Imagine being able to sit down with members of one of your favorite bands, and discovering that they too are nerds, and have some of the same nerdy hobbies as yourself. After sharing our respective Star Wars tattoos (Ben has a gorgeous half sleeve in progress) I spoke with Ben Burnley and Aaron Bruch of Breaking Benjamin, and discovered their favorite fandoms and nerdy hobbies!
Breaking Benjamin started delivering their alternative hard rock sound in 1999. Founded by Ben Burnley (who is the primary composer), and Jeremy Hummel. They hail from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and have full-length albums to date, Ember being their most recent release. Aaron Bruch has played bass for the band since 2014.
But this day was not the day to get serious unless you’re talking seriously nerdy!
Do you incorporate your nerdiness into your music and into your music videos?
Ben: Yeah, we try to keep things mostly sci-fi in our music videos and in our live shows we do a little Star Wars montage thing. There are lightsabers involved (Ben’s drum kit is decked out with lightsabers of all kinds).
That is so cool!
Both: Yeah, you’re talking to the right guys.
What kinds of lightsabers do you use?
Ben: We use the Force Effects ones. The mass replica Force Effects.
We noticed in your video Ashes of Eden that it was very sci-fi.
So, all of our videos have some sort of sci-fi aspect to them.
I understand you’re currently doing as a trilogy of videos, not necessarily in a traditional sci-fi way, but in a murder mystery format.
There’s definitely a sci-fi aspect to it because this one now takes place in the nine circles of hell.
Like a Dante and Beatrice situation?
Yeah, exactly. The videos are Red Cold River and Torn In Two.
What is it that got you into science fiction? Was it literature, movies?
Aaron: I don’t know, it’s just always something I’ve been… that both of us have kind of been drawn to since childhood. I didn’t have the best childhood growing up, so sci-fi always gave me an escape, something that I could go to or you can pretend you’re somewhere else or be someone else so that was always really cool to me and it’s something that I’ve always stuck with all my life.
What do you think of all the conventions and the cosplayers who take on the roles of their characters?
Aaron: I think that looks like an incredible amount of work and it’s really cool to get to see some of that stuff. We’re usually on tour when conventions like that happen but I’ve always wanted to go to one. We’re from where the band started in Pennsylvania. So in Philadelphia, there’s a really big comic con that we have friends who actually dress up in full cosplay and go to.
Ben: Same. It’s actually the same friends.
I was doing research and saw you have done songs based on Spiderman and on some video games?
Ben: No, no Spiderman. I don’t know what that is from. But our first video ever that came out in 2002 and it had footage from… and the whole album was featured on a game, Run Like Hell and then later on, off the second album, we had a song featured in Halo 2. So we’ve always been like really interested in video games.
Aaron: Our songs have been in other video games here and there but those are the two earlier endeavors for video games.
I understand one of you plays World of Warcraft?
Ben: That’s him.
Aaron: I used to for a very long time. I’ve played a lot of World of Warcraft, starting at the beginning and I probably played right up until… not this expansion that just came out but the last one before it, Mists of Pandaria, I think it was. And I think that was the last one I actually played. But yeah, hundreds and hundreds of hours invested in that game. It was a lot of fun, I met a lot of cool people. One of the cool things about touring is pretty much everywhere we go, there’s somebody that I played World of Warcraft with and I get to actually like to meet people that I’ve played with for all those years.
Do they know who they were playing with?
Aaron: Yes, they do, and they think it’s hysterical. They think it’s hysterical, so it’s good, it’s a lot of fun.
Are you for the Horde?
Aaron: No, actually no, straight out of Coldridge. Yeah, Alliance.
I think you’re the first person I’ve met who is not Horde!
Aaron: Well, I had a friend I started playing with and he talked me into going Alliance. Because I was like, “The Horde looks cooler, the characters look cooler, and the racial abilities are better.” And they were like, “No, we’re going to be the good guys” and I was like, “I don’t think so” but anyway it was… So yeah, Gnome Warlock was my main character.
What did you think of the movie?
Aaron: I thought the movie was alright, for what they did. I mean it’s hard to pick what story to tell in that universe and I think they did a really good job of what they did.
Turning to Ben: And obviously, you have a fondness for Star Wars.
Looking at Ben’s hands: Are those Transformers tattoos?
Ben: Yeah. My pants are too tight, but I also have Superman on the back of my leg.
Have you seen Avengers Infinity Wars yet?
Ben: Not yet. But we definitely want to, yeah. I’m looking forward to it.
What did you think of The Last Jedi?
Ben: I liked it. I thought it was great. There were a lot of people that were complaining about The Last Jedi and I think it’s definitely our opinion that more Star Wars with people that actually care about the universe in control of it is a good thing.
Aaron: I think no matter what they do some people are going to complain about it. No matter what.
You’re still touring with your album Ember.
It just came out and we just started on the 13th of April.
The interview was over way too quickly; we could have talked nerdy with Ben and Aaron all day, but they had to get ready to hit the stage at Fort Rock on Sunday, April 29th. They played an incredible live set. Be sure to give their new album Ember a listen, and if you can catch them live, it’s a show you will always remember.