By Allison Stewart Special to the Tribune11:56 a.m. CDT, August 30, 2012

When Brian “Head” Welch left his job as the guitarist for nu-metal pioneer Korn back in 2005, it wasn’t under the best of circumstances. He’d shaken his addiction to drugs (mostly meth and Xanax), found God (mostly Christian, but nondenominational), and, flush with the zeal of the newly converted, well, he said some things. There were complaints about his bandmates, about touring, about how life in Korn “was a little too crude for me.”

Welch’s departure kicked off years of mutual public insults, financial squabbling and tentative attempts at reconciliation. “I did act like an idiot,” admits Welch, 42. “I said stuff. I didn’t have any wisdom. I was in a shell before. I wore a mask. I just wanted to let everything out, what I was going through.”

This is all newly relevant because Welch finally rejoined Korn onstage in May, at a show in North Carolina. It was only for one night, for part of a set, but he liked it. “I was just going to the concert,” Welch recalls. “I didn’t tell anybody I was going until less than 24 hours before. I didn’t want people to stir up stuff. I just wanted to come and hang out. I finally texted the guys. I was like, ‘Hey, I’m coming.’ It just kind of fell into place. I’m glad it happened. Sometimes I put walls up too much, you know? … I just felt the love. It was a confirmation to me that I was supposed to be there. It was like, this is really good.”

Welch’s new band, Love and Death, recently released an EP, “Chemicals,” and he has a side career speaking at churches (he’ll be at the New Pointe Church in Hebron, Ind., on Saturday). He’s vague about plans, if indeed there are any, to rejoin Korn (“Who’s to say what will happen in the future?”), but Welch is beginning to realize that life on his own as a first-time frontman is overrated. “Once you get there and do it, you kind of wonder why you’re doing it. You take on all the stress, and there’s so much pressure. I can’t hide anymore like I used to. It’s really different, but I felt like I’m supposed to be doing it. It’s not my favorite thing to do.”

Welch was one of Korn’s founding members. When he left, near the height of the band’s success and during the early days of his life as a Christian, it was as if he left behind everything he knew. Everyone from his old life treated him as if he were an alien. “They all did, the fans and everybody,” he says. “When you have a drastic change like I did … I made a lot of people freak out. My family thought I was being brainwashed. Now that I’ve come back to the earth, I think everyone’s like, OK, cool. He’s back to normal. He’s like a better version of what he used to be.”

In the years since his departure, Welch has released a solo album and a best-selling memoir (“Save Me From Myself: How I Found God, Quit Korn, Kicked Drugs and Lived to Tell My Story”) that detailed his religious conversion, including his 2005 baptism in the River Jordan.

Welch isn’t the only member of a rock band to have quit drugs, found religion and written a memoir about it. He isn’t even the only member of Korn — bassist Fieldy did too. What is it about life in Korn that drives its members to addiction, religion and memoir-writing? “I don’t know,” Welch admits. “It’s kind of crazy. … I think we’ll know after we pass from this earth.”

Fieldy stayed in Korn, but Welch says that was never an option for him, that reconciling his newfound religious convictions, his even newer sobriety and life in one of metal’s hardest-partying bands proved impossible. “I know for a fact that I was supposed to leave. I just knew it in my heart. … These seven years the most incredible things have happened to me, and I’m so glad I left.”

Welch is getting ready to sign a record deal with Love and Death, which isn’t strictly a Christian band, more like a really polite metal one. “I’m a Christian man and everything I do is as a Christian man. But I just write about life.”

He could easily juggle life in Love and Death, which isn’t going to be touring much, anyway, with life in Korn. If it came to that. Not that he’s saying he would. Just that he could. “We’ll see. At first I said I don’t know, then I said never. Now I’m back at I don’t know. Whatever’s meant to be, I’m fine with. Being a frontman is hard. It would be like a vacation.”

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When: 7:00 p.m. Saturday

Where: New Pointe Church, 676 W. Division Road, Hebron, Ind.

Tickets: Free; 219-759-4000 or

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