Brian “Head” Welch is no stranger to the music industry. Having been a forming member of the multi-platinum band KoRn, Brian’s impact on the world of music is undeniable. Still, there was a certain jubilant energy to him as we chatted about his new band, Love & Death, and their official debut album hitting music stores everywhere and online later this month.
Lee: First off, with the album coming out near the end of this month (which was delayed from it’s original release in November), how exited are you for people to finally get their hands on this album?
Brian: I’m really excited. This is the best stuff I’ve ever done, just because it’s a mixture of everything that I’ve always loved. It’s a lot more melody than I’ve ever been a part of, and it is some of the heaviest stuff I’ve ever done… as far as, one of the songs with Mattie of For Today (“I W8 4U”), it’s the heaviest song I’ve ever done. I’m really pumped up about the album. Whether it sells a bunch or a little bit, I’m just really stoked for it.
Lee: That’s awesome. Are there any tracks that you’re excited in particular for fans to finally hear?
Brian: I would say, I really like “By the Way,” because it’s about losing a loved one. I had a couple old friends pass away last summer, and it was inspired by that. I talk with people on FaceBook and stuff so much where… just last night this lady from Australia was like, “Hey could you throw out some thoughts and prayers for this little kid. He’s five years old and he’s dying and he only has a few hours left until he passes over.” So I deal with people and death a lot, you know? And so, that song is pretty deep for me.
Lee: Some of the tracks on the upcoming album were also on the Chemicals EP. Did they make it onto the full album just because of the high quality or did you just want to make sure they were all there for the official debut? What was the process on that?
Brian: The whole deal was like… we started the whole Love and Death band name… we started in 2012… so the thing was to put out a few tunes on the EP just to get the name a little bit recognized. And then the whole plan was to put some of those songs on the full length, too. So, we did that and we re-did “Whip It.” Devo’s “Whip It.” We changed some things and had Ben Gross mix it. So, yeah, it was the plan all along.
Lee: That’s awesome. I love the “Whip It” cover. I was actually going to ask you on that one, what came into your choice to re-do the “Whip It” song in particular… to cover that song?
Brian: I was just looking for a cover tune and I really wanted a new wave cover from the 80’s. I was open to anything, so I went to Google and I was looking up songs and I saw “Whip It,” and I was like… dude, Devo was just weird. They’re freaky and they’re just weird and I thought that would just be cool to do something Devo. I didn’t see how it would work because it was just so (imitates original Devo riff). It’s just so stupid, kinda.
I was taking a shower the next day and I just heard the riff kinda cut in half, you know half time, with a groove and I was like, “Wow, this could work.” So I went and I laid down a couple rough ideas and out it came.
Lee: That’s awesome. I mean it fits well with your message and everything. Whipping your past life and all that. It’s just a great choice. I love that.
Brian: Thanks man. Yeah, it did. When I took it down and started reading the words, it’s kind of about battling past troubles. I thought the song was just about nothing, because the video is so weird. The one from back in the 80’s. But, it actually has a little message to it, too, which is cool.
Lee: I don’t think the video for that fits anything. They’re like whipping some girl’s clothes off and it’s just so out there.
Brian: Yeah. Totally. That’s Devo for you.
Lee: I keep waiting for someone to do “The Safety Dance.” That song from the 80’s. That song is another one that is just out there, but yet so cool for no good reason.
Brian: I think I looked at that one on a list, too. And I was like “Hmm. I don’t know about that one.” But, I like doing covers. I’m sure I’ll do another one before I’m dead.
Lee: Well, you have my vote for “The Safety Dance” if it ever comes up again.
Brian: Alright, I’ll put that on my list.
Lee: We had a couple of our readers ask about what it was like doing the YouTube auditions to get the band together.
Brian: Well, you know how things are in the world. Everything is internet. Everything is cell phone. Everything is digital. So it was much more convenient. Just like everything else is in our digital world. And you could tell, if somebody has a vibe, to get together. Rather than taking so much time to get people to fly out, I took three guys I thought would really fit out of dozens. And, so, it just made the process a two day process, rather than a couple weeks, or whatever.
