but I have to choose Patrick. SpongeBob is a little bit more intelligent than Patrick, and I just like Patrick’s simplicity.” 

Published in Metal Hammer #335

Eleanor Goodman
Editor, Metal Hammer

Eleanor was promoted to the role of Editor at Metal Hammer magazine after over seven years with the company, having previously served as Deputy Editor and Features Editor. Prior to joining Metal Hammer, El spent three years as Production Editor at Kerrang! and four years as Production Editor and Deputy Editor at Bizarre. She has also written for the likes of Classic Rock, Prog, Rock Sound and Visit London amongst others, and was a regular presenter on the Metal Hammer Podcast.