“Happily Ever After” is a cool name for a rock album and how most fairy-tales end, but don’t look for it in life, or at least not in the life of Korn guitarist Brian “Head” Welch.
Not yet anyway.
Welch has been criticized relentlessly, and from all over the spectrum, first for being too Christian and then for not being Christian enough.
Fans were livid with Welch’s embrace of his faith and much-publicized exit from Korn in 2005, but Welch’s reunion with the band in 2012 prompted criticism from some within his faith that he had turned his back on his religious principles.
Through it all, Welch has been savvy enough to tell his own story, first in the 2007 memoir, “Save Me From Myself,” which told of his departure from Korn and offered a frank account of his struggles with addiction, anger and depression.
His latest book, “With My Eyes Wide Open” — due out Tuesday — explores the aftermath of the choices made in the first book: the financial missteps, the professional toll and the turmoil in his personal life, especially the deteriorating relationship with his teenage daughter, Jennea, recounted in the last few chapters.
Acclimating to the real world isn’t easy for someone who spent most of his life in a successful rock band. As Welch details in his book, long hair and tattoos are expected in the rock world, but they might turn some heads in the carpool lane, especially if Dad is driving a lifted Hummer with red flames on the side.
But Welch, even when reliving the traumatic moments, mostly keeps things in perspective: “One bad day didn’t mean I was going in the wrong direction. It just meant I was having a bad day.”
Ever the trouper, Welch answered our questions while at a dentist appointment in Nashville, where he now lives.
What made you decide to write another book; that this was the right time to write another one?
Welch: I didn’t have an agenda to write the first book, you know? It just kind of happened. My manager (at the time) came to me with the idea, and I was like, there was so much controversy with me leaving Korn I’m just going to get it all out there. And then I went back to Korn and there was all this controversy again!
My new manager’s friend is high up in the book industry as a book agent, and he told me, “I’ve been talking to him, you know we do barbecues and stuff, and he thinks we can get a deal no problem, and I think it would be good to let people know (what you’re doing) just like you did in your first book about leaving Korn.”
You went really in-depth when it came to describing your daughter’s struggles and the struggles you had with each other. Did you both discuss how far it would go and were there lines that couldn’t be crossed and talked about?
Welch: I got permission from her and we have a counselor/friend who has been there for the last few years and helped me raise her, so I got counseled from her. There were a couple of things that she wanted taken out that were more personal to her, but it didn’t affect the story. I pretty much knew the line and I just wrote what I felt from my heart and I did pretty good because she edited out very little.
A lot of the tension in the book seems to come from your frustrations as a dad over how much time your daughter was spending on social media, in contact with friends you feel were not good for her. In your view, is there such a thing as a manageable way for social media to be used responsibly?
Welch: Totally! I think it’s good to keep up with people, but I think — it depends on the person — but I think it’s healthy to get on there a few times a week, not for hours at a time every day. That stuff can suck us in, so I think it’s good that we set all the digital stuff — the phones, the iPad, the computer and all that — and put them down and function how we’re created to function.
Has the band read the book?
Welch: No. Not yet.
At one point, you say your faith was exploited and manipulated by someone. Is there a point where complete devotion can cross over into irresponsibility?
Welch: Totally. I was irresponsible (financially) and I’m kind of poking fun at myself and telling it like it was. I was a religious fanatic in the beginning, (and) it kind of looks like foolishness, but I’m kind of admitting that. In some places I read (in the book), it felt like I was defending it, and in other places I just threw it out there that I wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer, you know? I think there’s a good balance and I’m just being honest.
But, you know, faith is a new way of living. Before, I was miserable and on drugs and rich, and when I found my true self, I was really irresponsible with money. I was an idiot with money, but I had this thing underneath that was saying “I want to see what would happen if I lost everything.” There was something in me that wanted to see that I would be okay even if everything crumbled in my life. Something inside me wanted to see, wanted to experience, seeing it all work out anyway. It wasn’t me purposefully trying to ruin my life, but I’m glad I went through it because I got to see that everything is okay.
Do you enjoy the writing process?
Welch: I do enjoy it. It’s therapeutic, it’s peaceful and it is a lot of work. Nothing that you do that means anything I guess is really easy usually, but i think the next one I write won’t be about my life as much as maybe a topic I enjoy like spirituality.
What do you hope the book accomplishes?
Welch: I would really like it if people were touched (by it) in some way. There is an epidemic with a lot of teens on social media, the drama and the hatred and bullying, all of that stuff, and you see it on the news a lot. Kids killing themselves from all that; the self-harm, the depression and suicide. I would really hope to help some kids. The main thing (I hope is) that people would open the eyes of their heart to the Creator that loves them and just wants a relationship with them. But it could be for rock fans too; what goes on behind the scenes with Korn. I would love the deeper things because I want to help people, that’s my goal in life, but whatever people get out of it is fine.
Any news on Korn?
Welch: We are finishing some songs for the new Korn record. We have an announcement coming out pretty soon with the producer that we’re working with, and new record label and management things. The new record just with me and Munky being back together, we’ve had three years to tour and jam together and so we really came together and focused heavily on guitars on this record. So it’s going to be a guitar-heavy Korn record and it sounds … I believe what the true fans have been waiting for for a long time. I just feel like that they’re going to be really satisfied and excited about this album. We are pumped.