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Interview with Veronica Freeman

Veronica Freeman Exposed before Rockeyez!

Veronica Freeman

Interviewed by David Felix
Date: May 2008

Veronica Freeman and her band BENEDICTUM burst onto the metal scene back in 2005 with an absolutely amazing debut release entitled “Uncreation.” To critical acclaim, the band found themselves launched into the spotlight playing virtually every European metal festival you can think of including the prestigious “Gods Of Metal Festival” in Germany.

Now three years later, Veronica and the band are back and trying not to find themselves falling into the “sophomore slump.” Believe me… they didn’t!

Their new album “Seasons of Tragedy” picks up right where “Uncreation” left off and includes just as many heart-pounding melodies, powerful chorus’ and gut-wrenching screams as the first one… But with a few more surprises of its own.

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Veronica once again. It’s always a blast when I get to hear from her and she’s definitely one of my favorite people to interview. Here’s what she had to say this time around…

David Felix: How are you? It’s so nice to speak with you again!

Veronica Freeman: Fine my friend, oh my God yeah!

David Felix: First of all, congratulations on the release of the new CD. It’s really a great follow up to your first release and I really enjoy it a lot. Thanks so much for sending it out.

Veronica Freeman: Awww… thank you so much. Right on! I’m really glad you especially like it… that’s important to me.

David Felix: So let’s start by talking about the new CD. What was the biggest difference going into the studio this time around as compared with recording your first album?

Veronica Freeman: I think “comfort level” had a lot to do with it. (Laughs) We had a chance to do some touring and spent a lot of time together so as a unit, I think we definitely “meshed” together a lot better. Plus having gone through the rigors of the first recording, we had a little better idea of what to expect although the actual process was pretty much the same. We still had to work around Jeff’s (Pilson) schedule because he was touring with FOREIGNER pretty heavily at that time.Veronica & Manni But that all worked out really well so we just went out there with a mind set to put a little more variety in it this time and try to grow a bit more together as a band and I hope that’s all reflected on the new album.

David Felix: As I said in my review, I feel “Seasons of Tragedy” picks up right where “Uncreation” left off. Did you find it easier or harder to come up with new ideas or concepts this time around?

Veronica Freeman: Easier this time around. I mean, after the first album, we had some other stuff in mind, but you can only do so much on your first album. So we had already started the writing process and had some ideas in mind and then as we bonded together more, we decided to just go for it. I think we’re still in that developmental stage, personally, where we’re still trying to come into our own and decide what we wanna be when we grown up. (laughs)

David Felix: What’s the reaction been like to the new CD so far?

Veronica Freeman: It’s been really good. The majority of people and reviews that I’ve seen seem to think it’s a step up from the other one… which is good because you definitely want to progress. But so far, so good… it’s getting a lot of attention and I’m thrilled about it!

David Felix: Now I don’t want to ask the typical question, “what’s your favorite song on the album?” but what I would like to ask is which song do you think came out the best and why?

Veronica Freeman: The title track, “Seasons of Tragedy.” I think that track came out so cool and it was a real collaborative effort from Veronica Liveeveryone in the band putting bits and pieces in and their ideas in. We worked really hard on it. We wanted something that was almost “epic” in nature and I think that we were able to do that in our own style and have it take you on a bit of a musical journey as well as a lyrical journey and I’m really happy with the way it all came out.

David Felix: On songs like “Steel Rain’ and “Seasons of Tragedy,” we get to see a bit more of your softer, more melodic side. You definitely have a voice beyond the more aggressive side you show on most of your material. Did you enjoy toning it down a bit and can we expect to hear more of that in the future?

Veronica Freeman: I think so. I was kinda… ok, let’s be honest here… I was kinda “chicken” to try and go there the first time around because I felt, ok… this is our first album and I really wanted to get out there and make a statement. So I did that “balls out,”

if you will (Laughs), thing on the first album and it was just time, I thought, to try and show some other sides of what I can do and I was feeling more comfortable with it. I wanted to show a little more dynamic there and I am sure there will be more of that in the future. Trust me; they’re not going to be all ballads or anything! (Laughs) Just not my style but on a song like “Seasons of Tragedy,” another reason I like it is because it’s got so many different elements. Not just in the music itself, but vocally as well.

