Fireworks Magazine Online 76 - Interview with Breaking Benjamin

Breaking Benjamin

Interview by Mike Newdeck

With seven million albums sold world-wide, Breaking Benjamin can be considered something of a Modern Rock phenomena. Comeback album 'Dark Before Dawn' was a phenomena all on its own, selling 135,000 pure album units and 141,000 equivalent album units in its first week and debuting at No.1 on the Billboard 200, making it the group's most successful sales effort. This, incredibly, put it above more celebrated artists such as Madonna and Kelly Clarkson.
Fireworks caught up with lead singer and band leader Benjamin Burnley to find out the secret of the band's renewed success.


Breaking-Benjamin

Why was there a four year hiatus with the band?


In 2007 I started having health issues and then they started to worsen. So in 2010 I decided to take a break from it all and tried to seek an answer for what was causing my health problems. This took years and while searching for these answers former musicians in the band made decisions involving the band catalogue, including songs that I wrote in their entirety, without my consent. A legal dispute occurred prolonging the hiatus even further.

Tell me how you selected the new line-up.

After the legal dispute, I wanted to play with a group of people that weren't just great musicians but great friends as well. Aaron Bruch and I were friends for a long time and we got together and it was great to work with him. Jasen Rauch played with Red and we had collaborated together before in the past and it just made sense. Shaun played with a band called Picture Me Broken and Keith was with Adelitas Way and it all just seemed to fit well. Playing with your friends just makes a band that much better.

The album 'Dark Before Dawn' pretty much carries on from where Breaking Benjamin left off on 'Dear Agony' . Were you tempted to change the sound?

I am always trying to incorporate new things into the sound of Breaking Benjamin without breaking the mould of what Breaking Benjamin is and what we stand for. 'Ashes of Eden' is among many examples of this because it is the first time the band has ever recorded or released a song where the guitar is completely digital.

How does this album differ from old BB?

As the primary songwriter that I have been for the band, this album doesn't differ too much from the others. I have done the bulk of the work as I did the the writing process myself , but only because when 'Dark Before Dawn' was conceived, the new members were not in place yet. However, there are notable contributions made on the album by each current band member. 'Dark Before Dawn' is also the first Breaking Benjamin album that I am not singing the background vocals and harmonies on, which were done by Aaron Bruch and Keith Wallen.

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How did the songs come together for this album? Were they written over a long period of time or written specifically for the album over a short period?

As a songwriter, I am always writing bits and pieces of things all the time. When I feel that there is enough of this material compiled I will then focus my efforts into composing the various bits and pieces into full song compositions.

Were you surprised at how well the album has done considering the time since the last one?

I think the response for the album was overwhelming. Breaking Benjamin and its fans showed the world that Rock was not dead when 'Dark Before Dawn' was released. It is the band's first No.1 album on Billboard and that says a lot. We were honoured by this and excited at the same time. It goes to show you how ready the world is for more Rock music. Breaking Benjamin fans are so loyal and it's humbling everyday to see how much they support us. When we did our first shows after years of being in hiatus, the response was overwhelming. Overseas in Europe, where we have never been, the response to Breaking Benjamin was incredible. Every show we make it a point to say thank you to all of them for what they do for us.

What's your feeling on using technology to enhance live performances? For instance you use electronic drums, synth orchestral interludes etc but how far would you take it? What's acceptable?

We use technology in what we feel is the right way, for instance allowing us to not play to a single track that is generated from a computer. We love the aspect of being live. This allows us to keep the band's performances 100% played by the band. We do this as you have mentioned by utilising guitar synthesizers and drum triggers which all occur in real time and are all done by us in the moment.

When you look back on your career, its ups and downs, would you change anything that you did either in your personal life or musically?

Everything happens for a reason and all of the decisions that I have made have brought me to the point I am now with the band and the album. If one thing was different in those decisions, things would be completely different, so I would say that I would not change anything.

What is your aim for the band?

To continue to make music, to continue to be there for our incredible fans, and to go to more places we have never been to.

How was the band received at Download?

Download Festival was incredible. While this was our first time to Europe, it will not be the last for sure. The response we received in the UK and the rest of Europe was so fantastic. We can't wait to come back and do more shows for Europe.

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