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Rocker Brian Welch Plays Metal With A Mission (Extended Interview)

Korn co-founder Brian Welch returned to the famed metal band after overcoming his addictions. Armed with his faith, Brian faces the aggression of his audience with a mission and a message. Read Transcript


CBN REPORTER: The guy nicknamed, "Head," Korn guitarist, Brian

Welch is used to changing tunes, especially

after his rockstar life calls a radical awakening.

BRIAN WELCH: I was a millionaire and I had houses, cars,

and all that stuff, and I was famous,

and I had no rest inside.

I was an empty shell walking around

with anxiety filled inside.

Jesus says, come to me, all who are weary and burdened

and I will give you rest.

When he came in, he gave me that peace and rest

that I couldn't buy.

CBN REPORTER: To confront addictions

and raise his daughter, Brian left Korn, seemingly for good.

But nearly a decade later, his surprising return

to the famed heavy metal band struck a chord.

BRIAN WELCH: I know that I'm controversial sometimes

with people, because I went back to Korn.

BRIAN WELCH: God is just a loving God who loves us.

Jesus was like accused of hanging out with prostitutes

and sinners, and they're like, how can you

hang out with those people?

It's the same stuff today.

Some of the religious people are like,

how could-- they tell me, how are you going to be in Korn?

How can you play that music.

BRIAN WELCH: I wouldn't bring my youth group there.

But I'm called to be there to affect people,

and to be a voice for him.

Paul said, become all things to all people.

So I might save some.

CBN REPORTER: All things include here,

one of 45 stops on Korn's current tour,

playing songs to captivated metal audiences,

from a playlist often described as disturbing.

CBN REPORTER: What kind of metal is it?

BRIAN WELCH: Intense.

There is this music and this aggression.

Some people don't think about it too deeply.

They're just like, I like it.

I like it.

It's a place where people are passionate.

People are saying what's in their heart

and it's coming out of their mouths.

Like, you hurt me.

You did this to me and I hate you.

But, I'm going to be OK.

And I'm stronger because of it-- that type of vibe.

What was your source of rage?

Probably self-hatred.

And my dad and his anger.

That was a big source because I think

his dad struggled with it.

Then he struggled with it.

Then I struggled with it.

It was just passed down.

So it was a lot of factors.

But I didn't like myself.

CBN REPORTER: Music appeal aside,

metal concerts can double as a place to vent.

CBN REPORTER: Is that the tie that connects audience

to artist?

Is it the rage and the aggression?

BRIAN WELCH: When we formed our band, our singer Jonathan said,

what if we call it Korn?

What if a kid misspelled the name?

And we'll spell it with a K and a backwards R.

Because he was singing a lot about child abuse.

He went through some stuff.

And some people have told us that we gave them

a voice for their abuse they went through.

And they didn't want to kill themselves.

CBN REPORTER: Brian identifies with their pain.

BRIAN WELCH: We're all living this life,

trying to get through our wounds and our hurts and everything.

And some people deal with it through drinking and drugs.

I did it for years.

I didn't know any other way.

BRIAN WELCH: Sin, it says in the Bible, sin is fun for a season.

Then it starts to eat your life away.

How bad did it get for you?

BRIAN WELCH: I started doing meth

towards the beginning of Korn before we got our record deal.

And that just opened the door more for addiction-- cocaine,

pills, and all that.

When I did a world tour, I ran out of drugs on my trip

and I had my dealer send me eight balls and packages

of meth overseas.

That was my rock bottom.

I'm doing anything for my high, even risking my freedom.

CBN REPORTER: Still battling his addiction

after failed rehab attempts, he was invited to church

by an acquaintance.

BRIAN WELCH: I just felt the presence of God.

And the pastor said, don't get your life right

and come to Jesus.

Come to him with all your garbage.

Learn about your faith, read the Bible, and pray, and your life

will change.

I did those things.

And within a few weeks I was off the drugs

and in love with Christ.

It's a cycle.

And I still fight with it sometimes,

just addictive behavior.

And so, yeah, it's frustrating.

But it's like, every year I feel like I gain new ground on it.

The appeal to that stuff that used to rule my life

is just not there anymore.

CBN REPORTER: But Brian did face new hardships

while single-parenting a teen and troubleshooting

business betrayals.

He was unknowingly being prepared to reconcile

with what he walked away from.

BRIAN WELCH: God's son came to this earth

and he was considered faithful because he suffered and walked

through this life.

So he knows all of our pain.

What do you think it was that was necessary,

where you can return to Korn?

