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Head Speaks from the Heart: Part I: Brian "Head" Welch's Rock n Roll Model Interview with Dr BLT

 Bruce L. Thiessen, Ph.D, aka Dr BLT

 Before I begin sharing with you the events leading up to my interview with Brian Welch, and the interview itself, I want you, the reader, to
understand how profoundly Brian's book has altered my approach as a writer, a singer/songwriter, as a psychologist, and, as a person.

 I used to think that, especially as a Christ-centered psychologist, that I had to give the impression that I always had it all together. I had this "Dr Phil" stereotype that I always had to have the perfect answers to every question and that I always had to present myself as being above the problems that the average person faces each day, the ones that bring folks in to see me.

 After reading Save Me From Myself, and witnessing the incredible freedom that Brain experienced in being totally transparent with his readers, it sort of gave me permission to begin doing the same in my songs, in my writing, and in my work as a psychologist.

 This change that Brian's book, and Brian's transparent, candid approach to this interview, inspired is reflected in the words and in the music (for example, I used an unpretentious 88 cent guitar-tuning pitch pipe as an harmonica) of the following song that I'd like to hare with all of you as a prelude to the following interview profile piece:

 King of Losers
 Dr BLT's One Man "Banned"
 words and music by Dr BLT copyright 2007
 http://www.drblt.net/music/Loser2.mp3
 

If you would have asked me 3 weeks ago if I'd be interviewing Brian "Head" Welch, founding, now former, member of nu metal supergroup Korn, I would have said, "Yeah, right!"  I would have added, "I'd have to pick a number, and stand in line behind MTV, VH-1, and all of the local and national cable news stations, major newspapers, and music e-zines/magazines and blog sites."  But God, who exalts those who humble themselves, and often bumps up the last in line to the "Head" of the line (pun intended), had other plans.

On Saturday, June 30, 2007, my wife sent me to the corner of Coffee Road and Olive Street in our hometown of Bakersfield, to pick up a pre-ordered party pack of Subway sandwiches for my now 2-year-old daughter, Kassidy's 2nd birthday party.  As Nickelback's big hit song, "If Everyone Cared" played on the radio, it sparked an impulse in me to head south (no pun intended) on Coffee Road to Target to pick up a copy of the CD containing this song, along with a string of other great Nickelback tunes.  So instead of turning in to Subway when I hit Coffee, I turned south on Coffee.

A few blocks towards my diverted "Target," a voice inside said, "Turn around and head back to Subway.   I usually ignore the voice of reason as it so rudely, and so often, interrupts and interferes with the voice of impulse.  But on this hotter-than-hell Bakersfield Saturday morning, in a rare gesture, I yielded to the voice of reason.

When I walked into Subway, there at the head of the line was none other than the Brian "Head" Welch, with his soon-to-be 9-year-old daughter, Jennea.  And you'll never guess what they were doing there.  You guessed it.  They were picking up a pre-ordered party pack of sandwiches and cookies for her birthday party.  Jennea, who would turn 9 on July 6, was having her birthday party a few days early, as was my daughter Kassidy, who was born on July 5.

On that special day, at this divine appointment at Subway, I met Head's father and his delightful young daughter; I secured the first of what would be two autographs, and I had the honor of carrying the ex-Korn king's cookies to the car, divinely parked in the space right next to mine.  And as we headed to his car, I also asked him about the prospect of an interview and, without hesitation, he hooked me up with the number of one of his two managers.  Let's fast forward.

On August 1st, 2007 at 4 pm, Head was headed (okay, enough already with the plethora of puns) to Russo's Books at the Marketplace on Ming Avenue on the west side of Bakersfield for a highly anticipated stop in the midst of a tour for his new book, Save Me From Myself: How I Found God, Quit Korn, Kicked Drugs, and Lived to Tell My Story.  Not surprisingly, the book was already climbing the top 20 on the highly coveted New York Times Best-Seller List.  This was the place, and the date, I was to hook up with the newly transformed nu metal pioneer.

The line extended well out of the bookstore, and down the walkway. KRAB radio had pitched a tent complete with all the gear.  All of the major local TV stations were there, and a few other Hollywood-type-photographers and cameramen.

I waited for 2 1/2 hours for everybody to meet their local rock god who found God, to get his autograph, and to get a pic with the metal genius.  But it was well worth the wait.  I stood around chatting with his parents and a few of the other V.I.P.'s while observing the procession.  He clearly wasn't simply going through the motions.  He clearly went out of his way to make every fan feel appreciated and welcomed.  Sandwiched snuggly between his daughter (who charmed and entertained the fans like she had been a long-time celebrity) and his affable manager (one of two, as I would find out) he frequently kidded around with fans with clever quips and witticisms.

