"Brian Phillips Welch" (born June 19, 1970), better known as "Head", is an American musician best known as the former lead guitarist/co-founder of the multiplatinum rock band Korn, whose trademark style was sporting a constellation of rubber-banded braids in his hair. Along with fellow Korn guitarist James "Munky" Shaffer, Welch helped patent 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 nü metal aesthetic beginning in the mid-'90s. Welch left the band in 2005 due to personal beliefs and to focus on life as a father. Head and Munky ranked at #26 of GUITAR WORLD's 100 Greatest Heavy Metal Guitarists Of All Time.
Early life (1970-1993)Edit
Welch was raised in Bakersfield, California. Welch claims that, early in his life he was different from most kids and was picked on a lot in school. His one passion was music. Originally, Welch expressed interest in playing drums but his father pushed him to guitar since it was quieter, and began playing the guitar at the age of 10. His first guitar was a Peavey Mystic, which he referred to as "the most metal looking guitar you have ever seen" in his book Save Me from Myself. Growing up he was a very big Ozzy Osbourne fan.
On how he got his nickname "Head", Welch said, "I got a big head...go get me any hat, and it won't fit. 'Cept this one, cause it's stretchy." - from the home video Who Then Now?
While in seventh grade, Welch met Reginald Arvizu (better known as Fieldy), who also started at guitar, but Welch said Arvizu wasn't very good at the guitar, so he suggested Arvizu play bass since it was a different playing style and it stuck.
Korn formed after the group L.A.P.D. folded, due to singer Richard Morrill's drug addiction. Musicians Reginald Arvizu, James Shaffer, and David Silveria wanted to continue, and recruited guitarist Brian Welch and started a new band called Creep.
In early 1993, the band took notice of vocalist Jonathan Davis after seeing his band Sexart and attempted to get him to join Creep. Davis initially did not want to join the band, but after consulting a psychic he decided to audition and then joined the band, as mentioned by Jonathan Davis himself in interview in the DVD Who Then Now?. After Jonathan was recruited, they decided to get a new name. Soon, they later changed their name to "Korn". Jonathan suggested Korn as just a brainstorm, but everyone else enjoyed it. So Jonathan got a Crayola crayon and wrote their logo in a child's handwriting, with a "K" instead of "C" and a backwards upper-case "Я".
Starting with Korn's self-titled debut album, and with subsequent albums Life Is Peachy, Follow The Leader, Issues, Untouchables and Take A Look In The Mirror, the band gradually became one of the top-selling hard rock groups in the land, scoring $25 million royalty payments and selling out arenas the world over.
In 1995 Welch's wife Rebekah gave birth to a child, but she decided to give it up for adoption. When she got pregnant again, they decided to keep the child. On July 6, 1997, Welch's wife Rebekah gave birth to their second daughter, Jennea Marie Welch. The band was scheduled to be on the UK version of Ozzfest but dropped out before it started so that Welch could be by his wife's side. He and his wife have since divorced and Welch has custody of their daughter. The two reside in Arizona. Despite being divorced, Welch does keep in touch with his ex-wife.
By 2003, Welch had begun to sink further and further into a crippling speed habit. He'd prepare for tours by stashing as much methamphetamine as he could in vitamin capsules, deodorant containers and his clothes.
According to Welch, the band members also suffered personal battles with addiction: "We were only sober for just a couple of hours a day in Korn. Every day. And then when you come home and you've got to deal with real life and your wife isn't having that, crap goes down."
Despite his dreams coming true, Welch did not enjoy touring life with Korn. "You travel, you get to another town, you play a show and you do it again. You try to just be at peace but even a big, huge band like Korn, playing in front of thousands of people, it can get lonely. You feel like you're a trucker and you're traveling with a bunch of truckers. You can't connect with people except for the ones that you're with because the ones you party with after the show, you don't know them and then you're gone," he continued. "When everyone's drunk, you're like 'Alright. Later.' "
Departure from KornEdit
On February 22, 2005, Korn's management announced that after almost 12 years, Welch had parted ways with the band, citing that he had "...chosen the Lord Jesus Christ as his savior, and will be dedicating his musical pursuits to that end."
An interview with Brian is available here on that experience with Hope 103.2 and Sheridan Voysey: "He reached the heights of fame with the metal band, Korn. Brian Welch tells why he left, how he came to Christ, and how God broke his crippling drug addiction."
On March 10, 2005, Welch was baptized in the Jordan River with a group of believers hailing from Bakersfield, California. He has declared that he has rid himself of all drugs in his "own personal rehab" with God, in which he had checked into a hotel room and sat in his bed for hours.
