Love and Death, the band led by former Korn guitarist Brian “Head” Welch, releases its first album “Between Here & Lost” on January 22, but a stream of the record debuts exclusively on Billboard.com now, a full week early.
Presaging Love and Death, Welch’s 2008 solo debut, “Save Me From Myself,”– a quasi companion to his first book, “Save Me From Myself: How I Found God, Quit Korn, Kicked Drugs, and Lived to Tell My Story” — differed from Korn more in lyrics than in tone, as it explored Welch’s conversion to Christianity and his struggles with addiction. Interested in creating a band rather than remaining solo, Welch joined forces with drummer Dan Johnson, guitarist J.R. Bareis and bassist Michael Valentine to form Love and Death.
Welch sees the group’s album, “Between Here & Lost,” which was produced by former Red guitarist Jasen Rauch and will be released on Tooth & Nail Records, as having quickly come to fruition. “It’s night and day in every way-the clarity, the low end, guitar tones, the drums,” Welch tells Billboard, comparing the Love and Death’s album to “Save Me From Myself.” “My first record, it took massive, massive time in the mixing process to get it to sound as good as it does. But this one sounded like a record on the rough mixes.”
In “Between Here & Lost,” Korn fans will recognize the low-end guitar tuning and brooding energy from the band’s earlier albums, but Love and Death is more radio-accessible than Korn was in those days. The lyrics are more of a third-party perspective than Welch’s last project. “I want people to get their own interpretations of the lyrics, just to reach out to more people and grow this thing,” he says. “The music on this new album is exactly the type of music that I want to be doing. It’s heavy. It’s got a lot more melody that I’m used to. The first solo album was like a tweak in the beginning of what I wanted to do and I couldn’t really get there, but now I finally got to where I’m almost 100% happy with this album.
The album’s playlist includes “Paralyzed,” which Welch says is “one of my favorites to play live. It has a lot of energy. It’s personal to me of course, but I think a lot of people can relate to it, being stuck in life, and just, ‘I’m paralyzed and I need you now. Get me out of here.'” The riff-heavy “Chemicals” is about “being trapped in drugs or in massive depression, the chemicals with your mind. There’s different interpretations with the lyrics of that one, but [to me it’s about] being trapped in that crap and it feels like a complete dungeon that you can’t get out of.”
“Between Here & Lost” also includes a surprising cover: “Whip It” originally by Devo. Welch was inspired to tackle it after hearing the Used’s revamp of Talking Heads’ “Burning Down the House.” “I was like, ‘Those guys are weird. It would be perfect to do that song because everybody knows who that is, but there’s no way you can make that song in our type of music,'” Welch recalls. “Then I was in the shower one day and . . . I heard it in my head [how I could do it.]”
The track “Bruises” was partially inspired by dealing with other Christians who “don’t get rock music, they kind of bash it sometimes. I was kind of thinking about that but again, people can get their own interpretations,” Welch says. He remains strong in his Christian faith, but he prefers “Between Here & Lost” be described as a secular effort. “I just say we’re Christian guys in a rock band. I don’t like to label it a Christian band because, honestly, we don’t get played on Christian radio a lot. People don’t get us sometimes and we don’t sound like other Christian bands, but there’s a lot of harder bands out there that don’t go by that label.”
Fans will have a chance to hear the “Between Here & Lost” songs live as Love and Death heads out on the road beginning February 21 in Columbia, Maryland. and heading around the east, midwest, and south before wrapping up in Huntington, West Virginia on March 17.