The words "Family Values" are loaded with meaning in the Korn universe. Originally the title of the band's defiant 1998 tour of metal and hip-hop acts, it also came to define a state of being behind the scenes, as members of the head-banging, hard-partying Bakersfield quintet started procreating, becoming misfit family men. There were now babies in the Kornfield.
Among the first children of the Korn was Jennea Welch, born the same year as that tour (and the album Follow the Leader) to guitarist Brian "Head" Welch and his wife, Rebekah. While the marriage didn't last, Head was determined to be a dependable father. He soon turned to God, pushed away from his crystal meth habit and, most alarming, he quit Korn in 2005.
A new Showtime documentary, Loud Krazy Love, follows the life story of this rocker-turned-single parent as he and Jennea struggle through good times and bad. Directed by Trey Hill and Scott Mayo, the film premieres Saturday and charts the euphoria and drama of his rise with Korn, including Jennea's childhood exposure to weird scenes on the road — much to Head's alarm. It then follows the guitarist's deep dive into Christianity, uncertain solo career, plus the financial ruin he experienced, going from rock star with $2 million in the bank to scrambling for spare change to feed his little girl.
Things only got harder as Jennea reached adolescence, as she struggled with the absence of her mother and with self-harm, in the film's most heart-wrenching chapter. They moved to Nashville and she found her way to contentment through counseling and boarding school — in time for her to witness Head's unplanned reunion with Korn in 2012 at a rock fest in Rockingham, North Carolina.
Now 20, Jennea joined her dad this week to talk about Loud Krazy Love at the Korn management office in Los Angeles. Now solidly back in Korn for the last five years, Head was his usual upbeat, self-deprecating self, dirty-blonde dreads to his chest, tattoos from knuckles to cheekbones. Jennea sat right beside him, thick blonde curls to her shoulders, poking fun at her dad while talking up her family values at home and within the larger family of Head's brothers in Korn: Jonathan Davis, James "Munky" Shaffer, Reginald "Fieldy" Arvizu and Ray Luzier.
Jennea has her own support system, including other children of rockers from successful bands. They text and talk regularly, sharing an understanding of their special family dynamics. "There's a common ground," Jennea says. "It's really hard to understand unless you're in it or around it. We're there for each other."
WHY DID YOU WANT TO DO THIS DOCUMENTARY?
HEAD I think our motivation was to help people and to share our struggles and our victories — so people can know: "Don't give up. Things do get better."
HOW DID YOU REACT TO SEEING THE FINISHED PRODUCT?
HEAD I saw the first edit — it was 2 hours and 15 minutes. I took it to Jennea and Tiffany [Claywell], her mentor, and we watched it together — and stopped it a few times to cry or yell or whatever, because there's some hard things in it. Once the whole team involved watched the film, a light bulb came over our heads: Wait, the main story should be father and daughter. So they re-edited it and found some really amazing footage I didn't even know I had — like her first day of birth.
JENNEA It was really healing, honestly, because I got to pretty much watch my whole life. Watching literally from when I was born and all the things we went through and seeing where I ended up — successful, satisfied and healed — it was beautiful. It was encouraging to keep moving forward.
WHEN YOU LEFT KORN, PEOPLE HAD AN IDEA OF WHAT WAS GOING ON WITH YOU — OR THOUGHT THEY DID. IT TURNS OUT IT WAS A LOT MORE COMPLICATED.
HEAD I shared in my book, Save Me From Myself, a lot of struggles I went through. Everyone thought that I was getting brainwashed by some church. I was to blame for some of that because I did some crazy interviews and said some crazy things. I was coming off of crystal meth. I should do a public ad for "Don't do drugs, kids."
I didn't want to hate myself anymore and I wanted to be a better dad. I had to leave the band to do that. Everybody was still doing drugs and I wasn't going to do them anymore. I had to step away, and get to know myself and really learn how to live life. On the road, I had people bringing my dinner, taking my luggage to my hotel. At home I had my business manager pay my water bill, my mortgage. I didn't do anything. I just drank and did drugs because I didn't have anything to do — except to raise a beautiful daughter. When I left Korn, I got my first online bank account and started doing everything myself, and made so many mistakes financially. I had to grow up in my early 30s.
Some of the things I went through were tough. You find your spiritual life, you think things are going to be perfect — and it was really good for a year. And then I started going through the challenges. I'm thankful because I have even more peace all these years later: contentment, satisfaction and love for myself and others.
WERE YOU HAPPY WITH WHAT YOU WERE DOING MUSICALLY THEN?
