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MIDLAND, MI — In 2005, when Brian Welch left the Grammy Award-winning band Korn, his band members thought he had lost it.
“They thought I lost my dang mind,” Welch said. “They thought I went nuts.”
The guitarist, who is commonly known by the nickname “Head,” left the band to kick drug addiction and connect with God.
Nine years later, Welch is once again a member of Korn, but he also takes the time to appear on smaller stages to tell people about his journey to spirituality.
On Friday, Oct. 17, Welch took time to explain his story to a group of young people at Midland Nazarene Church, 5700 Jefferson.
“I just want to encourage them to go after their destiny; their God-given destiny, and not waste away like I did for so many years,” Welch said.
Welch told the group of more than 50 teenagers that he would have avoided many hardships in his life had he started his relationship with God years earlier. His marriage may have survived and his daughter would likely have suffered far less trauma, he said.
“I made a lot of mistakes,” Welch said. “I hurt myself and others.”
Welch’s story is one that is filled with methamphetamine abuse and emptiness despite fame, he explained while standing in front of a screen projecting pictures of the 44-year-old musician and author.
But that all changed when Welch started communicating with God he said, calling the relationship he has with Christ the most important part of his life.
“It becomes more real year after year after year,” he said.
As Welch joked and snapped selfies with the young audience following his Friday afternoon talk, Kurt Faust explained why he brought Welch to the area for the second time in two years.
“Any time that we can teach kids about their walk with Jesus Christ, it’s wonderful,” Faust said.
Founder of the nonprofit Step Up Coaching, and the former football coach at Midland Dow, Faust coordinated Welch’s visit as he did when the musician visited the Midland area in 2013.
The two had met years before Welch became a born-again Christian. Faust said when he heard that Welch had started practicing Christianity, he was intrigued and eventually reached out to the guitarist.
“Brian is a great example of someone who basically lives fully for the lord and takes a risk in a culture that isn’t really accepting of that kind of lifestyle,” Faust said.
Following the afternoon appearance at Midland Nazarene Church, Welch appeared at a public event held at Midland Reformed Church.
Faust said there are “a lot of Brian’s” in the Midland community and having Welch visit is a “great way to reach them.”
That sentiment was echoed by Mike Martin, the worship and youth pastor at Midland Nazarene Church. Martin said he had his own struggle with drug addiction in his younger years.
“(Welch is) real and he’s relevant and he doesn’t sugarcoat anything,” Martin said.
Welch didn’t sugarcoat his feelings on what he views as the downside of organized religion.
“The religious side of God has been destructive and I think he’ll use freak-a-zoids like me to show people he loves everybody the same,” Welch said.
Faust said that is an important message, that God isn’t judging based on appearance or the type of music you listen to.
“People have an opinion about Brian when they look at him or they think of his music,” Faust said. “We want to break down that barrier.
“Love has no boundaries.”
Midland residents need to start looking at every person as a “child of God,” Faust said.
For Welch, though, the thoughts of others aren’t important.
“It doesn’t matter if people judge me,” he said. “What it’s all about for me is the relationship with God.”
That relationship, Welch said, led him back to Korn after 8 years away.
“The partying is all gone. Everybody’s got their life cleaned up,” Welch said. “The music’s still crazy. God’s not afraid of that.”
Welch said his role as a musician with Korn and the Christian band Love and Death is his ministry. While sometimes his musical travels lead him to discussing his faith with others, it isn’t always about speaking up.
“You’re not talking it but you’re living it,” Welch said. “You’re loving people.”
Besides touring and recording with his two bands, Welch is working on a new book.
Author of the 2007 memoir “Save Me From Myself,” Welch is working on another book with the working title “With My Eyes Open.” According to Welch, the new work is about “a broken soul being healed.”
Despite his busy schedule, Welch said his favorite part of his life is the time he spends focusing on his faith.
“It’s the most real thing I’ve ever done in my life,” he said.
For more information on Midland Nazarine Church and their youth ministry visit midlandnaz.org.
“Come check us out on Sunday mornings,” Martin said. “Our whole church is about connecting people to people and connecting people to God.”
