This is an interview with Benedictum singer Veronica Freeman. It is the first ever with her in metal-rules.com and is dedicated to all Benedictum lovers. Their stunning new album SEASONS OF TRAGEDY has just been released. We talked about the bands background and future as well as about the new album.
Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Promo pictures provided by: Sound Pollution
Thanks to Joakim Stabel at Sound Pollution for setting up this interview
Hi Veronica, what’s up? Nice to finally talk to you; let’s start right away with the interview
Doing great… good to talk to you too!
Let’s talk about the brand new Benedictum album SEASONS OF TRAGEDY that recently was released. How long did it take to record the album and who’s written the music and lyrics?
The album took quite a while, a total of 3-4 months really and that was due mostly to the way we had to go about it. At the time much like with the first album, we had to work around Jeff Pilsons’ schedule. Since he was touring with “Foreigner” during the majority of the time that we were ready to go to the studio we had to work around that schedule. We would go up for a few days, then have to schedule for a few weeks later etc. Actually I feel that it worked to our advantage. We would go home with rough mixes of what we had done to that point and had a chance to listen to it and see what we might want to change. Pete and I are the main songwriters. I am inspired by his music and write the lyrics, melodies and arrangements for the most part.
What are the lyrics about? And where do you find the inspiration to write music overall?
My lyrics are usually based on some level of my own experience. Be it emotional, physical or spiritual. The thing that really inspires me though would be Pete’s music. We have our own little pattern of how we go about writing. He will usually send me some riffs or home recordings that he has done and I listen to them and will pick out something cool that inspires and sparks my creative process. From there I develop ideas based on either what I might be struggling with at the time or sometimes it will just be an idea that I think would be cool to write a song about!
Your debut album was received really well and got great response amongst the press and fans. Did you ever feel any pressure when you started to work on the new album?
A ton of pressure! J I enjoyed the reviews and press of the first album but only for a brief time. Being the sort of person that worries a lot anyway, it dawned on me very early on that indeed we would have to make sure that the second album was as good if not better than the first so those thoughts have been in my head for a long time. I was very stressed out at first during the writing and recording process and then Pete and Jeff reminded me that this is supposed to be my passion, have fun with it. That changed things a lot for me!
How come you named the album SEASONS OF TRAGEDY?
We thought the title had such a strong feeling to it. Once the actual song “Seasons of Tragedy” was complete it was pretty easy for us to decide on that name as a title.
Who did the cover art-work? Do you think it represent what the album is all about?
The cover art work was done by Hjules Havancsák. Initially we had another artist do the cover but the label didn’t like the way it came out, it wasn’t what they had in mind. So… they turned us on the Hjules. We love what he has accomplished as well. In the beginning he worked on his own so when the artwork was nearly complete we had a chance to see it. Once we started to communicate more there were more elements that were tied to the actual album itself so in the end I do feel it reflects some of the dramatic effect of the album but not a direct correlation.
You have done a cover of the old Accept song “Balls to the Wall”. Why did you choose that song? Is Accept a favorite band amongst the members in Benedictum?
To be honest I just thought that it would be a blast to have a woman sing “Balls to the Wall” so I pitched the idea to Jeff and he loved it….just for fun really!
There’s also a cover of Rainbow’s “Catch the Rainbow” on the limited edition of the album, why feature two covers on the album? Are you fan of doing covers?
The bonus track was again one of those circumstances of necessity. We were one day away from taking the album to be mastered… one day away… and it was made clear that there HAD to be a bonus track… we did not want to take away from the songs we already had, we had limited time.. so the label suggested an acoustic song ( since we could not get the whole band up to Los Angeles in that short period of time with no prior notice) they suggested “Catch the Rainbow” so Jeff worked with us literally for the next 24 hours to make it happen and have it ready for mastering the next day.
Many well known names makes guest appearances on SEASONS OF TRAGEDY like Manni Schmidt from Grave Digger, Jeff Pilson, George Lynch and Craig Goldy. How did they end up appearing?
I must say we have been very blessed in that area. Jeff Pilson has always given us his all and we do so appreciate it. We then got up the nerve to ask if he could contact George and to our surprise George was cool with the idea.