David Felix: I understand the band has gone through a few personnel changes since the first release. How did you hook up with your new drummer Paul Courtois and keyboardist Tony Diaz and what is your relationship like with Blackie (Sanchez) and Chris (Morgan)?

Veronica Freeman: Blackie and Chris are still good friends. Everything’s cool and as a matter of fact I just spoke with Blackie a couple of days ago. The whole thing with Blackie came about when we were getting ready to do the second album. It was just apparent that there were some musical differences. He had some things that he wanted to do and we weren’t about to stop him so, it just worked out well that way. Then we got Paul, literally, just about two weeks later. We had gone to see some bands play, saw him playing, went up and talked to him afterwards and were like “We’re not asking you to jump ship from what you are doing but if you have time, we’ve got another project if you’d be interested?” and he jumped right on board and just in time because that was just before the “Doro” tour. He got up to speed right away and meshed with everybody really well because, you know, we’re all a bit crazy anyway so it kinda takes a certain personality and it’s very important to have that dynamic and that kind of relationship within a band. That’s how it stays strong. It’s good to have people who all get along and are all cool. Then the same kind of thing happened with Chris. It was just a parting of the ways… no real “drama” or anything like that. He’s doing his thing and I’m hopefully going to see him in about a week or so… go out to lunch or something, see what’s going on, get caught up and stuff like that. We’ve all been doing our own thing and he’s actually got like two other projects going right now but I wish everybody all the success in the world! Then we had been doing a show in San Diego and we all knew Chris was going to be leaving and I was mentioning that we were looking for a keyboard player and this guy came up and was like, “I’m a keyboard player!” And we thought he was kidding… I mean, we hadn’t even seen him play but he came down, it all worked out really well, he’s a great guy and so far so good! That’s how we ended up getting Tony on board.

David Felix: What was it like working with producer Jeff Pilson again and was he a little easier on you this time around?

Veronica Freeman: (Laughs) But that’s why I love him. He’s family… it’s great, I just love working with him. I think I had even more of an emotional roller-coaster on this album than on the last one. But as I’ve always said, he just has this way of working with me and working with people in general… everybody in the band. He just knows how to draw the best out of them. There were some rough spots but, for the most part, I had a blast! I really had a good time seeing everybody come together and do their thing… its great! I love working with Jeff and I couldn’t even imagine working with anyone else.

David Felix: As with “Uncreation,”Seasons of Tragedy” features a lot of special guest appearances including Manni Schmidt, Craig Goldy again, my personal favorite guitarist George Lynch and even Jeff himself. How did they all get involved in the project?

Veronica Freeman: We begged and pleaded! (Laughs) Well, when we were in Germany, I had a chance to meet Manni and he is just such a cool person. He has us over for dinner and he’s just a great guy… him and his wife. So we kinda joked about the idea, “How about being on the album.” And then we kinda left it at that but when it came down to it and we were actually doing the album, I thought this would be really cool, let’s see if he would really do it. And he did… so that was really awesome. Craig, I knew I could count on him and again… it was one of those last minute things with the bonus track. Literally the day before we were going in for the mastering, I had to call him that evening and was like, “Dude, they want another song and we don’t wanna take one of the songs out of what we have already. Could you come down?” So, I went down and picked him up the next day and we knocked that out. That was an all-day thing. Then with George, we had toyed around about the idea of having him on the first album but we were way too intimidated to ask and we just didn’t know Jeff well enough yet. So we were just sitting around one night and were like, “So, how about giving George a call?”… kinda joking really but Jeff was like, “Ok!” And then our jaws just kinda dropped and we were all like, “OOOooo!” (Laughs) Then the next thing ya know… there he is and the cool thing about that was one of his favorite songs is “Balls To The Wall.” So he was slated to do the solo on that, which he did but then he was having such a good time he was like, “Ya got another one for me?” So he ended up doing “Bare Bones” as well and we’re certainly not complaining about that!

David Felix: As you mentioned, you decided to tackle another cover song in “Balls To The Wall” and then “Catch the Rainbow” for the European release… which I haven’t heard yet… (hint, hint)

Veronica Freeman: Oh, I’m sorry! (Laughs) it’s very cool. It’s like an acoustic version so it’s very, very different. I get to do my “Cher” voice! (Laughs) I’ll definitely get that out to ya… I have no problem with that. You know I love ya to death!

David Felix: Well thanks! I’ll look forward to that… So what made you decide on those two?

