Breaking Benjamin’s guitarist flies solo

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First Posted: 3/23/2015

Aaron Fink is turning a new leaf. The former Breaking Benjamin lead guitarist used the expression several times during a recent conversation when speaking about his debut solo album, “Saint Sylvania.” And perhaps that’s because he not only plays lead guitar on the album, but he also wrote all the songs and sings all the lead vocals.

Fink said he enjoyed the challenge of standing behind the microphone for the entire record.

“I’ve been in bands with great singers, so the necessity to sing an entire song was never there,” Fink said. “But what do they say? ‘Necessity is the mother of invention.’ I always sang a little bit. In most of the bands I was in, I sang backing vocals. For this album, I’d written and cataloged a bunch of songs over the past few years, and I decided to take a stab at it. In other bands, when I wrote lyrics, someone else sang them. I’m just not doing that now. And it was fun.”

Fink played in Breaking Benjamin for 10 years. During that time, he played on two gold and two platinum albums and toured the country with acts such as Godsmack, Korn, Three Doors Down and Evanescence. Locally, the band headlined shows at the Montage Mountain Amphitheater and the Mohegan Sun Arena. As a musician, Fink was featured in some of the country’s most prestigious guitar magazines, including Guitar World. Though Fink’s departure from Breaking Benjamin was stormy, he still chooses to look back on the decade he spent with the band with fondness.

“Everybody’s just moving on,” he said. “I’m proud of what I did in that band, and it is what it is. It’s preserved on the CDs. But everyone moves on.”

Last year, in addition to revealing he was working on a new solo album, Fink announced he had joined a new band, Gentleman East, which features several former members of The Badlees, including Bret Alexander, who produced “Saint Sylvania” at his own Saturation Acres Recording Studio. Two tracks on the album, “Standing On The Sun” and “Black Rose Garden,” have already received airplay on 105 The River. Fink said that when it came to writing the music for “Saint Sylvania,” he took a wide open approach. He did not intentionally try to steer away from the hard-rock sound for which he is best known, nor did he intentionally try to embrace it. He just went with the flow.

“I’ve always been into all sorts of all different kinds of music,” Fink said. “As a guitar player, I think I can play all kinds of genres somewhat convincingly. Who knows? Maybe I’m not the one to say. But I can play metal. I can play blues. I can play rock. And as far as my influences as a songwriter and a singer goes, they might be a little bit different. So when it came time to ‘not just be the guitar player,’ things took a little bit of a different shape. In a way, as a guitar player, there were less limits. And when you have to shape the whole thing yourself, and write all of the parts for all of the instruments, and produce it, and sing, it, things have to have more of a round shape and focus.”

Fink said the album’s lyrics are mostly personal.

“When I listened back to the record when it was done, I realized it seems to be coming more from inside me, and my point of view on things,” he said. “It’s personal stuff, whether it’s bad or good. But I also have other songs that aren’t as personal and are written in the third-person. I try and write in a way that a song can be universal, and someone else can relate to it, latch on to it and find some beauty in it.”

The album is available at Gallery of Sound stores, as well as iTunes, Amazon and CD Baby. Fink said his primary goal with the album is simply to have people hear his music.

“It’s all about songs,” he said. “I’m just interested in writing songs and putting them out. The goal isn’t ‘Hey, look at me. I’m the lead singer now.’ It’s all about, ‘I’m writing a bunch of songs. Here they are.’”