He took the time to chat a little longer with those he seemed to have a prior connection with--and even with those who "claimed" to have had a prior connection with him.  The fans included everyone from scantily-clad girl groupies, to middle-aged admirers to preteen boys with wild hair who held electric guitars.  These young dudes looked eager, and were just itching for the autographs that would presage their fate as future rock stars.

No matter what the person looked like or where they seemed to come from, Head looked each person in the eye, and treated each person with the utmost respect, kindness and appreciation.  It was as if each person were his only fan.

When the long line had been taken care of, Greg, his manager, graciously invited me to join Head and his daughter a room at the back of the store where Head would sign several boxes of additional books---pre-ordered books that came with the promise of autographs from folks who could not attend the procession.  Not wanting to make what seemed to have been a long day for Brian an even longer day, I offered to do the interview while he signed the stack of books.  But Brian, who seemed intent on being able to provide his undivided attention during the course of the interview, insisted that he attend to one task at a time.

At that point, his daughter, Jennea, not wanting to witness a moment of my time wasted, make herself available for questions.  In was clear in my brief interaction with her, that Brian, and perhaps her nanny, have done a great job of raising her.  She appeared friendly, polite, charming, (as I've already mentioned), precocious, and extraordinarily bright.  And, judging by her father Brian's interaction with her, it wasn't hard to figure out that Jennae was the apple of his eye.  I knew I would one day regret not also securing her autograph, so I took care of that.  I began to take her up on her offer to answer questions, with one astonished eye fixed upon Brian's pen as it moved with lightening speed across the pages of these stacks of books.

She didn't get past the first sentence of her interview when Brian had already signed all of the books.  It seemed to me that giving up the "speed" hadn't slowed him down a bit.  He signaled to me that he was ready to proceed and when I looked into his eyes, I knew that he was fully present and that I did, indeed, have his undivided attention.

It also didn't take long for the Christ that he recently invited for a return (this time permanent) visit to his heart, to reveal himself through Brian.  Due to a combination of the heat, a chronic sinus problem, and a bit of stubborn nervousness that was concomitant to my sense of being more than slightly starstruck, my throat was badly parched and I could hardly speak.  I had previously noticed what had once been a pretty good supply of bottled water that had been supplied to Brian and his entourage, so I worked up the courage to ask for one.  As it turned out, the last of that coveted bottled water was in Brian's possession, and, without hesitation, Head insisted that I have his as-yet-unopened bottle.  At that point, I knew that Brian was the type of person that would give the shirt off his back to someone who seemed to need it more than he did.  As the interview progressed, it became conspicuously obvious that he would offer living water that welled up and flowed freely from his sanctified spirit.

Why don't you, the reader, pull up a chair with us and listen in on our conversation as Head speaks from the heart:

Dr. BLT: I take it that your daughter is very important part of your life.

Head: Huge!  Fathers and children need to connect, in a big way,  A lot of problems that people develop can be traced to bad relationships with their fathers.  I put an end to that in my family.  I stood up for my kid, and I'm trying my best.  I just want to be there for her.  That's Bubba, by the way.

 (I was exceedingly grateful to have met, not only Brian's beloved daughter and parents, but now, the little cute stuffed little toy animal friend Jennea had been playfully interacting with.)

 Dr. BLT: How would you compare concert tours to this book tour?

Head: It's not as wild, but it's way more intimate and personal.  I get to look in people's eyes.  At a lot of the book signings, I've stood up and said, 'Hey, everybody, I'm here for you. If you have anything you'd like to share with me about your life, I'm not in any hurry," and I get to communicate with them like that, and it's cool. And I really care, in my heart and get very excited when people tell me about stuff about their lives and what's going on because God changed my heart.  Before, it was all about getting people to buy CDs and stuff.  Now, it's about changing lives.  It's not about me anymore.

Dr.  BLT: Well, I must say, the book really touched my heart.  Other than the fact that I'm not a rock star, and that I didn't get caught up in the whole drug scene, there was a lot that I could identify with in your life.  There were a lot of parallels there.  Do you miss being in the band, as a member of Korn?

Head: I miss playing live, but I'm just going in such a completely different direction.  I don't miss a lot of everything else except playing live, and I love those guys and miss them too.

Dr.  BLT: I wanted to talk to you about how you felt when you were playing music in the band.  I'm sure you're as aware as everyone else that while the band expresses lots of different emotions through their music, a big emotion is anger.  When you were playing in Korn, did you feel like you were releasing your anger, or that the music was actually intensifying it?

