Breaking Benjamin returned from a nearly half-decade hiatus and climbed to the top of the mountain in June with their first-ever No. 1 album, “Dark Before Dawn.” Now they’re returning to the Pavilion at Montage Mountain in Scranton on Sept. 18.
Benjamin Burnley’s return home finds him at the top of the mountain, but he doesn’t forget the places he visited during his ascent. He’s excited to play for his hometown fans and he’s proud to have been a part of the Wilkes-Barre scene that incubated Breaking Benjamin. Tinks, The Voodoo Lounge, Brews Brothers, The Staircase—Burnley described a full-on music scene that resembled New York and Seattle. Most of the venues he named are closed, but that doesn’t stop him from being reminded of where the band came from.
Burnley, lead vocalist and guitarist, and his new band mates—guitarists Jasen Rauch and Keith Wallen, bassist Aaron Bruch and drummer Shaun Foist—have only been a band since late 2014, but they’ve already spent a lot of time on the road together. They’ve completed a small acoustic tour and they’re currently splitting their time between headline shows and radio festivals. Burnley is aware of the reception his band’s new album is receiving, and he’s happy to be on the road supporting the release and playing for fans.
“A humongous thank you to everybody who’s really digging what we’re doing and we’re just absolutely humbled and grateful to be able to be up there and be on tour,” Burnley said. “It’s all because of the fans—we’re really fan-driven. We’re really stoked that people love the album and we’re just really thankful for their support.”
Burnley chose the new members of Breaking Benjamin very carefully. Wallen and Bruch were brought on board for their skills as vocalists as well as instrumentalists. The duo laid down the backing vocals for “Dark Before Dawn”—a task Burnley took on during the sessions for all previous Breaking Benjamin albums by recording his voice multiple times. This group effort transcends the studio and has a direct impact on the band’s live show.
“It’s really cool to have all the elements that the band always should have had, (like) really prominent and full singers, not just guys that can get it done or do a good enough job,” Burnley said. “We needed full-on singers. Just because you’re doing background vocals doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be absolutely perfect (and) sang right. That’s something that I’m super proud of.”
In addition to two prominent vocalists, Burnley also added a third guitarist to the band. Some Breaking Benjamin songs feature three guitar parts, some feature layered guitars and some—like “I Will Not Bow” and “Lights Out”—were meant to feature Burnley on vocals without his guitar. Burnley said that the addition of a third guitarist provides the band with more freedom while simultaneously thickening up their live sound.
The addition of a V-Kit, or virtual drum kit, was the last piece of the authentic live show that Burnley was searching for.
“He has a V-Kit that’s integrated into his drums, so he’s able to trigger everything live so we don’t run any tracks—we just go up and play the song live,” Burnley said. “Everything you see at a Breaking Benjamin show now is 100 percent live. It’s done by a human so it’s really freeing. If we want to extend a part we don’t have to worry about any tracks not lining up. Our guitars sound so sick and we don’t play to any tracks, we just go up and jam and have a good time. We’re really proud of the work that we do and we’re really stoked that we can give the fans an absolute genuine experience when they come to see the band.”
And that’s what fans will get at the Pavilion at Montage Mountain. The mountain’s size and capabilities—that’s where they’ve gone, and on Sept. 18, Burnley and Breaking Benjamin are inviting hometown fans to the top of the mountain with them. Presale tickets for the show are available from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. July 15. Venue sales are from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. July 16. General ticket sales begin at noon on July 17.
Reach Gene Axton at 570-991-6121 or at [email protected]