MUSIC MONDAY Brian Welch of Korn and his Christian conversion and deliverance from drugs Part 3

Brian Welch of Korn and his Christian conversion  and deliverance from drugs Part 3

Brian Welch: From Korn to Jesus

Uploaded on Aug 22, 2008

Former guitarist and co-founder of heavy rock group Korn, Brian Welch talks about the amazing turn his life took when he accepted God for who He is. Saved from drugs and addiction, Welch tells his amazing testimony of Jesus’ love and salvation.

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Korn – Blind

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Korn guitarist Brian Welch speaks on God, sobriety

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NEIL BLAKE | nblake@mdn.netBrian “Head” Welch talks at Bullock Creek High School auditorium about his transformation from a drug addict to a follower of Jesus on Wednesday. Welch spoke openly about his band, Korn, and their rise to fame and his  struggles with alcohol and substance abuse.

Korn guitarist, former drug addict and reformed Christian Brian “Head” Welch stepped out onto Bullock Creek Auditorium’s stage last night to tell his story after a fitting introduction — that we are all “children of God,” whether we’re black, white, straight, gay, dressed in leather or tattooed.

Fitting, because Welch looked just like a man you’d never want to cross. Dreadlocks hung down to his waist, tattoos crawled up his arms. His iPhone — from which he opened with a Psalm — was linked by a long, thin silver chain to his black pants.

His honesty, though, was instantly disarming. Pacing back and forth, Welch told his life’s story in quick, almost nervous words, speaking with the humor and charisma of a man without pretense. He told listeners early that you can tell when someone’s faking it, and promised to be as genuine with them as he could.

Welch was in Midland to talk about his tumultuous past and journey to Christianity via metal music and drugs. Brought to Midland by the STEP UP organization and numerous area churches, he spent the afternoon visiting recovering substance abusers in the Ten Sixteen Recovery Network in Midland before Wednesday evening’s talk.

He rewound back to age 10, when he discovered the guitar as a young boy living in Bakersfield, Calif. As his life went on, it never really involved Christianity — church “felt like a funeral,” and even though he had a friend and an adult in his life both work to get him interested, nothing permanently stuck.

As he grew older — into his late teens and early 20s — he stayed outside of faith. “Music, my friends, and having a good time — that’s all I knew,” he said, noting his experiences with alcohol and marijuana: “That’s what life is like without God, and I lived that way for years.”

Welch moved to Hollywood around age 20 to follow friends who were already pursuing music there. It wasn’t a quick road to the top, though — Welch worked as their roadie, paying the rent by working for Pizza Hut and as a furniture mover.

After a move back to Bakersfield, when he was about to give up on a life in music, his friends invited him to join their band. From those beginnings, Korn was born, and within a year, they’d landed a record deal.

That’s where things started to take a marked turn, both for the better and for the worse. While Welch was touring with Korn, he started using speed.

“When you get that big, every coke dealer wants to come out and give you their stuff,” he said, from girls to drugs. Over the years, Welch slipped deeper and deeper into his addiction, trying numerous drugs, including Vicodin and Xanax.

He had a few short recoveries. The first came after his marriage and the birth of his daughter, lasting four months, until Korn’s bassist asked him at a concert, “you’re not going to watch Rage (Against the Machine) sober, are you? Have fun with that.”

Other recoveries were similar stories.

Eventually, Welch’s marriage — his wife was also addicted during those years — collapsed. The turning point came when a group of Realtors he’d invested with invited him to church. There, he met people who weren’t “perfect” — for example, the pastor had beaten his wife before committing himself to Christianity, eventually saving his marriage.

The message stuck with Welch this time, and though he had some backsliding, he started making his way toward recovery. He said he had to turn down some temptations to make it work, though — Korn signed a $25 million record deal shortly after he left the band.

But today, Welch is sober, and has a new reputation among metal musicians for his beliefs. Gene Simmons once mentioned it to him at a concert: “So, are you over all this Jesus stuff yet?”

Welch said he doesn’t let it bother him, and that it’s almost a badge of honor. “That guy (Simmons) knows me as the Jesus Guy, even if he’s kind of mocking,” he said.

His career has turned around, too. Korn has reunited, all sober, and another member is Christian as well. Besides his former band, Welch works with another musical project, Love and Death, and is the author of multiple books, including “Stronger: Forty Days of Metal and Spirituality.”

Kurt Faust, founder and president of STEP UP (Success Through Education and Positive Coaching), was instrumental in bringing Welch to Midland. Faust said he’s always been a “metalhead,” even when he was a counselor at H.H. Dow High School.

“But I drew the line at death metal,” Faust said, “because as a counselor I could see the negative impact it was making on kids — and Korn was under that line.”

Since Welch’s direction change, though, he’s become the kind of person Faust wanted to bring to Midland.

“There are a lot of Brians in this town,” Faust said — a lot of people who are struggling and could use a role model like Welch.

Nonetheless, Faust said he was nervous about the event. “It’s an incredible risk,” he said, “because it’s a very conservative community.”

The audience, about 200 strong, didn’t seem to mind.

Dave Vercellino, associate pastor at New Life Vineyard Church in Midland, said he was impressed by Welch’s story.

“It gives us all hope,” he said, that no matter how bad the choice we make might be, we can still turn our lives around.

Sylvia Claes, 19, was brought by her friend, who wanted to expose her to Christianity.

“I liked how real his story was,” Claes said,” like he said at the beginning, you can tell when people are being phony.”

Though the next few days and weeks will keep him in Los Angeles shooting music videos with Korn, Welch can’t reliably predict where he’ll be in the long term. Two short years ago, he would have never placed himself where he is now.

As far as speaking, Welch said he does it to help other people who are in the dark like he was — “people who are stuck.”

“It’s nothing about me,” Welch said.

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