Breaking Benjamin Biography
Review The Artist (76)
Some would argue BEN BURNLEY is a perfectionist. But for BREAKING BENJAMIN’s singer, guitarist, and visionary, there is no other modus operandi for his craft. With that dedication, BURNLEY and his bandmates–guitarist AARON FINK, bassist MARK JAMES, and drummer CHAD SZELIGA–have built 2006’s meticulous, infectious hard rock milestone PHOBIA (Hollywood Records). Building on their trademark hard-charging rhythms, sharp hooks, and soaring vocals, PHOBIA marks BREAKING BENJAMIN’s third album.
For BURNLEY, who typically writes at least 10 songs to yield one, the arduous approach has helped BREAKING BENJAMIN elevate the bar in following up 2004’s explosive platinum-selling We Are Not Alone, which produced a pair of compelling #1 rock hits, “So Cold” and “Sooner Or Later.” “It’s a very time-consuming thing,” BEN admits of his efforts to top the band’s airwave favorites. “I’ll basically write a number of similar songs and cherry-pick the best pieces from all of them and make one.”
With PHOBIA, which confronts anxiety and fear through catharsis and breathtaking melodies, the fruits of BURNLEY’s conviction can first be heard on “The Diary of Jane” –the first single and video–just one in a number of ferocious and hook-injected offerings on the band’s third album. As muscular as it is accessible, “Jane” has the power to invade one’s headspace, and occupy it for days.
Yet BREAKING BENJAMIN’s namesake didn’t always think so highly of PHOBIA’s first single. “Ben is his biggest critic,” bassist MARK JAMES acknowledges. “He’ll write stuff that is undeniable. And everyone else knows it’s undeniable. But he’ll think it’s not good enough and he’ll go back to the drawing board. With ‘The Diary of Jane,’ he had three or four different options lyrically and melodically before we even entered the studio. He had all of these variations that he presented to [producer] David [Bendeth]. And as is the case nine out of ten times, it’s almost always his initial gut feeling that wins out.”
BURNLEY’s instincts have guided BREAKING BENJAMIN from the bars and clubs of Wilkes-Barre, PA to a platinum album certification, all in the course of five years. On the strength of the quartet’s first hit, “Polyamorous,” from its 2002 major label debut Saturate, the group’s alt-metal leanings–inspired by the likes of Tool, KoRN, and Nirvana–earned the band prompt recognition.
With the aforementioned radio darling We Are Not Alone (which also contained the memorable ballad “Rain”) the group aligned with producer David Bendeth to forge a partnership that only grew stronger by the time work on PHOBIA commenced in early 2006. “We knew what to expect,” BURNLEY says. “We knew what he’d want out of us and knew what we’d want out of him.”
“Mark, Chad, Aaron, and Ben gave this record everything they had, worked their asses off and never settled for second best,” David Bendeth says proudly of BREAKING BENJAMIN’s new material. “The melodies are strong and memorable and we all feel it is a lot stronger than anything they’ve ever done. I worked BEN hard and he pushed himself. He has such a great instinct for lyrics and melody. He really knows what he wants and he never ceases to amaze me. He has a natural talent, a gift.”
That gift is evident in “Evil Angel.” which has a vibe akin to Alice in Chains, replete with AARON’s expressive, thunderous riffs giving way to a newfound rootsy, organic approach. Elsewhere, “You” finds the band operating in a rarely-used standard tuning, and relying on the highly capable rhythmic wares of MARK and drummer CHAD–who only recently joined the group but is an obvious ideal fit. “It was back to basics for us,” MARK says of the latter. “It’s so direct, more simple than usual. It’s definitely more of a feel than anything else propelling that song.”
The sonic epic “Dance With The Devil” also stands out as AARON’s fluid, forceful guitar lines and monumental drumming ideally interface with the power and range of BURNLEY’s voice. And despite his heartfelt delivery of lines like “I believe in you/I can show you that,” Ben pauses when it comes to talk about his deeply personal verse.