— Jessica Shepherd is an entertainment reporter with MLive/The Saginaw News. Contact her at 989-996-0687, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter or Facebook. You can also hear her Fridays at 8 a.m. on 102.5 WIOG‘s Nate and Rachel in the Morning.
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***APPEARING FRIDAY & SATURDAY***
Brian Phillip Welch, better known as “Head”, is an American musician best known as one of the guitarists and co-founder of the nu metal band Korn and his solo project Love and Death. Along with fellow Korn guitarist James “Munky” Shaffer, Welch helped develop Korn’s distinctive sound, a mix of sirenlike shards of dissonant guitar that mimicked a turntablist’s various effects and rumbling down-tuned riffing, that defined the nu metal aesthetic beginning in the mid-’90s.
Head will be available at the 99.5 KISS booth.
Brian Head Welch Schedule
Photo Op on Friday at 6:00 PM in Room 2 – $40.00
Photo Op on Saturday at 12:30 PM in Room 2 – $40.00
SPECIAL FEATURE – Brian “Head” Welch: Intimate Q&A with fans at 1:00 PM in Room 208
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Brian ‘Head’ Welch, guitarist for Korn and frontman of Love and Death, contributes a popular monthly column called ‘HeAd’s KoRner’ to Loudwire. In his newest entry, Head interviews Islander singer Mikey Carvajal. Check it out below:
I can’t get enough of this ‘Islander’ record! It’s pretty rare to find a record with no “filler” tracks, but this one seriously doesn’t have any, IMO.
Islander just wrapped up a tour with KoRn and Avenged (along with MANY other killer bands) on Mayhem Fest, and they were one of our favorites. They didn’t have the best time slot because they are so new, but whenever we crawled out of bed before 1pm, many of us were over there checkin’ them out. I caught up with Islander’s vocalist Mikey Carvajal; check out our interview below. And after you purchase their album ‘Violence & Destruction,’ make sure and listen to the entire thing, because the songs keep getting better and better as you go further into the record.
What motivates you each day?
Every day that I wake up and I’m still breathing, I know that I’m still here for a purpose. Sometimes I wake up tired and not feeling extremely motivated. But whenever that happens, I really have to stop for a moment and remember that it’s amazing any day that I am blessed to even open my eyes and still be here. The idea that God still has me on this earth. It’s for his purpose. Even if it’s just to hang out with my friends and play music on certain days. Also, knowing that I am responsible for my wife and taking care of her. That’s a huge motivator.
How did you know you wanted to be a musician? What was your path to being where you are currently?
In the mid-’90s my brother took me to a punk rock show to see MxPx and Ninety Pound Wuss. It was crazy. I was in the fifth grade and it totally freaked me out. I went home and told my mom that she had no clue what my brother had been going to and that I would never ever like music.
Fast forward some years and I was in the 8th grade. My brother begged me to go to a show with him at a small club near our hometown of Greenville, S.C. He said a band called P.O.D. was playing (Guano Apes were also there). I was a huge fan of professional wrestling and was still collecting tons of wrestling action figures during the time, so I specifically remember him begging me to go while I was sitting around a huge box of wrestling figures. So as plastic figurines of Sting and Hulk Hogan were present, I agreed to attend this show because it seemed like it meant a lot to him. About 150 to 200 kids came to the show that night and it was one of the most intense shows that I’ve still been to. People were diving off the stage and screaming every word and for some reason, I guess it was just the right time, I was really…REALLY into it.
I started searching for more and more bands and I eventually discovered a band called Luti-Kriss, which went on to become Norma Jean. I went to see them play at a gymnasium on a school night. The band was going nuts on stage. The singer, Josh Scogin, was hanging upside down from a basketball goal, the band was doing handstands and tackling the drum kit. I remember standing to the side of the stage with my jaw dropped. The 9th grade version of me had never seen anything like that at the time and that is the night I decided I wanted to play music for a living.
I started listening to more and more music and searching for people to play music with. I was in some garage/basement bands in high school. During that time, my friend Daniel Tapp taught me what song structure was. He was into writing Weezerish/Synthy pop music but was also influenced by bands like Bad Brains, Lightning Bolt, U2, hip hop …. really everything. He taught me a lot about what it meant to be an artist. We were constantly recording crappy demos on an E Machine computer in the dining room of my mom’s house.
