Keith Wallen / Breaking Benjamin star living his dreams making new music

Keith Wallen was recently on tour alongside Red, and MetalTalk spoke to the talented Breaking Benjamin guitarist in the tour bus as he headed to another gig.

MTTV Episode 40 – Keith Wallen, Breaking Benjamin

Interview: Dany Jones

“I apologize,” Wallen said, “I’m in a moving bus. The internet might not be the best, but it’s the best I can do at the moment.” That’s the life of the road for you.

Keith Wallen was in Adelitas Way until 2013 and had his big break with Breaking Benjamin in 2014. “When I was in Adelitas Way,” Wallen said, “We actually did a tour with Breaking Benjamin and even the band that I was in before, called Copper, we had played a few shows opening for Breaking Benjamin.”

After Keith had left Adelitas Way, Benjamin Burnley reached out to Keith via Facebook. “He was going through this reforming process and asked if I was interested in trying out,” Keith says. “It was a thrill that he remembered who I was and remembered me from the tours. So, yeah, I did the audition. I sent in a video at first, and then later, I got called back to meet up in person with some of the other guys, and we jammed for a while. Fast forward, what, seven/eight years now, it’s crazy how the time has flown by, but here we are.”

Wallen released his EP, Allies, in 2014. “That was my first solo effort,” Keith says. “That was pretty much real, kind of a raw and basic. Just me in my apartment recording some songs with piano and stuff. Nothing too crazy. But it was kind of an experiment. I’ve never done that before, but it was fun, and people still like those songs. I have a song called Hello Houston. We just played Houston last night, so I had to break out the old song, but it was cool.”

An incredible vocalist and a multi-instrumentalist, does he feel at home on the piano? “A little bit,” Keith says. “I definitely wouldn’t call myself a piano player, but I use it just for writing purposes. Playing the piano, because it’s not my first instrument, is kind of foreign. It almost makes you think about the music more and less about just playing an instrument. It helps to free up my mind when I’m writing.”

Wallen released two acoustic covers in 2019, one a version of Shallow by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper from the film A Star is Born. “They were songs that I liked at that moment,” Keith says. “You know, there are tons of songs that I would love to do. Some of the songs are from these iconic artists, and I feel like some of those songs you just don’t want to touch. But it’s usually just songs that hit me, and I’m like, oh, that would be fun to do, so not too much thought goes into it. I just kind of go for it.”

Fast forward to 2021, and the live stream with Love and Death was the highlight of my lockdown. Was Keith involved in writing The Hunter? “That was the first song that me and Jesen  [Rauch] just kind of messed with,” Keith says. “It led to some more writing on some of the other songs on the album. But yeah, that was a fun one. We had it for a few years, and then, over the pandemic, it kind of put this into overdrive, and I was super happy how it turned out. I was unbelievably honoured to be a part of the project. All those guys are so great and so amazing, and it was just cool to be included.”

Keith says he is happy to be part of an extended music community. “You meet people through mutual friends,” he says. “You all kind of like the same kind of music, so why not try to write some songs together here and there? That’s pretty much how it happens for me. I met Brian through Jason. I’ve met a lot of people just through touring with Breaking Benjamin and so many great talented artists that we get to play with. It’s just awesome. So, why not try to make music with some of these great artists?”

How does Keith compartmentalize that with so many projects ongoing in different styles and genres? “I just love music,” he says. “I want to make as much music as I can before I’m too old to sing and play the guitar. That’s basically it. I try to make time for it, you know. I live for it.”

Breaking Benjamin

Kieth Wallen released his solo album,  This World Or The Next, in 2021. “It was a fun process,” he says. “There are some songs that were not quite right for Breaking Benjamin. There are times when we’re off the road, and honestly, I get antsy. I want to stay busy and keep writing. Just get out there and play as much as I can.”

Writing an autobiographical album and expressing your innermost thoughts by opening up to the public can be an exposing experience. “It’s terrifying,” Keith says. “It’s terrifying because you never know if someone is going to like your music. Before a release day, I’m always pacing around. I’m a nervous wreck. But at some point, you say, I made this. Let it get out there for better or worse. Fortunately, it’s been great. Everybody has been so supportive, including my band. They brought me out on tour this last winter, this last December, and the fans have been absolutely incredible. So yeah, I’m just going to keep going and keep writing music and keep putting it out. I mean, that’s what musicians are supposed to do, right?”

What does the future hold for Keith Wallen? “Just more of the same,” he says. “We’re going to keep working and writing on a new Breaking Benjamin album. We’re writing all the time. As far as any new album news, it will be done when it’s done. That’s the safest thing to say. I’m going to keep writing music and keep getting out there and playing shows whenever I can.”

Does Keith have a dream for his career? “Each and every day, I’m absolutely living my dreams. As far as achievements that I set out to do when I was younger, I have more than surpassed them. So I am just walking on sunshine right now.”

Cover photo Courtney Dellafiora – covrtney.com

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