Brian ‘Head’ Welch, guitarist and founding member of US nu metal band Korn, says he’s not the “biggest Scripture-quoting person”. But when he’s asked what the greatest lesson he’s learnt across his tumultuous journey is, it’s a Bible passage which comes to mind.

“'Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding and in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths’," says the 48-year-old, quoting Proverbs 3:5. "So trust is the biggest lesson I’ve learned but what goes with that is patience - there’s not always quick fixes…”

Welch speaks from experience: his rockstar lifestyle took a sharp redemptive turn after he found God in the the mid-2000s.

“When I went through the hardest times of my life...no matter how bad it got…I got to a place where I built trust in Him [God] like ‘Oh, my gosh I can go through anything and He’s going to make it where I’m going to be OK'. So trust mixed with patience is the biggest lesson for me.”

Next week a new documentary – Loud Krazy Love – is being released in Australia. It charts Welch’s journey, from the heights of fame with Korn as the band broke into the big time in the late 1990s and early 2000s, to the life-changing impact of the birth of his daughter Jennea in 1998 and, beyond that, his journey to find God and work through issues in his life before officially rejoining the band in 2013.

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Brian 'Head' Welch, one of the founding members of nu metal band Korn whose redemptive story is told in the film Loud Krazy Love.

Speaking to Sight from his parents’ home in California before coming to Australia for a week where, among other things, he’ll be promoting the film, Welch says he’d long toyed with the idea of making a film.

“I like to gather a lot of footage, personal footage, because life passes us by so quick, you know, and so I had all this video footage. And then in 2005 when I left my band and became a Christian and everything and just wanted to be a great dad, I had the idea that, with all the footage and everything, that one day it might happen. So I tried to put a documentary together a couple of times but…it never worked, so I just gave up and I held on to the footage.”

“I had written a book in 2007 and I just laid all my life out there – the good, the bad, the failures, the family issues, everything. And I got such a reaction from people – they were just blown away that they could relate to my story and that gave them hope and strength to believe that they could get over their issues too. And so I kinda got used to it, to sharing this stuff, you know, so the movie…was just like the next step from the book situation.”

- Brian 'Head' Welch

It was only when film-makers Trey Hill and Scott Mayo approached him several years ago about making a film that the concept finally become a reality.

“They really worked hard…everybody put everything into it so we’re really pleased with the result,” Welch says.

The resulting film is fairly uncompromising in how it depicts his life story as he battled an addiction to drugs and grappled with the temptations fame and wealth brought. Hill and Mayo told ABC News in the US last year that they made the film with the desire to "humanise and normalise what a real faith might actually look like...

"Our real lives are just as messy and tumultuous...and this film portrays that," they were quoted as saying with Mayo adding that they didn't think of its as a "faith-based film". "It’s a remarkable story where God is just a part of it," he said. "We need to let all of the voices in and wrestle with all of it, with just some belief that it’s OK to talk about all of the messy stuff.”

Welch says that having the ups and downs he’s been through in life exposed to public view isn’t anything new.

“I had written a book in 2007 [Save Me from Myself - it was also the title of his debut Christian album released in 2008] and I just laid all my life out there – the good, the bad, the failures, the family issues, everything,” he says. “And I got such a reaction from people – they were just blown away that they could relate to my story and that gave them hope and strength to believe that they could get over their issues too. And so I kinda got used to it, to sharing this stuff, you know, so the movie…was just like the next step from the book situation.”

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Brian Welch with his daughter Jennea in a scene from Loud Krazy Love.

 

As much as the film is about Welch’s story, it’s also the story of his now 20-year-old daughter Jennea (in fact, the father-daughter relationship as one of the key themes of the movie). She was just 15-years-old when Welch approached her about making the film and asked her to be involved.

He says that after receiving assurances the movie wouldn’t go out without her agreement, Jennea, who is now 20-years-old and starting a degree in creative writing, "felt comfortable with that”.

As the movie depicts, Jennea’s birth was a turning point for Welch.

“I had this thing in me that was like ‘I got to do good; I got to be the best parent that I can be' so when she was born I started thinking about how can I do that when I’m such a mess?” he recalls. “So that got the wheels turning and I’m like, ‘OK, I want to do it, what kind of steps can I take to become that?’"

Welch says that while he “gave up on this new person” when hard things, like his divorce from his now ex-wife Rebekah, subsequently reared their head, it was when God came into his life that he was able to “find the strength to really fight for this person that I longed to be”. 

“I really wanted to be a better person, I just didn’t have the capability,” he says.

Welch says that after encountering God, getting sober and leaving the band, he initially felt his life had become a “happily ever after” story.

“I became a better father and I started, you know, spending time with my daughter and being that parent that’s there every day. And for the first year it was like God was ‘Like, OK, we’re going to do this’ and then after that first year [God said] ‘Now we need you to work on some things, you have some wounds inside of your soul’…

“So I started dealing with that stuff and it was really difficult. I had a really hard year about a year after I started the walk [with God]. And then He took me through all kinds of stuff, you know – all my flaws, my character, my pride, my false idols, my dependence on other things. All that had to be taken out of me and that was painful. I could have walked away from it all but I really had nowhere else to go.”

Welch says the band have been supportive since his return in 2013 (having been reunited with them the year before onstage at Carolina Rebellion).

“We’re older now and everyone’s like ‘Whatever makes you happy to be the best person that you want to be, then that’s good’,” he says.

Noting that he’s also got a strong support network in the Christian community, Welch says he sees his calling as simply sharing “the testimony of Jesus”.

“It’s just over and over and over sharing my stories about what God has gone in the past, in the present…When people hear it, they catch it – 'it’s more caught that taught' some people say. So I just kind of share and let people catch it for themselves.”

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Brian 'Head' Welch in action on stage.

Asked what advice he’d give a young person who was attracted by the glamour of the lifestyle that he experienced when Korn was riding high, Welch returns to Scripture and talks about a parable in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter seven, in which Jesus warns of the dangers of building a house on sand and not on the rock.

“I would just tell them, like, it’s OK to have these things in life, these cool blessings or gifts, you know - wanting things for yourself," he says. "But if you build your life on those only, it’s like building on sand and the sand can shift and the whole thing can fall to the ground and you’re left like a complete basket-case mess, you know? 

“But if you build it on the foundation that’s…God - and He’s with you all that time and you can trust in Him, then things can turn against you but you won’t turn into a basket-case because you have that trust and you have that foundation under what you’ve built and that’s Christ, that’s God...

“Everything I built, I built on sand and when all the storms came it’s just knocked me to pieces. But now I’m built on that rock so I won’t be crushed down any more…Life is hard – I will have depressed days and…painful days but I’m so much stronger now. That’s what I’d tell them, I’d just tell them my story. It’s truth because I lived it and God can do the same for them.”

Loud Krazy Love is released in Australia on 15th May.