Eventually I wanted to take music more seriously and met the dudes in Islander, but it wasn’t Islander at the time. We were in local bands here and there but eventually we ended up going our separate paths. Some of us moved or went to college. I got married. Several years later we ended up in the same town again and decided to start jamming for fun. Then we started booking our own tours and shooting our own music videos and we even recorded 2 EPs. I sent a Facebook message to A&R at Victory Records that included one of our songs. We drove up to Chicago for a showcase and here we are.
What are your top five albums all time?
It’s hard to pick five albums, I’ve become more of an “I like these songs from this album and this band” type of person, but I can definitely name the five albums that had the biggest impact on me musically growing up in no specific order.
– ZAO, ‘Save Yourself From Hell’ (This album is so dark and tense. It has a punk and metal element going on with sludgy riffs and great lyrics.)
– P.O.D., ‘The Fundamental Elements of Southtown’ (This was the first thing that made me enjoy music with a passion. The lyrics and music weren’t cookie cutter.)
– Saves the Day, ‘Stay What You Are’ (I remember lying on the floor in my brother’s room which was filled with black lights and listening to this album straight through while reading the lyrics several times. I listened to this album for years to come on a daily basis.)
– Joy Electric, ‘Robot Rock’ (Synth-pop music is my favorite type of music outside of rock and roll. This album has perfect pop melodies and a nostalgic vibe for me.)
– Norma Jean, ‘Bless the Martyr and Kiss the Child’ (If you had the chance to see Norma Jean around 2001-2002 before Scogin left the band, then you know just how special that band was. Something was different and refreshing about that version of the band. This album captured a bit of that charm that awoke rock and roll in my veins.)
Who are your top five artists?
-Edward H. Johnson (The inventor of Christmas lights.)
Who is a producer/mixer that you would like to work with or have worked with and why?
I’ve always wanted to work with Howard Benson because he has produced several records that I’ve enjoyed and from what I hear he lets the artist be the artist and doesn’t try to control them. However, on that same note. We recorded with Cameron Webb and I would do that again in a second. He was amazing even down to the way he spoke to us as people. He is a legit dude and I have so much respect for him. He didn’t try to change Islander but instead wanted us to be the best version of Islander that we could possibly be. He was sacrificial and didn’t see us as a form of a paycheck. He was genuinely interested in what it was we were creating and being a part of that process. There were times where I would get really frustrated with him, but at the end of the day he got the best performances out of me, and even taught me a little bit about how to speak to people when sharing criticisms, which is something I still need to work on daily.
If you had a loud speaker that reached everyone in the world for two minutes, what would you say?
I would let them know that I am so sorry for any hurts or anger that they have toward Christ because of me or any other person that claims to follow him. But that Jesus Christ loves them so, so much and that he came here to die for us and that he’s risen from the dead and he wants to have a real relationship with them and be the best friend they could ever have. And then I would tell them that if it is difficult to believe that this is all true, then I wanted them to know that it would still be really hard for me to believe that there was a loud speaker that reached all of them so I understand that this is all crazy, but it’s all still true. And then I would tell them that if they were busy working or watching a movie in the theatre or asking their girlfriend to marry them or something while I was on the loud speaker, then I was sorry I was bothering them but I only had two minutes of loud speaker time, but that what I said is the most important thing I could think to ever say to anyone if I knew I were never going to talk to them again on this earth. I would say something like that.
What are some of your favorite songs you have written and what were they inspired by?
When we were in the studio, we wrote a song called ‘New Wave.’ The music sounded like palm trees and the ocean being set on fire. Cameron (our producer) sat me down in a room and turned on a DVD with the volume muted. I listened to the instrumental version of ‘New Wave’ in my headphones the entire time I watched the movie and started writing the lyrics. I don’t remember what the movie was called but it was a little over an hour of footage of people surfing in slow motion, walking through towns, shopping, hanging out, riding in cars — just random imagery. To this day whenever I hear that song, I think about sitting on that couch while watching that movie.