Head: Well, we were getting drunk and partying and we were intensifying the rage through our music, It kept growing.  The reason I'm saying that is because it didn't go away.  It kept getting worse, throughout my life.  I'm not blaming it on music, I'm just blaming it on everything in my life---with the selfish way I was living, the anger just kept building.  I now have music that's just as angry and intense-sounding, but I now channeled through a different source.  So, I wouldn't blame anything on the music.

Dr BLT: In your book, you talk about your father's anger, and your experience with that.  When you rediscovered God, and you rediscovered Jesus, in a very personal and intimate way, did you have a hard time with reflecting on your life with your earthy father, and not projecting that onto your experience with your heavenly father, and not experiencing some of those same feelings in response to your heavenly father?

Head: That's a great question.  I immediately understood that God forgave everything, and I did some jacked-up stuff---stuff that isn't in the book---stuff that happened behind closed doors that nobody knew, but God and me.  For him to love me like that, and to feel his spirit just love me like that----I just knew that it was unconditional.  But at the same time, when the suffering came, though we're supposed to go through suffering with Jesus, in order to become like him.  But I thought he was mad at me during those times, so I struggled with that.  I had yelling matches with God, as it says in the book.

Dr. BLT: Well, the Bible says we are to go to the throne of grace with confidence, but it can be hard to feel that confidence if that isn't something you experienced with your earthly father.  But I understand that you've gone through a healing process in your relationship with your father, as I have with mine.

Head: Yeah, and they're (referring to his parents whom I had the pleasure of meeting earlier) with me now, and it's been awesome.

Dr. BLT: Let's talk about the drugs, and especially, the meth.  How did the meth affect your mood and your self-esteem?

Head: Well, it would lead me to have uncontrollable fits of rage and it would lead me to become evil.

Dr. BLT: Do you think that the meth goes beyond bringing out that which is already in a person, and actually produces behaviors that would not have been produced apart from the drug.

Head: Yes, definitely.

Dr. BLT: Has acquiring lots of fame and lots of money caused you to doubt the motives of people that claim to want to get to know you better or to become your friend?

Head: No, I used to actually be more suspicious of people's motives. Since I've found God, people like that just seem to drop out---to go away on their own.

Dr.  BLT: How do you go about balancing your work-related responsibilities and career aspirations, and your responsibilities as a father.

 Head: Well, it's always Jennea first.  She comes first and has to be taken care of.


(At that point, he glanced at her, and they lovingly locked eyes. There was an unmistakable, beautiful father-daughter bond there that momentarily made us all forget that we were in the midst of an interview).

Although this was a defining moment in the interview, we did move on to talk about his musical endeavors, and his musical career direction, with his efforts now focusing on a solo career, and a CD of brand new Brian "Head" Welch songs in the works that should be hitting shelves by next August.  That should be exciting.

Then I asked him this:

 Dr.  BLT: What has God been revealing to you while you've been on this book tour?

Brian: He's revealed that I need to do everything, not in my own strength.  On the first two nights of the book tour, I only got a couple of hours of sleep, and so it was really hard to function.  But as I began to draw upon God's strength, it became much easier.

Understanding that combining God's strength with a good night's rest to prepare for the next day was probably even better than relying upon  God's strength minus sufficient rest, I wanted to give Brian some time to wind down after what I'm sure had been a very long, if glorious day.  Thankfully, he had taken the time to answer all of my questions, so I didn't have to cut the interview short.

Well, there you have it.

Oh, I should mention that before thanking Brian, his wonderful daughter, and his affable manager, I left him with a CD-R copy of a handful of original tunes that were inspired by his recent rediscovery of Jesus---two, in particular that were inspired by the book (I book, by the way, that I will later officially review, and highly recommend as a truly enrapturing read).

Understanding the limits of my vocal abilities, my lack of experience as a studio engineer, and the stark contrast between his masterful guitar work and my often off-tune, poorly timed execution, I'm sure that listening to my songs (some that include more than one version of the same song) may be somewhat painful.  Brian "Head" Welch is no stranger to suffering, and so he graciously received my songs, understanding that suffering sometimes brings us closer to Jesus.  I'm not sure these songs will bring him closer to Jesus, but the interview did bring me closer to the man, his music, his family, and to the God
he now serves with unrelenting drive, powerful passion and daily devotion.

If you, the reader want to share in his suffering, here's a link to one of the latest,

 Korn Off Da Kob
 Dr BLT
 words and music by Dr BLT copyright 2007 Smash Records
 http://www.drblt.net/music/KORNoffDA.mp3

 There are plenty more where that came from at my website:
  http://www.drblt.net

 But, more importantly,
 Head to Christ at:
 www.headtochrist.com/

 

 
 

Copyright 1996 - 2007 The Phantom Tollbooth