Former Korn guitarist sticks with raw sound

Published 7:13 am Monday, April 5, 2010

Former Korn guitarist Brian “Head” Welch has a message. He wants to share his story of drugs and hardship, his change of lifestyle, and how he lifted himself out of the dark.

Just don’t expect a softer sound.

The sound Welch will bring to his Thursday, sold-out show, at the Paramount Theatre will be similar to the raw, razor edge the nu-metal powerhouse Korn brought to stages beginning in the 90s.

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“People kind of expected I was going to come out with lighter stuff,” Welch said via phone interview. “I love heavy music. I wanted to do heavier music, and I wasn’t going to change. It’s what I do, it’s what I know.”

When nu-metal emerged from the grunge-saturated scene of the 90s, it was a kick in the face. Instead of the angst laden tones bands like Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains delivered, bands like Korn brought something different.

The band delivered a sound that hadn’t been heard before. Down-tuned guitars delivered a grit that grabbed at fans. Korn exploded, accumulating two Grammy’s along the way and to date have sold more than 30 million albums.

However, like many rock and roll stories, there was a darker side for Welch.

“I was a single dad, I was touring nonstop with Korn, all over the road,” Welch remembered. “The lifestyle brought me agony. I did everything except heroin. It just got overwhelming for me. I needed to change.”

Welch left Korn in January of 2005 and immediately set to changing his ways.

“I was learning how to be a dad,” he said. “I’m still getting used to it.”

During the time he became deeply spiritual and decided his story was one he could use to relate and to gain a positive outcome for others struggling with similar demons.

Welch began working on music about six months after leaving Korn and wrote a best seller, an autobiography titled “Save Me From Himself,” which also turned out to be the title of Welch’s debut album in September of 2008.

While touring Welch combined the music with speaking, a relation of his story, though it still came back to the music.

“I just wanted to play some music, bring some rock and roll,” Welch said. “The speaking stuff, I was just going to kind of mess around and see how it works. Wherever I go, I attract people who were struggling like me.”

If Welch’s music could be labeled, it would be this: It’s real. Unrelentingly real, with brutal and truthful imagery in both music and videos.

For Welch, there was no other way to go. It had to be real and in the face of that Welch knows it will rub some the wrong way.

“I wanted to be real,” he said. “Some of it is going to be shocking to conservative people, but I have to be who I am. That’s reality. That’s how things are out there. That’s what I went through. and I can’t really apologize for that.”

However, while Welch’s message is one of unapologetic reality, there is a simpler goal.

“We want to get all crazy with the kids,” he said. “Those are the best shows. We need to get some good energy.”

The future is no less busy than Welch’s recent past. He will continue hitting the road, playing gigs not only in the United States, but Europe as well and a first-ever performance in Russia.

He’s also working on a new album with the producer who worked on the group Red’s debut album, which he hopes will be out later this year or early next year.

As for a possible reunion with Korn, Welch says he’s happy where he’s at.

“I’m good where we are right now,” he said. “I’ve talked to them, but they’re doing their thing, and I’m doing mine. I’ve put the past behind me.”

Thursday’s show begins at 7 p.m. with opening acts Children 18:3 and The Classic Crime.