Hi Veronica. Congratulations to your great new album. Please describe the reactions to the CD so far.
Hey thanks for the attention to Benedictum, The reactions have been overwhelming to say the least. We figured Europe might like us but it's been far beyond expectations - even in places like England where traditonal metal isn't exactly all the rage. Kerrang! gave us a 4K review and we have a feature in the current (February) edition of Classic Rock. Also, Italy has been amazing - 'Uncreation' made 'Album of the Month' honors in all but one of the big metal mags there and we are playing the 'Gods of Metal' there in June. Benelux and Germany have also been great - Top 10 in both Rock Hard and Aardschok, cover in Mindview, and tons of other great reviews, in print and online. WOW!
Do you care for the opinion of your fans, the press and people in general? Or is it just you and your music?
Well, I enjoy all the good press and feedback and try to ignore the bad, ha ha! - Thankfully, there has been very little of the latter. It definitely very flattering to get all this positive attention for somerthing you have created - it's validation for what you do. And I would be lying if I said I didn't care what the press says. The press can make or break a new band like BENEDICTUM - if the reviews are bad or mediocre people are a lot less inclined to check out a band, which in turn impacts sales. Ultimately we make our music for ourselves first and foremost though - and we did for years without a record deal. This business is a crap shoot as it is so you might as well do what you love and hope for the best. I must add though that I it does mean so much to me to get emails from fans I try to answer all of them personally because it just blows me away to get them after all this time. What a joy!
Some of our readers may never have heard about you. Please give us a short briefing in the band's biography.
It all started after Malady, the band Pete and I were in, disbanded and he and I decided to stick together and start something new. We had both known Blackie Sanchez for a long time and jammed with him before. We would always walk away from that thinking, "damn, wouldn’t it be great if we could form something together?" - So there was no question who we wanted to be the drummer and luckily Blackie was available. Blackie has a background in such bands as G-13, Magni and my favorite RDK. He grew up influenced by latin and jazz greats but when he heard metal it was on!! Both Blackie and I were in the band Evilution with Chris Morgan our keyboard player… Chris was also in a band called Living Relic. We knew how good he was and that he could add some cool textures and we got him to agree to come on board. Jesse Wright is the newest addition - he replaced our original bass player, Mike Morris, last year.
Was there a moment when you realized that Benedictum would become something special?
Hmmm, doing those first 3 songs with Jeff Pilson was definitely a turning point. That's when it started to sink in that we had some really good stuff. And then Jeff took it to another level. BENEDICTUM is something special insofar that we've been able to take this a lot further than anything we've done before - and that goes for all of us.
Let's talk about your new CD. The intro and the song titles suggest a rather dark background!
Actually, it's not dark at all. It's simply a repetition of the the word 'Uncreation' backwards! Admittedly it does sounds kind of evil but we really only did it because it makes for a cool effect and also is a play on 'Creation' / 'Uncreation.'
Is there a message in "Uncreation"?
Yes a couple of them actually but the main one is that we can recreate our lives even after the mess that we may have made of it. The vocals at the end say recreate me … recreation.
My favourite is "Wicca". Can you tell us something about this song and it's history?
I am glad you like it! Inspired by a passage from a book my boss was reading one day. In it was a letter that was written from a father to his daughter telling her goodbye for he was being accused of and tortured for being a “WITCH” and practicing Wicca.. very sad really. So it is about how tragic that time was. We should all be free spiritually free in my opinion.
And what about "#4"?
It is about looking within yourself and taking stock of all you have done. An introspective journey to see where one has been selfish or selfcentered. Seeking deep within to find the impetus for change.
Which one is YOUR favorite song from the album and why?
I think it is “Two Steps to the Sun” simply because I was so depressed when I wrote it and it helped me through a hard time to release my feelings through writing those lyrics.
How did you get in touch with Craig Goldy and afterwards Jeff Pilson? Please tell us something about working together with such legends.