Veronica Freeman: Well, the first one was “Balls to the Wall” and I just thought it would be a blast because it’s not the kind of song you would expect a woman to sing and, of course, you know I wanted to do it! (Laughs) What the Hell! But I love that song! It’s just one of those songs that when it comes on the radio you’re like, “Oh Hell, this is GREAT!” So that’s what we wanted to do and that turned out fine then, as I mentioned, “Catch the Rainbow” was literally a last minute thing. We had an appointment the next day at 11:00am to go down and do the mastering, Jeff, Pete and I. And I was really excited to see this process because I had never witnessed this part of the process before and Jeff was even more involved with this one and wanted to see the whole thing through from start to finish. So I had to call the label and let them know we were on schedule and they were like, “Ok, but what about the bonus track?” I thought that was like an “option” but they were like, “Well, no… we want a bonus track so pick one of the ones you already have.” But at that point we had already had the order; there was a nice flow to everything so we really didn’t want to pull one of those. Then they were like, “Well, how about a cover version of something?” And we were like, “We really got make something happen and NOW!” And they were the ones that ended up suggesting “Catch The Rainbow” and I, of course, knew that one so it was just a matter of getting a hold of Craig to pull that whole thing together. Talk about last minute! And God bless Jeff because he spent all night mixing that thing but we made it on time the next day.

David Felix: Wow… that’s incredible! After the release of your debut CD, you guys got to play a lot of the European “metal” festivals and even got the opening slot with Doro for a while… and to some pretty critical acclaim I might add. Will there be more of that this time around?

Veronica Freeman: Oh I certainly hope so! We’re getting ready to do some festivals in July over in Germany. We just got the “Magic Circle”… that MANOWAR festival and we’re totally thrilled about that. Then we’ve got a show we’re doing with Alice Cooper and we’re all equally as thrilled about that! My God, I think I’m gonna pass out for that one! Then there’s the “Head Bangers Festival,” the “Alcatraz Festival,” and a bunch of other shows along the way. Then we go back out again in October and again in December but I just need to get the confirmation back on all those but as I do, I’ll be posting it up on the website.

David Felix: Last time around you “promised” me you’d be hitting the New York area but that never happened. Any chance of seeing you guys out here this time?

Veronica Freeman: There’s definitely a lot better chance this time around. The good thing is that Locomotive opened up an office in New York and we’ve been pushing to try and get something in that area. GRAVEDIGGER just played out there a short time ago and my husband and I flew out there to check them out because they’re my husband’s favorite band and I love them too, of course. So we went out there and checked them out and the whole time I’m thinking we should be playing out here. I don’t understand why we weren’t playing that show with them but that’s probably some business stuff I don’t know about and don’t wanna know about actually. But I keep getting asked about playing New York a lot and I’m always going back to the label and asking them why we can’t make this happen? There seems to be a growing interest so I would just love to do something out there and hopefully that’ll happen very, very soon.

David Felix: What was your most exciting moment playing out on your first tour?

Veronica Freeman: Probably I’d have to say the most exciting moment was walking out on stage at “Gods Of Metal.” I mean, if you look at the timing of things after “Uncreation” came out, we had played one show together as that line-up… one show! And that was in San Diego ironically opening up for LYNCH MOB. After that we didn’t do anything else but then we got the opportunity to do “Gods Of Metal” and we were like, “Damn… that’s cool!” So we tried to book some little shows around that to make it work. We didn’t want to miss that opportunity and I certainly had never played in front of that many people and I think the most thrilling thing was that the fans actually knew the lyrics! I’m out there and I’m singing and I’m watching them sing along and I was like, “WOW!” I know that may sound like a little silly thing but that was really just one of the most precious, exhilarating moments and it just put me on fire! I was laying out on stage, acting all crazy and it was just a blast! It was fabulous… and then all those little things that you dream about like getting to sign a few autographs and stuff… it was just GREAT!

David Felix: So any road stories you can share?

