Breaking Benjamin

For some bands, touring is a dream come true. Not so for Breaking Benjamin singer/guitarist Ben Burnley. In his eyes, the whole process is tiresome and tedious.

“I’m not a big fan of it,” Burnley told Pollstar. “If I could go out on tour for two weeks and then go home, I’d be happy.”

Not only does Burnley despise his lack of privacy while on the road, but he also has to face the responsibility of being the band’s frontman.

“With me being the singer, I have to do everything,” he explained. “And when something is wrong, I’m the first one to get blamed.

“I never really wanted to be a singer, but I’m the only one who can really do it in the band, so I do it.”

There’s also the issue of touring through the same city twice.

“Everywhere we’re going, we’ve been there. There’s nothing new to it.”

Burnley may complain about life on the road, but that hasn’t stopped Breaking Benjamin from touring relentlessly in support of its second full-length release, 2004’s platinum-selling We Are Not Alone.

By the time the alternative metal quartet is done touring the album, manager Larry Mazer of Entertainment Services Unlimited estimates the group will have 200 to 250 shows under its belt.

“With all [Ben’s] bitching about touring, we’re only in our second single and we’ve already got 140 shows on this record,” Mazer told Pollstar. “He’ll complain about it every minute, but he has not yet said, ‘I’m going home.'”

Breaking Benjamin is booked all summer with 3 Doors Down and plans a headline run around year-end, Mazer said. And if We Are Not Alone is still drawing success, he says the band will do another round of dates.

In his 30-plus years in the music business, Mazer has managed the likes of KISS, Cinderella, Cheap Trick, Pat Benatar, Anthrax, Megadeth and more. He offered an explanation for Burnley’s struggle with life on the road.

“The post-Kurt Cobain world is different from the world I’m used to,” Mazer said. “Bands wanted to play and tour non-stop. [Ben] comes from more of the anti-star Pearl Jam / Nirvana mentality of, ‘It’s all a pain in the ass.'”

There is an upside for Burnley, however. One of the most satisfying elements of touring is watching fans line up outside venues to see the band.

Breaking Benjamin

“It’s crazy to see some of the places we play where there are lines around the block and they’re all there to see us,” Burnley said. “If I walk outside, people start screaming and it’s surreal. That’s great, but it’s only an hour. The rest of the 23 hours pretty much suck.”

Pennsylvania-based Breaking Benjamin got used to drawing large crowds when it started playing local shows in 2001.

“There was a huge band scene going on there,” Burnley said. “You could pack 2,000 kids in a club pretty regularly. … We pretty much stayed in Wilkes-Barre and played twice a week and sold out all the time.”

It didn’t take long for the band to get a record deal once Mazer came into the picture. After sending out demos, he received interest from many labels. Two showcases later, he got the band a deal with Hollywood Records.

“From the time I committed to managing the band to the time we signed a record contract with Hollywood Records was six weeks,” Mazer said.

Next up, the manager recruited The Agency Group’s Andy Somers, who has landed Breaking Benjamin opening slots for Evanescence, Saliva, the Jagermeister Music Tour, Godsmack, Fuel, and Korn. Now, he’s proud to say the band is successfully headlining.

“It’s a really well-executed musical show,” Somers told Pollstar. “Breaking Benjamin is striking a nerve and have found themselves an audience.”

One audience the band won’t visit anytime soon, however, is the overseas one. Burnley has made it perfectly clear to his label, manager, agent and bandmates that he will not set foot on an airplane. No way, no how.

“My label doesn’t like for me to say it, but it’s hard for me because I refuse to fly,” Burnley said. “I take a tour bus pretty much everywhere I go.”

Does this pose a problem with the rest of the band?

“They all knew that when they signed on,” he said. “It’s like, ‘Hey, if you don’t like it, go try and find another band and get signed again.'”

Although Mazer knew what he was getting himself into early on, Burnley’s no-fly decision is still hard to swallow.

“Every one of my clients has a worldwide presence,” Mazer said. “It’s very frustrating that we’re a platinum act only in the States. I think we could be very successful all around the world, but we’ll probably never have the opportunity to be.”