It’s been four years since guitarist Brian “Head” Welch reunited with Korn after nearly a decade apart. In the latest installment of Rolling Stone’s “Had to Be There” series, he explains how it felt and what happened onstage the first time they played together again.
Head and the rest of the group had split in 2005. Korn’s members have never concealed the personal trauma that inspires their songs from their fans, so it was no surprise when he announced he was leaving the band to deal with an addiction to methamphetamine. He used his time away to get clean, find God and be a father. He thought he’d never play with the pioneering nu-metal group again but circumstance brought him back to them at the Carolina Rebellion festival in 2012.
Welch, at the time, was playing with his band Love and Death but attended the fest with P.O.D., whom he was on tour with. He decided to say hi to Korn backstage and ended up speaking with guitarist James “Munky” Shaffer for the first time in seven years and was pleased to learn that his former bandmates were sober and in good places in their lives.
Five minutes before they were to go onstage, Munky asked Head if he would join them during the encore to play the group’s breakthrough single “Blind.” Even though he felt conflicted, the guitarist decided to do it. In the video above, he explains what happened when he finally got onstage.
Head officially reunited with the group in 2013, but not before asking his daughter’s permission. “When I wasn’t in the band, Korn management hit me up every year or two asking me to rejoin,” Head told Rolling Stone earlier this year. “I would do book signings, and they would send someone to say, ‘Hey, it would be cool to have you back one day.’ My daughter would be here, and at 8, 9, 10 years old, she would say, ‘No way, Dad. You can’t go back to that band.’ So when I did talk to her about it, it wasn’t like, ‘Jennea, can I go back to Korn?’ It was like, ‘How do you feel about this?’ She was like, ‘I think it’s awesome. Those are your brothers, and you grew up with them. I think that the fans would need you.’ … It was just time. She knew it, and I knew it.”
Head subsequently contributed guitar to the band’s 2013 LP The Paradigm Shift and this year’s recently released The Serenity of Suffering. He and his bandmates will be on tour in the U.K. and Europe through the spring.