|Also known as||Plan 9|
|Origin||Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, United States|
|Genres||Alternative metal, post-grunge|
|Years active||1998-2010 (on hiatus)|
|Past members||Nick Hoover
Breaking Benjamin is an American rock band from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, currently fronted by vocalist and guitarist Benjamin Burnley. The band released four studio albums, Saturate in 2002, We Are Not Alone in 2004, Phobia in 2006, and Dear Agony in 2009, selling over five million albums in the United States.
In mid-2010, the band started a hiatus due to frontman Burnley's recurring illnesses and inability to tour. Further complications arose in August 2011 when Mark Klepaski and Aaron Fink were fired from the band.
In April 2013, Burnley announced he would press forward with the band name in the future without any of the other previous members, as drummer Chad Szeliga announced his departure from the band.
In 1998, Burnley, guitarist Aaron Fink, Nick Hoover and Chris Lightcap formed Breaking Benjamin. Burnley later moved to California to experiment musically. When he moved back to Pennsylvania, he started a band called "Plan 9", playing guitar and singing alongside drummer Jeremy Hummel and bassist, Andy Seal, which was subsequently replaced by Jason Davoli in 2000, and Jonathan "Bug" Price in 2001. Plan 9 occasionally opened for Lifer at home shows. During one show, Burnley said, “Thank you, we’re Breaking Benjamin”, reclaiming the name from earlier in 1998.
After a successful independently-released self-titled EP (which sold all 2,000 printed copies), Breaking Benjamin signed with Hollywood Records in early 2002. They then released their full-length major-label debut, Saturate, on August 27, 2002. It peaked at #2 on the Billboard Top Heatseekers Chart, and at #136 on the Billboard Top 200.
Its first single, "Polyamorous", received moderate radio play but failed to reach mainstream audiences. Three versions of a video for "Polyamorous" were released: one purely live-action footage, one with footage of the video game Run Like Hell and one a variation of the second, but with the Run Like Hell scenes replaced by scenes of people in flirtatious acts. This song was featured on the game WWE SmackDown! vs. Raw and also featured on WWE Day of Reckoning.
The second single was "Skin", which fared worse than "Polyamorous". Burnley has stated his disdain for the song during performances, and encourages the crowd to sing while the band plays. The disdain is because Hollywood Records chose it as the main single instead of the band's choice, "Medicate".
They planned on releasing a studio version of their cover of "Enjoy the Silence" (along with "Lady Bug") on the European version of Saturate, but this version was never released. "Lady Bug" was later released on the So Cold EP, and on the Japanese version of We Are Not Alone.
"Wish I May" is played during the closing credits of the 2003 horror film, Wrong Turn.
We Are Not Alone (2004–2005)
Breaking Benjamin released their second album, We Are Not Alone, on June 29, 2004. It featured the lead single "So Cold", which reached #2 on the United States Billboard Mainstream Rock chart. Two music videos were made for "So Cold", one a promotional video for the movie Hellboy. "So Cold" spent 37 weeks in the Top 20 of the Billboard charts.
Other singles from the album were "Sooner or Later" and a re-recorded, full band version of "Rain" (only on later pressings of the album). "Sooner or Later" received significant radio play, reaching #2 on the Mainstream Rock Charts. A music video for the song was released. The song was performed live on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno".
The songs "Rain", "Forget It" and "Follow" were co-written by The Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan and Burnley over six days in December 2003. Burnley stated he was initially nervous about working with Corgan, but later felt comfortable. He called the experience one of the highlights of his career.
Jeremy Hummel temporarily left the band in August 2004 to spend time with his newborn child, and was replaced by Kevin Soffera, who played with the band on Late Night with Conan O'Brien and Last Call with Carson Daly. He performed the songs "Away" and "Breakdown" on the So Cold EP. Hummel returned to the band in September 2004 and was later fired. On September 28, 2005, Hummel filed a federal lawsuit against Breaking Benjamin and its management, claiming he was owed money for songs he helped write. The suit sought over $8 million in damages. Hummel did not receive any money for We Are Not Alone, which he co-authored. The band took Ben "B.C." Vaught as its new drummer, until early 2005, when he was replaced by Chad Szeliga.
The song "Firefly" was featured in the WWE SmackDown! vs. Raw video game, released November 2004.
We Are Not Alone went platinum in mid-2005. A "platinum edition" of We Are Not Alone was then released, including the full-band version of "Rain".
Breaking Benjamin released Phobia on August 8, 2006, leading with the single "The Diary of Jane", which made it to #4 on the U.S. Modern Rock Charts.