It was really cool just to go through and watch all the videos. Some were like… I mean this kid just learned how to play guitar six months ago, what is he sending in a video for? So you had some of those, but it was even fun to watch some of the beginners. You’ve got to give it to them for trying.
Lee: Live the dream one way or another, right? So with those guys coming in on the band, have you found them being influenced by your past work in KoRn? Was that at all even a factor?
Brian: The guys that ended up in the band you mean?
Brian: I’d say… wow… most of them, except for two. And, I’m talking seven guys, because three of them aren’t in the band anymore and then one is new. So, out of all of them that I’ve either played with in the past or I’m playing with now, I’d say all but two were pretty much influenced by KoRn. Not, like, a massive fan for all of them. But, in some way, they were stoked that KoRn was around, because it changed music for them. So, they definitely had to respect that.
Lee: How has this album been different from your solo project, Save Me From Myself?
Brian: The biggest thing is the collaborations, writing, and stuff like that because, the solo album was just that. It was a solo album and I would take some advice and stuff, but mainly it was my call. But, this album was more… you know, I took it in to the producer and I let him really lead and guide me, and all of us. All of the band members wrote something on the album, especially the bass player and the guitar player. They had a few tracks each. Then, I had outside writers I was collaborating with on the vocals and lyrics, too.
So, it was really a collaboration. I love it. I want to do it all the time now, because people hear things that you wouldn’t normally hear. I like that process because it didn’t always work. Sometimes they write something that you’re just like, “I don’t know if that’s going to work,” but it really was a cool process. I’d like to do it a lot more.
Lee: Speaking of guest appearances and collaborations; You’ve worked with quite a few artists in the last year. We spoke with Andrew Schwab of Project 86 and he mentioned your role on his album. How has that been getting to collaborate with people even outside of your own music.
Brian: Yeah, it’s been really cool. It’s fun, you know? I just didn’t do that before. I did that a little bit. I did some tracks on Limp Bizkit’s album and I did some stuff with Ice Cube back in the day. That was about it. I didn’t do a whole lot. So to just really get out there and work with people, full time… some of which I hadn’t even met before. Like, this guy… I met through FaceBook three days ago that wrote a chorus on this new album coming out. I don’t know. That’s the digital age I was talking about. That’s just the way things are now, and I like it. It’s just so different and cool, you know?
Lee: Talk a little bit about how it was to work with Mattie Montgomery of For Today and how that came together.
Brian: I met Mattie, I think in 2010, and I’ve seen him a few times since then. I’ve got his number and we text back and forth a little bit and I was coming up with this song and it was just really heavy… and I heard a scream part for the chorus and as I was recording the rough idea he texted me and said, “Hey man, I was just thinking about you. I wanted to throw this out there… if you ever wanted a guest appearance on your album just let me know.”
This was as I was writing the really heavy vocal part, so I was like “It’s funny you texted me that just now.” I’m writing this thing today and it’s just perfect for you. So, I sent it to him. He actually had it done eight months before the record was done, so he got his thing finished and… actually, it was such a different song when he finished his parts. We edited it and kind of changed it around a lot and it just ended up as it is now. We’re really stoked. It’s really much heavier now than it used to be. He only had a verse and a pre-chorus before, but we put his part on the chorus, so… it was cool.
Lee: Yeah. When he comes in on the “I wait” part where he just bottoms it out. It hit me. The first time I heard that, I was just like, “that is incredible.” I like it.
Brian: Yeah, man. Dude, he’s just got so much power. But, the sucky thing is that, I gotta try to do that live. There’s no way I’m not going to do that song. That’s the only thing that sucks is that I’m going to have to try to do those vocals live.
Lee: Now on the lyrics side of that one (“I W8 4U”), you’ve kinda got the hook of “I wait for you,” but then it sounds towards the end like you’re talking about a regret or sort of like a misgivings sort of thing. Talk a little bit about the lyrics behind that song.
