Breaking Benjamin's Frontman Gives Behind-the-Scenes Details on His Weekly Grind
Ride along with Benjamin Burnley as the rockers hit the road -- and nab their first No. 1 album.
Burnley, 37, learns through social media that Breaking Benjamin's fifth album, Dark Before Dawn, is No. 1 on the Billboard 200. "My management called, like they had big news for me," he says with a laugh. "I was like, 'Yeah, I already know...' "
The band rehearses for its five-date acoustic tour in a studio in Burnley's hometown of Ocean City, N.J. "It's a law office that I turned into a studio," the singer says. "People still come to the door looking for legal assistance. I'm like, 'Sorry, can't help you out.' "
The members pile into a tour bus for the 10-hour drive to the first gig in Asheville, N.C. "We do stupid things to keep occupied," says Burnley of passing time on the bus. "We'll do little skits that are satires of tour life. Like, someone will film me eating a bandmate's Pop-Tart. Then he'll come in, yelling, 'My tart!' "
The tour's "awesome" first show, at Asheville's Orange Peel, features original songs mixed with covers of classics by Queen, Tool and more. "We actually started as a cover band," explains Burnley, "so now and then we like to bust a few out."
The band rocks Ziggy's by the Sea in Wilmington, N.C., but its bus breaks down en route to the next show, in Athens, Ga. "When I woke up, we were in a parking lot. I thought, 'Cool, we made it,' " says Burnley. "Then I looked around, saw it was a truck stop and realized, 'Shit -- we didn't make it.' "
The group arrives at Athens' Georgia Theater, sans bus. Gear comes in a rented truck. Everything else? In a 1990s-model stretch limo. "Not our style, but the only ride our manager could find," says Burnley. "We packed it so full of people that when we piled out at the venue it looked like a clown car."
While the rest of the country celebrates, Burnley, who suffers from mysterious pain episodes that doctors haven't been able to diagnose, rests at a hotel in Knoxville, Tenn. "My back was hurting, and all my joints were inflamed," he says. "But there was a killer fireworks display, so I relaxed and watched that. Then I was ready to hit it hard again the next night."
This story originally appeared in the July 25 issue of Billboard.