by Deb Rao
– Senior Columnist –
There is a new generation of female singers sweeping the nation. Benedictum featuring Veronica Freeman is gearing up for the release of Obey via Frontiers on Dec. 3 in North America. In this exclusive interview for Hardrock Haven, Veronica discusses the making of Obey, meeting Ronnie James Dio and the music industry today.
HRH: Veronica, welcome to Hardrock Haven. Let’s begin by discussing your upcoming release Obey via Frontiers Records. Tell us about the writing process. Were you the primary writer or did everyone chime in collectively?
Veronica: What usually happens with us my friend Pete Wells, he and I write the bulk of the material. But there is input from other members. Which was definitely the case with this album. Our drummer Rikard Stjernquist had a lot of input with arrangements and all that kind of stuff. I think the foundation of the music comes from Pete and myself. He plays a riff and I say that is kind of cool. Then I sit with it for a while and it all kind of comes together. Aric our bass player came onboard right after the writing process was done. But I am sure he will have a lot of input for the composition for the next album.
HRH: What I noticed too on this album was the drumming. It is more powerhouse. Do you agree?
Veronica: I definitely agree. That has a lot to do with the record. He is definitely a power metal type drummer.
HRH: Did you work again with Jeff Pilson?
Veronica: No. I don’t know what that rumor is going on about? He has been the producer on the first two albums. He definitely has so much to do with Benedictum. We did work with him but the producer is a gentleman John Herrera. He lives here in Arizona. We did work with Jeff. We went out and worked on some arrangements and pre-production. But he wasn’t the main or all producer.
HRH: I noticed too that this release is more melodic.
Veronica: John studied really hard to get the vibe to work with us. I think he did an excellent job to bring back to the table. Frontiers wanted something more melodic too. So I definitely agree with you there. In having Jeff involved, he helped us with “Retrograde” and “Fractured.” He definitely had his hand in it. There was always that influence there. I am getting different opinions about it. Some say it is more melodic and some say it is darker.
HRH: I don’t think it is darker at all. I think it is more melodic and radio-friendly.
Veronica: OK. I’ll take that.
HRH: Your singing is great as usual. Everything just seems to fall into place on this album. Was it like working with Tony Martin on the song, “Cry”?
Veronica: Awesome. He is definitely the consummate professional. He is a great guy. I am huge fan. It was kind of nerve wracking for me. I had reached out to him previously just as a fan. It went from there to opportunity presented itself. I wanted to do a duet anyway. So I ended up with two of them on the album. He was great to work with and very involved. As wanting to have a few choices of songs. He definitely presented an incredible amount of ideas. It was fabulous to work with him.
HRH: What is the single going to be?
Veronica: You know I don’t know? You are the second person that asked me that today. I have no idea. I am thinking it could “Evil That We Do” or “Fractured.”
HRH: What about “Crossing Over”? That song is so sad. I think because my dad passed away a couple of years ago. It touches a part of me.
Veronica: I like that one. My mom passed away this year. I am not trying to be morbid or anything. But I am really glad you mentioned that song. There is a certain feeling I have when I hear it. I remember my mindset when I was working. I really put a lot of work into those lyrics because of the emotional space that I was in at the time. We really don’t know, we can have faith. But basically it is about someone that passed on but doesn’t realize what comes next?
HRH: You can’t describe that feeling until it happens. You hit the nail on the head. It really struck a chord in me.
Veronica: That means a lot to me.
HRH: Do you have any favorite tracks that you are going to be playing in concert?
Veronica: In rehearsal, we have been playing the whole album actually. There are some that feel really good. “Crossing Over” is one of them. Because it is kind of slower delivery. “Fractured” is fun to play. “Evil That We Do” and “Apex Nation.”
HRH: “Apex Nation” reminds me of a Spinal Tap/Motley Crue kind of vibe to it.
Veronica: I am a fan of music in general. We had a lot of fun with that song. I wasn’t quite sure where that one was going to go. But we had a good time with it.
HRH: I wanted to mention too the album has great lyrics. You were really big on the lyrics this time around.
Veronica: Thank you very much. That means a lot. I do kind of put my heart and soul into that. You know a lot of time people don’t pay attention. It is very disheartening. It is always good when someone recognizes that.
HRH: How did you come up with the title Obey?
Veronica: That is a good question. When the song was written. The last thing we figure out is what is going to be the name of the album? With this one, it was like Obey just sounds good. It just sounds so commanding.
HRH: You were actually discovered by Craig Goldy of Dio. Did you ever have the opportunity to meet Ronnie James Dio?
Veronica: Yes, I did. As a matter of fact, I have been to his house back in the day. That was when Craig was living there too. Craig and I have been friends for a long time. I had a chance to meet Ronnie. There was a tour that went through. I think it was Iron Maiden and Motorhead and Dio. It was really cool. I got to go with them and kind of hang out for a couple of the tour dates. I will never forget that. I was in awe.
HRH: What did you learn from Ronnie in that short time?
Veronica: In that short time, he was a very, very sweet person. We sat down. We have dinner. It was totally cool. He was just such a professional. He had so much energy. Being in that energy was just an experience. He influenced me long before I actually met him. It was definitely a star struck moment for me. I learned a lot about the way he prepared for a show. It was just very, very cool.
HRH: How do you think the music industry has changed since Benedictum first got started? Do you think it is harder to get a following?
Veronica: When you say a following, you can have thousands of people on Facebook. It doesn’t necessarily mean thousands of people are going to show up at your show. The good part a lot of people are listening to your music and it is easy to get it out there. The downside is, musicians aren’t getting paid. It is getting harder and harder of making any kind of money at this business. The playing field is great; there is so much stuff out there. You were kind of limited to what the labels were presenting to you. Now it is wide open. The industry of the business has changed so much. There is pros and cons in everything.
HRH: Is there a tour in the works?
Veronica: Not a tour yet. But we are working on that. I will let you know the moment we have this all worked out.
HRH: Awesome. Veronica, thank you for much for checking in with Hardrock Haven.