BANNER ELK — The road to recovery is long and arduous, and it is a path that Brian Welch, the lead guitarist for the heavy metal band Korn, knows all too well. In 2005, Welch, or popularly known by his fans as “Head,” shocked the music world when he left the platinum-selling rock outfit and found salvation in Jesus Christ.
On Friday, Sept. 25, Welch and his daughter Jennea Welch visited Lees-McRae College, taking questions from the audience of students after a showing of the documentary “Loud Krazy Love.” The film chronicles Welch’s struggles with his addictions to alcohol, cocaine and methamphetamine, along with the effects his decisions were having on his young daughter.
Ultimately, Welch’s turnaround came after an experience with God that fundamentally changed him, giving him the strength to quit his addictions and take up the responsibility of being a single parent.
“I couldn’t get off drugs, but then I found Christ. I had this experience, and I felt this love from another realm that touched me, and I was able to love myself and focus on what really matters. At the same time, I thought ‘I’m going to be a Christ follower and everyone’s going to think I’m weird. Yes! Now I don’t have to be the cool person and maybe they can leave me alone, and I can be normal,’” Welch said.
While Welch progressed through his own healing process, things didn’t go as well for Jennea. As the film showed, being raised without a mother and enduring isolation from her peers during her formative years had negative psychological consequences. Jennea resorted to self-mutilation, and Welch enrolled her in Awakening Youth, a therapeutic living experience for teens and young adults.
Jennea stayed in the program for four years, which meant she was away from her father for most of the time. Welch describes the day he dropped Jennea off at the school’s facility as the hardest day of his life. However, she emerged from the school a changed person.
“I was there from 14 to 18 years old, then I stayed through college. Once I felt like I could trust the people there and knew that they weren’t crazy religious people or in a cult or they weren’t going to confuse me for my dad, I decided to stay. A month in I was like ‘These girls are really cool. The people here are really cool.’ I think that’s when I realized what I was doing wasn’t working, and I was going to try it,” Jennea said.
“I view her exactly as how I wanted her and prayed for her to turn out,” Welch said.
The first question from the audience centered around how Welch is able to resist the temptation of falling back into old habits after the birth of his daughter.
“I remember the miraculous feeling that you created and a life and that a miracle came. I had never felt a love like that before or a purpose or a meaning. You just want to be the best person you can for the kid, you know. That’s why I wanted to change everything. I lasted two months, and I went back on the road and played a show with Rage Against the Machine. I wanted to drink and gritted my teeth, but for my daughter I quit. Then an hour later, I fell back. Then I go home and I do the same thing,” Welch said. “I was fighting myself until I fell into the gutter. I finally surrendered, and I didn’t know there was a God that loves us, that’s poking me on the back saying, ‘I’m here, I want to help.’ That was a huge bonus.”
Welch said that for a year he was able to get through recovery through his spirituality but eventually realized the need for medication to fight depression since his body was not producing enough dopamine naturally.
“(Recovery) came quick when I got back, but not everybody is like that. I felt peace that surpassed all understanding. I felt acceptance, and I felt a contentment. I was 34 at the time, and I went through a lot of emotional problems, ups and downs, peace then no peace. I fought through it until I got to the place that I’m at now,” Welch said. “I was like, ‘I don’t need medicine. I have Jesus.’ That’s good, but that’s no wisdom. You don’t stop your medication (cold turkey).”
Welch rejoined Korn after eight years away from the band. The acceptance and the majority of his band members has allowed him to take his renewed opportunity playing music to help spread the gospel to the band’s fans.
“There’s a lot of opportunity with the band (to share the gospel) and in interviews I do, I try to share it but not be over the top. I don’t want to be a fanatic and turn people off. I just want to share life and listen to people. I love hearing stories. Each one of you could put out a movie on your life, because all of our lives are just so interesting. I have a hope that in heaven we’re all going to watch each other’s lives and it’s going to be a dramatic story with highs and lows, because everyone’s life is so important and everyone’s story is so important,” Welch said.