Korn gets its 'Head' back: Guitarist reunites with band

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) The music world is buzzing with news that rock band Korn is reuniting with its former guitar player, known as "Head."

Since 2005, the Bakersfield-born band has played without the guitarist that helped create its signature sound. Now, eight years later, Brian "Head" Welch sat down with Eyewitness News to explain why he left, what went down and why now is the time to reunite.

"I grew up in Bakersfield, and I got an electric guitar when I was 10 ... We hit the road, and we got success and year after year it was just one big party. Like crazy party," said Welch when giving a brief description of Korn's rise to the top. "It was just raging-alcoholic-drug-addict party, and after years of that it just got old."

Welch told Eyewitness News that the life of a rock star started wearing thin. Head, an original member of Korn, said his dreams exploded into reality after the band found success in the mid-1990s, signing a deal with Sony Records and touring the world.

It was all like a movie he said, until life in the fast lane started beating him down into the ground.

"I ended up back in Bakersfield in 2005, sorry, 2003. I got hooked on crystal meth for two years," said Welch.

He said he found a way out of the dark hole of drug abuse through Christ.

"I ended up at Valley Bible Fellowship in town, and I was just, you know, I could feel life coming back into me," he said.

The man who still dons dreadlocks and tattoos said he gave his life to God so his little girl would have someone to look up to.

"My daughter was 6 at the time, and I just looked at her, and I said, 'I'm gonna be home with you, I'm gonna leave my career, I'm gonna take you to school and make you breakfast,'" said Welch.

Welch said he knew he couldn't continue the lifestyle that took him on the road towards temptation, so, in 2005, he announced he was leaving Korn. According to Welch, his announcement was initially accepted by the band with support, but then he said things turned sour.

The band was right in the middle of signing a multimillion-dollar record deal with a new label, which knew nothing about Head's new life path.

"The record company they were signing with calls the manager and says, 'You're trying to do a deal with me when one of your guys is on TV quitting right now,'" said Welch.

He said once the label started getting concerned about the record deal, the relationship between him and the band became strained.

That, plus news of his autobiography, led to negative songs on Korn's untitled album, he said.

Welch said other members of the band, including Jonathan Davis, were told the book was going to be a tell-all, exposing the band's secrets.

"So, he got mad at me and wrote these two songs, and before the album came out he read my book, and he's like, 'Hey this is a pretty good book, it's not bashing us at all,'" Welch recalled.

But, the record showed that battling back and forth between Welch and the band had continued in the media, ripping at the fiber of their relationship until there was finally silence.

Years later, in May 2012, Welch showed up at the Carolina Rebellion Festival, and, for the first time in years, jumped on stage with his former band.

"I just felt so much reconnection and stuff, people were in tears," said Welch.

What was a onetime thing has turned into Head rejoining Korn on tour, and Welch is bringing his new band, Love and Death, along for the ride. They'll be opening the shows in Europe with their new album, "Between Here and Lost."

But, there's still that lingering question: How is Head going to merge his lifestyle as a clean Christian back into the world of hardcore rock?

"Everyone is sober right now, everyone is doing good. Everyone has their head on straight, and there is none of that," explained Welch. Confident that the days of hardcore partying are behind him and his bandmates, Welch said he believes there is nowhere to go but up, and maybe even back up the charts.

When asked if he'll ever play on a Korn album again, Welch replied, "Right now, we're just going slow, we're gonna play this tour, but we are talking, though, and I would say anything is possible at this point."

Rolling Stone reports that Korn will perform its first full set with Welch since 2004 on May 17 at the Rock on the Range Festival in Columbus, Ohio.

After that, it's overseas for their European tour. There's no word, at this point, if Head will be with the band for a full tour in the United States.