Breaking Benjamin Break

Pennsylvania rockers bring back the Seattle sound

August 12, 2004 12:00 AM ET
When Breaking Benjamin singer Ben Burnley was growing up in tiny Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, he wasn't really into music. "I'd just see Twisted Sister and all that Eighties shit," he says. "I couldn't even fathom why people got into bands."

Then came Nirvana. "I'd never heard anything like 'Smells Like Teen Spirit,'" says Burnley, now twenty-four. "That band opened my mind completely."

Burnley and his bandmates (including fellow high schoolers Aaron Fink on guitar and Markus James on bass) remain true believers in the power of early-Nineties alt-rock, going so far as to recruit Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan to write songs for their second album, We Are Not Alone (which debuted in July at Number Twenty on the pop chart). "I wanted the band to sound different, and the best way to do that was to get Billy," Burnley says.

Burnley croons like a more sinister Gavin Rossdale on the standout "Firefly"; and "Forget It," one of three tracks he wrote with Corgan, sounds like a great, long-lost Pumpkins ballad.

Now all the band has to worry about is what to do with Burnley's mom, who's been a vocal supporter since day one. "She comes to a lot of our shows," says the singer. "But they're getting really violent. You don't want Mom in the pit."

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Music Main Next
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“Madame George”

Van Morrison | 1968

One of the first stream-of-consciousness epics to make it onto a Van Morrison record, his drawn-out farewell to the eccentric "Madame George" lasted nearly 10 minutes, combining ingredients from folk, jazz and classical music. The character that gave the song its title provoked speculation that it was about a drag queen, though Morrison denied this in Rolling Stone. "If you see it as a male or a female or whatever, it's your trip," he remarked. "I see it as a ... a Swiss cheese sandwich. Something like that."

More Song Stories entries »