Middletown drummer joins Breaking Benjamin

Shaun Foist is a grad of Madison High.

Breaking Benjamin has been repaired — with local help.

The post-grunge, alternative rock band, popular for such 2000s hits as “So Cold” and “Breath,” has returned after a four-year hiatus with four new members, including drummer Shaun Foist of Middletown. An eight-date acoustic tour in the northeast kicks off in mid-October.

“I’ve always felt my drumming style was perfect for the band,” said Foist. “I was a fan of them way before I got in.”

Foist had just graduated from Madison High School when he first heard the the choppy, downtuned guitars of Breaking Benjamin’s breakthrough EP. While Breaking Benjamin eventually released four studio albums and several Billboard-charts hits, Foist went on to drum with California melodic, screamo band Picture Me Broken. When Foist’s 2013 tour with Marilyn Manson and Alice Cooper ended, he couldn’t resist tryouts for a longtime favorite band.

Years before, Foist had met Breaking Benjamin on their tour bus, after a show. When lead singer and guitarist Ben Burnley reviewed Foist’s YouTube audition videos, a chord struck.

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“I watched and said, ‘Hey, that’s the guy from the bus,’ ” said Burnley. “ ‘He’s really, really good.’ ”

Lawsuits over the band’s name and song rights, as well as Burnley’s health issues, caused the band to disband in 2010. Burnley, as the only remaining original member, hired two guitarists and a bassist, in addition to Foist. That’s one more guitarist than the original band. Changes don’t stop there. Gone is the band’s digital track played during performances, as well as a drummer’s metronome. Now, Foist can alter drum speed, at will, during live shows.

“Everything you hear at a show is actually there,” said Burnley.

To Burnley, the lineup fits better than ever, thanks to the members’ similar sounds and mutual respect. As the band’s sole songwriter for its 13-year existence, Burnley receives instantaneous help with needed guitar riffs or bridges — something he felt missing, before.

“This is what the band has always needed to be,” he said.

Foist first grabbed drumsticks at age 5 to play cardboard boxes while on his dad’s lap. By age 10 he had moved to his dad’s set, then local talent competitions, then his first band — formed from the 100-plus fliers he distributed at Cincinnati music stores.

“We knew he was naturally gifted at an early age,” said his mom, Collette, of Middletown.

Just after Foist’s acceptance in the national act was solidified, his father — and drumming inspiration — died from cancer.

“My dad was my biggest fan,” said Foist. “ I’m so glad he was able to hear I made it.”

To Foist, “making it” is being in a national act, with the potential for national radio time and national tours. The band is writing new songs to release a new album — a second act for the still popular band. Their three September shows in Burnley’s home state of Pennsylvania sold out within hours.

“People are so excited for new stuff because it’s been so long,” said Foist. “The band is ultimately a family. I couldn’t ask for anything better.”

Contact this contributing writer at dayh04@gmail.com.

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