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In the late 1990s, Korn ruled the pop charts with despairing nu-metal music full of obscene, self-destructive lyrics. But in 2004, guitarist Brian "Head" Welch found himself at a crossroads, leaving the band and embracing Christ. He talked with us about his darkest days, his encounter with God and the little girl who may have saved his life.

Was leaving Korn a spiritual decision?
There was more than one reason I left that band. I wasn't into the music style and the direction they were going. The realness left a little bit, and the lyrics weren't all written by Korn members, which I didn't like. [But] one reason I'm not in the band anymore is that it's not God's plan for my life to be doing that.

The primary factor was your young daughter, Jennea, wasn't it?
She was a big influence, such a pure, beautiful little girl. I would bring her on the road with me and see her getting corrupted by all the stuff that was going on. I'd try to hide it from her, but I couldn't. I was hooked on drugs, going into the bathroom snorting lines. Everyone's cussing, drinking and smoking joints. I kept trying to ditch her to other people, like, "Raise my kid, I'm going to party." Then I'd come home strung out or hung over. I would want to be a good dad so bad, but I was so tired and selfish.

In your book, Save Me From Myself, you mention being disturbed to hear her singing a Korn song.
She was 5 years old, and I'm sitting there watching her sing "All day I dream about sex" [from the song "A.D.I.D.A.S."]. That's not right. I don't care if she didn't know what she was singing. It still freaked me out. It's just not right for her to see her dad strung out on drugs, and it's not right for her to sing that song. It's like I was stealing her childhood or something, you know?

Sure, but what about all the other Jenneas in the world who were into Korn's music? What about their innocence?
I didn't see that then. I didn't think about other people's kids. I figured parents would take care of their kids. When you don't have the Spirit of God you don't think about others; you just worry about yourself.

With all of the entertainment targeting teens, which medium is most powerful?
I think it's still music. Video games and stuff like that you can play and it's a game—you turn into a robot. But music takes your emotions and your mind and it can change things and stir up things inside of you. It's really spiritual, putting music and words together.

Let's talk about your conversion. How did God get your attention?
The last two years I was in Korn I partied non-stop and started doing speed every day. I got so addicted that I got scared. I tried to go to rehab, but that didn't work. No one could help me. Then I ended up seeing if Jesus was real, and He instantly took the drugs away. He revealed Himself to me and gave me the strength. Once I figured that out, I knew I was accountable to God.

Who introduced you to the Lord?
All kinds of people had been asking me to go to different churches. I was just surrounded by Christians. One day I hooked up with these guys I was doing real estate with, and they invited me to their church. The pastor spoke about seeking first the kingdom of God, and all things and His righteousness will be given to you. I went home, sat down in my closet and railed out all these lines. I started snorting them and said, "Jesus, take this stuff from me. I can't even quit. I want to quit so bad for my kid." A friend helped me throw all my stuff away. A week later I was just sitting at my computer, and I had this supernatural experience—an overwhelming sense of love not of this world—and I knew it was God. I changed my life right then.

If you could tell teenagers one thing, what would it be?
I had everything in the world handed to me. I got to experience the top. Kids dream of becoming rock stars. I got it. It happened to me. I was a normal teen who had a hard time growing up and just happened to fall into this band that became huge. But if I compare it to my relationship with Christ and the destiny God has for me, it doesn't even compare to being with God. Anything you can gain from the world, if you aren't using it for God, it's just a waste of time. There's no purpose, no reason.

Is music part of your new calling?
When I first got saved I was writing music that was really soft. I liked pleasant styles and wanted to chill out a little bit. Then one day I had this song and I just started screaming on it, and it came out awesome. So I felt like God was leading me to go back there. My music is real. It's about my experiences. It's genuine, really heavy rock music.

Published July 2007