BRIAN WELCH: God was forming Christ in me.

He's using all the pressures and difficulties.

We do our best but he does it supernaturally.

And if we let him through trial, we become stronger.

By humbling me, he could build me back up.

And when he built me back up, I was strong enough.

And he said, you're ready, go.

We've been through it all.

So it's already rooted enough to be where

there's a brotherhood there.

And we're just kind of sticking by each other a day at a time,

just like family does.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring.

CBN REPORTER: For Brian, it could bring another concert

and another tattoo, adding to the 35 he has.

Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, when they had an encounter with God,

and they had a revelation, they would build an altar.

Those were the altars and remembrance of what happened.

And so these tattoos are my altars.

They're my remembrances.

CBN REPORTER: And it's ever before you.

BRIAN WELCH: Ever before me.

CBN REPORTER: You don't have to travel to get to the altar.

BRIAN WELCH: Right?

And if I leave my Bible at home?

Bam, Bible verses.

[LAUGHTER]

Right there.

CBN REPORTER: When you're on stage,

do you occasionally do the, oh yeah, there's Galatians.

CBN REPORTER: Yeah.

Right there.

I'm having a bad show, look at this.

My pick hand, I can do all things

through Christ who strengthens me, right there.

CBN REPORTER: You know, why Hebraic words for both those

eyelids?

BRIAN WELCH: I like to go inside the word

and really find out what it means.

And so, the glory of God.

There's shekinah glory and the kabod glory.

And shekinah's like the sweet presence, the inner dwelling.

And the kabod's like the weighty, powerful presence

of God.

So I just-- I just loved the meaning of that.

It was revealing revelation with those words to me.

And so I put 'em on my eyelids.

CBN REPORTER: Love that, eyes open wide.

BRIAN WELCH: Yeah.

CBN REPORTER: Revelation.

BRIAN WELCH: Yeah.

That's with my book, With My Eyes

Wide Open is talking about the eyes of the heart

being open and enlightened by revelation.

And I want as many people as possible,

for their spiritual eyes to open so they

can see that God is real.

CBN REPORTER: Despite the band member's varying beliefs,

Brian's focus is to give to others what he's received.

What's the mission now while you're with Korn?

I want as many people as possible,

for their spiritual eyes to open so they

can see that God is real and that he loves unconditionally.

And all of this wounding and this up and down life

that we're living, as we walk towards our day

that we have to eventually die, all of us,

that he's right there.

And he is the resurrection and the life and we're finding it.

We can experience that resurrection and life

on this side of eternity, now.

You get to know and walk with the person who

is raised from the dead now.

You walk with him in life.

And I want those people to get this,

because that's where the adventure comes.

You're walking with him.

Some of you Korn fans know that I found faith in Christ.

BRIAN WELCH: Look at us.

We're just messed up people that a mighty, beautiful, powerful

God came and had mercy on us.

I'm just displaying that to those people

and letting God do his work.

What could the church do better to earn

a voice to that audience?

BRIAN WELCH: They can get real with themselves

and realize that they are just like those people in the metal

crowd.

They're broken.

And without God, then they're not holy.

There's not one that is perfect, except Christ.

We all need him.

We're all the same.

Stop judging.

Be patient.

And don't be afraid to let your light get close to him

and let your light shine.

How do you guard your heart against judgmental Christians?

Just look the other way and don't listen.

But when I do have to hear it or I do find myself reading it

or whatever, I just say, Lord, I feel anger.

I choose to forgive 'em.

And cleanse me of bitterness.

God has been doing this since the beginning.

Read the Old Testament Joseph, Genesis,

he got sent into Egypt.

He was like given some Egyptian name or something

and he dressed like 'em and had the jewelry.

I mean, I bet you Christians back then,

if they were Christians, they'd be saying,

he looks like the world, you know.

Daniel-- you know, they changed his name.

And he was right in there with all the-- it was crazy.

So God does-- he's been doing that for a lot of years.

And so it's nothing new.

It's just sometimes the Christianity in America

and the religious system will just, hey you can't do that.

But God's been doing it for a long time.

CBN REPORTER: While touring, Brian hits his high note,

first performing for an audience,

then needing to pray with them.

And give me a brand new life.

Give me a brand new life.

Jesus' name.

Amen.

Amen.

That's it.

Some people come to him saying Lord, Lord, we

did this in your name, this, that in your name and he said,

I never knew you.

So I want Jesus to look me in the eye and say, I knew you

and you knew me.

And I know you, and you know me.

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