Craig is a dear friend of mine I've known for years since we grew up in San Diego. We've always kept in touch and talked about doing something together one day. We still haven't gotten around to it - not counting his guest solo on 'Valkyrie Rising' - but we've kept in touch and one time when he was back in S.D. visiting I played him some of our rehearsal demos. He really liked what he heard and suggested we hook up with his friend Jeff Pilson to work on the songs and record a demo. Luckily, Jeff was into working with us and we did 'Benedictum', 'Wicca' and 'Misogyny' with him, which got us our deal with Locomotive. Jeff is an extraordinary guy, both on a musical/creative and personal level. Yeah, he is a legend but he is the most down-to-earth guy you could ever hope to work with and not intimidating at all (except when he is working you and bringing out the best in you). He became like our sixth menber and even played on the record. We really lucked into a great situation with him and Tommy (Henriksen, ex-Warlock bassist), who mixed the album.
On my promo CD there are two cover versions. Was it too difficult to decide which one to use?
No, I always knew I wanted to do 'Heaven and Hell' if I ever did an album. That one was a no-brainer. 'The Mob Rules' was more of an afterthought and we only did it because our Locomotive A&R guy had heard a rough version of it on our myspace.com site and asked if he could use it as a bonus track. We ended up re-recording it along with 'Rainbow In The Dark', which was our first choice for a bonus track, but 'Rainbow...' didn't turn out as well as hoped so it had to be 'Mob Rules' as we were out of time and money. I think our version turned out cool but I can understand some of the criticism we've been getting for having 2 Sabbath songs on the same album. I wish they'd have left 'Mob' off the promos they sent out and put it on the digipak version only but what's done is done.
As one can read from the cover versions, you do not dislike being compared to Dio or Black Sabbath with Dio.
No, I take getting compared to Sabbath or Dio as a compliment - it doesn't get much/any better than 'Heaven and Hell' or 'Holy Diver', does it? - Fact is - every new band gets compared to someone and Dio/Sabbath have obviously been an influence on our music and myself as a vocalist. So I have no problem with those comparisons although we are certainly not a Sabbath or Dio ripoff. We do do our own thing and have our own sound and style. It is an honor to be compared to such greats.
How do you like "Master of the Moon"?
To tell you the truth I have not heard it at all even though my bud Craig Goldy plays on it.
I'm a singer as well. How do you practice your voice?
I don't really have a set regimen or exercises I go through. My voice is my voice. I might hear another singer do something cool and then take that and practice it and make it my own. Like, those high screams you hear in '#4' - I'd never really done that type of stuff before and didn't think I had it in me. But then a friend of mine turned me on to the 'Fighting For The Earth' album by Warrior before I went into the studio. Their vocalist, Parramore McCarty, does some insane screams and it inspired me to try something similar and I got it going and it ended up on the album.
Next to Dio, what do you think are your main influences as a vocalist?
My #1 influence, other than Dio, would definitely have to be Tina Turner - what a woman and what a voice! Indestructable even at this age.
And not thinking about your influences, which singers do you like as well?
Sarah Vaughn, I do so love Tony Martin, Tony Bennett a lot of big band stuff
Marvyn Gaye, Rob Halford….damn I have so many different tastes in music I am drawing a blank right now
Do you know Patrik Johansson? And if so, what do you think of him?
If you mean the singer for Astral Doors - then yes, I do. What do I think of him? - Well, he probably likes Dio as much as I do, ha ha. Maybe he and I, Jorn Lande and Tony Martin should form a vocal group called Los Dios and do barbershop quartet versions of old Rainbow, Dio, and Black Sabbath songs, ha ha.
Please comment the following vocalists (if you know them) with no more than three words!
Tony Martin: flawless
Bruce Dickinson: Sharon hates him! I love him!
Tarja Turunen: beautiful woman… beautiful voice
Mike Patton: FNMore was cool.
Anneke van Giersbergen: never heard her
Back to your work: How and why did you choose the album cover?
Our manager is friends with Mircea Eftemie and suggested we check him out when we were looking for an artist to do the 'Uncreation' artwork. So we did and really liked some of his work (see www.cadaverman.com
). The central figure on the cover is based on a photograph of mine and I communicated some of my ideas to Mircea but we left pretty much everything else up to his imagination and he did a great job for us. I think our cover stands out from a lot of the other heavy metal covers out there, which is what we wanted.
Are there some lyrics that are special to you? Tell us something about them.
