First off, I wanna start by saying WELCOME BACK!
Well Breaking Benjamin didn’t really reform. I always kind of had the band ever since before anybody it was kind of my own thing for a really long time and basically just got into a group of guys. It’s more of like a Nine Inch Nails type of thing, where I kind of just been the band cause I’m the primary writer. I always had the music, the band & I’ve always been the writer.
2. How did you meet the new band members & how did you guys together?
The drummer (Shaun Foist) I met while on tour, he is actually a friend of my old drummer (Chad Szeliga) & then the guitar player is from Adelitas Way. I’ve done a lot of touring with them I pretty much met all of these guys on tour, except for the bass player. The bass player was a local guy that is very very talented but just didn’t have the luck that we’ve had but definitely had the talent. He just didn’t have the luck but I guess it’s not true cause he is where he is supposed to be now.
You had two shows in your hometown this past weekend which were both completely sold out & how did it feel to get back out there and see all your loyal fans still there?
Oh man, well its great. Any band would be nothing without their fans, and this is no different. The fans are pretty much the heart and soul of any band. So it’s an honor to be there for them and their the best fans any band could ever ask for. They’ve always been and they always will be and we just are really grateful. Nothing but grateful to the fans for keeping the band alive and keeping the support alive. It’s definitely a fan driven band as far as I’m concerned because if the fans weren’t there and didn’t really attach to the music as much as they have I probably wouldn’t do it. I wouldn’t force myself or my material on people and try to make them like it. I just always been the kind of writer that I just really like certain things. I like writing music that I like to hear when I’m listening to music, so I just kind of have the same kind of ear that my fans have, we all like the same type of music, we all like the same things and so thats what makes it so strong I think thats the secret to it is that I just write the kind of music that is the same kind of music we like to hear, even with other bands.
Did you ever have a show sellout like that, like within a few hours of the shows being announced?
Not that I know of, That was pretty amazing to have that happen and again we are completely humbled and nothing but grateful for the support that the fans have given. Having them Welcome us back cause we are there for them, we are not there for us, we are there for our fans. If the band claims that are aren’t there for their fans then they should just not play or be there at all. Were there just for them and to have them welcome us that way and show us that support is amazing. We grow with our fans, and its all about them. It’s all for them no matter what in the end. We create the music for them, We play shows for them, and then in turn they make us feel good about it so we keep doing it. It’s like a reciprocal kind of thing but it all starts with them, they are the most important thing about the band. The fans are definitely the most important thing about any band.
A lot of fans want to know when you’re writing music, what inspire your lyrics? Its seems a lot of your music has a very meaningful message behind it.
Yes! A lot of them honestly just come to me and I don’t really know how they do, They just do & I get really inspired by movies a lot of the time because movies, I just love movies and you know they’re very moving, well a lot of them are. Movies make me feel empowered and so with that being said I get a lot of lyrics not like from quotes from movies per say but how a movie makes you feel. So I will take that feeling and translate that feeling into something. Or just anything, I could be driving around in my car and ill just mumble some notes into my recorder on my phone and sometimes i’ll just be like writing a song and i’ll just sing a song out of no where. Like with Diary Of Jane, when I was writing that verse “Do you like that, Do you like that?” it just came to me. There was no thought it just came like straight to my head.
What is the song Diary of Jane actually about?
That I actually was watching one of those forensics shows and they were talking about a Jane Doe that they found and she didn’t have a name. They were backtracking to see who she was and they were trying to put an identity to her and like I just got the base idea from that, not that its based on that but I got the base idea from that.
I understand your soon to be a dad expecting your first child in November, Do you think becoming a parent will affect your music in anyway, or do you think you’ll be making new music about your experiences as a parent?
Well I think that its a little too soon to tell cause obviously he is not here yet but I would welcome it. I mean any sort of influence i’ll take as long as the music is still badass, But I probably wouldn’t try to force it but if it happens I would accept it. If I was influenced by my son I would accept it but I wouldn’t try to make it unnatural.
After announcing not One but Two SOLD-OUT performances in your hometown of Wilkes-Barre, PA. All of your fans want to know is there any plans to tour/tour worldwide in the works?
Yea! I definitely think there will be a lot of touring coming and doing a lot of what we’ve done in the past and coming to seeing all of our fans all over the world hopefully this time around and mainly just start out in the United States and do that. Then i’ll try to get on a boat and get over to Brazil and wherever else our fans are from.
