If you’ve ever heard of bands like the famous Breaking Benjamin or the legendary Black Label Society, then you’ve likely also heard of Chad Szeliga, the drummer who played in these and other bands, constantly thrilling both the audience and his bandmates with his skill and unique style.
Chad was born on December 23rd, 1976, in Elyria, Ohio. He started playing the drums when he was only 3 years old, inspired by the influence of his grandfather, who played the trombone for Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey and was very knowledgeable about the music of the era. After his grandfather showed him a recording of the drummer Buddy Rich on TV, Chad fell in love with drumming and decided that’s what he’ll do. He studied jazz drumming at Youngstown State University and joined his first band, called Switched, in 2000.
Formed in 1999, only a year before Chad joined, Switched was a nu metal band from Cleveland, Ohio. The band was moderately successful, and during the four years that he played the drums for Switched, Chad had a chance to perform at large festivals such as the Ozzfest (in 2002) and the Vans Warped Tour (both in 2001 and in 2002). Chad had participated in the recording of two albums with Switched – Subject to Change, released in 2002, and Ghosts in the Machine, released in 2006, but containing some of the band’s older songs and demos.
After leaving the band in 2004, Chad was briefly a member of an alternative rock group called Leo, before finally joining the famous rock band Breaking Benjamin in 2005. When the band was looking for a new drummer, Chad was so sure of his skill that he ended up being the only candidate to send a VHS tape as his audition. Ben Burnley, the frontman of Breaking Benjamin, actually had to borrow a VCR in order to view the tape, but when he did, the band was universally impressed with Chad’s drumming abilities and he was immediately hired. The time he spent as the drummer of Breaking Benjamin can be thought of as the highlight of his career so far, considering that his recognizable drumming was – and still is – a big part of what made Breaking Benjamin sound so unique. The time he spent as the drummer of Breaking Benjamin can be thought of as the highlight of his career so far, considering that his recognizable drumming was – and still is – a big part of what made Breaking Benjamin sound so unique.
However, after encountering what he describes as “creative differences” with the rest of the band, Chad left Breaking Benjamin and was introduced, in a hand-written letter by Zakk Wylde, as the new drummer of the famous Black Label Society in 2011. He did several different tours with Black Label Society, most notably Gigantour (along with Megadeth). He also appeared on Black Label Society’s acoustic DVD called Unblackened. In early 2014, Chad left the Black Label Society and proceeded to tour with Scott Stapp (the singer from Creed and Art of Anarchy) and Adrenaline Mob.
It is interesting how Chad was originally more into jazz and funk, and only much later became interested in rock and nu metal. Among his major influences, Chad lists David Garibaldi from Tower of Power as one of his favorites. Then there’s Buddy Rich, Tony Williams, Art Blakey, Max Roach, and so on. He also says he was quite impressed with Stewart Copeland from The Police, particularly by how he “didn’t try to steal the show”, but would embellish on the other instruments instead. One of his favorite bands is Van Halen.
For many years, Chad was endorsed by Yamaha Drums; all the Switched albums were recorded on different models of Yamaha drums, as well as Breaking Benjamin’s Rain and the entire Phobia album. Still, Chad eventually switched to DW Drums.
Being a passionate and dedicated drummer, Chad usually practices for more than 8 hours a day. In his free time, he is giving Skype lessons in drumming or watching drummers on YouTube.
He is currently living in Edwardsville, Pennsylvania, with his family – namely, his fiancé Heather and their children Gianna (18) and Preston (9).
Chad performs “So Cold” by Breaking Benjamin. This video got Chad Szeliga hired into Breaking Benjamin, having been originally sent on a VHS tape as his impromptu audition.