Benjamin Jackson Burnley was born in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on March 10, 1978. When he was twelve, his family moved to Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania. He was homeschooled from age sixteen and quickly passed his GED requirements graduating much earlier than if he continued in public school. He moved to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, at twenty-one and met the original Breaking Benjamin bassist, Jonathan Price. After getting married, he returned to Ocean City to give his son the same type of childhood he had. Over the years, Burnley has collaborated with numerous artists gaining most of his success from the group Breaking Benjamin. These are 10 things you didn’t know about Benjamin Burnley.
1. Fan tattoo
He has a Nirvana tattoo on his arm. Burnley got it when he was fifteen years old. According to Tattoo, he went to a trailer to get it after his mom gave permission. Twenty-three years later, it’s still his favorite tattoo. Like fans who get Breaking Benjamin tattoos, Nirvana is his favorite band. He looks at the Tattoo as an honor and tribute to the group.
2. Friends and bandmates
Burnley wasn’t always happy when he was with Breaking Benjamin. He felt the original lineup was very talented and capable, but they had intense personality conflicts and couldn’t see eye to eye on music and what to record. So, after reforming the band, Burnley chose musicians who share a common view with his style. He feels that since music is a creative endeavor, everyone needs to be on the same page to function the way it should. Additionally, Burnley thinks that if the band members aren’t getting along, it reflects the music.
3. Co-writing with a legend
In 2003, Burnley wrote three songs with Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan; Rain, Forget It, and Follow. The songs appeared on the album. We are not alone. Burnley said he was intimidated by Corgan and felt uneasy about working with him because he is a music legend. However, as time went on, he began to feel more comfortable, and the collaboration was one of the highlights of his career.
He is a recovering alcoholic. In an interview with Rolling Stone, he talked about getting sick in 2007. Burnley felt a lot of it was from the excessive amount of drinking he was doing. There were times when he sated up for three days and would get so weak, he’d see spots. Even though he’s stayed sober, the doctors still aren’t sure what is going on with him, but understands staying sober will help the symptoms. When he first got sick, he took years off the road but finally pushed past the symptoms and continued performing.
5. Channeling life in lyric
Many of the songs on Breaking Benjamin’s albums reflect Burnley’s litany of fears and phobias. He will not get on a plane which has hindered the band’s success. When Burnley travels, he will only do so on a boat. Additionally, he fears the dark, which plays into his fear of flying because his fear of dying is intense. Furthermore, he doesn’t drive unless absolutely necessary.
He only uses one type of guitar, the Custom ESP with Seymour Duncans. It is has a baritone scale which is not standard, which is likely why Breaking Benjamin’s music has such a unique sound. One of the reasons he’s remained loyal to the brand is because his former company wanted him to pay an exorbitant rate on his custom guitars, and he thought that as unreasonable. He would only consider changing if the company paid for and the guitar he used.
7. Secret to success
Even though Breaking Benjamin has enjoyed immense success, Burney feels like it’s about the music and songs. According to Music Rader, he cited Nirvana and Korn as an example. He said, “we’re not setting out to sell millions; we just want to make music that feels sincere. I think that’s something people really attach to. You can’t fool them with insincerity….” Even though Burnley has strong feelings about what he needs to do for his success, he feels that everyone in the music industry has to chart their own course.
8. Thanking the fans
Throughout his career, there has been one thing that Burnley consistently remembers; it’s the group’s fans that have been the driving force behind his success. During multiple interviews, he’s mentioned humbleness and gratitude. In addition, when he says to his fans, it’s with awe and amazement that they have supported the group for so long. Burnley feels that no one in the music industry should take credit for their successes; it’s a matter of finding your sound, and then the fans determine your success.
When Burnley isn’t performing or writing music, he enjoys playing video games. Several times, he’s combined his love of music with his passion for video games and writing songs for the games, including Blow Me Away for Halo 2. One of Breaking Benjamin’s smash hits, Polyamorous, has been used on multiple video games including, Run Like Hell, WWE Smackdown! Vs. Raw, and WWE Day of Reckoning. The Diary of Jane appears in the Nascar 7 game. There is one game he’s passed on when asked to do a song, Electronic Arts’ Reboot of Star Wars: Battlefront. The company felt the addition of his music would help the game sell. However, Burnley declined, feeling the game was a bad addition to the Star Wars franchise.
10. No love lost
Burnley fired guitarist Aaron Fincke and bassist Mark Klepaski in an email after the pair did an unauthorized remix of Blow Me Away. Even though Fincke and Kepaski denied the allegations, the issue went to court after Burnley sued them for $250,000 and complete control of the Breaking Benjamin logo. Even though Burnley has never been shy about firing people and reworking the band over the years, Breaking Benjamin has still remained successful since 2000. Quite likely, it’s Burney’s commitment to music and wanting the group to operate at a hundred and fifty percent.