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Brian Welch Interview
By Chris Chagaris
It's quite a transformation to switch from the fast-lane lifestyle of a rock star to a relatively humble existence following God and embracing Christianity. Brian Welch, ex-lead guitarist of metal giant Korn, is a testament to such a transformation. Two years ago, he stunned his fans and the music industry alike when he announced his decision to leave his lucrative and very visible career with Korn and devote his life to his newfound faith. He has just released his autobiography, a forthcoming and candid memoir aptly titled, Save Me from Myself (How I Found God, Quit Korn, Kicked Drugs, and Lived to Tell My Story), HarperCollins. He lays out in detail, among other things, his past transgressions and how he worked to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles ranging from depression to drug abuse through a newly developed, strong faith in God. This book is a veritable roller coaster ride from torment to tranquility, and indeed a cautionary tale to those who dream, as Welch did throughout his childhood, of achieving rock stardom but get caught up in the pitfalls of that lifestyle along the way.
The Bakersfield, California native, now an Arizona resident with his daughter Jennea, 9, recently talked to The Phantom Tollbooth in conjunction with the book's release. Welch has not deserted the music world, either. He plans to soon release a solo album of original material.
Tollbooth: What inspired you to write a book that essentially exposes many details of your life, from your childhood to your transformation to becoming a Christian?
Welch: I just felt that the readers needed to understand what I went through in detail in order to get the full grasp of my salvation. It's realistic because it happened, and I wanted everybody to feel it.
Tollbooth: You write in the book that friends you met when you moved back to Bakersfield helped to put you on the path to becoming a Christian.
Welch: Yes, they
did. One of them, who is a real estate broker and a Christian, reached
out to me by sending me a scripture. I was ready spiritually to receive
it. (Welch's life prior to this had been on a steady downward spiral as
a result of an abusive lifestyle that included drinking and drugs,
Welch: The most important
message is this: I got the opportunity to experience the dream that
of kids have, which was being in a famous rock band, and (seemingly)
it all. However, in the end, I just felt empty without God's presence
my life. I would like to put a hunger in people to get to know God
Welch: My mom took us (Brian and his older brother) to Sunday school one summer and to an Episcopalian church a few times, but no; religion wasn't really a part of our lives back then.
Tollbooth: Do you enjoy the writing process, as this is your first book?
Welch: Actually, I do. I got excited about writing the book. Initially, I hired ghostwriters to help me do it but after I read the first chapter, I felt that God was telling me to write it myself. So, that's what I did and my ghostwriters turned into editors instead. It worked out well.
Tollbooth: How is your new album progressing? Is there a particular theme running through your new music, and how much does your faith play a part in the songs?
Welch: The album is almost done. We just have to mix it now. I started writing softer songs for it, but they turned heavier the more I wrote. Heavy music is what I know and play best, but it's ironic, because a lot of the bands I listen to, such as Coldplay, don't fit the heavy genre. My music definitely has my testimony in there. Two songs in particular are "Save Me from Myself" (detailing Brian's redemption from his self-destructive lifestyle) and "Flush," which focuses on how I rid myself of all the partying and bad influences that surrounded me.
Tollbooth: You are a single father. (Welch is divorced from Jennea's mother.) Has your faith influenced your daughter?
Welch: Yes, absolutely. She really has an amazing faith. We belong to a church and go when we can, but even if we miss a service, we invite God into everything we do. He encourages me through her.
Tollbooth: Do you keep in contact with any of the members of Korn?
Welch: I have spoken to them since I left the band and apologized to them regarding the way I left. They're doing their thing, and I am doing mine so I wish them the best. I do look forward to one day seeing them again.
Tollbooth: You traveled to India two years ago with a group on a humanitarian mission to raise awareness to the problems of orphaned children over there. Do you have any plans to return to India for more humanitarian work, and how is the orphanage you helped launch, Head Home, doing? Do you have any other humanitarian plans?
Welch: Head Home is doing well. A friend of mine has gone over there and become involved with it. Traveling there really opened up my eyes to people who need help, as there is so much poverty. I am waiting on God to guide me in terms of what I will do next (of a humanitarian nature). There's lots of stuff I want to do, and I will use wisdom to decide.
Tollbooth: Any final words you would like to add?
Welch: I had lots of
traumas, drug abuse among them. I wanted to put a stop to it all so
God was the best thing that happened to me. Getting hooked on meth was
the very worst thing that I went through, but the best thing that came
out of it was that it ultimately led me to getting clean and finding
and getting closer to my daughter.