We also wrote a song which features Sonny Sandoval of P.O.D. called ‘Criminals.’ The song deals with the fact that no one is better than anyone else in that we have all done something wrong. None of us are perfect so we are all on the same level of being guilty of something. We kinda poked fun at ourselves a bit in the studio calling ourselves outlaws. It’s a fun song admitting that we know we aren’t perfect, but that we can be forgiven.
‘Coconut Dracula’ is one of my favorites, as well. My family is from the Dominican Republic, and one night while speaking Spanish, my uncle Rey said something that sounded like ‘Coconut Dracula.’ I’m not sure what he actually said but I liked the way Coconut Dracula sounded, so I came up with this story about Count Dracula finding a coconut on the ground and taking a bite of it. He realizes that there is sweetness and beauty in the world and that he doesn’t have to be evil and kill people and suck their blood anymore. So he gets his name legally changed from Count Dracula to Coconut Dracula.
He is roommates with a Witch, a Werewolf, Frankenstein, and a Mummy. His monster friends are curious as to why Dracula is full of joy, wearing Batman pajamas, planting a garden and helping with charities. The song is from the Mummies point of view as he represents someone that is dead and covered in dirty rags. He is asking Dracula to teach him how to have the same kind of joy in his life that he has discovered.
What are your favorite cities to play and why?
We love our hometown of Greenville, S.C., of course because that’s our home. Our friends and families are here so it’s always nice to see everyone and be home for a minute. We really enjoy Denver. They have a VooDoo Donuts shop and we really like donuts. Pittsburgh, Pa. is a town that loves rock music. Dallas and Houston, Texas are both amazing. Phoenix, Ariz. was great to us. Anywhere in California because In-N-Out is everywhere. New York is amazing because Andrew and I both have family up that way that we get to see and it’s always nice to feel that since of being home even though we are hundreds of miles away still.
You mentioned recently you need to go on vocal rest more periodically. What would be your preferred alternate form of communication?
I really hate texting/Facebooking unless it’s not a serious conversation. Texting is an easy way to be misunderstood. Sometimes it can be difficult to find vocal rest when you’re on the road because of interviews, wanting to spend time with the fans or wanting to speak to my wife on the phone. Being a better listener is one of my goals though. I feel like if I can learn the art of listening better, communication will improve in general. So maybe it’s a good thing that I’m trying to speak less.
What’s next for Islander?
We just take one day at a time. We can’t decide what hand we will be dealt in all of this, but we can definitely play our cards to the best of our ability. Right now, our goal is to tour as much as possible and meet as many people as we can.
Do people ever confuse you for Michael Carbajal (American five-time world boxing champion)?
Hahaha. When I was younger everyone would ask me if I’ve heard of him. But I’ve never been mistaken for him. At one point, my dad had me training at a boxing school. Maybe if I had stuck with that it would have happened.
What do you think of weird people who have a fear of public restrooms?
It’s funny you ask because before we were touring often, I was one of those weird people. Now I view all restrooms like they belong to me. Sometimes I still find one that is so bad it freaks me out though. That happened on one of the last dates we were on tour with you guys. I just couldn’t do it so I actually asked Fieldy if I could just use the Korn restroom instead…
What was the experience like working with H.R. from Bad Brains on the track ‘Lucky Rabbit’?
We actually had recording time booked for him in California and it ended up falling through because he decided last minute to miss his flight and play a show with Fishbone. We really can’t blame him though, haha. After he missed the recording time we had scheduled, we had to figure something out, and came up with the crazy idea of him recording vocals through a phone like he did for Bad Brains at one point while not being able to be near an actual studio for whatever reason. So, I got in contact with him and asked him if that is something he would be into and he was totally down. So, I found an app for my iPhone that allows the recording of phone calls. He listened to the track and I explained to him what the song was about and told him to just do what he wanted to do. So yeah, that’s how H.R. ended up laying down vocals through a cell phone.
You’ve said before that one ultimate goal of yours would be to tour with Korn. You can scratch that off your bucket list. Was it everything you hoped it would be?