“I want the listener to analyze my songs,” he says. “I don’t want to do it myself. If someone thinks the song is about something and I come along and say, ‘No. The song is about this.’ I could ruin it for them.”
One thing that won’t be damaged at this point is the infrastructure of this band, helped by a newfound openness. “One thing in the past that affected us in a negative way was that we didn’t always speak our minds,” MARK says. “We’d keep stuff bottled up. And then maybe we’d feel regret or resentment. This time around, we made a point to say what we’re feeling.”
Finding a balance between enjoyment and ambition, BURNLEY thrives by challenging himself on PHOBIA. “I’m doing things vocally that I haven’t done before and we’re using different time signatures and tunings that are new for us,” he says. “I look at evolution this way: Every time you write a song, it’s one less thing that you can do. Of course there is always pressure to at least match what you’ve done before, but there is nothing I can do about it other than write the best possible songs I can.”
“I’m really proud of these songs,” MARK says. “BEN has done a fantastic job providing great hooks and phrases. I feel very strongly about every track on this record, which isn’t something I was always able to say. I think we really tried to approach every song by never trying to overstate an idea. If there was a catchy riff that AARON was doing, I never wanted to step on it. I’d try to seek a different way around it.”
Thinking outside the box, the men of BREAKING BENJAMIN have faced down their fears, put their hearts and their heads together to woodshed PHOBIA. Regardless of whether you’re afraid of heights, snakes, bees, air travel or whatever, this stellar song-cycle pays big dividends. Summing up BREAKING BENJAMIN’s new album, the band’s bassist concludes, “The goal was to make a solid, mature and cohesive record.”
Mission accomplished. PHOBIA is a damn-near faultless rock album.
Thanks to Andrew Harding for submitting the biography.
Please click here to submit the latest Breaking Benjamin biography
Wow! | Reviewer: Lauren | 10/16/11
Someone actually posted after me! I look for anyone who will talk music with me. You can find me under diary of jane post if you want to talk music john. I can be found under send the pain below by chevelle too. Not everyday i find someone post something after me.
Sorry... | Reviewer: Lauren | 10/17/11
I hate popping up so much, but ean heller's post really grabbed my attention. Your a musician you say? I play trumpet myself. It sounds like your going through a rough time. Well i'll tell you one thing, people say you'll fail but prove them wrong! I had a horrible start but now i'm considered a protetgy. Not sure if that's how you spell it. Anyways, people told me i would fail and make it nowhere. When people discourage you, their karma is your suceeding. Trust me. What people say means nothing. If you knew me you'd see how odd it is for me to be anywhere in the music world. I'm in a selective choir and i'm being compared to the best trumpet player in the district. I'm actually his girlfriend so he's helped a little. But no one can make you fail except yourself. Believe in yourself and you'll exceed. Take other's opinions and obey them, you'll fail. Harshly. I'm not saying ignore all opinions because they could help, but if it's just someone your age who has no idea what they're talking about. Well they should just got to hell. What you want and think for yourself is more important than you could imagine. I bet it's hard to take this from an 11 year old, but i'm pretty smart for being 11. Not to brag i mean. But in most aspects of my life i'm a nerd. When i left 5th grade i left with an award that said most well rounded out of a hundred. I'm a nerd until i start sports. That sucks being known as a nerd until you win a game. Because people judge you by intelligence at my school. If i had the chance, i would show those people that i don't care what they say and who and what i do is decided by me. So what if you're not the best?! If you love what your doing then it doesn't matter. My motto is, "live by what you love." Maybe showing off who you are will help. It sounds retarded but you should be glad to share it. I'm one nerd who's proud of it. Are you poud of your talent?
