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Benedictum

Interviewed by Greg Olma
Interview with Veronica Freeman of Benedictum from May of 2006


MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

How long has the band been together?
This particular lineup. I'd say maybe a year. Yeah, almost a year. We've had some different incarnations, so to speak, before that. Maybe about 9 months actually; with Jesse on board.
MSJ: I noticed that on the album Jeff Pilson played bass.
Yeah, it was gracious of him.
MSJ: What were your main influences when you were starting up the band?
Me personally? I can give you the whole gamut of everybody. Of course, it would be Dio, Black Sabbath, and especially Rainbow type stuff. I'm also a big Tina Turner fan; especially of her early work cause it was so raw and powerful. For Pete, it would be Warren DeMartini, Randy Rhoads, and especially George Lynch which he had the pleasure of meeting during the recording process. For Blackie it would be anyone from Buddy Rich and Neil Peart; a lot of the other drum greats. He's got a lot of different influences like salsa and all kinds of other stuff. For Chris, it would be; he loves Children of Bodom. He's our definite metal head along with Blackie. Jesse is a big Pantera fan.
MSJ: Do you feel that bands like Lacuna Coil, Nightwish, and Arch Enemy helped pave the way for female fronted bands to be taken seriously?
I think a lot of bands paved the way. It's a building process. I would say yes, to answer that question. Absolutely. I'm glad to see that happening.
MSJ: As the chief lyricist, where do you draw your inspiration from?
My life; easy. That was an easy one. I haven't always had it really easy. I'm a very emotional and sensitive person so I feel things really strongly. Whether it's the dark times or light times, it's where I draw a lot of my inspiration from. If there is an issue that I'm particularly interested in, something pops up and I go "wow", that would be really cool for a song, but mostly the emotions that I go through. 2005 was a really rough year for me. I'm so glad it's over. I had a lot of stuff to draw from there. It's really cathartic for me to write so it's kind of like therapy.
MSJ: Why did you choose "Heaven and Hell" and "Mob Rules" to cover?
"Heaven and Hell" was definitely a conscious decision. In the bands that I've been in before, and I was in a Dio tribute band with Blackie and Chris, it's a great song to sing. No one really expects a woman to sing it and all that kind of stuff. I have a really good time with it. I love that song. As far as "Mob Rules," it wasn't our choice. In the last minute, literally, when the money was up and Jeff Pilson had to go out on tour with Foreigner and we were out of time, we got asked to do a bonus track. So we had to make arrangements to do that on the fly in San Diego. The opportunity came up to work with Jimmy Bain so we had to come up with something that we all knew. We were going to do "Rainbow in the Dark." We decided as a back-up to do "Mob Rules." We had to do that in a day so we knocked it out and when we heard the playback, we were really disappointed with what we heard with "Rainbow in the Dark." It just didn't have the same Benedictum feel to it so we had to go with "Mob Rules." We were also told the bonus track was only going to be on the limited edition digipack version. Much to our surprise, when the final CD was being printed, it was left on there. In some cases we get a lot of kudos for doing 2 and a lot of cases, [we get] "why would you do 2 Sabbath covers?" We didn't plan on that. We were kind of disappointed when we saw that it came on the actual album.
MSJ: Has Ronnie James Dio heard your version?
You know, I don't know. As a matter of fact, I just talked with Craig yesterday and I know he's working back with Ronnie again. To this day, I don't know if he's heard it. I've had the chance to meet Ronnie a couple of times but I was always told "don't tell him that you sing." Craig just kind of kept everything under wraps during that time. We were called Bound at the time when he was first getting re-involved in my life and kind of helping me out with my career. That wasn't that long ago. To this day, I don't know. I hope so. I hope he doesn't mind.
MSJ: How did Craig Goldy get involved in the first place?
I've known Craig for many years and he's been one of my biggest advocates. He's the one who's responsible for me loving metal and the whole bit. He would always tell me "your voice is really unique, you should go for it." I sang in bands here and there. I never really took it seriously. At the end of 2004, sometime around there, 2005, cause he's from San Diego as well, he ended up coming by and I said "you gotta check this out; this is my new band." He just tripped out. He's like "oh my God, this is finally it; all the elements are here." He's always vowed to help me if he could. So he took it to some of his people and they were like "this stuff is pretty cool but it needs to be produced better." That's how we were introduced to Jeff Pilson. He and Jeff are good friends. So Jeff decided that he would take on this project and we did a 3 song demo with Jeff which turned into getting shopped to some labels out in Europe. And the rest is history. That's how that all came about.
MSJ: According to your press release, you will be opening for Guns 'n Roses.
Well, that is really nicely put but we are playing on the same day. Ha ha. Yes, we'll be playing at the God of Metal and we're playing the last day which is the day I believe Alice in Chains is playing, Guns 'n Roses, and a few other bands. That will be quite an experience.
MSJ: Are you nervous?
Extremely. I'm terrified. Let's get real now. I'm a little bit stressed.
MSJ: Are there any plans for a US tour?
That is something that I hope we'll work on when we get back from this one. We've never toured together. We've only played a limited number of shows together. Wow, what a testing ground, to go to Europe for 15 days. After that, we go to Spain, Madrid, and Barcelona. I think we go to Switzerland, then Holland, Belgium, and then the UK. We're going to be covering some bases there.
MSJ: What was the last CD you purchased?
I don't have time to purchase. I like shopping. Ha ha. But I haven't purchased anything.
MSJ: What are you currently listening to?
Let's see. Dream Evil, Stratovarious, Edguy, Helloween, and Arch Enemy, all of that stuff.
MSJ: What was the last show you attended as a fan?
The last show that I went to was the show that I played in which was in December, which was with Lynch Mob. I haven't had a chance to attend anything because I haven't got the time.
MSJ: Even though you haven't toured much, do you have any Spinal Tap moments?
Oh my God, we have them all the time. Ha ha ha. We don't call them Spinal Tap moments; we call then "Petrocities" because it's usually Pete. If something wild goes on, it's a "Petrocity," or you "pulled a Pete." You know, just things malfunctioning; breaking at the wrong time. We're hoping he gets this all out of his system now. He's like the class clown always. He's such a great guy. He's so much fun to play with.
 
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