Brian "Head" Welch: My Life on Self-Destruct
By the time most people are just getting out of college and beginning their careers, Bakersfield, California, native Brian "Head" Welch was on the road to getting everything he ever wanted. He was famous, making money, touring with his childhood idols and living the party-like-a-rock-star life as the guitarist for multi-Grammy award winning nu-metal band Korn.
At least that's what he thought, until he made the decision to leave the band at the pinnacle of its success to focus on raising his daughter and kicking his increasingly demanding drug habit.
However in February 2005, after a continued long spiral down on self-destruct - with depression fueling addiction and suicidal thoughts - Head knelt and submitted control of his life to the ultimate person who saved him from himself.
The resulting media frenzy headlined Head's transformation: "Rocker Quits Band, Drugs - Dedicates Life to God."
Following the lead, last March it was announced that Korn's bassist, Reginald "Fieldy" Arvizu, also accepted Christ.
Head talked with OC editor Amber Weigand-Buckley about his journey to Christ, the thorns he still struggles with upon the release of his first solo album Save Me from Myself and second book Washed By Blood.
OC: You had success at a young age beginning before high school. What was your life like before you came to Christ?
Head: It's crazy how it just happened. I had dreams of making music - heavy metal - and of being a rock star. I was in my early twenties and I got a record deal and was like, "Wow, how many people want this and it doesn't happen? And I actually got it." And then there was touring with big bands like Ozzy. I had his posters plastered all over my room and was trippin' out watching this thing happen - this big machine that just took off. We just hung out and goofed around and had fun in the beginning.
OC: You're in a multi-platinum band, Korn, making all this money. How did you get to a point that you realized there was something missing?
H: Toward the end of my time with Korn I got hooked on crystal meth. Around 2000 my wife left me and I became a single dad [to my daughter]. I tried to clean up my life for a little bit while juggling it all and paying nannies to watch my kid for months at a time while I was gone. I think God was calling me to get real with my life and sacrifice some stuff for my kid more. But I didn't know God was real. Instead, I dove deeper into myself.
I started partying again and it came back with a vengeance. I started doing crystal meth and I got worse and worse until - I believe I could have died easily. I was desperate and alone and didn't have the strength to quit my career, even for my daughter. I was like, How do you leave your dream life? When you don't have the understanding you think you're a miserable, ungrateful person because you have everything you ever wanted but you're still not happy. So depression set in.
OC: Do you remember the one time where you said "I need Christ"? Take us back to that point.
H: Right before my last tour with Korn, I was sitting up all night alone at 4 am. This real estate broker I knew usua lly woke up early to do a devotional. He sent me an email that said, "Brian, I usually get up and read my Bible a little bit, and this morning this verse popped out at me. And I've never done this before, and I don't want you to think I'm weird, but I really feel you need to hear this Scripture. It's Matthew 11:28: ‘Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.'" I felt drawn right away because I needed rest, but how would this guy know that? It tripped me out. I was stupid because I was on drugs, but I tore the Scripture apart and I was like, What does this mean? That's when I knew I needed Christ. Once I found out He was real everything changed.
OC: Did you find total deliverance from the desire to do drugs when you accepted Christ?
H: When I accepted Christ I didn't really know it was real yet, so I went home and did drugs while talking to Jesus. I railed out all these meth lines and snorted a big one that burned my nose so bad, I was like, I'm going out talking to God. I said, "Lord if you're real, take this stuff from me. You know I want to change, but I can't stop." I still had the bill rolled up in my hand. Within a couple of weeks I had an encounter in my room while I was thumbing through my Bible, still on the drugs, and I felt a peaceful presence of unconditional love pour out into the room, and it felt like heaven opened up.
In front of my eyes was a revelation of Christ. I was frozen, I had chills all over and I looked up and said, "Father." It was all I could say. It was a father's love poured into me. And the next day I threw away all my drugs, and I totally changed my life. I went to my daughter and said, "I'm going to be home with you. No more nannies are going to take care of you. From now on I'm going to take care of you. I'm leaving Korn." She just lit up; it was the most awesome thing.
OC: Tell me about life now - since the book and the album.
H: I have such a close, intimate relationship with God. People are telling me, "You're just really excited right now. You'll come back down in a little bit." I'm just as excited about God as ever, but to the world I use more wisdom about it. I'm thankful to be saved, and life is great now. I have hard days, though, because struggles in Christ are painful.