There is actually a petition online to enable Breaking Benjamin to tour worldwide, I don’t know if you guys seen that yet or not. It currently has about 900 signatures on it. (Click here to sign the petition!)
Yes, we have seen it and I will show that to my record label when it gets to a really high number and ill tell them to get on board with it. I think they’ll be ways that i’ll be able to facilitate to get on a boat whether it’s with the labels cooperation or not cause it has been long enough that I haven’t been able to get overseas and ill do everything that I can to see what I can do. Yes, Long story short the band is definitely planning on doing a lot of touring very soon, but I got my baby due in November & that is going to come first. So I will just try to work around that right now. I would say in the next few months you will see a tour announcement from us.
On the tour you will be announcing, What would you be doing setlist wise. A mix of the music or just on a certain album already released? What would be your favorite song to play live?
Yes, It would be a mix of all of Breaking Benjamin catalog from new to old. Songs that are fun to play and songs that are really well known and just a mix of all of that. I don’t really have a favorite song to play live I like to play Diary of Jane just because it’s known and it’s fun when people sing along and are shouting the lyrics back at you. But technically speaking the song itself I don’t really prefer one over the other. They are all equally the same, I mean singing and playing wise, I still play and sing so that aspects the same.
Would you say your band has change now that a fifth member has been added to the bands already awesome lineup?
Well yes, it’s a lot better. The guitars just sound so much better and so sick because when your in the studio and your recording you lay like four, five or even six guitars down overtop one another. There is no rule out there that says your band has to have 2 guitar players, one drummer and a bass player. Having a fifth person actually allows us to get a lot closer to recreating our album sound and still having a live feel to it, and then too it makes it so I could actually put the guitar down and just sing for a couple songs here and there but I still play for 95% of the show. I actually put the guitar down during “I Will Not Bow” on the Friday show you attended because that song is kind of designed to be just sung, it’s not really designed to be sung and played. Like Tool songs, I could sing and play songs but they are not really designed to play and sing but like Nirvana songs are designed to play guitar and sing too. They’re certain songs that just lend themselves to playing and singing to. There are songs I don’t play and are better off when I could really just zone in on the vocals and let the band do their thing ya know? It just adds another dynamic to the band, the band doesn’t run any tracks and we dont play to a clique. Everything is just natural and organic and there is nothing lacking cause we have not only an extra guitar player but 2 more singers that are actually singers from other bands. Guys have a misconception about bands that says you don’t need to be a singer to do background vocals and thats completely untrue as a matter a fact the background vocals are harder to sing then the main vocals cause their higher. You absolutely need to be a full on singer to sing background vocals and it just makes the band sound so much more like our albums but still has that live vibe to it cause its being performed live. It’s not being performed 150% like the album is but it’s still a really tight vocal aspect and in some spots it sounds like dead on if not better as some bands actually sound better live then on their album. When I say its not 110% like the album I dont mean that in a bad way it’s got more of an attitude about it cause it’s got that live energy to it. We have that now, but before not to let any cats out of the bag or anything but we had a clique that we would play to and we had some other things like never main vocals or anything like that but like in our samples. Like in “So Cold” there is strings and stuff in the background. Well all of that stuff is now played live we use a GR-55 guitar synthesizer to play all of those strings and everybody’s singing and were not on a clique. We used to have to have a clique like a metronome in our ears and we would have to play along to that so that the other samples and stuff lineup and now we don’t have any of that it’s now all played. Either by the drummer or somebody sings it or somebody plays it on the guitar synths. Its like when you come to see our band play, everything that you hear is being performed nothing is on tracks, absolutely nothing. None of this would be possible if we didn’t add that extra player to the band & get the specifically the people we have in the band, everybody thats in the band is a very intentional decision and plays and does everything and beyond that anybody that used to be apart of the band. This is like everybody is maxed out their total potential, like the bass player he doesn’t just play bass. He plays bass and he sings now so that shows all their talent and puts their all into the show. The lead guitar doesn’t just play leads he also does the synthesizer stuff as well. So everyones like augmented to their fullest potential were as before the band just did one thing each so now everyone is now multitasking. It just makes the band sound so much better then they ever did or ever could.
In the teaser video posted on your Facebook page back on August 19th, What is coming soon? What is in store for Breaking Benjamin’s future?
