During an appearance on Bringin’ It Backwards Podcast, KORN guitarist Brian “Head” Welch discussed his musical beginnings, touching on his favorite bands, KORN formation and more.
“I had some neighbors that were blasting KISS, like ‘I Was Made for Lovin’ You,’ and I was like, ‘What is that?’ It was a sound that I was drawn to,” Head said. “And then 1980, my parents got me AC/DC, Back in Black album, I opened it on Christmas morning, I heard ‘Back in Black,’ and something just hit me.
“And I’m 10 years old — I’m playing it all day long for months and months and months, over and over. And then I found IRON MAIDEN, and then I found Ozzy, and then I found JUDAS PRIEST, and I got into the LA bands, MÖTLEY CRÜE and RATT, and that was it.”
When asked what it’s the first instrument he picked up, Head responded: “I wanted to play drums, but my dad talked me out of it because kids are lazy. So he was like, ‘Drums have so many pieces and parts,’ and I’m like, ‘Oh, I want to do that.’ And then I got a guitar, an acoustic, they got me a cheap little thing.
“I wanted a guitar like AC/DC, I wanted that sound, I needed that sound, and they’re like, ‘You can’t even play, go and learn something first on acoustic.’ So I took lessons, I learned, and they were like ‘wow’, I was dedicated playing all the time, and the next thing you know, I had a little amp, like a distortion pedal, and a little, cheap guitar, the amp was about that big, so I started from the bottom, now I’m here.
Talking about his first band, he said: “It was with [bassist] Fieldy from KORN, and a guy named @on French and John Charles as a drummer, and me and Fieldy, it was a band called PIERCT, with a T, it was like glam rock and stuff, like pierced earrings.”
“So, we formed one more band that I forgot about when I was 18-19 years old, called RUSSIAN ROULETTE. Munky came into the picture then, but the thing was, that was when WHITESNAKE was really big on MTV and bands like that. And so Munky and Fieldy, they met another guy who was more into the punk realm, and he introduced them to RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS and FAITH NO MORE, and they got obsessed with them, and I didn’t like them.
“So they quit RUSSIAN ROULETTE, and they left me and they formed a band with the singer from the other band, RAGTIME. And everybody turned, like, alternative punk, from glam rock to alternative punk, it was like, ‘This is it.’
“I didn’t get the CHILI PEPPERS; the guy couldn’t sing — the bass was good, but Anthony Kiedis was just annoying to me,” Head continued. “And so off they went, they moved to LA and started playing Hollywood clubs, and then my band broke up and I didn’t have any band for three or four years.
“We had a manager from A&M Records that was managing us, they were like, ‘We want to work with you guys.’ So it was crazy. They felt like we had a different sound because of the bass and guitars and whatnot we were just different, it was not like great at all, I think they just heard something, and so the producer was the guy that really liked it, he’s like, ‘Keep in touch when you find the singer.’
“We talked to Jonathan, told him all these connections we have — he said no at first, and then next thing you know, we just said, ‘Come try it, just come hang with us.’ And he came down and hung out, and that’s when I realized he was that third-grader when we were kids, I was like, ‘You’re that kid, I know who you are,’ and he didn’t put it together yet, and he had dreadlocks and he just looked so cool on stage.
So he joins, he jams with us and falls in love with the music, and then he starts talking to the A&M two managers we have, and they see him, and they’re fired up because he’s way better than the old singer, and way better stage presence.
“He looked like a star, and then he meets the producer, the producer’s like tripping out over him, it was meant to be, it was a moment in time that was meant to be.”