Brian: It’s just about someone really going after someone and loving them and loving them. It’s the process of, like, “Hey, I love you. I”m waiting for you to turn around. I’m waiting for you to come back”, and then when you just fight with yourself. It’s like, “I’m fed up with this. I want this to happen. It’s that fight between having mercy for them and unconditional love, and then being like “get off your ass and do this. Let’s do this.”
Lee: I had several, several people asking KoRn-centric questions. I want to cover your newer stuff, but I figured I would cover some of those. We had some who were sort of on either side of the fence, whether they were asking “are we going to see a full-blown KoRn reunion at some point?”… and some were asking, “why did you even end up on stage with them last year?”… and a few were wondering if Love and Death would be able to incorporate Fieldy as a guest artist… so… with the divergent paths on the KoRn questions there, I’ll just tackle it as one big lump.
Brian: Ok, no problem. So which one’s first?
Lee: Why don’t we start with Fieldy? How’s that been working with him and do you think you’ll get to work with him in the future on one of your projects?
Brian: When did I work with him again, recently?
Lee: No, sorry. Not recently… I think, since Fieldy came to Christ and has written his book… I think people are just sort of putting the puzzle pieces together and thinking that it would be awesome if Brian and Fieldy got to work together again.
Brian: Yeah. It’s cool. We did a thing for Chi from the Deaftones, who was in a bad car accident. He sent me some tracks and I was working with him on that. So that was cool. We’ve talked about it, but we’ve just been so busy that we never have. You know, possibly. The KoRn stuff just sort of happened. I ended up at that show with P.O.D., just to hang out. And I just thought I was going to hang out and let my daughter see all the bands there, but it was just crazy how I ended up on the stage.
And, I felt all this love with the fans. People were crying. People, close friends that we knew, fans were crying. It was like, “this is crazy.” This is the right time to do some reconnection. Before, I always thought… because everybody was just so weird about it… and I was too… I was just like, “I don’t want to ever go back.” That’s what I thought. But I guess when the time is right and people change, there’s a time for everything.
When they asked me to do that song with them, I was like, “Let’s do it!” And when I felt that, they hit me up about a month later and asked me to do a couple shows, and I was like, “Alright.” I actually thought about it and prayed about it and I felt nothing but peace. So, I called them back and said, “What would you say about this?”
We agreed to the terms. If I had something that I was concerned about, they said, “yeah, no problem. We’ll make that work.” And so, everyone agreed to the separate terms and it was green-lit and here I am.
Lee: Has it been hard? Some of the KoRn tracks… you mentioned in your “I Am Second” video, “A.D.I.D.A.S.”… how has it been going back and playing some of those songs that have a real different message than what you’re about now?
Brian: Well, the thing is… my daughter was five years old back then. She’s grown up now. She’s gonna be fifteen in a few months. And it’s different now. Part of the agreement was that I don’t have to play any of the songs that I don’t want to from back in the day. So, it’s really cool that we’re at this place. We’re just gonna go slow and see what happens. I’m not gonna be all weird about it. I’m not gonna be like, “That song has that word in it.” But, there’s been a couple… I don’t know. We’ll just see what happens.
To me, it’s like… I don’t judge nobody. People change. My daughter is older. The thing with KoRn is… the only thing they do is cuss. No one does drugs anymore. No one drinks. Everyone’s married happily and it’s not a big orgy backstage anymore. I go out with Christian bands a lot and all those bands cuss. So, what’s the difference? The only difference is that the Christian bands don’t cuss from stage.
To me, this is meant to be, and I’m just going with it. I’m not uptight about stuff like that.
Lee: I was actually going to ask about something like that. From our site and from several of the (other) Christian based sites, whenever P.O.D.’s new album came out and there was that one track that had the F-Word on it… a lot of people got up in arms, a lot of people were excited about the fact that they were reaching a different crowd… what’s your take on, not only that album, but that aspect of the market in general?
