Updated: Apr 26, 2022
by Scott Roos
*photo by Sean Berry
In the grand scheme of things, 28 years is a very long time but to the members of Korn, who who formed the highly successful band in 1993, it must feel like it's gone by in the blink of an eye. Sonically, Korn had a unique take on the heavy metal genre in the 90's roaring to acclaim with their debut self titled record in 1994. Their sound was groovy, funky and had a doom laden heaviness all at once. Grunge may have been king at that point in time but what Korn brought to the table was a fresh take on the heavy metal genre; a pioneering take as it would lead to the nu-metal moniker that was so easily tacked onto bands of similar ilk. It wasn't an easy path to trod but they've made it to the other side of a lot of deep seeded issues both personally and professionally and those "Issues", pardon the pun, are well documented.
For guitarist Brian "Head" Welch, his personal and professional battles, in particular, have been chronicled first in his books, in particular Save Me From Myself and Eyes Wide Open, and recently in 2018, with the release of the documentary film Loud Krazy Love. Loud Krazy Love is a very deep, raw and honest film which told the story, in detail, of struggles with Welch's own inner demons. It also spends a good deal of time examining the deteriorating relationship between Welch and his daughter Jennea as well as their eventual reconciliation.
*Jennea and Brian Welch photo by Rebecca Sapp
"The whole roll out of the film was pretty crazy. Jennea and I shared a lot and I guess the quote 'gift', if you want to call it the 'gift', of sharing personal information spilled over to my daughter because I gave her full permission for whatever she wanted to share. We put the documentary together and told her to have a look at it and watched it with her and there were tears and lots of emotions but she opted to leave all of it in there; her very private counselling sessions and things like that. She was like 'I think it will help people', I guess she learned from watching me that it's a good thing to be real with people," explained Welch in a recent conversation with NSMZ.
Also involved in the film were his Korn bandmates. Once again, the Korn guys, like Jennea, were given free reign to be as honest and forthcoming as possible. Welch had left the band in 2005 but returned to the fold in 2013. The documentary no doubt enabled Welch and his bandmates to work through any emotional baggage that might have been left over from Welch's initial departure and the end result is that a lot of healing within the Korn camp took place.
"It came out really good because the Korn guys were involved," continued Welch, "I love it because I'm me now. I'm healthy. I'm happy. I'm thriving in every area but that documentary is about getting through your stuff. Getting through family issues. Getting through your flaws. Getting through your depression. All that stuff. Hopefully the fans will see this is me on the other side of it now."
In the meantime, Welch has kept himself busy playing and touring with Korn and has also been heavily involved in his side project Love and Death who released their sophomore record Perfectly Preserved back in February. Since their debut in 2012, the group has undergone a few lineup changes recently with Breaking Benjamin's Jasen Rauch coming into the fold on bass as well as taking on some of the production duties and the welcome addition of Isaiah Perez on drums. The COVID lockdowns gave Welch and his band members time to perfect their sound this time out and also work through their songwriting process. Time that will prove invaluable as they move forward as a cohesive unit.
*photo by Sean Berry
"I think it's kind of a group effort," said Welch of the Love and Death songwriting process," Three of the strongest songs 'Death of us', 'Down' and 'Tragedy' - those were actually Jasen and Keith from Breaking Benjamin. They sent us a chorus idea for those three tracks. Not all together. One at a time. And they said 'Do you like this? Is it any good?' and the riffs were pretty good. I was like 'Man I like this. It's awesome'. It was under a minute sample of what a song could be. I loved the vibe of the verses, I loved the choruses. And if I didn't love the verse the chorus was really good and we could work on the verse but the music had a cool start to it. So that's what we did."
Part of Welch's modus operandi for Perfectly Preserved was to also involve his co-guitarist JR Bareis more this time out. `Welch wanted Bareis to step up more, to contribute in a more meaningful way than previous outings with Love and Death and he did just that in spades.
"I really wanted JR (Bareis) to work more so I sent the songs to JR and said 'Hey come up with a better riff for this song'. So that's how it went. I kind of let JR run with the riffs on this record. He's really talented so I wanted him step up. So that's what he did he came to the table and cored up," said Welch.
At the end of the day, Perfectly Preserved is a solid set of ten heavy tracks that have shades of Korn and Breaking Benjamin as well as aspects of Bareis's own unique take thrown in the mix. It's radio friendly (in the Sirius Octane sense) and hook laden. In short, it's a solid record front to back and well worth multiple listens. In the end, though, Welch's first love will always be for Korn. Korn recently announced a multi date tour with Staind in select cities across the United States. It's a bold statement to come out with proverbial nu-metal guns blazing given the COVID times we are in but both bands are taking the safety precautions seriously and in the end it should be a kickass tour all round.
"My number one thing after being back in Korn after all these years is that I feel most at home playing with (James) Munky Schaffer. I was made for that. Me and him have created this style and it's hard to get away from. I just have to credit to Munky for growing together in this style of guitar playing. We developed it and it's a very unique sound."
It's been too too long since Korn has graced a stage. It will be nice to see Welch back at it with the Korn guys again. It's something the fans have sorely missed.