Breaking Benjamin guitarist Keith Wallen prepares to unleash his sophomore solo album, Infinity Now, via Rise Records on May 3. Infinity Now is the follow-up to This World or the Next (2021), which was preceded by The EP Allies (2014). This catchy and radio-friendly ten-song modern-rock offering is bound to prove a successful crowd-pleaser. Wallen expertly combines various influences, displaying his strengths as a composer and songwriter. Also known for his past work with Adelitas Way, for example, Wallen is clearly a highly accomplished artist, yet he still has so much potential to continue conquering new peaks within the music industry.

Fortunately, we were able to sit down with Keith to discuss Infinity Now ahead of its release. Please enjoy the discussion that follows.

Thank you so much for this interview. Of course, I really enjoyed Infinity Now. Could you please tell me what you would like listeners to keep in mind going into it?

Oh gosh, well, for them to just enjoy it for what it is. It’s just music. It’s just a way to escape. Just listen to it, and, you know, that’s it — just enjoy it. I think the world has so many negative things just kind of coming at us, so much just bad news both on the news and social media. There’s so much stuff we’re bombarded with. There’s just a lot of negativity. And, you know, life itself is just hard sometimes. I really want to be the kind of artist that just creates the kind of music that someone can listen to and just escape from the world for a little bit and just enjoy.

Could you please tell me a little bit about your creative process both in regard to composing the music and lyrics?

Sometimes, it starts with a little bit of melody, and then you kind of fit some words into some syllables. Other times, it starts with the music. You get a riff or something or some kind of core phrasing, and you kind of piece it together that way. Sometimes, I start with just a title of a song and kind of go that way, kind of reverse engineer it. And then, working with different writers and stuff, sometimes they’ll have a little idea that’s a little starting point. So, it could go a whole multitude of ways.

Thanks. I was wondering about the fact that you collaborated with different great artists. This album is extremely cohesive while still being beautifully varied. So, was it hard for you to make everything fit together so seamlessly?

Well, I mean, that’s just it, right, you really said it. I was so lucky to just be able to work with some amazing people, some real talent, both on the songwriting front and on the producer front there. So, yeah, I mean, as far as cohesion of the album goes, I think in a session, if you come away with a song, and you’re not really feeling it, and you’re kind of like, “Well, I don’t know if that’s right,” then you can kind of make that determination and say, “Well, maybe that’s not quite right for this album and my project. Maybe it could be better on some other project or something.” But, thankfully, with this new partnership with Rise Records, my label, we were kind of able to look at the songs and kind of decipher that like, “Alright, this maybe isn’t quite right. Maybe we’ll hang onto this one for a little bit longer.” So, yeah, fortunately, I’m not just stuck with what I have, and it doesn’t have to come out the way it is. You can kind of mess with it and tweak it a little bit.

So, Rise was great to work with, as you said, and they gave you creative guidance?

Yeah, absolutely. I think it’s really a full partnership with it, with those guys and gals. Yeah, it’s been great so far. I think coming into it, it was like, “You’re going to have full creative control.” But at the same time, I listen to what people’s opinions are. I take advice from all sides. I try to be open-minded about things and really listen to some real experts. And even on the music and the writing side of things, I try to surround myself with people that are much more talented than I am. So, therefore, I can hopefully learn something, and they can hopefully bring the best out of me.

Did you have ideas that you had held onto from your first solo album?

Let me think here. Not really. I think I had some ideas, but maybe I had them in a list of ideas and options to kind of mess with. But I think in the end, I just kind of ended up just starting with some new ideas and some fresh newer stuff. I think that’s something that’s common with artists and bands. They always tend to gravitate toward the song that they just wrote because it’s the freshest idea. Lots of times it’s a statement on their evolution. So, I think they’re probably more excited about it, and I definitely can speak for myself too. I’m kind of like, “Oh man, I’m really jazzed on this new idea I just came up with.” But that just happens. I mean, I do have some older ideas that I could probably revisit, and maybe I will. So, it’s nice to have options.

What do you think surprised you most about Infinity Now as it unfolded?

What surprised me the most?! Gosh, I don’t know if there’s really any surprises, but I think just the fact that I’m making music. I’m just so grateful to be doing this and to be the creator and to be able to get out there and play shows. So, you know, I think while it’s happening, it goes by so fast because it’s just such a special moment to be in that creation process like, “Man, I’m making a new album. I’m in the studio. This is so awesome.” I just love the whole process, and I love seeing songs come together. And, you know, the producer that I work with, Kevin Thrasher, it was just a really great experience working with him and all parties and all the writing sessions and everything. It was really cool. So, yeah, I don’t know if surprise is the word, but just being in the moment and just trying to be like, “Alright, let’s try to come up with the coolest thing possible. Let’s make the best art we can and just really focus on enjoying the process.”

Based on what you said, it sounds like everything went really well with the production, yes?

Absolutely. I was thrilled with how it turned out. I guess I can go back and say that the recording process only took a couple of weeks, so that was surprising to me. So there you go: That’s the answer you’ve been waiting for. That was surprising. It went pretty fast, so I was fortunate in that.

