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    Veronica Freeman Benedictum interview

    Veronica Freeman Interview 20-12-2006

    Benedictum is a fairly new name in the world of metal that seems to have emerged from out of nowhere. This San Diego band combines thrashing riffs with strong melodies and forge it into their own unique brand of US power metal on their debut album ‘Uncreation’. Influences range from early Crimson Glory to Black Sabbath and Savatage. The band was formed by vocalist Veronica Freeman and guitarist and long time friend Pete Wells. With her powerful, almost ferocious vocals Veronica brings back memories of Leather Leone, once one of the main attractions on David Chastain’s albums way back in the early 80’s. Benedictum’s first born came to be as a result of what Veronica calls her ‘series of fortunate events’, for one day good old friend Craig Goldy stopped by to listen to some of the recordings of rehearsal that Pete and she had made. He liked what he heard, encouraged them to record a demo and introduced them to Jeff Pilson. With him in the role of producer and with the assistance of former Warlock bassist Tommy Henriksen they recorded a 3-track demo that eventually ended up at Locomotive Records that shortly after signed the band and gave them the opportunity to track the rest of the songs needed to complete the debut album.
    Benedictum wasn’t Veronica’s first band. Prior to that she had been in several others. “My first band was way back, a sort of top 40 band that played cover tunes. After that I stopped doing music all together for a while and then I did some local stuff just for fun. I forgot the name of the band, but we had a blast. And then with Pete by my side I was in Malady and that was actually the first time I took it all seriously. But apart from Pete the rest of the band wanted to stay local, just play the clubs and so, while we on the other hand wanted to take things to a higher level, see what would happen if we had our stuff produced. So, in the end, we both left to go and do our own thing. But there was no animosity. No drama. We still talk with the others on occasion.”
    Veronica comes across as a very down-to-earth person who has an outspoken opinion on almost any subject one could think of. Over the years she was influenced by a lot of different people with whom she would love to share the stage. “There’s about 50 of them I would say. People like Dio and Doro. I’d never seen her live and during our recent tour I just sat there every night to watch her show in awe, surprised by all the energy she projects. She’s got this certain aura about her. And then, if I ever had the chance, Tina Turner would be another option. I think she should have gone metal a long time ago. Wouldn’t that be ultimate with her voice and that presence? She would have kicked the shit out of the metal. And, of course, not to forget, Craig Goldy. I have yet to share the stage with him on a professional level. Maybe some time next year when we do some festivals, he’ll come out to play. Other than that, I don’t know, there’s so many good musicians out there, so much good music.
    I like everything across the spectrum, because I appreciate it all.
    I listen to it all and try to extrapolate what I can from everything to find my own voice. But basically it all stems from other stuff. Everything is all from the root of something else, so that being the case, why not study all different forms of music? I mean, it’s not like I’m going to re-invent the wheel.’
    Those who’ve seen Veronica parade and crawl around the stage, wouldn’t believe that at one time in her life she was a very shy person with a very low selfesteem. ‘I was indeed rather shy, but, as with a lot of performers, I have a duality to my personality. When I’m out there on stage, I can be somebody else. But it took me a while to get to that point.
    You see, the first time I was on stage I threw up.
    I was so nerveus and off-pitched. Now, however, I act like this big powder-puff, in control of it all. But, like I said, it took me a while to get there. I’ve really had to grow as a person. A lot of my lyrics are about the struggle within, to find that place where you can really feel comfortable within your own skin. For people who are already like that, they kind of take that for granted. But I know, there’s a lot of people out there like myself who struggle with being comfortable with who they are. So, one of the most cathartic things for me has been music and being able to express myself to the vehicle of lyrics and melodies and stuff like that. But don’t expect this all to happen overnight, ‘cause there’s no such thing as that. You have to work on it.”
    When Veronica puts down her lyrics, she doesn’t hold back. There’s not really any straight path method that she uses, but her life is so full of experiences that she could easily write a book about it. “It just depends on what hits me. I believe that any life worth living is a life worth writing about. In an altruistic way, it’s like when you release some of your own stuff, you are automatically helping someone else that doesn’t know how. I would like my life to be about something, ‘cause we’re not guaranteed tomorrow. So, I would like to leave some kind of legacy of something positive. Take the song ‘Two Steps To The Sun’ for example. When I wrote that, I was literally on my couch, crying my eyes out, feeling so depressed. That song was the only thing that kept me going and it’s very special to me; it has probably saved my life. But that was about one particular thing. These days I’m writing about all sorts of stuff, not gut-wrenching, just want to take my writing to a different level. It depends on my mood really what I write about. The usual process is that Pete or any of the others will lay down their riffs and I will listen to it over and over again until I come up with fitting lyrics and melodies. After that we rearrange things and take it all to Jeff Pilson in the studio. And that’s when it all starts over again, for Jeff is very creative and will go like ‘Wait, wait, wait. Let’s try this instead, change this, do that.’ He brings out the best in all of us and we love it. The studio really is a great environment to work in. Not that I don’t like to peform on stage – it’s a great outlet – but there’s just something about the precision needed in the studio, the skills and all that. To see everything fall into place. Just great.”

    Over the years Veronica has learned that not everybody in the music industry is a friend, that not everybody is on to them so to speak. In the end it all comes down to business. “Its’s just a matter of adapting to the situation. Those who adapt, will survive. Those who can evolve as a person as well as a musician. But it’s not just that. It’s the fans that make it happen too. As mentioned before, there’s a lot of good music out there, a lot of good metal. You know that, I know that. But not everybody is demanding that. What I’ve noticed a lot in my country, is that not everyone sees it that way. I sometimes think
    ‘Come on. Rise up. Demand your metal.’
    It’s all about supplying the bands, making money out there. Another thing I’ve learned, is that you can’t control everything yourself. Things have moved relatively fast for us and I’m still busy tying up loose ends from the past. But I’d like to look forward, we have to see how things will develop in the future. Right now we’re looking at possibly getting someone on board that can do more with promotional stuff and getting us a particular image, something recognizable visually, so that when you look at it, you’ll automatically know it’s Benedictum.”
    Given the chance there’s a lot of things Veronica would do differently. Still she doesn’t look back on her life with regrets, simply because she believes it wouldn’t do her any good. “Everything that has happened in my past, has brought me to this point in life. The lament in anything just takes my energy and doesn’t get me anywhere. I want to learn what I can and just keep moving forward. There’s still some goals I’d like to reach. Make some money for a change with this band.” She laughs loud. “And for me personally, I’d like to live in a place where I could have my own horse. I just love horses. And secondly, I would like to become a practitioner of NLP again at some time in the future. I once took classes in that, but set it aside a while back and I miss it. It’s a special program, very buddhist in nature, all about helping people to realize their full potential. In short it’s just a certain technique of how you hold things in your mind. Like when you think of a person you have a certain vision or feeling that you get and it’s all about working with that to help and change some things in your life that you would like to change or get rid off. I think that if I wasn’t in a band, I would probably be doing that.”
    Fortunately Veronica choose to pursue a career as a rockstar. Together with the rest of the band she’s now working on new material. “We’re about halfway done with just the pre-production and supposed to have it all ready in February. But with the European tour and Jeff Pilson’s busy schedule that’s not gonna happen. The new album will probably be out in June, so you all just have to wait a little while.”
    Bas Kanij


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