It\’s been four years since we last heard from Breaking Benjamin and it\’s been six years since their last record- Dear Agony released. It was late 2014 when frontman Benjamin Burnley announced the reformation of the band with an all-new lineup in Aaron Bruch, Keith Wallen, Jasen Rauch and Shaun Foist.
The band is back and stronger than ever with a headline tour running for most of 2015 and a new album releasing on June 23 in Dark Before Dawn. Burnley recently took some time to talk to us about the band\’s return and they will be in Indianapolis on May 20, playing the Egyptian Room At Old National Centre- a venue they\’re all too familiar with.
FRR: It’s been awhile but you guys are back with a vengeance with this new album and a new line-up. How does it feel to finally be back, and the new single- “Failure” already tearing up the charts.
Ben: It’s great. We’re jut nothing but grateful for all of the support that we’ve gotten through everybody at radio and fans, the welcome back, it’s been extraordinary. We’re just absolutely 100% grateful for everyone’s support.
FRR: It’s been a couple of years, brand new lineup and everything. I feel like Breaking Benjamin, you guys over the years have developed a trademark sound, you listen to a song and you can tell almost right away this is Breaking Benjamin.
With the new lineup was there ever a time that you thought let’s switch up the sound a little bit, let’s bring something that maybe fans maybe would be completely off guard with. And with Failure I feel like this is definitely Breaking Benjamin.
Ben: Yea, well I think it’s just more apparent now with the new lineup change and that the sound has stayed the same, helping people that didn’t know before that I ‘ve been the writer this whole time. I’ve been the primary writer for the band before it was even a band. I’m the same person so I’m gonna be writing the same style. But like you said, Breaking Benjamin’s style is just how I write music. I don’t really know another way.
So with the new lineup the songs are what they are. I had the album like 95% done before I even brought anybody else on board. When I would record in the past I record everything on to my computer and just give it to everybody, and it hasn’t changed. I’m looking forward to the future because Jason, who used to be in Red is an amazing write, Keith who used to be in Adalita’s Way, he’s an amazing writer. It just so happens that I had 95% of the album done before we were able to get together but the next one I’m really looking forward to collaborating a lot more with the new guys.
FRR: You mentioned Jason, obviously a great, amazing resume and the rest of the band has done amazing stuff as well. How did this inception of Breaking Benjamin come to be?
Ben: Jason and I had done some writing on Dear Agony, which was the band’s fourth album and I had done some writing on Red’s album Innocence and Instincts, I wrote a song called “Shadows” with him. So we had already had a working past and we’d known each other from touring a lot together so it was always one of those things where it just made sense for him to be on board because his writing is so much like mine that it’s just like two minds thinking alike, it’s absolutely effortless to write with him, and I’ve never really had that before. I’ve always had to sort of take other’s ideas and try to manipulate guitar parts or whatever to fit into a song I had already written. I would just take out the bridge that I wrote and put somebody elses in there just so they could kind of feel like they were contributing but it was never really necessary to do. But with Jason it’s just so welcome, it already fits. It’s not like trying to fit a square peg into a round whole. It’s just absolutely like-minded and fun, and effortless and just a perfect fit. So the decision to bring him on board was pretty simple.
And Keith is an amazing singer. He used to be in a band called Copper, that’s a great band and more notable, he was in a band called Adalita’s Way, and we toured a lot with them, so I met him through that and knew of him through that. We just became friends and when the opportunity arose I let him know that I’m not really gonna start anything unless I get other singers in the band background vocals on the album that have never been able to be sung live another actual singer except for myself in the band and so I would sing all of my own background vocals in the studio, sing over myself.
Ben: A lot of bands do that though, record their main vocals, and then their main vocals will be on tape and they’ll go back and sing over themselves. So that’s just the recording process. Same with guitars, just to thicken it up. There’s a lot of guitars that are doubled where a guitar will record their guitar parts and then they’ll go back and play the same thing over it and it’ll make it like really thick sounding.
So now we’re able to do everything live, whereas before we just weren’t able to do it. And also by adding another vocalist we also added another guitar player, and so there’s some songs that I don’t have to play in at all, and then there’s some songs that I can play the extra parts that are in the studio or double up the guitar like it is in the studio, so it just makes it that we’re able to duplicate our albums a lot more correctly, a lot more thoroughly than before.
Before we had to leave a lot of stuff out, and people don’t notice because the song is what it is at the core, and I write in a way that the song could literally be played with just be me and an acoustic guitar and you would still know what it is, but there’s a lot of little things that get added to it as we go in the studio that counts when they’re there. I mean, the songs could still be played bare bones with just guitars, drums, and bass, but there’s digital stuff in songs, sample stuff in songs and my new drummer is like absolutely amazing, he triggers everything live, so we don’t have to play to a click track. A lot of bands play to a click track because they’re playing basically to a tape that has sounds on it and they have to basically hit play on a tape and play along to it, but we don’t do that. We don’t do that at all. Everything that you hear, every sound that’s being made when the is being triggered or performed by a human being, so it’s really awesome being able to do that. It’s the first time the band has ever been able to do that because we just didn’t have the capabilities before.
FRR: I feel like thematically, the album title- Dark Before Dawn, the lead single- “Failure,” I feel like there’s a little bit darker theme, but also with that darker theme- especially with the title, that regardless of
how dark it gets there’s still hope for whatever it is.
Was that something that was an original goal from the onset that you wanted to do or did that come out when you sat down to write this stuff?
Ben: As far as my process is concerned I never really go in with a set idea. The ideas just come to me and they literally take on a life of their own and then I follow them, not the other way around. They don’t follow me. The ideas don’t follow my direction, I just kind of let them come and I let them take me wherever they’re gonna take me and sometimes it’s a dark place, sometimes it’s not. Sometimes it’s a neutral place. Whatever it is, I’m just along for the ride pretty much like everybody else. I get the question a lot of the times like where would I come up with a specific line or a specific set of words and I honestly do not know, it just comes to me. I don’t know where it comes from, it pops into my head and I just write it down and do my best to do it justice.
FRR: The album is out June 23 and you guys are hitting the road in May for the headlining tour and it’s gonna go throughout the summer. You guys are playing a lot of the major festivals next month. I feel like the album’s dropping at just the right time, so how’s it going to feel to be out on the road when the record releases? And then to play a lot of these festivals with a lot of these bands you guys have known for years.
Ben: It’s going to be great. We’re actually leaving tonight to make our way to Texas and hitting the road, our first show is April 17 and so we’re heading out soon here and just staying out until we feel that the album has been represented properly, so hopefully it’s a long time.
But we’re really stoked. Festivals are fun, I like to enjoy it like everybody else. There’s a lot of bands that I don’t really get to see, that I don’t get to tour with, that I’ll get to see so I’m excited as a patron, it just so happens I have to play that day too. Whenever we do festivals I just do my best to kind of blend into the crowd and just enjoy it just like everybody else, you know?
FRR: You guys are coming to Indianapolis; you’ll be at the Egyptian Room, a venue I know you’re very familiar with, very familiar with Indy. May 20 of next month. It’s good to have you guys back, thanks for taking the time to talk with us!
Ben: Our pleasure. We can’t wait to get back there and play for everybody there that supported us, we’re so grateful for all of the support we’ve gotten from all of you guys out there and we’re really, really looking forward to being back.
Dark Before Dawn hits stores on June 23, through Hollywood Records. The first two singles- “Failure” and “Angels Fall” have already been released and the band will be headlining and playing major festivals all through 2015. Make sure to get out and buy the record and catch them on the road all summer long as well as in Indianapolis on May 20.