What would you say was the biggest challenge during the making of the album?

I think that, you know, making sure that the songs are up to par with what’s out there right now. You want to come out with something that’s competitive, not to say that there’s any kind of competition with anybody, but you want to try to get stuff that’s on the radio and that sounds good on the radio with other bands. So, that’s always a focus. The lyrical content… That just goes back to the actual writing of the songs. You just want to put your best foot forward and try to make the songs the best you can. And, you know, writing a song is not easy. That’s just difficult in itself.

Obviously, you incorporated a lot of different kinds of influences into the album. A couple of your inspirations that I especially love are Alice in Chains and Stone Temple Pilots. So, I was wondering: Do you have favorite songs by either one of those two bands?

Oh man. Gosh. Now, this is a hard question. You’re making me choose something here. There’s so many great songs. “Down in a Hole” is just a great one, but I love “Man in the Box” too. STP, I mean, I love that whole first album. I remember that Core was one of the first albums that I got when I was in junior high and starting high school. I was like, man, I love this. So, I just literally wore it out. I played it on my CD player until the CD player was like, “No, we’re done.” But as far as songs go, “Plush” was always a good one because that was one of the first songs I learned how to play on guitar, the little opening riff. “Dead & Bloated.” “Sex Type Thing.” That whole album is great. “Wicked Garden.” And then, the next album, Purple, was amazing. “Big Empty.” I remember hearing “Big Empty” on a movie trailer for The Crow. I don’t think the album was out yet, but I remember hearing that song on the trailer, and I was like, “Dude, I think that’s a Stone Temple Pilots song. I think that’s a new song of theirs.” And sure enough, it came out, and I was like, “Man, I knew it.” And I loved it.

Is there anything that you’d like to say about any of your other influences?

You know, I’m all over the place with my influences. I think I started out really young kind of listening to Frank Sinatra because of my dad. He would play old-school crooner kind of stuff like that. So, not that Frank Sinatra applies to my rock-music world, but I definitely can appreciate the genius of the singing. But, yeah, just growing up in the ’80s, I heard a lot of different songs. Tears for Fears, Genesis, Phil Collins, The Police, you know, all kinds of stuff. And I loved it. There are some great artists from that era. So, I’ve always been into really great singers like Sting, Steve Perry, and Bryan Adams even. Hopefully, I’d like to think that some of that rubbed off a little bit on how I try to style my singing. Then, of course, Metallica was really just what got me into heavier music and more rock stuff. Eventually that led to grunge and Alice in Chains. So, it’s one big ball, a mix of all kinds of stuff.

You’re going on the road. You have a lot of dates coming up with your solo project and also with Breaking Benjamin. What are you most looking forward to about touring?

Well, like I said earlier, I’m just so grateful to be able to make music and to be able to get out there and tour. It’s just a real blessing to get out there and play shows and meet all the wonderful people who come out to those shows. You know, the Breaking Benjamin touring has been great. I’ve played with those guys for about ten years now, and it’s incredible to me because it just doesn’t feel like that. I feel like it’s just been a flash. That just proves that I’m having fun. But, yeah, I think touring is the one thing that I’ve kind of been missing with my solo project to date — getting out there, hitting the road, really playing some of these songs live, and getting in front of people. So, I’m really excited to get out there, play these songs live, and again meet some new fans, and also see some familiar faces.

Besides touring, what are your plans with your solo project?

To conquer the world. No. I mean, obviously, I want to play anywhere and everywhere. You know, one thing with Breaking Ben — Ben doesn’t really fly. So, we’re kind of limited with where we can go in the world. But with my solo stuff, I’ll get on a plane. Wherever someone wants me to play in the world, wherever it is, I will try to get there and play. So, yeah, it might take me a while to get there, but, right now, I’m just trying to get people to know that I exist. So, first thing’s first. Once that’s established and people know I exist, if they want me to play in Japan or South America or whatever, I will absolutely try to get there.

Do you maybe have any destinations that you especially want to visit?

Well, definitely Japan. I know I just mentioned it, but I am dying to go to Japan. I’m just so in love with the culture and everything. I’ve heard so many great things. I’ve heard the food is incredible, just amazing. Just amazing people. So, I really would love that. I would love to go there. Gosh, where else?! I would love to go to Australia. The idea of literally going down under the world and playing shows down there would be amazing. Plus, we’ve been to Europe a few times, and I love going to Europe. So, I definitely have to make it back there again. Yeah, anywhere that will have me.

Is there anything that we didn’t cover that you would like to discuss?

I can’t thank everyone enough for all of their support for my music. Thank you so much for having me on your awesome platform. Other than that, you can follow me on Instagram @kjwallen, Twitter, TikTok, all that stuff. It’s all the same handle. I hope everybody checks out my album, which comes out on May 3.

(Pre-order Infinity Now here.)

Feature Image Photo Credit: Courtney Dellafiora