A month after we signed our deal, we had a meeting with our label to discuss our goals. I told them several things, but one of them was that we needed to be on tour with Korn. When I said that, we hadn’t even recorded a full length record, so I am sure it sounded crazy. We knew what we were shooting for though. So for our first major tour to be with you guys was a dream come true. However, the one thing I didn’t expect to come back from that tour with was some of the best friends anyone could ask for. I didn’t expect to feel so much love or to see so many people’s lives changed during that tour. And I surely had no clue that I would end up with my own bunk on your tour bus for the last few days of tour. So to answer your question, it was far more amazing than I had ever hoped it would be.
Usually people say that I am better looking in person; do you hold that to be true?
Hahahaha. Sure. You wear just the right amount of makeup.
Thanks to Lisa Monti, who also contributed to this article.
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Watch the film TODAY for FREE at 11 am PDT/2 pm EDT/8 pm CET on Bethel.tv
Heavy metal and Christianity don’t often mix, yet Brian “Head” Welch, lead guitarist of Korn, is front and center in the new faith-based film “Holy Ghost.”
Welch’s involvement isn’t the only iconoclastic element of the Kickstarter-funded project. The film debuts digitally on Sept. 6 for free to anyone in the world who wants it. In addition to the lack of the price tag, Wanderlust Productions, the company behind “Holy Ghost,” will sponsor a live-streaming concert with Welch and Christian band Jake Hamilton & The Sound at California’s Redding Civic Auditorium.
“Christians unfortunately have been given a bad rap,” said Welch. “I’m excited for real people to be able to talk about faith and not scare people away from it. It’s all about love and meeting God and having our eyes opened.”
Welch has been outspoken in the past about how faith helped him kick his addictions to drugs and alcohol, so his involvement in the making and promotion of “Holy Ghost” was a natural fit.
“It’s like I’ve been shown where to get a billion dollars and it’s like I can share all the money with everybody else,” Welch said. “Celebrities are given a platform and we’ve got to use it for something, because we’re all going to be accountable one day, so it’s important to use it wisely.”
If it works, expect Hollywood to take notice. Religious films such as “Heaven is For Real” and “God’s Not Dead” have stunned box office analysts this year. Arriving with minimal budgets and marketing campaigns, they’ve been able to effectively tap into the faith-based community in a way that enables them to outperform far glossier productions.
“Holy Ghost” is cut from the same cloth. The film primarily consists of interviews with religious figures such as author William P. Young and “Heaven is for Real” producer DeVon Franklin, as well as musicians such as Lenny Kravitz, talking about the ways their faith informs their work or the miracles they say they have witnessed.
Its production is certainly unique, given that the film never relied on a shooting script. Director Darren Wilson said he was interested in letting the film build organically instead of having a rigidly pre-determined structure or set interviews. He ended up with enough footage for two films and a sequel, “Holy Ghost Reborn,” is due out next year.
“I wanted to throw caution to the wind and take a risk,” said Wilson. “It ended up being exhilarating and terrifying.”
Wanderlust CEO Braden Heckman says the company is able to offer the film for free because it was fully funded on Kickstarter and he is confident that audiences will ultimately decide to buy their own copies once they’ve seen the finished product. On Kickstarter, the film raised $360,000 in just 45 days, which Wanderlust claims is the most money raised by a faith-based film in the history of the platform.
To help market the picture, the filmmakers are leaning heavily on a grassroots campaign that will see 650 churches host simulcasts for members of their congregation. It has also built up impressive social media outreach, promoting the film to a network of 230,000 Facebook fans.
“We aren’t betting everything on one night and going, oh how is this going to be profitable?” he said. “It already is profitable, because fans funded the whole thing.”
Part of the goal of the film is to challenge conventional ideas of what it means to be Christian by enlisting the likes of Welch and Kravitz. By distributing the picture digitally and relying on these pop culture figures, “Holy Ghost’s” creative team hopes they will be able to appeal to Millennials.
“‘Holy Ghost’ is about people inviting God into their heart and life and going out into world and not staying in church judging people and how they live and saying ‘prepare for hell,’” said Welch. “We want to show people the real Christ.”