By Rose Riot
We've all seen VH1's: Behind the Music where the story is told of a hungry musician who fights to get to the top only to stumble upon money, drugs and sin eventually falling from the top position to a hard, cold rock-bottom. Brian "Head" Welch was no stranger to this storyline. The founding member and acclaimed guitarist of the band KoRn caved to the temptations of fame and found himself with a serious drug addiction...
Through a course of events Brian was able to remove himself from the darkness and tell his tale in his best-selling book, Save Me From Myself. Brian has traded his sold-out stadium gigs with KoRn for smaller more intimate shows with a solo career and speaking engagements at churches and schools. Brian Welch is a man who has been broken and humbled and truly feels blessed in his afflictions. No chip on his shoulder and easy-going, I met with Brian right before the last gig of his most recent tour.
Rose Riot: Tell me about this solo career and your latest single "Paralyzed."
Brian "Head" Welch: I've been with this band for about two years. We are putting out an album in the spring and a video very soon.
RR: What is you new album going to be called?
BW: Ha-ha! I guess I should come up with something?
RR: You do a lot of speaking engagements, as well as touring, what do you most want to be remembered for?
BW: Just giving it all up to find out what life is really all about. To raise my daughter because that is a respectable thing to do. I want to be known as the guy who walked away from fame and into Jesus and to raise my daughter the right way.
RR: What do you say to kids who embark upon this business?
BW: Be careful, get your head on straight before you go in to this zoo.
RR: It seems that you like to give back. Tell me about other things you do as service type work.
BW: I've got a new thing going in Ethiopia, it's called Mocha Club. Basically for $7.00 a month (the cost of two mochas), you can help get girls in Ethiopia out of the sex industry. It is so common for girls there to provide for their whole family by doing this and, it's just not right.
RR: Have you ever been to Ethiopia?
BW: No, but I would really love to go there. I hope to.
RR: What do you do when you're not touring?
BW: Man, I'm out of town like every weekend either speaking or touring but I'm about to go see Blink-182.
RR: How do you balance this life with being a dad?
BW: Ah! It's so crazy!
RR: Does she tour with you?
BW: Yeah, she's here. She does online school with me. The thing is, I'm like a kid too though so sometimes it's crazy.
RR: How does your faith affect what you listen to?
BW: You gotta be careful letting stuff in. You gotta die to the stuff you did before. I used to listen to a lot of gangster rap but now I don't. I know that Christ is real and he lives in me and even if I love the music, I just can't listen to stuff where they are like, "It's all about me, I'm the best, I'm like God." I'm very careful what I expose my eyes and my ears to but I not like Ned Flanders or anything. I just want peace.
RR: Do you listen to Christian rock?
BW: I mostly listen to worship music and meditate a lot.
RR: If you could make an album with anyone, who would it be?
BW: Anyone? Ha-ha! Maybe Mozart. Why not, right?
RR: What was your first tattoo?
BW: I got my daughter's name on the back of my neck. I also got my other daughter that my ex-wife and I gave up for adoption on the back of my neck too. So it says, Nat and Jennea. I think the artist Cartoon did it as his shop but it's all a blur now.
RR: What was your last tattoo?
BW: I got one on my leg from Corey [Miller] on LA Ink.
RR: Where you on TV for that one?
RR: Do you have any tattoos you regret?
BW: No, they all tell a story. No, wait… I don't like this one on my arm. I went a little crazy with the color here.
RR: Colors not a bad thing.
BW: I know but it's just not me. I really only like a little red. So what do you think I could do about this tattoo? (Brian shows me a colorful cross-scene on his right arm.)
RR: I don't know, I'm not an artist but there is a lot of negative space, maybe you could throw a big dragon onto that. Ha-ha.
RR: What is your best tattoo story?
BW: When I had just left KoRn and I was all sober, I was like, "I wanna hurt myself with needles." Ha-ha, just kidding. I sort of went on a tattoo binge. I went to see Tommy and Mikey Montoya. They did this whole arm. (Brian shows me his left arm.) I made appointments for three days in a row.
Day one, Tommy did a bunch of stuff in four hours. The next day, he called his brother Mikey in, so his brother did a bunch of stuff. On the third day, a guy named Hollywood wanted to do a big thing on my back. When I laid down for him to sketch on my skin, just having the pen on me hurt because my pain response was so shot. When he actually started working on me with a machine, it was like he was digging a knife into my back. I mean, I'm pretty sure a tear came from my eye, the pain was so bad. Hollywood was like, "Man, I can't work on you, you are shaking way too bad." So, I had to stop with it not finished and I haven't gone back. Ha-ha, I'm think I'm emotionally scarred!
RR: What are your future ink plans?
BW: To finish my back and now thanks to you, doin' something with my arm!
RR: You have work on your face, what do you think about kids getting stuff done on their faces?
BW: If I had gotten my face done when I was 18 or 20, I would have regretted it.
RR: How do you feel about tattoo reality shows?
BW: I think they are good. A lot of the OG people make bad noise about them. They show how far tattooing has come but I don't like that they make them a soap opera.
(Rose Riot is a photographer in Atlanta and contributing blogger for Tattoo Artist Magazine.)