Photos by Jim Gilbert
The lights dim down at the Upstate Concert Hall, only things really lit are the banners that represent the upcoming band. Three band members step onto the stage; a young man with long blonde hair and his eyes were decorated with zig-zag eyeliner, held a guitar, indicating his role in the band. The bassist wore whiteout contact lenses and a long sleeved striped shirt. The drummer, sat behind his kit in dark clothing, hair in front of his face, a bit difficult to see. Finally, the man we all knew from the band we all love, made his presence known when he stepped onto the stage with his arms crossed in front of him. Suddenly, a different kind of metal started to play from the speakers. Throughout the speedy setlist with the cover of Korn‘s “Blind”, a sea of bobbing bodies took over the venue mixed with head banging and fist pumping. The music was incredible and fresh, but the big question was: who is this band? Ladies and Gents, introducing the band combined with Korn and Pantera (“Korntera“, if you will), Love and Death, featuring Brian “Head” Welch from Korn as their lead singer.
Upstate Metal’s Kate Drexel and Jim Gilbert had the incredible opportunity to interview Brian and the band’s lead guitarist, JR Bareis, in one of the cozy backstage rooms with black leather couches. Among the many topics, the history behind Brian’s nickname came to light. “I was named it when I was a kid, my head grew before my body hit puberty and so they made fun of me.” As it turns out, something that both Welch and Gilbert have in common, as they shared hat and helmet sizes.
After sharing a few laughs, the topic changed to Love and Death and how Brian recruited the members through YouTube auditions. “To save time, ’cause I didn’t want to fly people out because everybody lived in different states, so I was like, ‘I’m not gonna fly no one out, I don’t got that cash nowadays’ and I can tell if they’re a good fit, like just listening to them and watching them play and just feeling their vibe.” However, JR felt very differently about the auditions, having to do it locked up in his room and rock out like he was on the stage “It’s awkward…it’s weird and I didn’t move around as much when I first joined but after playing a lot…I went from playing worship music to like this band so it was a big change.”
When asked about his biggest influences, Head gave off quite the list from AC/DC to Pantera. JR told Head that he was his biggest influence in both a joking yet serious manner, changing the subject to the release of the first Korn record in 1994, JR not born yet whilst Drexel was two years of age at the time, and Gilbert mentioned that he was in college. After sharing a few more laughs, the influences topic returned, Head spoke of another big influence, Rage Against the Machine. “We took that passion and took it to a more darker, trippier place, but they are a huge influence. I’m surprised more people didn’t connect that… we all love that type of music and we did it right with his album, so we’re happy.” Head revealed that all of their songs come from JR (who he referred to as Gary) to which he responded that it comes to him randomly and all of the songs written were used on the album. “I think, back in Korn and stuff, I think God inspires all gifts for all different kinds and I think they all, like in Korn in back in the day, like corn came from Him, they got cloudy from all the drugs and stuff, and the drinking so we couldn’t write good stuff, anymore, like towards the last couple of years that I was there, so now I just believe that it all comes back from God, too because He’s the giver of all gifts,” explained Head. Drexel then told Welch that she currently attends a Catholic college where they have a bit of a conversation of the school’s environment.
When asked about how the band became part of the In This Moment tour, Welch mentioned that it had something to do with the band’s management and was unsure on how they got to be part of this incredible opportunity. As for their downtime, “Sleep….I don’t have a lot of downtime lately, which is pretty cool because I’ve had a lot of downtime before but it just seems like…but I like to read and just get filled up spiritually in my catholic school…I read a lot of catholic books, that’s my high.”
Love and Death is scheduled to play at this year’s Rock on the Range. Be sure to catch them on tour and check out their record, Between Here and Lost, because this is one you will not want to miss out on.