Back to the music... | Reviewer: Lauren | 10/17/11
Breaking benjamin gives meaning to music. John you know your music apparently. I've known who they were for years without realizing it. They are really hard to forget. It sucks they just broke up, but every good thing comes to an end. It was obvious it was going to happen. I might not agree, but it was most deffinately time.
songs | Reviewer: john logan | 10/11/11
the first 2 sons i heard were firefly and diary of jane and they honestly can get you threw any fealling you have, also until the end and will not bow are also awsom for sport songs, so thanks for the songs
Perfection in a few people! | Reviewer: Lauren | 9/26/11
When people ask,"Who would you say is a quality band?", all that comes to mind is Breaking Benjamin. My mom actually just took their cds from me cause it said damn. Yeah i'm only 11 so i'm limited, but i wanted to say,"I CAN'T HERE DAMN BUT I CAN HERE FUCK?!". But i'm not gonna get in trouble. You don't fight with my mom, otherwise you might as well commit suicide. Anyways, i used their music to actually hide from my mom (how ironic). They had songs i could sing along with and bury my feelings. They just broke up too. I would say i hope Ben finds a new band, but the line-up was perfect. I love Ben's voice and how it always fits with the emotion of the music. His lyrics are undeniable, and you never want to stop listening. But he's nothing without the other members. So what happens when they don't rejoin?Well i'm quoting Ben. He's going to be "pumping someone's fucking gas." So we'll see.
Best rock band ever!!!!! | Reviewer: Maddy from Montana | 3/29/11
No doubt, that if you were to ask me who my favorite band is to this day, i'd most definately have to say Breaking Benjamin. All of their albums are simply amazing and i listen to them of my ipod all the damn time! I always go to these guys first than any other band. Their songs are so incrediable, you just cant help but sing along with them and find some true meaning within the lyrics and awesome music. I wish i could see them live.. if they were to ever go back on tour again i'd really really really really hope they would come out west i would most definately come, no matter what! My life would pretty much then be complete. Haha, but no seriously.
Truly a fan | Reviewer: Anonymous | 3/19/11
No need to say nothing further exept Im from Israel and I am so far away and peopol here don't listen to songs like this alot but honestly the band give me a meaning for life and I don't have that many reasons to live sooo I just wanted to say thanks just thanks
hope in small places | Reviewer: Ean Heller | 11/8/10
breaking benjamin has been an insperation for my life ive grown up listening to them and bens voice truly is one of the best ive ever heard. they inspire me to make it as a musician even when everyone tells me i will fail. to kno you have something special but not haveing a chance to use it is horrible so i take whatever chance i get now im utterly amazed that music can actually be as good as theyve made it . breaking benjamin i thank you for giveing me insperation to do the things that make me trulyhappy and i hope to one day play a show with you because you are and probably allways will be the best band i have ever heard .
They are my hero. | Reviewer: Josie | 10/30/10
Breaking Benjamin is the most amazing band I've ever heard. The first song I ever heard from them was "Breath." I heard it on the radio one day and it just spoke to me. Everything I was feeling at the time was in that song. I looked them up and fell in love. Later on that year, I went through a tough time. I was dealing with depression and it was getting worse each day. It was when I really picked up my ipod and listened to their songs, I began to feel better. Breaking Benjamin's songs don't specifically have meanings, its whatever you want the song to mean is what its about. I focused that onto my feelings and it helped me get by. I can honestly say that now, I can't go a day without listening to their songs. And I can't wait until they make a new album. It's going to be kick ass !
burnley is a badass | Reviewer: carrie phillips | 3/18/10
so listen...yeah he has some phobias, but dont we all?
his voice is probably one of the most raw, actually cmoing from real talent..something i hardly hear anymore.
best band i have EVER seen live. absolutely perfect show. May i say being front row and getting a drumstick didnt hurt either. (:
A band that has NO bad albums, and im happy that i have a band i can always listen to and never grow tired of.
burnley is a badass.
Reviews By Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
The following area is only for review,
Recommend the artist to your friends.