Every time Breaking Benjamin has taken the stage at BayFest, the modern rock outfit with a furious sound has always made a big impression. But for the past five years, the band was in limbo with a barrage of legal matters, personal issues and lineup changes. Since its last performance in the Port City, front man/guitarist Benjamin Burnley was unsure about where the next chapter in the story of Breaking Benjamin would take him.
After overcoming the hardships, Burnley recruited guitarist Keith Wallen (Adelitas Way), guitarist Jason Rauch (Red), bassist Aaron Bruch (OurAfter) and drummer Shaun Foist (Picture Me Broken) and entered the studio to record their upcoming release “Dark Before Dawn.” The album is scheduled to drop in June, but the pre-orders already occupy the No. 1 spot on iTunes. Burnley and his new crew will be returning to Mobile this week, and he paused from his daily routine to give local fans some insight into the new album.
Stephen Centanni: Mobile has always had a ton of Breaking Benjamin fans. You’re coming off the hiatus and overcome all these personal and legal obstacles. How does it feel to be coming back to Mobile with the new music?
Benjamin Burnley: We’re all super stoked. The band and I are just ready to rock it. You know, the cool thing about the new lineup is they’re all guys that have not only toured a ton with Breaking Benjamin already, but they’ve toured period. I was out on the road with a band called Red, and now, I have the guitar player from that band in my band. He’s had amazing experiences with Red out there. It’s the same thing with Keith from Adelitas Way. Adelitas Way has had some great times out there. So, everybody is all familiar with where we’re going now with Breaking Benjamin, and we’re all stoked and grateful for all the support that we’re getting. We’re just really looking forward to getting out there and being there for the fans and spreading the word about what we have going on with the new album. We’re returning the love that we’re getting from the fans with the support of “Failure” and the pre-orders for “Dark Before Dawn.” Everything has just been absolutely amazing, and we’re nothing but grateful for it.
Centanni: The future of Breaking Benjamin was looking very, very grim. What brought Breaking Benjamin back to life?
Burnley: Like you said, there were some legal complications that were prohibiting me from going forward in a way that would be ideal for me. I probably could have forcefully went forward and done it that way. I would’ve rather made everything as amicable as it could be and have a mutual understanding and went ahead and did it the right way. It took a little time, and justice prevailed. I’m able to continue what I started, and I’m just really grateful for that. I’m also grateful that the fans still support us. I’m grateful that I’m able to create what I’ve created and be there for fans. Seems to me is that the timing of everything worked itself out. I think that we’re coming back at a time that’s really exciting for us.
Centanni: You mentioned the success of the new single. What’s the story behind that song?
Burnley: Kurt Cobain was a huge idol of mine. He never really went deep into what his songs were really about, because they have multiple layers of meaning. That’s how I write too. I can’t say that it’s about one specific thing. When I listen to Nirvana songs, the best songs are the ones that when I listen to them, I get my own interpretation of what they’re about. Since I really like music like that, that’s the music that I have a tendency to write. All of my songs are never, “I’m gonna write about this today,” and I sit down and write about it. It’s always self-contained. The meaning can be self-contained in one verse of the song and be really open to interpretation. The coolest thing is when a fan comes up to me and tells me what they think the song is about. That makes it so much cooler than me saying, “Hey, this song’s about this.” I don’t want to ruin that by saying what I might think it’s about or what I had in mind for it.
Centanni: Your latest single is “Angels Fall.” You’ve given us two samples, so far. What else can we expect from “Dark Before Dawn?”
Burnley: It’s not really a single yet, because we didn’t go to radio with it or anything. You get “Angels Fall” when you pre-order the album. It’s an incentive for everybody trying to hear some more stuff. They can go on iTunes and go ahead and pre-order the album to get “Angels Fall” and “Failure.” As far as the album is concerned, I did my best to listen to what everybody really likes about Breaking Benjamin and stay true to myself at the same time. People say that they like the lighter side of Breaking Benjamin, and people say that they like the heavier side of Breaking Benjamin. I did my best to accommodate all of that. There’s some heavier songs on the album, and lighter songs on the album. Then, there’s some songs that go right down the middle. “The Diary of Jane” is right down the middle. It’s not too heavy, and it’s not too light. So, “Failure” is along that line. It’s not too heavy and not too light. “Angels Fall” is the same sort of thing. There’s riffs in it, but it’s not too heavy that someone who likes the lighter stuff wouldn’t listen to it. It’s accommodating to everyone. That’s the music that like to write anyway. I like melodic, heavier rock.
Centanni: It’s been a while since the last album, and lineup changes were a big part of it. Do you plan on this lineup remaining the same for the next one?
Burnley: As far as I’m concerned, I wouldn’t have brought anybody on board, unless it was people that I really wanted to play with. So, I think if it wasn’t this lineup, then it would be their choice, not mine. I can’t speak for them, but I can tell you that I had the opportunity to be able to play with exactly who I wanted to play with, and now, I’m doing that. There’s no reason for me to go anywhere else.
Breaking Benjamin w/special guest Young Guns
Date: Tuesday, April 28 with doors at 6:30 p.m.
Venue: Soul Kitchen, 219 Dauphin St., www.soulkitchenmobile.com
Tickets: $42.50 advance/$45 day-of available at Soul Kitchen, their website, Mellow Mushroom (MiMo/WeMo) or by calling 1-866-468-7630