We had met Manni Schmidt while doing the Doro tour and had joked around about the idea of having him on the album…when the time came for recording I sent him an email and he was totally cool with doing it!
Craig of course has always been there for me. When we got that last minute call to do the bonus track I hunted him down and asked if he would do it, he was there for me on the spot!
Which studio have you used this time and who has produced the new album?
We worked with Jeff Pilson again as producer and the album was recorded at his studio “Pilsound Studios”.
How would you like to describe what kind of music Benedictum plays?
I would say classic metal with a modern edge. We are still defining our sound so it is hard to put it in one box for me.
What’s it like to be the only woman in the band?
For the most part it is a blast. I guess I consider myself very fortunate to be surrounded by talented and supportive men! However I am still working on being a bit more assertive when it comes to business, I think being the sensitive girl that I am, I always want people to be happy but there are times when not everyone is going to be thrilled with a decision I may make and that is hard for me. But I am not sure if that is due to me being a woman or just the type of personality that I have – or both!.
You’re signed to Locomotive Records, what do you think of the label? Are you happy with the promotion etc the label has done for the album?
So far so good, There are many things I would like to see change and we are working on that actually, but as far as promotions etc the label has done a great job! I truly appreciate the fine job that Locomotive has done and want to thank the crew in Germany, Chris, Sandra, Wolfgang ..They take good care of us on that end!
Is the album released world wide or are there any territories where it hasn’t been released yet?
I do believe we are not represented in Japan so I would love to see something happen there very soon!
Any plans on going out on the road now that they album is out? Do you have any favorite cities you particularly love to gig in?
Yes we plan on doing some festivals in Germany during the summer and then returning to Europe again in the fall to support the album. Keep checking our website www.benedictum.net for updates.
Parts of your lyrics can be very critical to the society I think; do you consider Benedictum to be a political band?
No I don’t consider us a political band at all. The lyrics do however reflect my frustrations at times with how cruel we can be to each other or things that I perceive to be injustices etc.
When, where and who started Benedictum?
Benedictum was started in San Diego by Pete Wells and myself when we decided to give it one more shot at doing an original project and shop for a record deal.
Was it Craig Goldy that discovered you from the beginning, how did that happened?
I have known Craig for many years and I would definitely say he was a large part of the process. He was the one that heard our practice recordings and felt he could really get behind us. He introduced us to Jeff Pilson and recommended him as someone who could help produce us and polish the sound that we had. He was extremely instrumental in all things Benedictum!
Why the band-name Benedictum, does it have any special meaning or was it just a cool name?
“Benedictum” was one of the songs that we had written and was also on our original 3 song demo that we did with Jeff. At that time we were calling ourselves “Bound” but the label didn’t like that name and felt it didn’t convey the feel or energy of the music. They decided on “Benedictum”. At first we were resistant to it and tried to come up with an alternative but in the end “Benedictum” won out.
Your debut album UNCREATION went really well, could ever imagine such a breakthrough?
I was thrilled with the response to “Uncreation”. I (as usual) was worried about how it would be received but I must say that Jeff and Pete had strong confidence in it all along!
Have the members any common role model or idol within the music scene that they look up to?
I would say that it may not be a common one amongst them but it is the varied influences and role models that make Benedictum what it is. Pete loves old Ozzy, Pantera, Dokken & Fight, Jesse loves Pantera and Paul is a huge Dream Theater fan.
You have a very distinctive voice that’s easily to recognize, have you taken musical classes or gone to a vocal coach in order to train your voice or are you born with this talent?
No vocal classes, I guess my voice just does what it does!
Do you have any female idol that made you start to sing in the first place?
I think one of my idols would have to be Tina Turner. I just love her, her energy, power and style!
Give me three great reasons why the readers should run out and buy the album instantly…
It kicks ass!
It kicks ass!
It kicks ass!
Thanks a lot Veronica for taking the time to answer my questions, good luck in the future and I really hope you’re coming over to Scandinavia soon and play.
Thank you for the chance to get the word of Benedictum out to your readers! Playing in Scandinavia would be a dream comes true!
Any final words of wisdom to the readers and fans?
Benedictum would LOVE to be there and play for you. Hopefully this year we can make something happen. Thank you for your support and love and we love you!
Look in the database over CD’s to read the CD review of the band’s new album
More info about the band