Listen: Brian ‘Head’ Welch chats to Emma Mullings about his return to the band Korn, his journey of faith, and his relationship with his daughter.
It’s amazing what a father will do for his daughter.
For Brian ‘Head’ Welch, guitarist from the nu-metal band Korn, it was six-year-old daughter Jennea who inspired him to suddenly leave the chart-topping, world-touring band in 2005—and Jennea who ultimately led him to return again eight years later.
Welch, who became addicted to alcohol and drugs including crystal meth while he was a member of Korn, gave the rock star life away after his conversion to Christian faith. With his eyes suddenly opened to how his lifestyle was putting his daughter at risk, he quit the band to be a better dad.
In an interview with Hope 103.2’s Emma Mullings, he shared how his daughter then asked him, years later, to take her to a music festival. Reluctantly, he agreed. It was a decision that would change the course of his life once more.
Why Brian ‘Head’ Welch Returned To Korn
“I’d been gone almost a decade [and] was doing my own thing,” he told Emma. “My daughter started getting into rock music, and would ask me to take her to festivals. I thought, ‘I left all that, I don’t want to go there’. But a lot of my friends were playing at those festivals. So we ended up at a rock festival where Korn was headlining.”
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He said meeting with his old band-mates, some whom he’d had rifts with for years, was a life-changing moment.
“I ended up reconciling with them, and they asked me to play a song on stage,” he recalls. “The next thing you know people were in tears, the singer was in tears, and it was just curious. I [thought] ‘what is going on?’”
He realised that God was opening doors for him to return to the band.
“I started praying about it, and felt like Jesus was showing me, ‘what better place to be’, to tell people about him,” he explains.
Sharing His Faith In The Most Unlikely Places
The singer-guitarist’s return to Korn has resulted in opportunities to share his strong Christian faith, with thousands of people who are unlikely to ever step foot inside a church.
He tells the story in his new book released this week: With My Eyes Wide Open: Miracles and Mistakes on my Way Back to Korn.
“In this book, and in every interview I do in the rock world, I get to talk about my faith, [and it reaches] the fans,” he told Hope 103.2. “Some of these kids won’t hear about the Lord [elsewhere] so I’m just being used in that area.”
He said while some Christians have criticised him for the move, he is simply following God’s call. Since rejoining Korn, he’s had the chance to pray with thousands of fans who come to talk to him after shows.
“It’s a true calling,” he said. “I was scared to go back, actually. I was like, ‘I don’t really have a desire to, I’m doing fine on my own’. But I answered the call…it’s been so impacting.”
A Journey Of Restoration
In his book, and in his chat with Emma Mullings, Welch talks about how God spent years rebuilding his life and his character after he left the band and kicked his drug habits.
He dealt with a lot of depression and emotional swings – “I felt like my soul was a yo-yo” – and had to learn that God could turn suffering into something positive.
“I felt like God was cleaning my soul out. Everything that was ugly in me was coming to the surface. That was really hard,” he said.
“My depression was so bad I wished I could die sometimes. Then He would come and give me the strength to keep going.”
“God was always there right when I felt like I wanted to quit or run away. My depression was so bad I felt like I wished I could die sometimes. Then He would come, really gentle and kind and loving, and would give me the strength to keep going.”
Welch also describes how he was careless with money and ended up bankrupt, and after years of being waited on hand and foot by minders, bodyguards and assistants, he had to learn to live for himself again.
He also had to learn how to be a father to his six-year-old daughter.
“When I quit the band, I had to learn life again,” he said. “I felt like a teenager in some ways, in my mind and emotions. So I had to grow up. It’s a little bit sad to say but I kind of grew up emotionally with my daughter, as she grew up.”
On Being Dad To Jennea
From the tiny Welch family: pic.twitter.com/CxKQq3Ux9c
— Brian Welch (@brianheadwelch) November 27, 2015
Above: Brian ‘Head’ Welch and daughter Jennea.
Welch describes both the joys and struggles of raising his daughter alone – including the particular challenges of being a rock star dad.
“It was a little bit challenging to fit into the normal life because I had tattoos everywhere and long black hair, so I would take her to school and got complained against by some parents because I looked scary,” he said. “[But] the principal loved me. She would defend me to all the parents.”
The toughest time in his parenting journey was when his daughter reached her teens and began to rebel.
“Every fear that I had about being a parent to a young daughter came true”
“As soon as she turned 14 she got mixed up with the wrong crowd, and every fear that I had about being a parent to a young daughter came true—with the boys, with rebellion, with wanting to do drugs,” he said. “All that stuff came and faced me.
“She started getting suicidal thoughts and depression and started harming herself. So I had to find counselling for her. I talk [in my book] about all those intimate details, about tough love, and all the things she went through.”
Thankfully Jennea is now doing very well, going to a boarding school and attending a program that has helped her through her own emotional trials.
“She gave me permission to share in the book all of the ugly [stuff] that she went through,” Welch told Hope 103.2. “It’s a real intimate look at this epidemic of self-hate and depression that young people go through.”
The book, which concludes with a letter to readers from Jennea herself, holds nothing back.
“There’s no hiding anything, and I open my soul and the door to my house and my family in order to help people,” Brian says of his writing. “‘You’ve got to be real with this generation. People can spell a phony miles away.”