When Breaking Benjamin started playing around Wilkes-Barre, they were far from a carbon copy of Lifer -- instead, they favored a radio-friendly post-grunge approach that was aggressive and forceful yet melodic. The band's various influences include, among others, Live, Bush, Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots, and Nirvana. Burnley has been quoted as saying that at age 14, he taught himself to play guitar by listening to Nirvana's seminal 1991 release Nevermind over and over. Korn and Tool have also been cited as influences, but unlike Korn, Breaking Benjamin doesn't have strong hip-hop leanings and isn't quite alternative metal -- hard alternative rock, certainly, but not quite alternative metal. However, that isn't to say that Breaking Benjamin hasn't been influenced by certain aspects of Korn's sound. The Pennsylvanians do incorporate the sort of choppy, downtuned guitars that are quite prevalent in alterna-metal, and even though Breaking Benjamin has a lot in common with post-grunge bands like Creed, Default, Cinema8, and Third Eye Blind, they tend to be a bit heavier.
In 2001, Breaking Benjamin's Wilkes-Barre gigs caught the attention of a local radio DJ named Freddie Fabbri, who was an on-air personality at alterna-rock station WBSX-FM. Fabbri put their song "Polyamorous" in rotation, and he also financed the recording of their self-titled debut EP -- which, in 2001, ended up selling about 2,000 copies in and around Wilkes-Barre. It was also in 2001 that Breaking Benjamin signed with Hollywood Records, which united the band with Ulrich Wild (a busy producer/engineer who has worked with Powerman 5000, Stabbing Westward, White Zombie, Static-X, Pantera, Slipknot, and quite a few others). Wild serves as both producer and engineer on Breaking Benjamin's first full-length album, Saturate, which Hollywood released in August 2002. We Are Not Alone followed two years later, complete with a few collaborations with Billy Corgan; the band landed a primo spot on the Evanescence tour in support of the effort, as three of the album's singles made their way onto the Billboard charts ("So Cold" and "Sooner or Later" both peaked at number two in Mainstream Rock).
Breaking Benjamin issued their third album, Phobia, in August 2006 before heading out on nationwide headlining dates with Evans Blue and Dropping Daylight in tow. The album featured new drummer Chad Szeliga and was spearheaded by the single "The Diary of Jane," which quickly heated up airwaves and helped the album debut at number two on the Billboard charts. Phobia was reissued that fall with additional bonus tracks, while the band continued touring alongside Godsmack. After the tour, Breaking Benjamin dove back into the studio to begin work on their fourth full-length. The resulting Dear Agony, fueled by the first single "I Will Not Bow," arrived in the summer 2009.
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