HeAd’s KoRner: Making the ‘Shift’ Back Into Korn
Brian ‘Head’ Welch, guitarist for Korn and frontman for Love & Death, contributes a monthly column to Loudwire called HeAd’s KoRner. In this latest edition, Head takes us inside his reunion with Korn and offers a glimpse into the recording for the band’s upcoming album, ‘The Paradigm Shift,’ due out Oct. 1. He also addresses some backlash from a select group of his Christian fans and talks about a really cool experience with his daughter Jennae. Check out the latest edition of HeAd’s KoRner below:
The last time I wrote an article for Head’s KoRner, I told y’all things with KoRn were moving along, but I wasn’t at liberty to share our surprise that I’d been secretly writing a new record (called ‘The Paradigm Shift’) with my brothers for the last 10 months. I also mentioned that nothing was 100 percent with KoRn. It seriously could’ve gone either way. But after touring and having killer hang out time with my brothers, we all learned quickly that the decision to rejoin KoRn was the right one. Hearing the record come together so well was a huge sign for us, as well. We all got into a room and jammed out when we had time and the vibe was stronger than ever. Munky and I had a blast laying down the guitar tracks, too! It was like I never left, man. Everything just felt so natural.
I first heard Jonathan’s finished vocals just as we started our rehearsals for Rock on the Range and the European tour. That was a crazy week for me, man. KoRn was in Hollywood at SIR rehearsing during the day, and Love & Death were 10 minutes away in Burbank recording a new song called ‘Empty’ for our re-release/deluxe version of our album ‘Between Here and Lost’ coming soon. Those two things alone are exciting enough, but then KoRn got called over to our producer Don Gilmore’s studio to listen to the vocals JD threw down for the new album.
Munky, Ray and I arrived around 2PM. We met our 7-foot manager Peter Katsis at the studio. It was a beautiful day in the L.A. mountains where Gilmore’s studio is located. But the day got even better when Gilmore started playing the new KoRn tracks with JD’s finished vocals. We were all ear-to-ear smiles! I’ve never heard JD’s voice sound so killer! The melodies, the lyrics are just at another level.
After we left Gilmore’s studio, we started rehearsing the very first KoRn set. Then about two minutes into ‘Blind,’ I sliced open my right hand on my guitar bridge! Blood went everywhere and KoRn’s guitar tech Jim wouldn’t even help me! He was too afraid to touch my blood! So I wiped the blood off my guitar myself, cleaned up my hand, bandaged it up, and jammed the set in pain like a man! Other than that, rehearsals went great. It did take me a few days to get familiar with the songs again. Especially ‘Got the Life’ & ‘Freak,’ etc., with all the guitar pedal changes. But towards the end of rehearsals, we were pretty damn tight! And we had to be because our second KoRn show with me back was headlining Friday night at Rock on the Range in front of thousands and thousands! We had one warm up show before ROTR in Pennsylvania that was cool, too. The crowd was great and it felt so natural playing again on stage with the boys – just like the old days. But the coolest thing was getting first class treatment at our drummer Ray’s sister’s petting zoo, ha ha … Now, this was no little kids petting zoo. This place had a couple tigers, monkeys that crawled on us, and all these other tripped-out, cool-looking animals. I loved that place. I’m definitely going back there again.
When we arrived at ROTR the next morning, I could feel the nerves inside. I was pulling double duty with KoRn & Love & Death. Love & Death shows make me WAY more nervous than KoRn. If I’m having a difficult day singing and/or breathing, then I’ll have a horrible show. And that’s exactly what happened during the Love & Death set. I could hardly breathe, and on top of that I sliced my hand open again and blood went everywhere!
But the crowd seemed to dig it, and the paramedic cleaned up my hand afterwards, so all was good. It was so cool to see many old friends and get some hang out time, too. I saw the Papa Roach dudes, got to interview Josh from Buckcherry for Loudwire and hung with many industry people I hadn’t seen in a long time. By the time KoRn went on, that place was so filled with power & electricity! Just as we walked on the stage we had a feeling that it was gonna be one of those shows that we’d remember for a long time. Some said it was the 2nd best show of KoRn’s career, next to Woodstock ’99. I was thanking God for all the cool stuff happening, man. I’m so stoked with all this!!!
Speaking of God, I was getting some crap from a few Christians that were commenting online that KoRn weren’t “honoring The Lord” in their music. There was a time when I didn’t think God would be very into KoRn’s music and lifestyle, but I’ve learned that He loves everyone where they’re at. And I know God loves KoRn’s music because its passionate and very honest. I just trip out on these people that have the balls to judge people so harshly with their negative, hateful attitudes. It’s crazy how bold people are online. Not one person has come with their negative attitudes to my face. Luckily, most of the Christians are cool and “get it.” I only have to deal with a small number of knuckleheads.
Anyway, the shows in Europe with KoRn and Love & Death were CRAZY … like “Rock on the Range” crazy! KoRn played the headlining slots on many of the festivals and the shows were mind blowing! It trips me out that after 20 years as a band, so many people still come out to see KoRn and go completely crazy at the shows. So cool!
The best part of the trip was when my daughter Jennea came out to visit for a week at Rock Am Ring/Rock Im Park in Germany. Jennea went through some challenging things last year while touring with Love & Death and trying to keep up with online school work, so we found a great girl’s boarding school for her to attend this year while I hit the heavy touring cycle with KoRn & L&D. She’s worked so hard this year so far, so it was a great reward for her to come and hang at a few of the biggest festivals in Europe. I think she was most excited to see A Day To Remember and Paramore. It was so cool to see her rock out to all the bands. She’s such a lover of music just like her freaky dad! She got to hang with some of the bands, too. The Limp Bizkit dudes hadn’t seen her since she was a 1-year-old, so they were trippin’. Paramore were so cool, too. Jennea and I are friends with Hayley Williams mom back in Nashville, so we’ve been wanting to meet/hang with Paramore for a while. We watched them on side stage, and Hayley watched a full KoRn show with Jennea one night. Such a killer vacation for my kid! It’s so hard to be away from your family so much as a touring musician, and when Jennea had to go back home, she shed many tears. I only get to see her about once a month now, so it’s definitely not easy.
Life just keeps changing, and though it’s tough at times, the journey is totally meaningful nowadays and worth every tear. And the good times always outweigh the bad — that’s for sure!
I wish you all blessings through the changes & challenges that you’re walking through. Check back with me next month as I share my profound interview with Jacoby from Papa Roach.
Brian ‘Head’ Welch is a founding member of the multiplatinum band Korn and frontman of Love and Death. He is the New York Times best-selling author of the book ‘Save Me From Myself.’ Brian has won multiple Grammys and MTV Music Awards and is currently active in both Korn and Love and Death, as well as traveling the country speaking. Follow Brian ‘Head’ Welch’s schedule at www.loveanddeathmusic.com and pick up Love and Death’s debut album, ‘Between Here & Lost,’ at iTunes. And stay tuned for Korn’s new album, ‘The Paradigm Shift,’ out Oct. 1, 2013.