Doro & Veronica Veronica Freeman: Oh yeah… when we were on the tour with Doro, there were a LOT of highlights but the lowlight was, see… we had to share the bus with WINTERBORN. Doro had her own bus, of course, so we ended up with these guys and they are some “party animals” let me tell ya. Now I had never been on a tour bus before, so that’s what I consider my first “tour” tour, ya know what I mean? So, I don’t wanna name names and actually I’m not sure who, but someone kept blowing up that bathroom! (Laughs) You know the rule… the golden rule on the bus “you don’t shit on the bus!” But someone kept doing it, the bus driver got all pissed off and actually duct taped the whole bathroom up. Now, for me, I’m the only girl on the bus and when I gotta go, I gotta go! I was just so pissed… but we had a little talk and he opened it back up but there was a whole day where we could only stop. We were on the damned “Autobahn” and we had to keep stopping at all these truck stops and I was just like, “This is not gonna work!” (Laughs) I was just mortified! And all the guys were like, “It wasn’t me!... It wasn’t me!” You know how that goes… But other than that, we were treated like gold. We were out there during the holidays and Doro put this little Christmas party together for us and there were little gifts and stuff. It was just wonderful. It really was the perfect tour for us being “first timers” to be on. You always here about these horror stories about being a support band and how you’re not gonna get treated right and all that stuff but we were treated EXTREMELY well. If anything, they spoiled us!

David Felix: I saw your new promo photos. Now last time, you kinda went with that motorcycle theme… so what’s up with the horse and sword?

Veronica Freeman: Because I wanted to do something like that! Veronica & SwordIt’s kind of ironic because at the time when I had spoken with you before, I didn’t know a whole Hell of a lot about motorcycles. And now, my business is motorcycles… so things have changed a lot. But I wanted to do something that reflected one of my great loves which are horses. It just kinda fell into place. A friend of a friend had the one breed which I am absolutely enamored of which are the friesian. I can’t even begin to tell ya how much that horse was worth but I was watched very closely. (Laughs) The horse had more of an entourage than I did, I can tell ya that! But it was just incredible and we had a lot of fun with that.

David Felix: I’ve got a little game I’ve been playing with a lot of my interviews recently… sort of a “fill in the blanks” kinda thing… you up for it?

Veronica Freeman: (Laughs) Sure… go for it!

David Felix: Ok, here we go…

  1. The first time I ever stepped out on stage I adjusted my bra! (Laughs) I’m serious!

  2. To this day, I still have a hard time not passing out on stage! (Laughs) I push so hard sometimes that sometimes I’m just like, “Whoa.” Especially at “Gods of Metal.” Everyone was just so excited and let’s just say the songs we not being played all the time in the same meter! (Laughs) they were a “little” faster than normal. I couldn’t catch my breath, I started seeing spots and I thought I was gonna pass out right then and there!

  3. I love being a singer and being able to tour all over the world, but sometimes not having any money really gets to me! (Laughs) Or how about not having a toilet! Actually, I got 3 answers for that one… money, a toilet and privacy!

  4. When I am on the road, privacyis the thing I miss the most.

  5. Had I not been able to make it as a singer, I would probably have ended up being an NLP practitioner. The technical name means Neuro-Linguistic Programming practitioner which is sort of a hypno-therapist, something along those lines. I actually am one but it’s been so long since I took those courses… maybe I should get back into it. This other stuff certainly isn’t paying the bills! (Laughs)

  6. Ya know Jeff, I’ve been holding back a long time on saying this but I am not even going to go there! (Laughs) I need him to produce our next album! (Laughs)

  7. Ok, ok I admit it! I’m an in-the closet Law & Orderfan!Although I’m not really in the closet about that! I watch every single version of Law & Order there possibly is. My husband can’t stand it; he calls them “death shows.” (Laughs))

  8. Whose idea was this? You want me to (Laughs) take off what?

  9. For the last time I didn’t eat it! (Laughs) That’s why I’m on Jenny Craig now!

  10. David Felix: So are you happy with the success you’ve had so far and what would you most like to accomplish this time around?

    Veronica Freeman: Extremely happy… extremely grateful! I don’t take any of it for granted. The fact that we can even do an interview and stuff like that are all things I’ve always wanted to be able to do and I’d love to make money at it! It’s my passion, I’m happy and I’m having a blast!

    David Felix: Well that’s about it, is there anything else I left out or anything you’d like to say to your fans?

    Veronica Freeman: Just that we love them all dearly. We wouldn’t be able to do any of this without you. Thank you so much for everything and for sticking by us!

    David Felix: Thanks Again Veronica and we’ll talk again real soon.

    Veronica Freeman: Thank you Dave, it’s always a blast speaking with you. I’ll talk to ya soon!


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