Breaking Benjamin Frontman Benjamin Burnley Discusses Mystery Illness and Pushing Through “Horrendous Pain”

Credit: Nicole NapierSince 2007, Breaking Benjamin frontman Benjamin Burnley has been suffering from a mysterious illness that causes dizziness and severe joint and muscle pain. His condition forced the band to cancel part of their 2010 tour and led to a five-year hiatus. While Breaking Benjamin has returned with Dark Before Dawn, their first new album in six years, Burnley's illness has stuck with him.

"I'm still extremely sick after getting the same answers from some 300 doctors: 'We don't know what's wrong with you,'" Burnley tells Rolling Stone. "The last time I was in a doctor's office, I slammed down my medical records, which are as thick as a phone book, and walked out. I'm tired of being a guinea pig. Now I push through the horrendous pain and do my thing."

Burnley even feels the pain when he's on stage performing, but he's found a way to use that to his advantage.

"The muscle and joint pain is so horrendous it distracts me from my other symptoms, so it's relieving in a sick way," he explains. "Basically, my only relief is intense pain."

Burnely even wrote some of the lyrics and riffs to Dark Before Dawn, the band's first number-one album on the Billboard 200, while visiting doctors' offices.

"I am pushing through all this bulls**t and the music is getting a great response," says Burnley. "It makes me really optimistic that things can be pleasant through darkness. You can still have a great time while you're suffering as long as you're strong enough to endure your pain."

Breaking Benjamin will be touring in support of Dark Before Dawn with a series of acoustic shows starting July 1, in Asheville, North Carolina, followed by a proper electric tour beginning July 14 in Big Flats, New York.

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