HEAD I was at the time. [Jennea laughs] There's some good points, but there's some not so good points. I listen back and go, Wow, I was not a great lyricist. I had to get it out of the system, right? I grew a lot musically though. Some of it is embarrassing, some of it I'm proud of.
DO YOU REMEMBER MUCH ABOUT WHEN YOUR DAD LEFT KORN?
JENNEA When he left, it was really surreal because I didn't think that was even allowed. It felt like a whole new thing that I didn't think was possible. He sold our house in Bakersfield and we stayed in a Best Western for a little bit. I loved it. I thought it was fun.
HEAD It had a pool. My manager put us there and it had a killer pool. I know it sounds horrible.
JENNEA I was having fun. I didn't care. It was pretty much good times.
WHEN YOU GOT TO BE A TEENAGER, DID YOU FEEL LIKE YOU WERE HAVING TROUBLES THAT OTHERS WEREN'T HAVING?
JENNEA Teenage girls need their mom, too. That was a big deal for me developmentally. When I was 12 and 13, he was going through bankruptcy. There were bullies at school. I went through normal stuff. But not having my mom, and him go through bankruptcy and anger issues and purging all the stuff he'd been through before was not normal. But I've realized that so many kids have to deal with that nowadays — single parents or parents who have addiction problems.
WHAT DID YOU THINK ABOUT HIM GOING BACK TO KORN?
JENNEA When I was younger, he was very adamant that Korn was bad — not them, but that lifestyle was bad. He didn't want to have anything to do with it. That's what took him away from me, so that was bad. We would talk every couple of years when the management would come back, and I was kind of neutral. I had some doubts, but when I was 13 or 14 I got into that music. I like Deftones and Staind and stuff.
HEAD Deftones? They don't tour with us. We're too nu-metal. Don't bring up their name. [Laughs]
JENNEA I went on the bus when he and Munky hung out for the first time in seven years. It just felt right. It felt like family.
THE KORN FAMILY WAS HIT WITH TRAGEDY EARLIER THIS YEAR WITH THE LOSS OF JONATHAN DAVIS' WIFE, DEVEN ...
HEAD Things get real when you lose someone. I called Jonathan right away. Then I called [Jennea], because we have a lot of history with both of them. When my wife left and I got full custody, Jonathan and Deven stepped in and said, "Hey, we're here, anything you need ..." The love grows when you walk through tragedy. All the band members got really close. You look at what's important and you get more grateful for what you have.
JENNEA To me, it's how a healthy family dynamic should react. When tragedy happens with us, it's like a real family that is there for each other.
HEAD We always come to California for Christmas, and hopefully Jon will let us be around his house a lot with the family. I love all of them – like his sister, Lisa, is amazing. She looks like his twin. If she could grow a goatee or a beard, she would look just like him. All of his family are amazing. We're closer now.
YOU GREW A LOT MUSICALLY, AND I'M SURE WHEN YOU WERE GONE MUNKY ALSO GREW A LOT MUSICALLY. HE HAD TO FILL THAT EMPTY SPACE.
HEAD I give Munky props nonstop. He says in the movie he felt like a three-legged dog hopping along the highway because I left him with all the guitar duties and creativity. We wrote a lot of the songs on guitar. Hats off to him. As time went by, I think the thought of having my back to do it with him felt good to him because he didn't have to carry the full load.
JENNEA More than that, you guys were like brothers, best friends.
HEAD Needless to say, that was the main thing. I sold him his first electric guitar when he was a kid. We've got a lot of history. The love is there first, even if there's no music involved. We both grew musically. I think we're in a good place now.
The new record, I'm very stoked on. I can't wait to get that done. There's a lot left to do. What we have is really encouraging. We have been writing and we have tracked most of the drums. But we'll probably write a couple more songs — that always happens. At the beginning of the year, we're going to really focus and get it done.
WHERE ARE YOU DOING IT?
HEAD We're doing it all over. We've been to Nashville a few times, we've done a lot in L.A. We actually wrote with John Feldmann, too, for the demos. Travis Barker laid the temporary drums for some, and that was cool. We've known John Feldmann since '87 — he was in Electric Love Hogs. So we're writing with different people. We grabbed [producer] Nick Raskulinecz, and he's very hands on and such a fan of music. It's not a job or a gig to him.
WHEN IS THE RECORD DUE?
HEAD The Korn album should be out by next fall. We have to get it out, because we want to get back to the fans next year and do our thing. We're working hard. We've been through a lot. Now it's time to get all those emotions and turn them into a positive with music. Jonathan is really good at that.