Interview by Tony Cannella
Veronica Freeman is an awesome singer. That much is obvious. Just go and listen to her work in Benedictum and there is no denying the sheer power in her vocals. With her new (debut) solo album “Now or Never”, Veronica (or the V) has stepped out of her comfort zone and released a stunning piece of work that at times recalls the best moments of Benedictum along with more of a melodic hard rock flare. “Now or Never” is a must have for any fans of Veronica, Benedictum or strong vocals. It’s all pretty damn cool. In this interview Veronica talks about “Now or Never” (of course), Benedictum and some other cool stuff. Enough of my yakkin’, read on…
Hello Veronica. Thank you for talking to Femme Metal. How are you?
Doing really great thank you. I hope you are well too!
Why did you decide to release a solo album?
Actually Frontiers proposed the idea a few years ago and I felt ready for the challenge. I jumped at the idea at first and then realized that it was going to be quite uncharted territory for me. But I am glad that I went for it!
How did this project first come together?
Their idea was that they wanted to release a solo album and they wanted to show the other side of my voice. I had pretty strict instructions that it was NOT to be like Benedicutm but to be more melodic , so sort of a Hard Rock, Melodic Hard Rock type of thing.
How do you feel it’s been received by fans and critics?
So far I have been totally amazed and blown away by the response. There were a lot of Benedictum fans that had messaged me over the years wanting to know if I would ever consider doing something different or they would listen to a song like “Steel Rain” off of the “Seasons of Tragedy” CD and want to know if I was going to do more of those types of songs, showing a less aggressive, yet still powerful side to my voice, and I had hoped that this album would be a chance to do just that.
Do you plan on touring in support of “Now or Never”?
I am headed out to Wisconsin this month to start rehearsals and have some shows booked in October in the Midwestern area of the USA and I am really excited about the future! Then on to some shows in Europe that we are solidifying for 2016. One of them being the HRH AOR Festival in Wales on the 16th of March in 2016. I think there will be a tour built around that for Europe.
Who are some of the people you worked with on “Now or Never”?
There is a LONG LONG list but here we go: Leather Leone, Tony Martin, Meliesa McDonnel, Pete Wells, Aric Avina, Derek Kerswill, Michael Sweet who wrote produced and performed on two songs, Peter Tentindo, Jimmy Durkin, Mick Tucker, Michael Harris, Mike LePond, Garry Bordonaro, Rikard Stjernquist, Mel Brown, Jeff Pilson and a big shout out to Kenny Lewis who helped so much with mixing and the production of “King for a Day” and to John Herrera who produced the bulk of the album and pushed me into areas I thought I would not be able to go. I would like to thank Frontiers for the chance to do this! Last but not at all least I would like to thank all the Kickstarter supporters that came to my aide when I was out of resources and really needed help to get this all done! If you have room to list them that would be so very cool! I promised them I would try to do so whenever possible ? V’s Kickstarter Krew: Sabine Berk, Joey Bagnato ,Piet Ultima, Dave Melanson, Garry Bordonaro, Brenda van der Zwaag, John Duplanty, Nathan Block, Daniel & Pam Freeman, Drew Pitt, David & Becky Priest, Luca Bonardi, Joe Baxter, Barrie French, Edward Porta, Jeff Rosenberg, Stephane Lefebvre & Valerie Parent, Juergen Bardong, Monty Emken, Chris Bickley, Damian Cabrera, Bill Metoyer, Danny Castro, Jason Wakeman, Leo J. Kryger, Rusty Brown, Kent Bateman, David Bennett, Carl Portman, Craig Wisnom, John Corbat, Jens Weber, Eric Reed, WickedMetal Shelly, Mark Nelson, Roger Metalhead, Robert Kesselman, Nathan Hutchinson, Nick Pacione, John McCann, Rick DeGreen, Mary Zimmer, Brett McCoy, John Phillips, Beat Jucker, Peter Slater, William Barrett, Darrin Laura, Alexander Roscoe, Thomas Roscoe, Stephanie Rocsoe, Damian Cousins, Matt Pearson, Frank Skalsky III, Drew Blanton, Mathias Vogt, Mark Napier, Fred Barnewold, Louis Koehl, Keith Elrick, Gerard Ryssen, Marcus Kützing, Matt Lemieux, Jerry Swanson, Stuart Blenkinsopp, Robert Jason, Santo Superfan, Hans Jörg Herbst, Jerry Hurocy, Harko Dekker, Angelica Vargas, Michael Gallagher, Kim Messier, Håkon Hammerås, Roger Engelhardt, Martin Howell, Gregory J. Spuches, Steven Ellis, Rashid H. Rashid, Kit Ekman, Steven DeLaurentis, Greg Hanthorn, Peter Freeman, Kathleen O’Malley, Julian Birch, Francisco Ojeda, Mark Aldred, Ronald Garman, Miika Manninen, Gary Barnes, Daniel Starrett, Mark Kehne, Svein Børge Hjorthaug, Turo “Charger” Taimen, Irfan Berk, Austin Hornbeck, Michael “Buck” Kramer, Tommy Guerin, Lieselotte Ferrin, Cristiano Canali, Brit Forsakken Diaz, Steve Hinckley, Mathieu Kurzweg, Vincent Thilliez, Darren Tite, Baptista Silanes, Greg Wisnoski, Kyle McCoy, Claudio Pino, Hugh Sherry, Robin Smith, Wim van Grunsven, David Abell, Tara Saunders, Avi Cohen, Keith McCarney, Takashi Oguchi, Jose Alcaraz, Gregory Kolen II, Dan Pate, Carl Withers – just sayin’.