Welch and Jonathan Davis have attacked each other in the media since the former's departure. After he said that Davis and the rest of Korn care only about money, Davis responded in kind, opening a rift between them that have been resolved.Once in an interview with Beliefnet.com in which Welch was asked about his book and Korn's reaction to the book and the attacks in the media he made earlier at the band: How did the other members of Korn feel about your having written the book? Do you still talk to them and know what they think about it? They heard that I'd written it, and there was rumors going around in Hollywood that I was totally trashing them and that it was a "tell all" book about everything they did and I did. And so they actually wrote two songs on their new album bashing me about the book. But once I heard that they were concerned about the book, I sent them a copy and put a note in there and said, "I love you guys. I didn't trash you like people say. Read it yourselves. It is what it is." And now they're doing interviews, and I've read that they're totally cool with the book, and it's not what they thought it was going to be. So everyone's happy. But, now they've got two songs hating on me on their record. But it's cool. It's all good. I love them, they love me. I think maybe I deserved those songs because of some of the stuff that I said after I quit the band. So it's all good. In July 2005, Welch appeared on CNN's feature-format program "People in the News" where he admitted to having been addicted to alcohol, methamphetamine, Xanax, and sleeping pills before being reintroduced to the Christian faith.
Following his conversion to Christianity, Welch went to some of the more poverty stricken areas of India to build orphanages or "Head Homes". He visited a tribe of head hunters who were apparently reduced to cannibalism because of a lack of food.
Welch has been tattooed with the words Matthew 11:28 ("Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."), Matthew 6:19 ("Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal.") and Matthew 5:8 ("Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God."). In his biography, Welch says that he starts everything with his right hand, and when he starts something new, he wants Jesus to be right there with him for guidance.
In a podcast with Headbanger's Blog, on May 30, 2008, Korn vocalist Jonathan Davis expressed interest in playing with Welch on the band's upcoming album, but stated that it isn't likely.
In late 2008 Welch, among other celebrities such as Josh Hamilton and Greg Ellis, appeared in testimonial videos called "I Am Second" in which he shares his story of recovering from drug use with the help of his faith in Jesus Christ.
In September 2009, Korn guitarist Munky, in an interview with Altitude TV, alleged that the band had denied a request by Welch to rejoin the outfit. In the interview, Munky claimed: "Brian ('Head' Welch) actually contacted us recently and wanted to come back to the band. And it was not the right time... for us. We're doing well, and it's kind of like... It's kind of like if you divorced your wife and she went on and she stayed successful and her career flourished, and you go back and [say], 'My gosh, she's still hot.' 'Baby, can we get back together?' 'Wait a minute... All the stuff's been divided, and it's like...' I don't see it happening right now. It's not gonna happen right now." Shortly after, Welch responded to the statement via his Myspace and official website, denying the claims: "I recently learned of an interview that Munky gave where he said that I came to KoRn and asked to be taken back in the band. That's definitely not a complete and accurate picture. The full truth is that for about a year, ever since Jonathan publicly said he wanted me back in KoRn, KoRn's managers have been requesting my manager to work on getting me back into KoRn. The calls were initiated by KoRn's managers, not my manager. I shut the door on their requests many, many times over the last several months, through my manager. However, Fieldy personally called me during Korn's last tour in Europe and we talked as friends for a lone time. He also told me if I ever wanted to rejoin KoRn, or open for KoRn as a solo artist, the door was always open. Since Fieldy is sober now and a christian like me, I thought it may be a good idea to visit with Fieldy, a friend of mine, to see what he was up to and what it was all about. I had a great time re-connecting with Fieldy. I mainly went to his house to connect with an old friend. The KoRn stuff we talked about was secondary, but It was discussed. Fieldy thought that Jonathan, Munky, and I should all meet AS FRIENDS; re-connect; and maybe discuss the possibilities. Both Jonathan and Munky refused that meeting. I learned a lot visiting with Fieldy. I learned that I love and miss my friends, but the visit confirmed to me that I have a different calling in life than to reconnect musically/professionally. As far as Munky's comment that "everything has been divided already" that is also not accurate. In fact, from January 2005 when I left, and for the next 4 years, KoRn failed to pay to me royalties that were due me on records that I did with them. However, I don't believe this was done intentionally. We are trying to be patient and work with their management to get the financial issues resolved so that "everything can be divided as we agreed long ago in our contracts." I am optimistic that we can resolve it as friends. I continue to wish nothing but the best for KoRn, and that includes all of my friends there--Fieldy, Jonathan and Munky."
Solo Career (2005- )Edit
Save Me From MyselfEdit
As early as a week following his departure from Korn, Welch had claimed through press that a solo record was close to being completed, although there was no release date given, nor had he yet signed on with a label to distribute the record.
A number of demos from these early sessions surfaced on peer-to-peer networks, among them "A Cheap Name," a song directed at rapper 50 Cent. He also recorded several other songs including "Dream" and "A Letter to Dimebag," the latter being an instrumental tribute to "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott, guitarist for heavy metal bands Pantera and Damage Plan. In his autobiography, Welch mentions the songs "Washed by Blood," "Save Me from Myself," and "Rebel", which all have made the final track listing for the album.
Initially tight-lipped about the details, in an interview with MTV News Welch was quick to clear a few things up. Primarily, he was concerned that it was reported that his new songs wouldn't be "Christian music."
During his stay in Israel with members of the Valley Bible Fellowship of Bakersfield, California, Welch continued to write songs for his solo effort, confident that the music would speak for itself. "I want to make music that will help people. I want to use every dime of the money I make off the songs to build skate parks for kids," he said. "My life now is about helping kids." Originally, Welch contacted Fieldy of Korn to produce the album, but Fieldy made no response.