Brian: I’m sorry, could you say it one more time?
Lee: Oh yeah, sorry. With that idea of being in the Christian market, or even just being in the music market with people knowing what you stand for… what’s your take on the cussing and that kind of lifestyle? Do you see it as standing in a glass house with people throwing rocks? Sorry, I’m not being totally clear, and I apologize.
Brian: No, no. That’s cool. When you’re a Christian, Christ actually lives in you. It’s a real thing. It’s a spiritual thing. It says in the Bible that God is a Spirit. And He comes to live with your spirit, so your body is actually a house that God lives in. And, it’s a lot by faith. You try to live right, you try to talk right, so, I get it. And, you know I do that, and everything. That’s my personal life. I screw up every day.
The cool thing is, Christ died for everything. So everything is forgiven. All you do is try your best, but some people get really uptight about it. You know, I think I was at that point, too. They just want to honor Christ. They mean well, but it just comes off a little like, “Look we’re not where you are. We don’t believe what you believe”… the people in the world who don’t have religion, and it’s like… you can’t look down on them or not want to be around them just because they’re like that. Because, they don’t get it. They don’t want to get it. Some of them hate God. What we’re called to do is not hate anybody back.
To me, I think it’s a new day. It’s not like… I just think that God loves everybody and He doesn’t want to be separated from people. He also doesn’t want us to be all obnoxious and preaching in people’s faces all the time, too. What does that do? It just makes people pissed off, you know? I don’t know…
Lee: That’s a perfect segue, if you don’t mind talking about the Whosoever movement for a moment. How has your involvement in the Whosoevers influence what’s happening in your music, your concerts, your daily life?
Brian: It’s impacting it a lot. I think everything I do in reaching out to people that were sinking in the world, like I was, is definitely impacting my life. That’s what my life is all about; just helping people, you know? And, I love music and I love connecting with people that way, too. But the deep down reason that I breathe now is just to help people in some way. Whether they like the music or whether they get stopped from killing themselves or they get off drugs… it’s just in some way, I like to help them. And so, the Whosoevers is a big part of that.
But, the crazy thing is that we only do like three or four things a year with the Whosoevers. It’s more a media thing than… like we’re together all the time. Hopefully in the future there’s going to be a Whosoevers tour and it’d be cool to start something up. Either, a big concert or a yearly tour like the Warped tour or something. That would be awesome.
Lee: That’d be amazing.
Brian: So, we’re hoping to do that. We’re stoked with what’s been going on with it. It’s just so… I don’t know, it’s just so “come as you are.” We’re trying not to be churchy at all. It’s just come as you are, if you want to escape from all this crap in the world. It’s a “come hang with us” type of thing.
Lee: I really see the Whosoever thing as a battle cry. Like, on my FaceBook, I’ve been Lee “Whosoever” Brown for over a year. I was with Manafest a month ago and he was wearing the Whosoever shirt. I was at a concert a year or so ago with Write This Down and Blindside and they (WTD) were sporting Whosoever gear. It’s really something that I feel brings believers together in a way that maybe the Church has failed to at some points. And, you know, I’m a pastor so I’m saying that with a great…like, that’s just exciting.
Brian: Yeah. You know, that’s what we were trying to do. Exactly what you just said. It’s trying to bring people all together. It’s one body. What did Jesus pray right before He (went) to heaven? He was like, “…that all of them would be one, Father, just as You are Me and I am You.” That all of us could be One. And so, that’s the whole thing with the Whosoevers.
I’ve had people come up to me and say… and they’re wearing Whosoever shirts… and they’re like, “I thought you guys were horrible. I didn’t understand it.” So we’re even bringing religious people in that thought that we were bad and evil. So, that’s good stuff. That’s kind of like saving Church people. You know what I mean? Jesus was pissed at the Church people more than He was anybody that was out prostituting or whatever. They need to come into a place where it’s all One, too. It’s a really cool thing. That’s what I love about it. Thanks for supporting it. Because it’s not supporting us, it’s supporting the whole Kingdom thing, you know?