What are some of the differences – musically speaking – between Benedictum and your solo project?
Although there are quite a few songs that just may have fit onto a Benedictum album (but just barely), the new solo CD was supposed to be different from the onset. It was part of the agreement with Frontiers and to me that made sense. Why do the exact same thing? That also opened a lot of doors to other writers, ideas and techniques but at the same time also caused a bit of confusion since my producer and I weren’t quite sure of what approach and/or direction to take at first. It was sort of like being in uncharted waters. The idea was to make an album that was Melodic Rock/Melodic Hard Rock so that left a little more breathing room, if you will, as to the styles and over all sound of the record. So basically it has a lot more of a variety of styles, its more melodic and it has allowed me to stretch my vocal boundries quite a bit.
You also did some duets with some truly amazing singers: Leather Leone and Tony Martin. How did you like working with them?
Leather and I have become close friends as a result of this project and hanging with her is just a blast! It is hard to get stuff done if you are laughing constantly but what a voice that woman has and what a crazy and fun person too! I love my Metal sister! I also had the pleasure of meeting Tony Martin a couple of years ago and he has a great sense of humor and a lot of knowledge about this business so I have learned quite a bit from him and feel really blessed to have worked with such fun and talented people.
What is the status of Benedictum?
I plan on continuing with Benedictum and also to actually play some of the Benedictum songs during the live shows! Just exactly how that continuation will take place I am not sure of at this moment, but Benedictum will always be a part of me. I hope to have the chance to write some new Benedictum music as well and especially hope to write with Pete Wells again . It just all depends on schedules and how things line up in the future. I for one want to keep that alive in one form or another!
Are you already working on new music with them and when can we expect a new Benedictum record?
Haven’t started that yet. I am continuing to work on getting all of my things in order to really push this new album as much as I can and that means working with a new band that I’ve met for the first time on September but I will ALWAYS strive to keep Benedictum music going! That is my first love and will be a part of the live shows too. Many of the last line up of Benedictum are doing other projects so I can’t speak for them but just know that I am open to the idea of working with them as soon as possible if that should be in the cards, if not, then who knows how things will morph and grow in the future. Sort of an exciting time!
I had the pleasure of seeing you in New York last year at the Doro 30th anniversary gig. How did you like participating in this event?
That is one of those moments that I will never forget. I had such a blast and made a lot of new contacts and it’s always such a pleasure to see and hear Doro! She is such an awesome performer and a great Lady. Plus my buddy Leather was there and that always makes for an interesting adventure!! Trust me the ride from the hotel to the venue with Leather and I trying to put on our make up was worth the trip to New York in and of itself LOL!
What are your future plans?
I have a lot of things I am working on, for instance I will have a role in a movie called “The Devil’s Five” which will be shot next week actually and I have so many things would like to accomplish and set in place for the future. I would like to work on getting more really cool merchandise going and adding to what I have on the site. There will be a section that i will start working on called “V World” and I will be making some announcements about that pretty soon. But one thing at a time, or else I get too overwhelmed and then nothing gets done lol.
Well, Veronica we’ve come to the end of this interview. I really love “Now or Never”. In closing, do you have any final words for our readers?
I am so glad to hear that you love the album. That is what really makes me happy in my heart. I just would like to thank you for this opportunity and let people know about the website and encourage you to stop by and visit my Facebook page as well when you get a chance. Just keep supporting music because we need you!!!