On February 11, 2007, HDNet aired a one-hour Breaking Benjamin concert from Stabler Arena in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. This concert was included on the re-released Phobia DVD in April 2007, billed as "The Homecoming". The band had their first #1 hit on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks with "Breath". The music video for "Breath" was made of footage from the song's performance at the Stabler Arena show.
On June 29, 2007, Breaking Benjamin performed "Breath" on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. On July 6, they played the song on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. They toured 36 venues in Fall 2007, with Three Days Grace, Seether, Skillet (first half) and Red (second half).
On October 23, 2007, Breaking Benjamin released all of their music videos on iTunes, in a set titled "Nightmares".
On May 21, 2009 Phobia went platinum.
Dear Agony (2009–2010)
David Bendeth, who produced Breaking Benjamin's two previous studio albums, also produced their fourth, Dear Agony. Jasen Rauch, guitarist for Red, co-wrote four of the album's songs: "I Will Not Bow", "Hopeless", "Lights Out" and "Without You".
On August 11, 2009, Breaking Benjamin's hometown radio station, WBSX (97.9X) in Wilkes-Barre, premiered the album's first single, "I Will Not Bow". The song streamed on the band's MySpace page that day. It was released to radio stations on August 17, and on iTunes on September 1. It quickly became a Top Ten best-selling song on iTunes, and Dear Agony was a top-selling album. A music video for "I Will Not Bow" premiered on the band's MySpace page on August 21.
On September 28, Dear Agony was officially released in Australia. The next day, it was released in the United States. Some versions of Dear Agony came with a DVD of the band's six music videos, one a new version of the "I Will Not Bow" video. This version contains no footage from the film Surrogates, unlike the original online version.
Dear Agony went gold in February 2010.
On June 15, 2010, the third single, "Lights Out", was released.
That summer, Burnley played two acoustic shows with friend Aaron Bruch (the bass player of Chad Szeliga's side project, OurAfter). This was the first time "Forget It" and "Follow" were performed live. The two also covered songs by Tool, Queen, Michael Jackson, Deftones, Alice in Chains, and Cyndi Lauper.
Hiatus, greatest hits album and legal issues (2010–present)
In the summer of 2010, Breaking Benjamin announced an indefinite hiatus, due to Burnley's recurring illnesses. Guitarist Fink and bassist Klepaski rejoined their old band, Lifer, and Szeliga toured with his other band, OurAfter.
On June 7, 2011, a remixed version of "Blow Me Away", featuring Valora, was released. An animated music video for the remix was released on August 24. On June 30, 2011, Rock Access posted the tracklist for the band's greatest hits album, Shallow Bay: The Best of Breaking Benjamin, and for its "deluxe edition". It was released on August 16, as a one-disc "standard edition" and a two-disc "deluxe edition" (featuring b-sides and rarities). Burnley publicly opposed the album's release, saying content had been altered and released without his consent, and that it did not meet his standards.
In May 2011, Burnley fired bandmates Fink and Klepaski. Shortly after, a dispute over the new version of "Blow Me Away" went public. Burnley gave his side of the dispute in a June court filing, saying Fink and Klepaski made unilateral and unauthorized decisions on behalf of the band, such as giving permission in May for the remixing of "Blow Me Away". Burnley seeks at least $250,000 and the exclusive right to the "Breaking Benjamin" name. Burnley has stated he plans to revive the band when the lawsuit is settled.
Little was heard from the band throughout 2012, the only exception being a February 2012 interview with Szeliga, where he assured fans that the band was still together, and that he looked forward to working on another record in the future. On April 19, 2013, Burnley announced that the legal issues had finally ended, with Burnley winning the rights to the name of the band. However, Szeliga posted an announcement on his Facebook page on April 22 that he was leaving the band, due to creative differences. In November 2013, Burnley played a number of acoustic performances around the Wilkes-Barre area, playing Breaking Benjamin songs.
Breaking Benjamin's musical style has mainly been categorized as alternative metal and post-grunge. The band have also been labeled as alternative rock hard rock and heavy metal.
- Current members
- Benjamin Burnley – lead vocals, rhythm guitar (1998–present)
- Former members
- Nicholaus Hoover – bass guitar (1998)
- Chris Lightcap – drums, percussion (1998)
- Andy Seal (Plan 9) - bass guitar (1999)
- Jason Davoli (Plan 9) – bass guitar (2000)
- Jonathan "Bug" Price – bass guitar, backing vocals (2001)
- Jeremy Hummel – drums, percussion (1999–2004)
- Aaron Fink – lead guitar, backing vocals (1998; 2001–2011)
- Mark Klepaski – bass guitar (2001–2011)
- Chad Szeliga – drums, percussion (2005–2013)
- Touring members
- Kevin Soffera – drums, percussion (2004)
- Ben "BC" Vaught – drums, percussion (2004–2005)
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