The veteran axeman for Korn and the architect of Love and Death explains the soundtrack that navigated his creative path.
There are great guitarists, then there are innovators.
Brian ‘Head’ Welch is among the lofty company of working musicians that has earned his rank as both. As one half of the guitar tandem in Korn, Head along with James ‘Munky’ Shaffer changed the landscape of heavy music in the mid-90’s and solidified their place as proper pioneers, outside the box creators that added something new, something redefining to the culture.
Nearly some three decades later, Head continues his prolific streak of contribution, both with his work with his primary project, and with his long-running passion project in Love and Death. Functioning as a creative tangent, the band in reality started as more of a solo effort for Head, debuting with the Chemicals EP in 2012.
Shortly thereafter, Head launched a proper introduction with the debut LP, Between Here and Lost, an album that not only earned high-praise critically and commercially, but asserted Head’s prowess as a songwriter in his own right. Love and Death broke new ground for Head, turning heads on its own merit and resonating with a fanbase that embraced someone familiar doing something new.
Some eight years later, the world would find itself in a pause that still remains difficult to comprehend. Up-ended by a global pandemic that not only altered life as everyone had known it, but quite literally brought the world to a screeching halt. With no touring obligations to fulfill and plenty of time on his hands, Head found himself ready to reactivate his secondary outlet to work out the creativity that is always bubbling just beneath the surface.
Enlisting longtime collaborator Jasen Ruach of Breaking Benjamin and rounding out the ensemble with JR Bareis and Isaiah Perez, Head and company completed the band’s sophomore LP, Perfectly Preserved, nearly a decade after the project first emerged. Since the announcement of the project and the confirmation of the band’s February 12th release date, the singles showcased from the album, “Down,” “White Flag,” and the most recent, “The Hunter” have gone on to tally more than a million streams in a matter of a few months.
With a body of work that includes a myriad of milestones and accolades the likes of which few recording artists will ever enjoy, Head is just days away from beginning a new chapter his decorated career. The multi-platinum, award-winning, genre-redefining pillar of heavy music will again reintroduce himself as Love and Death unveil their labor of creative love in Perfectly Preserved, a compelling testament to Head’s inability to rest on his laurels.
With the album release and the global streaming event on the horizon, Head shared some of the music that steered his creative course that ultimately led him here. The ten album collection provides a chronological roadmap that navigated Head towards becoming the creative force that not only changed the game, but continues to lead the charge.
These are the ten albums that changed Brian ‘Head’ Welch’s life.
AC/DC – Back In Black
Head – I can remember my mom bought me the album and I didn’t even ask for it. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. AC/DC went from having an amazing frontman like Bon Scott and then Brian Johnson comes in and he’s just got this, he’s just really raspy. What band could lose a frontman like Bon Scott and come back the way they did on this album?
Iron Maiden – The Number of the Beast
Head – You hear that intro, ‘Woe to you, oh earth and sea
For the Devil sends the beast with wrath’ and then the guitar comes in. It’s classic. Plus Bruce Dickinson can still hit those notes. You know how you hear older singers that can’t hit those notes like they used to? Dickinson might have gotten older but he can still hit those notes AND he’s a pilot!
Ozzy Osbourne – Blizzard of Ozz
Head – Randy Rhoads had such an influence on me. That tone, his tone is timeless. Something about it is just pleasant to hear. Then you have Ozzy’s voice… He went from Sabbath to going solo and becoming more shocking.
Mötley Crüe – Shout At The Devil
Head – My metal classroom growing up was kind of like this. For style, it was AC/DC. For songwriting, it was Ozzy. For character, it had to be Mötley Crüe.
This one time we played a show with Sixx A.M. and I’m with Fieldy he tells Nikki Sixx he goes, ‘I used to draw you when I was twelve” (laughs).
Metallica – Master of Puppets
Head – So at the time I was into glam but I can remember this kid at the drugstore, Thrifty drugstore (which Head agrees has the best ice cream), this metal kid says to me, ‘Hey, you into Master of Puppets?’ I hadn’t heard the record yet but when I did it was this real, deep, intense music that took songwriting to a whole new level. Who had wrote a song like Master of Puppets up until that point? Nobody. The melody that is in Master of Puppets, it’s almost classical, orchestral.
Faith No More – The Real Thing
Head – There is a depth of songwriting, and that minor key in this album that just makes it so unique. The rapping wasn’t my favorite but it didn’t have that metal vibe all the time and that made it dynamic. This record is just a masterpiece.
Nine Inch Nails – Pretty Hate Machine
Head – Trent has this vocal style that goes from sharp to almost kind of whispery, it would almost feel like he was in the room with you singing when you would listen to this record. This album really just introduced the world to a whole new kind of heavy.
Alice In Chains – Dirt
Head – This album really changed all of our lives. It took the guys from funk brought them into the dark side. Before this album, the guys were into Red Hot Chili Peppers and Fieldy wanted to be Flea. But a little after I joined Korn, they had only being toying with 7-string guitars but we switched not long after that and really birthed Korn’s sound.
Fieldy and I had this job where we delivered furniture to rich people and we would ride around listening to KNAC and they would play “Angry Chair”. That just changed heavy music… “Would?” is still one of my favorite songs.
Rage Against The Machine – Self-titled
Head – You know, the bluesy style was not my favorite. I liked darker music but when you heard Zack do that build up, “I think I heard a shot,” there was nothing else like it. I actually saw Rage Against Machine in Tijuana, MX and I’ve never been to a show that was so chaotic. Some guy landed on my neck, it was the most exciting live show I had ever been to. Rage influenced Korn’s live show like no other band has.
Tool – Undertow
Head – I look at it like this, without these bands we wouldn’t have had the ingredients to make what we did with Korn. Tool was definitely one of those bands. They found that something special that people had seen glimpses of before this album on Undertow. To this day if you play “Sober” any crowd loses their mind. This album dropped in 1993 and Korn was really just getting started right at the time. This album had a big impact.
Perfectly Preserved from Love and Death arrives February 12th on Earache Records. Pre-order the album – HERE
Watch Love and Death celebrate the release of their latest album with their global streaming event also set for February 12th. The band will perform the album along with special guests. Tickets can be purchased – HERE