Korn's Brian ‘Head’ Welch: My Life In 10 Songs

Korn – Freak On A Leash (Follow The Leader, 1998)

“How could I not say Freak On A Leash?! It was such an important time. My wife at the time was pregnant with Jennea [Head’s daughter], she was ready to pop. From our first record through to Life Is Peachy we had never really had a break; we went from the studio to the road to the studio and straight back out on the road. So, we said that we needed a break, we all went and chilled at home. Then after a few months we went into the studio, no Ross, just us, just getting together deciding to mess around like we did in the old days, just to see what we came up with before we got a producer in.

“We had written a lot of the songs that I don’t think are the best on that record, then suddenly we hit this time where Got The Life came, which was actually the same week as we did Freak On A Leash. Munky just came up with that ‘weee-ooowww’ and I was like, ‘Keep doing that!’ and I did my answer, then Fieldy (bassist) and David (Silveria, drummer) started putting this groove behind it. We all loved Faith No More, and when those toms come in on the chorus, we thought that was a cool nod to them, and Jonathan kind of mapped out him vocal melodies there and then. 

“It happened just like that, with just the five of us, no one else was there, and it was a very unique song, we knew that from the get-go, we never knew it was going to be this big song for us, but we all loved it. That was a really exciting time to see that direction and style that accumulated and grew, and we just didn’t sound like anyone else, it solidified our style. 

Korn – Falling Away From Me (Issues, 1999)

“We were a mega big band, we had reached a real high for our career status, and we wanted to do a record with someone who had made big albums and worked with big artists, and we wanted to jump back in and not wait a really long time between albums. 

“Brendan O’Brien had worked with Stone Temple Pilots, Rage Against The Machine, Chris Cornell, he was a big-name producer, he came into the studio, we were in the studio in Long Beach California, and I remember feeling pretty stumped by it all. You know, what do you do after Follow The Leader and Freak On A Leash and Got The Life? I felt writers block, like I didn’t have any ideas, it was insecurity, fear of not being able to be at that level still, and Brendan was going ‘What you got? Play me something! Gimme the hits!’ and that brought out even more. One day I just went ‘Wee-oww-oww-oww' on my guitar and he immediately went ‘What’s that? Keep playing that!’, and I was like ‘I don’t know, I just did it’.

He said it would be a great way to start a song, and he said we need a big riff after that and spoke about where the rhythms would come in and way we went. It was really cool when Jonathan came in with the lyrics and put the ‘Beating me down, into the ground’ part in, really up his alley, and it’s something that people can sing along to as well. I didn’t know if it was going to be one of the big songs, but it was incredible, it’s an anthem song. 

“We really loved working with Fred Durst on the video [Durst directed the video]. He had the best treatment, it wasn’t just giving our friend a job, he got the darkness out of Korn in that video, showing that abuse. We played am album release show for that album. Chris Rock and Busta Rhymes came to the show, we were talking backstage and Busta Rhymes says to us, ‘Man, if you guys were black and you were rappers, they’d never let you have that content in your video! I can’t believe you got away with it!’ And he’s right – it was really intense for that time.” 

Korn – Here To Stay (Untouchables, 2002)

“So, my wife left me during Issues, which is a great title for that record because it mimics my life. I got full custody of our daughter, I was trying to figure out what to do, I was in Korn, but I had this kid that I loved and I had no co-parent. What it did was push me into trying to get sober, and Here To Stay was one of the first songs that we wrote for Untouchables.

“It was the biggest budget Korn album ever – we had Michael Bienhorn producing it and he has this reputation for spending the record company’s money! We rented these five houses, and Fieldy’s house had this stripper pole and people would go there and party until the sun came up, Jonathan had this kind of nerdy house with David and Beinhorn, they were really trying to have this intellectual house.

“Me and Munky stayed in the equipment house. Down in the basement we had all of our gear, an electronic drum set for David, just for us to get the ideas down. When we wrote Hear To Stay it was on these little disco drums – you couldn’t really hear the rock. I didn’t get the vision of it. But when I finally heard it I was like, ‘Oh, I see!’ The video was great too, a really amazing concept.”

Love And Death – Whip It (Between Here & Lost, 2013)

“I love doing cover songs. It’s cool to be able to put your own spin on things. A lot of things happen to me in the shower, I just get these ideas when I’m in there, and one day I just thought that I’d like to do a cover of Whip It [by new wave eccentrics Devo] while I was in there washing my ass. 

“When I was a kid, I didn’t like that song, I thought it was weird. But it was just part of my childhood – it was one of videos that came on MTV all the time. I suddenly heard the riff heavy in my head, and I took it to Jason (Rauch, Love And Death producer-turned-guitariist) and he ran with it and chopped it all up.

“I wanted to drop it down in the verses and make it really atmospheric and Deftones-like, and when that album came out people were like ‘Is this... Whip It?’ and that’s a really good reason to do the song. I think we made it less mental and a little cooler.”

Love And Death – By The Way (Between Here & Lost, 2013)

“It’s one of my favourite songs on the last record, because it’s about losing someone, it’s about grief. I like to think it’s like someone going to the graveside of someone they really miss and talking to them. It’s weird because, when I first wrote it, the chorus says: ‘By the way, I’m doing alright and you don’t know what I had to give to walk away and live again/ I will always miss you, and by the way I think about you and the memories are never gonna leave/I know I'll see you there with me where we will always be alive.’

“I wasn’t back in Korn when I wrote that. It had a dual meaning, because it could have been a letter to the Korn guys. I nearly thought about going in that direction with the song, there had been so much negativity with me and Jonathan and I really wanted to put an end to that. But at the end of the day I thought the concept should stay with the death and grieving of a loved one. There have been a few people that had picked up on that over the years though.”

Love And Death’s new album, Perfectly Preserved, is out on February 12. Tickets for the album release livestream are available now.