"Books are fun, but they're very hard; they're draining," Brian 'Head' Welch tells MusicRadar in reference to his latest tome, With My Eyes Wide Open: Miracles And Mistakes On My Way Back To Korn.
He continues: “It's a mixture of laughter and sadness and just heaviness. I like it, though - it's like cleaning out your closet. I share a lot of stuff in the book. That's the way to help people in life, to share your difficulties. You share what you've overcome, and I've overcome a lot.”
Indeed he has. Facing addiction, the Korn guitarist walked away from the metal pioneers in 2005, before triumphantly returning to the band, clean and sober, in 2013. While from the outside that looked to have spelled the end of his troubles, his new work reveals that was sadly not the case. In fact, the book begins with the guitarist in the thick of what he describes as the hardest time of his life, as his daughter faced her own personal demons.
It's a mixture of laughter and sadness and just heaviness
“My daughter was slicing up her arms,” Head explains. “I took her to a counsellor. I tried to do everything I could and I was thinking about backing away from Korn because she's my kid and she was hurting.
“I spoke to a few people and we came to the conclusion that it was good for us to separate. She needed females in her life and she had been just with Dad for the last eight or nine years. She needed female help and support, because guys are not good with emotional stuff.
“Through counselling I realised that was the right thing to do. I'm glad I did because I then saw everything come back together with Korn, and I watched my daughter come back together. Even in that first year, she started flourishing.
I saw everything come back together with Korn, and I watched my daughter come back together
“It was a gut-wrenching thing to do, but I knew it was best for her. I knew that I couldn't do it all myself. I tried, but I just couldn't and I knew that I needed help. Man, being a parent is the hardest job you'll ever love.”
Today Head admits how difficult a decision that was, but he's proud to say it was the correct choice. That much is shown by the fact that he's driving to visit his daughter when he picks up MusicRadar's call. Fittingly for a man that has enjoyed and endured more world-shifting moments that most, we discuss with him the 10 records that changed his life.
With My Eyes Wide Open: Miracles and Mistakes On My Way Back To Korn is out on 17 May via Nelson Books.
1. Queen - The Game (1980)
"The very first record that I got into was Queen - it was the The Game record.
"I heard Another One Bites The Dust - that wasn't my favourite song from that record, but I heard a drum roll and my God, that sound. I wanted to learn to make that sound, whatever the hell it was.
"I found out it was the drums, and that's what I wanted to do. But my dad talked me into playing guitar. My dad said to me, 'Do you want to carry around a drum set or just a guitar?' I was a lazy kid, so I went for the guitar!
"I didn't get much further with Queen, to be honest. My mom and dad bought that album, and I just heard it one day. I didn't get into Queen like I did other bands like AC/DC."
2. AC/DC - Back In Black (1980)
"That was definitely the album that made me understand that I wanted to play guitar more than anything. That solidified everything for me.
“That whole record is incredible. I love Back In Black, obviously, and Hells Bells, Rock And Roll Ain't Noise Pollution, the list goes on and on. You Shook Me All Night Long is great as well. Who knew when I was 10 years old that album would be such a classic album all these years later.”
3. Iron Maiden - The Number Of The Beast (1982)
“The first track, with the spoken intro, that was so cool. I was listening to it going, 'Oh my gosh, this is scary!'
“The song kicks in and Bruce's voice just got me. I loved the imagery as well, and the album covers and Eddie. It was the whole package. I loved the guitars and the guitar solos. A great band and they're still doing it now, that is just insane.”
4. Mötley Crüe - Shout At The Devil (1983)
“I loved their whole look. I didn't necessarily like Mick Mars' guitar as much as some of the other bands around at that time, but it was the whole look and style of them that I really liked.
“I liked that every person in the band at that time had their own thing going on. It was like they were all a different character. When you're a little kid growing up, you love superhero characters and that's how they were. No other bands around at that time were doing that, all having their own distinct character.”
5. Metallica - Master Of Puppets (1986)
“Here, I'm switching over to the harder stuff. I had heard some thrash metal before this and it was good, but it didn't have the songs; it just had the aggression.
“Metallica had a lot more melody than the other thrash bands at the time. They had incredible song structures and you can really hear the passion coming through in the music. You could feel it. It was more than just thrash. They had this classical edge to them. James Hetfield's voice is just amazing on that album - the melodies were incredible.
“It starts with Battery, you hear that and go, 'What the heck kind of song is that?!' The song Master Of Puppets as well, the whole breakdown in the middle and how it comes back, you thought, 'These guys are either on drugs or they're good mathematicians!' The way they counted back in was just insanity.”
6. Faith No More - The Real Thing (1989)
“It took me a while to get into Faith No More - my friends all got into Faith No More before I did. The original singer just wasn't my type of vibe.
“I saw Faith No More with Mike Patton before they had even announced that Mike Patton had joined. The guys in Korn were huge fans, and they were going to see Faith No More, so I went along.
“At that show, it was Mike Patton singing. When we got home, Munky and Fieldy were like, 'Man, I didn't like that new singer; I miss the other guy.' I was saying, 'No, guys, he was great!'
“I went home with that song The Real Thing in my head, with Mike Patton rapping. When I got that album, there were a lot of thrash elements in there with a lot of guitars, but then he had all these cool melodies.
“Metallica had that classical edge and the breakdowns, and Faith No More had that too with the keyboards - there was a lot going on and a lot of melody. It was dark and atmospheric and beautiful in a way. I really love beauty mixed in with darkness.”
7. Nirvana - Nevermind (1991)
“I loved Nirvana. They had the attitude of punk rock, they didn't care what they looked like, they didn't care what they wore. Their hair was just in their face not brushed, no make-up.
“After all the stuff I liked growing up like Mötley Crüe, a lot of the glam-rock kind of bands were trying so hard, and Nirvana came along and just did not care.
“But, again, it comes back to melody - they had melody. I'm a big melody guy, and I love energy combined with melody, and they had that. That album changed my way of thinking with what heavier rock music could be. From there, I got into alternative music.”
8. Alice In Chains - Facelift (1990)
“I love the slower groove thing that Alice In Chains had going on. I love the song Man In A Box. Layne's voice was just incredible - he was the whole package.
"I loved them because they were just straggly. Much like Nirvana, they had the music and they just brought it - they didn't care what they looked like.”
9. Pantera - Vulgar Display Of Power (1992)
“I think the biggest record for Korn that we were listening to around the time that we made our first record was Vulgar Display Of Power by Pantera. That record was so raw, but it was also produced so well. The heavy on that record really sounded heavy.
“Then, when Korn made our first album, I liked that it was dry and raw but at the same time I wondered if it didn't sound as produced as it needed to be because it was so organic. I was worried about that, but then it came out and slowly started doing well.
“At that point, I realised that we had created a sound with Ross Robinson that was unique. But still, I had no idea what that record would go on to do.”
10. Korn - The Paradigm Shift (2013) and beyond
"Being back in Korn is just incredible. Being back in the band for the Paradigm Shift was awesome. It meant so much to me to be back in the band and I enjoyed making that album - it was a slightly different sound for Korn.
"But then nothing satisfies me more than this new record that we're doing right now, though. It feels like who we are, but it feels like on this record we're working on now, it feels like we've come back to what Korn started out as.
"There's a lot of aggression on this new album. We just had fun, we sat down together in a studio and jammed out for six to eight hours a day. We just wrote together in the studio. It feels like we're at a really great point in our career. It just feels like Korn."