Speaks from the Heart: Part I: Brian "Head" Welch's Rock n Roll Model
Interview with Dr BLT
Thiessen, Ph.D, aka Dr BLT
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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:
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.)
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
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
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.
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.
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
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?
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.
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
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
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
words and music by
Dr BLT copyright 2007 Smash Records
There are plenty more where
that came from at my website:
But, more importantly,