On March 15, 2008, Welch announced he had founded a record company with Mark Nawara and Greg Shanabeger called Driven Music Group. The company's artists are distributed by Warner Music Group and Rykodisc. Welch announced also that he had re-dubbed his album Save Me from Myself, after his autobiography of the same name. Following this, his official MySpace profile went online, and the domain name for his official website was moved from www.headtochrist.com to brianheadwelch.net. Welch also revealed that a tour was expected to follow the release of Save Me from Myself.
For the album, Welch contributed the majority of the instruments, but also hired other contributors, including rhythm guitarist Archie J. Muise Jr., bassist Tony Levin and drummer Josh Freese for assistance. The first single, "Flush," was released on July 5, 2008, at Cornerstone Festival in Bushnell, Illinois and a music video directed by Frankie Nasso followed on September 5.
Originally, Welch planned for the project to follow the "Head" name, but was persuaded otherwise, so as not to be sued by the tennis equipment manufacturer of the same name. Though the project has since been dubbed "Brian Head Welch", the album art continues to carry the imprint of the project's original title. The project's true title does appear on the spines of the packaging.
Of the album, Welch said: "I knew it was going to be nothing near as big as Korn, but I was proud of it. It's got some heavy riffs and it's got a lot more emotion than I've ever put in music. I'm an emotional guy (and) it was cool to be able to put it in there. It was cool how people were surprised by it. A lot of people thought I was gonna come out with some 'Kumbaya,' Jesus music." For his live touring band, Welch held auditions, at first closed, then open to the general public to recruit members. Members posted videos online of them performing Welch's solo songs and the list was narrowed down to a select few who did a personal audition with Welch. Eventually, the lineup was finalised as Brian Reudy (Keyboards), Scott "SVH" Von Heldt (guitar & backing vocals), Ralph Patlan (guitar), Michael "Valentine" (bass) and Dan Johnson (drums) and remains unchanged to this day.
Head contributed to "A Song for Chi" along with many other artists including ex Korn bandmates Fieldy & Munky. The instrumental track is to benefit Deftones bassist Chi Cheng who was in a coma and is now in a semi-conscious state recovering. All the profits will benefit the "One Love For Chi" foundation. This will be the first time Head will be involved with any of his former bandmates since he left the band in 2005.
Head also joined the 9th annual Independent Music Awards judging panel to assist independent musicians' careers.
On the 2nd of July 2009, Welch headlined the mainstage of the Cornerstone Festival.
On August 29, 2009, Welch headlined the Exit Concert in Las Vegas at the Thomas and Mack Arena with Blindside and Flyleaf.
Head has often described his solo project as being received very differently from Korn. Despite his fame with Korn, he has compared his solo project to 'starting over:' "It's a struggle, because one show I'll have a thousand people there, and the next show there'll be a hundred. When the hundred is there, I'm like, 'There's one or two people who really need us to be here,' and it should be focused on them and I shouldn't care if there's a big crowd or not, but I struggle with it. I was in Korn and we sold like 25 million albums, and I can't even fill this little bar up? Of all those fans, 300-400 people can't just show up here? It's like starting over, totally."
Second solo album-Edit
According to an interview with the Great Falls Tribune, Welch has returned to the studio to begin work on his second album. On his career at the present, Welch said that "I feel like I was created to do what I'm doing right now. Everything I learned in my life before I changed it all over, it set me up for what I'm doing now. That's the satisfaction. That's the peace in knowing, without a doubt, that you're on the road you're supposed to be on. There's nothing more content than that." In November 2009, Head announced that his sophomore effort would be produced by Grammy-nominee Rob Graves (RED, Pillar) and that the band was currently recording in Nashville, expecting to complete the record by February 2010 . Of recording with Graves, Welch stated that “the production on our new record is going awesome with Rob Graves. Our goal is to get the record completely mixed and mastered by the first part of February, and released immediately thereafter. My band is together, helping with the recording, and we will be ready for a full U.S. tour beginning early next year.” Welch also signed an international representational deal with William Morris Endeavor Entertainment. On signing the deal with WMEE, Welch said that ”I’m really excited about my deal with William Morris Endeavor, and I’m honored to be on the roster of one of the largest and most storied agencies in existence. I would like to publicly thank Ember Rigsby Tanksley and her entire team at WMEE for their belief in what I am trying to do. I feel like this is the final piece in the puzzle that we have been working on to take us to the next level.”
Welch's first ever guitar was a Peavey Mystic, which he later sold along with a practice amp to future bandmate James "Munky" Shaffer. Throughout his career with Korn Welch almost exclusively played Ibanez guitars, most of which were assembled at the Ibanez LA Custom Shop.
During his later days with Korn Welch and Munky played their own signature guitar the Ibanez K7. After leaving Korn, Welch mostly uses custom-built baritone guitars from Ibanez.
Welch's pedalboard has also grown considerably from his early days with Korn, he also considers experimenting and trying out new pedals to be one his favorite things to do when working in a studio.