Well I think its just more albums, more touring, more shows. At that point like back then it was coming soon but now we played the two shows, the bands back. The coming soon was The bands making a comeback and those two shows we played. So here we are. It turned from like coming soon to the whole BBisBACK thing. The band is pretty much going so anything thats expected of a band is coming from us soon and thats what were going to be doing.
When creating music, What comes first the recording of the instruments and then you write out the lyrics to go with it? Or do you write the lyrics then record to match with that?
Well thats one thing thats pretty much remained the same ever since I was 15 years old I have had the same exact formula and that is I sit down with an acoustic guitar and I write the song. We have a really strict version of what the song is to us and the song is whatever you sit down and you could play on an acoustic guitar its not like a little lead part or a bridge part or anything like that. Its what you could sit down and you can play and sing from the beginning to the end. That’s like the guts and the foundation to the song and thats how it all starts. Either me, Keith, Aaron or really anybody now, cause they’re all great writers. We or I would sit down and would write a song on an acoustic guitar and it’ll be chords or a riff but it would be the song, it would be the verse, chorus, or the bridge or whatever. Then it varies, I would either write the riff around it or write the technical parts around it and turn it into a rock song or an acoustic song or whatever. Nows these guys are just phenomenal writers and phenomenal musicians so thats something that I really cant say about anyone thats been in the band in the past, they kind of just never really contributed that much as far as that concern and what they did contribute it was not very much along the lines of things that I would expect. It just didn’t fall into what Breaking Benjamin is about. So I never really had the luxury of having what I have now. There is a song that we have called “Lights Out” that Jasen actually wrote on the guitar player in the band now, he actually wrote on that song and I basically was strumming the key of the song and said here is the BPM (beats per minute) which is how fast the song is and here is the key the song is in and he sent back to me that riff that you here when the song first starts like *Ben then beat boxing the intro beat* he wrote that I didn’t write that. He writes so much like me that people thought that I wrote it but I straighten them out right away and say no I didn’t write it Jasen did but you know its stuff like that. I would never in a million years be able to have that with the other people in the band in the past. I tried but I would never get back what the song needed from the past member but now thats how the new process could go like instead of having to sit on the acoustic and write it all out myself vocals and instruments and riffs. Now I don’t have to do that we can do it together but it all starts with the base song cause if you didn’t have that base you don’t have anything. Without the song there is no solo to play to. So the solo is not important the solo could be a thousand different things without the song to play the solo on you have nothing. So those things we don’t sweat we just try to write the song just really good thats the most important part.
How would you say Breaking Benjamin evolved musically since the release of your debut album Saturate back in 2002? Would you say your back and better then ever?
Well I think there is definitely an evolution of Breaking Benjamin and since I kind of wrote all of that I could hear saturate and other album in a way that other people cant cause its got a lot more complicated and its got a lot more going with it. In saturate their would be a riff part that I would sing over and compare to now there would be the same thing but would be like another lead guitar line over that and it just makes the song sound totally different but the meat of the song is still there. Same thing with a lot of other bands too like if you listen to Chevelle’s first album versus Wonder Whats Next or the type of thinking or whatever you could hear kind of the same thing where they were just kind of figuring stuff out with the first one and then took it to the next level and same for us then once we get or find a comfort zone of what we sound like and comfortable with ourselves as singer and songwriters we kind of just try to make that the best that it could possibly be, I have never been interested in doing something different just for the sake of doing something different but to make it better. I only want to do something different if its better and not just to do something different. If i try something new or i do something new it ya know its for the better of the song not just to be different. So the evolution of the band from Saturate to now is just kind of in the interest of the song. The song is the boss, I’m not the boss the song is the boss a lot of people in the past would get discouraged because their ideas wouldn’t make it or whatever but like I’m not the one deciding it the song is one deciding it and it just doesn’t fit the song. That is what makes the evolution and thats what makes it sounds what it sounds like its the songs that are being written for it. Like if I had a song it was written like to sound like Saturate, I wouldn’t intentionally make it sound that way if it wasn’t supposed to sound.
Anything you wish to say to your current or soon to be fans?
All in a nutshell, Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Words can’t even expressed all of our gratitude, there just isn’t a word that encompasses it. So, Thank you from the bottom of our hearts is the only thing I could really think of to even come close to how grateful we are.
I want to thank you for joining us today in this interview and would like to wish you and your wife Rhiannon the best for your new Son to be here in November & We all look forward to your new album and tour to come in the very near future.
Thank you man, it was my pleasure and I appreciate the time for you taking the time to talk with me about Breaking Benjamin and thanks for listening!