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Korn’s Brian ‘Head’ Welch: “We don’t want to watch this band grow old and go downhill”

A portrait of Brian Head Welch
(Image credit: Future)

Korn aren’t late joining the livestream craze, they’ve just been waiting for the right thing to do. But nu metal icons are going big with their debut online show, Monumental, filmed on the set of Stranger Things: The Drive-Into Experience in downtown L.A. Hammer caught up with guitarist Brian ‘Head’ Welch to find out what we can expect of the show, why a Korn NFT could be a viable retirement plan and when exactly the semi-mythical Korn Kovers album will arrive…

Metal Hammer line break

If we can just decide on five more songs, I think we’d have it done.

Head on the Korn Kovers album

How’s everything looking for you right now?

Good, man! I’m looking forward to the world opening up and getting back to being free, which also means coming over to Europe with the band and seeing you guys again. It’s only a matter of time now, right?

What pushed Korn to enter the world of livestreaming?

Last year there were a lot of bands that went in for the whole livestream thing which was great, but as a band we personally didn’t have any ideas or offers that would have made it unique. At the time, we figured we’d take some time for our families and wait to see what happens with touring. But by late 2020 – maybe even early January 2021 – we’d started having conversations with our management and a promoter we work with a lot here in the States, so came up with this very cool idea to play at the Stranger Things drive-in site here in downtown Los Angeles.

What about that setting made it perfect for Korn in particular, though?

The place is so epic! Its got LED massive screens everywhere and is on top of a building, giving it this really unique vibe. Considering what you can do with drones these days, we got incredibly excited like, “Now that’s how you do a livestream!” I was talking to Jonathan [Davis] yesterday and he is so excited to see how people are going to react to this. We’ve been doing this for 28 years or whatever now, so it can be hard to get us excited these days, you know? I swear, it’s one of the coolest things we’ve done in our career.

How did the experience compare to usual gigs?

Right from the off we knew it would be at least a little weird, because we don’t have anything coming back from fans who’d be in the audience. At the same time, we had this idea to make it cool and vibed off the actual scene itself; those visual aspects are unreal and we think it’s going to be interesting diving into some deeper cuts that we haven’t played in a while. Some of them I’ve never even played because I wasn’t in the band! We’ve got drones basically flying around the city to get shots too, making some great camera angles while we play to this huge backdrop of downtown Los Angeles at night – there’s no cooler backdrop than that.

As part of the livestream, you’ll be playing songs from The Nothing – what does that album mean to Korn now compared to when it came out in 2019?

I still think The Nothing is a very special album, man. At the time we wrote it, it was 25 years into our career, so to have a really personal, intimate album like that made it feel special too. Jonathan really opened himself up again for that record; he’s always invited people to share in his struggles, but how he dealt with grieving his losses is incredible.

Korn

(Image credit: Roadrunner Records)

What does the future hold for Korn beyond the livestream?

You know, I was talking to [Korn guitarist] Munky the other day, like ‘Munky, how long are you planning to go man? Are we gonna be Rolling Stones wannabes, or do we wanna retire at some point and do something else?’ The truth is… we don’t know. We left it knowing it’s gotta be the fans’ decision in the end; so long as they want us, we could just keep going.

At the same time, I was sat thinking how cool it’d be to go out on arena level rather than getting bumped back down to clubs or whatever. Smaller venues are fun because of how intimate you can get, but we don’t just wanna watch the band grow old and go downhill. I’d love to go out on top, man. But again, we could probably achieve that by maybe playing more sparingly, go out and only do special events  so it’s more of an event. I don’t really see us doing full tours into our 80s, you know?

Time to set a Korn NFT up for your retirement plan then?

Man, are a lot of artists doing that now?

There are a lot of people who are making money from it…

I mean, technology is advancing at an incredible speed and we’ve known that for decades now. I just think blockchain is the future and it’s just gonna grow. De-centralised finance, cryptocurrency… everything is changing. Nobody knows if NFTs are a long-term thing, but right now it feels very futuristic and I think the pieces that are being sold are going to hold their value. So we’ll see.

Will you continue doing livestream events when touring does resume?

Honestly, with how creative you can get doing these I think it’d be very cool to do this at least every couple of years around album releases or whatever. It makes you think out of the box; you can get real creative with the team. Right now we’re obviously doing it because we haven’t been able to tour for over a year, but I think it’s opened a box that artists should look to do in future. Who doesn’t want to play a special show where fans from all over the world can join in?”

Has work started on a new Korn record yet?

We’ve just focused on our families lately; we’ve thrown a few ideas back and forth but nothing that is making everyone want to rush back into the studio yet.

When are we getting the Korn Kovers album? It’s turning into the Chinese Democracy of covers records…

Dude, I want to do that so bad! A lot of fans ask us that, so there’s definitely a demand for it and we’re feeling the love. It’d be cool to do it this year, but I don’t know. I guess we already have a head-start because we’ve recorded a bunch in the past, but if we can just decide on, like, five more songs I think we’d have it done. Hopefully in the next year or two… maybe.

It’s the 25th anniversary of Life Is Peachy this year. Any plans to mark it?

Oh yeeeah! You know, we’ve been so focused on this we haven’t really talked about it, but just you saying it might be worth going back to the guys to do something for that!

This year also marks 30 years since L.A.P.D., the band that Korn came out of, released their debut album. Are there any plans to commemorate it at all?

Hahaaaaa! I wasn’t expecting you to ask that! Dude, I was there in the L.A.P.D. days and they had some real unique things going on, like Fieldy’s bass had a lot more funk like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but sometimes we’ll go back and watch shows on YouTube and laugh at how goofy it was, you know? I don’t think they’d celebrate that, but I was their guitar tech at the time so I’m happy celebrating the fact that’s how we got to be Korn.

Monumental streams on Saturday April 24

Korn Monumental poster

(Image credit: Korn)