Lee: With your influence in the Whosoevers, how do you feel your influence now has been different from when you were influencing bands… influencing people as a member of KoRn?
Brian: It’s all different now. Even the KoRn stuff that I do, could be… just me being there with them and doing stuff, is saying something. Without even using words. I think someone said once before… someone from a couple hundred years ago said, “Go preach the Gospel and use words if necessary” (Lee’s note: That saying is typically attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, though he may not actually have said it.). Just being there and loving on people is saying something to them. I don’t know. I’m so stoked with the timing of my life right now. There’s a lot of difficult personal things I’m going through, but it’s just really exciting to see what God’s up to.
Lee: You mentioned, earlier, and on your “I Am Second” video you talk about your daughter seeing you at your lowest point… now that you’re living life they way you are now… what changes are you seeing in her life as she’s grown with this… new dad… kinda.
Brian: Yeah she, uh… oh man, where do I start with her? It’s awesome because she sort of grabbed hold of everything when she was younger, but now she’s kind of… she’s seen the corruption in it, too. She’s seen how people get made fun of, so she’s kinda trying to figure out her faith, and she… somedays doesn’t want nothing to do with it and some days… she embraces it. It’s just her. She’s grown up. She’s gonna be fifteen this year, like I said, and she’s just finding herself. But she has that foundation, so it’s all good.
Lee: So, I always close out the interviews with just a silly question that’s sort of just fun to end it out with… but, I’ve just gotta ask it. Who’s better, Batman or Superman?
Brian: Superman, all the way. And, everybody would say it I think, because he can fly. Who wants a cool car? Any man on earth can have a cool car and do what Batman does, but Superman can fly everywhere. Everyone wants to fly. Superman all the way.
Lee: That’s awesome. You say everybody, but I think, actually, you’re the first one. Everybody’s said Batman, and I’ve said, “nah,” ’cause I’m a Superman guy myself.
Brian: People say Batman? Why? Because he just looks cooler?
Lee: You know. Whenever I ask that question… originally it was just kind of a joke. Whenever I was a kid and I was at this Skillet show, my friends and I were having this dorky debate, like, “Hey, who’s better?” And so, I just walked up to John Cooper from Skillet and said, “You’ve gotta decide this for us. Who’s better, Superman or Batman?” And he was like, “Dude, I’m a Batman guy.” And I was like, “Crud. That didn’t work at all.” ‘Cause I figured, he’d be on my side.
So when I started getting this gig where I started meeting with people and doing reviews I just started asking it. And the more I started asking it, the more I realized that the question… it’s stupid… but, it really reveals a lot. Like, Andrew Schwab, you know from Project 86, I asked him and he answered, “Which Batman? Which Superman?” And that’s kind of his personality and nature, he’s really questioning and introspective and insightful. When I asked KJ-52 that question, he was like, “Well Batman can’t even move his head…” You know, he’s just kind of more out there and more funny, so I started seeing ties to who people are and how they process life just based on that single stupid question. So, it’s been fun.
Brian: That’s pretty cool man. So, you’ve had that for years, or what?
Lee: I actually started with the site in April. So that’s just kinda been my signature to close it out. The more I ask it the more I start to see how maybe it’s not as goofy a question as I thought it was initially.
Brian: Yeah… I just don’t understand why people don’t want to fly. Batman, you could go a few places… or you can fly everywhere. It’s a no brainer. I’m saying it… with Superman, you can fly everywhere, it’s a no brainer.
After chatting with Brian I got the chance to pray with him and wish him well on his ministry and his music. With the level of influence that not only Brian, but all of the Whosoever guys, and all the bands connected to that movement have, I hope that we all would pray for them and for their ministries. Love them or hate on them, these guys are really on the front lines of a great spiritual war.
Be sure to check out Love and Death’s debut full length album Between Here and Lost when it drops later this month. Just a hint at the gist of the upcoming review: You won’t miss whatever money you spend on this awesome album.