Misogyny is special for this reason., a lot of people have been pulling one or two lines from the song as if I am saying “I’ m the bitch that you cant ignore” that song is actually about serial killers like Ted Bundy, BTK and the Green River Killer , Hillside Strangler all of which tortured and killed women oftentimes victimizing prostitutes and those that they felt would not be missed. The song is written from the standpoint of a victim shouting back that no matter what has been done to her “but my spirit is something that you’ll never kill”- she can survive whether in this plane or beyond !. I guess I just wanted people to know that. I love singing that one as well it has a great feel to it for me.
How would you describe your own music?
In a nutshell - we are a balls out 21st Century heavy metal band with some epic overtones. Our music is rooted in the classics but we don't sound dated in any way. We really like that element of grandeur bands like Rainbow had in their music and it's definitely present in songs such as 'Misogyny', 'Benedictum' or 'Valkyrie Rising.' On the other hand we also have the straight 'in-your-face' headbanging stuff, like '#4 or 'Ashes to Ashes', that is closer to say Priest or Metal Church. I really think there is something there for everybody who's into powerful metal.
What are your musical influences in your opinion?
Our influences as a band are quite varied but not necessarily apparent in our music. I love classic hard rock and metal; Pete is very much into guitar greats like Randy Rhoads, George Lynch, and Warren DiMartini. Blackie's drum heroes run the gamut from John Bonham of Led Zeppelin to jazz greats like Buddy Rich. Chris' influences, even though he is a keyboard player, include thrashers like Testament, Megadeth and At The Gates as well as Dio and Savatage. Jesse grew up on Ozzy, Testament, and Pantera and digs Dimebag Darrell, Alex Skolnick, Zakk Wylde and Jason Newsted, among others. The sum of it is BENEDICTUM.
On the band's homepage there is quite a big section with pictures of you. Tell us about them.
There is nothing really much to tell. These are shots from various photo shoots I've done and we decided to put some of it online. Some of them are more revealing than others but I'm pretty comfortable with having people see them. I had fun doing them but sometimes laugh to myself for I don’t look like that much of the time. At work I wear baseball caps….tennis shoes and jeans and unload merchandise, manage people and since this is a new Hardware store I am helping to set up I even cleaned a toilet or two today.. not too glamorous so I might as well live out my fantasy on film ha ha..
One of our writers thinks you are no woman at all. What shall I tell him? Or shall I kick him somewhere?
Yes, please kick him for me - HARD! - wherever you think it hurts the most. LOL - What can I say - I'm a big curvey girl and not some little elfin girl. My big, rough voice probably doesn't help to dispell rumors to the contrary but trust me, honey - I'm ALL woman! Honestly I listen to my own stuff sometimes and go damn I DO sound like a guy! I scare me ha ha!
Please name some lately released CDs that you like to listen to at home.
I'm not really up on a lot of the new stuff - I barely have enough time to get to all of our rehearsals and work on my own music, let alone listen to someone else's stuff. I do like the latest Astral Doors CD someone at the Locomotive office sent me. I spend 11 or so hours a day at the new job now too so I have so little time.
Do you still watch other bands play? Have there been some shows lately that impressed you?
Tell you the truth - I don't go out to shows all that much and San Diego isn't get a ton of (national) headliners anyway. It is more a matter of time at this point, I come home wiped out and tired and want to do my music… interviews J , rehearsals… I have so much on my plate.
How important is it for you to play live on stage?
For me personally it is what I want to do most. ( but I must say I do love the recording process)
I really have visions of doing something very over the top you know .. I really want to put on a good show and so does the rest of the band
Are there still some bands that you would die to play with?
Yeah, ALL of them! We've barely gotten out of the blocks with BENEDICTUM so there are a ton of bands we'd be thrilled to play with - Priest, Maiden, Metallica, Dio for starters. Opening up for Sabbath with Dio on vocals would be a dream come true. Not sure about dying for it though....... ;-)
Please tell us something about further Live activities.
We just got confirmed for the 'Gods of Metal' in Italy in June and have a few other things cooking. We'll probably do a few gigs in the Southern California between then and now to get ready but nothing is booked so far.
Is there something that you have never been asked but always have been eager to say?
So far these days I have been asked just about everything!!
We are looking forward seeing you in Germany. Best whishes to you all. Any last words?
And we are very much looking forward to seeing all you German metalheads - we always here about how amazing it is to play the festivals you guys are having over there and we want to find out first hand as soon as possible. Thank you for all the support so far and for checking out 'Uncreation' - it means a lot to all of us. See you in Europe this summer!