God is not taking me on some sugar-coated easy walk. He's taking me on a deep leave-everything-and-strip-me-of-everything-and-give-money-over-here sort of walk. I get really emotional attacks. A thorn in the flesh means pleading with God to take this evil feeling away, but right after that the thorn comes out and the power of Christ rests on me, and I can feel Him carrying me and can see supernatural things happening. It's like the mountain and the valley. It's such a real life. I'm still new so it's hard to rejoice going through stuff like the disciples did. Peter came out rejoicing, "We got beat because of His name." I want that faith.
OC: What's the biggest battle that you feel that you fight now?
H: Once in a while the thorn of anger comes on me, and I hate it, because I love people and talking to them. But it's like something in me is trying to make me isolated and not like people like I used to. It always happens right before I'm going to talk to a lot of people. And there's a war within myself of "Man, those drugs messed me up; I'm so angry." But it's really a spiritual thing right before the breakthrough.
Also, Joyce Meyer said one thing that stuck with me. She said, "If you're afraid to do anything for God, do it afraid .... Then ... the fear will leave you." And so I just hold on to that. In Korn I was the quiet guy with the media, but now God's putting me out in front and I'm singing now. I did my first video, but I haven't played a full set live with a band, yet. And I need to face these challenges, insecurities and fears that I have and leave God to do miracles - and stretch me.
OC: I have a quote in my office that says, "As God's chosen sons and daughters we are told to do something that is in and of ourselves destined for failure unless He steps in."
H: I was speaking in front of some people one time, and I messed up on my words a little bit and lost my train of thought, and I thought I did horribly. But the Spirit moved even more powerfully because of that, and all these people were touched and were in tears and supernatural stuff happened. He's so good and faithful to blow it out of the water.
OC: How do you stay accountable as a person who is new in the faith?
H: God saved me and I owe Him everything. I had the pleasures of this world in abundance, and I don't want them anymore. I have my manager; he keeps me strong, and we keep each other accountable. He has me in a place where I can help people now.
OC: How have your Korn fans responded to your total transformation?
H: They thought I had lost my mind, but those who have read my book can see that I can still rock with my new music and they understand that I was a hurting person who needed help. Whether they believe what I do or not, they can see a guy who was dying on drugs and is now happy and not dead. A lot of them are saying that I was such a big part of Korn because my music sounds so much similar to the beginning. But my musical gift has opened up. These songs came to me supernaturally in a 40-day cycle, but when I try to tell people that they look at me funny. I'm giving God glory but freaking people out at the same time. I'm trying to find a way to say, "I prayed, and this is what I got. I share one life with Christ and He rocks."
OC: Tell me about the meaning of the title of your new album Save Me From Myself.
H: I was my own worst enemy. I was trying to take the pleasures of this world to a level that was dangerous and I think that's just what happened to me. So many people are fighting themselves - whether it's trying not to eat junk food or trying not to shoot heroin. We're always fighting ourselves whether we're Christians or not. We need salvation from ourselves because we can snap at anything. We're all just time bombs walking around, whether it's a big bomb like murder or a smaller one like anger. So many of us can relate to that, and it's the story of my life. I ate the wrong foods, I drank alcohol all the time - I was so unhealthy. Then I got into drugs. I was killing myself and I needed to be saved from myself.
OC: Tell me about your album cover. I noticed that you're leaning on a cross.
H: The guy who took the picture had me sit and lean on a chair, and he took my head and turned it sideways and made the chair look like a cross and put the stone figure behind me. I was like, "Dude, you are freaky. This is awesome." I love being freaky in a cool way because I want to speak to the people who knew me from before. I'm not trying to be rebellious or weird; I just want to reach out to these kids.
OC: Tell me about your tattoos.?
H: I was on the show L.A. Ink. They just tattooed my new album cover on my leg. I got a Korn album cover put on my arm because it has a bunch of abused kids on it and I got a Scripture right above the album cover - Matthew 19:14: "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these" (NIV). I got my daughter tattooed above them and Jesus above her. I have ‘Abba Father,' on the inside of my arms outstretched ... it's the Spirit that cries ‘Abba Father.'
OC: Isn't it amazing how Christ is like the hound of heaven who fiercely pursues us?
H: I can see Him pursuing me for years. And he never gives up. He just keeps going and going.
OC: What would you say to a student who has a friend who is deep in a sinful lifestyle and feels they are beyond God's reach?
H: Read my book. Look what happened to me. With God, all things are possible. Yes, the person has to want it - to be happy and change. Christ never gave up on you. He was the head intercessor and we're supposed to be intercessors with Him. How are we Christlike if we're giving up on someone? We're always saying, "I know their childhood. People who have those kinds of childhoods hardly ever get away from them." But we have to keep believing. It's our job to believe in Jesus for them, too.
Watch Brian's video testimony at iamsecond.com.