I N T E R V I E W S
"Musical Chairs: Leather Leone, Veronica Freeman, Nina Osegueda"
by Eric Compton
June 19th, 2014
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Metaphorically speaking, "musical chairs" refers to moving people into various locations or situations. That term is the conceptual theme for three exclusive performances starting on June 26th in Springfield, VA. Traditional metal icon Leather Leone (Chastain, Sledge/Leather) will step into a different role by fronting San Diego's Benedictum to perform Chastain songs.
Leather explains, "Since the 'V' (Benedictum vocalist Veronica Freeman) and I have been in touch and in the studio, certain opportunities have come up that we feel strongly about taking part in. Veronica and Benedictum have been extremely generous with their talents to include me."
Veronica will be watching her band perform with Leather before closing the night out with her own Benedictum set. "When it was brought to my attention that Chastain was not going to tour I thought it would be a fun way to make it all happen. A Benedictum set and also a chance for Leather to get out there and do her thing and also a cool package. When it came to pass that Nina Osegueda from A Sound of Thunder was on board to put it all together then the rest fell into place", explains Veronica.
Classic metal fans cherish Chastain, holding albums like "Ruler of the Wasteland" (1986) and "The 7th of Never" (1987) in high regard, but rarely see Chastain's songs performed live. The band's anchor, virtuoso phenom David Chastain, rarely tours the live version of the band, one of the many reasons why these shows are so unique.
When asked about touring old and new Chastain material without the band's leading man, Leather responds, "Chastain is very supportive of me getting out there again. He is not interested in playing out anymore. Even back in the day I don't think he was overwhelmed with running around the country losing money, losing sleep. He basically ran everything, so he's done. I on the other hand, did my job without worrying about the business aspect. It was different for me."
"I became a fan of hers the first time I heard her, but honestly, even more so the first time I spoke with her on the phone."
Benedictum released their debut full-length, "Uncreation", in 2006, twenty-one years after the Chastain debut "Mystery of Illusion". Veronica explains the first time she became a fan of Leather. "To be completely honest I had heard of her because when Benedictum first came out I was compared to her a lot. So I checked her out and I totally 'got it'. I became a fan of hers the first time I heard her, but honestly, even more so the first time I spoke with her on the phone."
That referenced phone call served as an introduction for both ladies, a call that receives a chuckle from both parties.
Leather said of her outbound call, "She had a laugh as I called her one night, of course (she was) questioning who I really was. She had asked me then to do some studio work with her, but I had declined. Through that conversation I started listening to Benedictum. I enjoy the variety of heavy music they create, and her whiskey voice with a twist of crazy! And her interpretation of Dio grabbed me. Not just anyone can or should be doing Dio."
Regarding the inbound call Veronica received, she explains "When she called, she was a little...let's say tipsy *laugh. I had been given a 'heads up' from a good friend of mine, Chris Liebundgut, who had worked with us early on. He explained that she wanted to come back on the scene and if she could call. I was really excited to hear from her...even though she kept repeating herself *laughs. What a hoot! I instantly adored her and her energy. When she called we were at the tail end of recording the 'Dominion' album and I had one track left. I offered her a spot on it but she wasn't ready at the time. I was really bummed."
The three exclusive shows featuring the talents of Veronica, Leather and the Benedictum band will be joined by very special guests; Washington, DC's Sound of Thunder. Vocalist Nina Osegueda explains how she became involved in these performances.
"Veronica and I met at 'Flight of the Valkyries' in St. Paul, MN in 2009. Since then we've spoken a lot about doing shows together, so when Veronica said she wanted to do some shows to lead up to 'Warriors of Metal' (6/28/14) I figured that would be a great opportunity!"
She elaborates further on participating with her colleagues and the first time she heard them. "I was really happy. I love playing shows with friends. I've never played with Leather, and my only time with Veronica was a little guest-spot I did with her in 2009. This will be a first time for me playing with the whole band. The first time I heard Leather's voice was on the radio. I was listening to Bone Yard on Sirius and they were playing Chastain. I thought it was great! Veronica I heard in 2008 through a friend of ours, Bobbie Dickerson. I bought their albums right away."
All of the performers are coming off of a successful 2013 that saw each of them release new material with their respective bands. Chastain released "Surrender to No One" in November through Leviathan Records, the first Leather fronted studio album from the group in twenty years. The album received industry praise and was warmly welcomed by long-time fans. Recently David Chastain announced a "Surrender to No One Uncut" edition of the album being released digitally by Leviathan and physically via Hellion Records. Leather explains the differences between the two lies in the song structure. "We laid down tracks, and then through the production things change. Guitar solos, vocal placement, the general arrangements. I think you will find it interesting--I do! The creative force is quite mysterious. So 'Uncut' was one of the first versions of 'Surrender to No One'.
November of 2013 also saw Benedictum release their fourth album to date, "Obey", courtesy of Frontiers Records. On the response from fans and peers Veronica explains, "Response has been better than I expected. A lot of good vibes about it. It was produced by John Herrera and we all went into it knowing that Frontiers wanted something a bit more along the lines of the first two albums. That was okay with us but we didn't want to get stale. I think John did a great job and of course the boys really brought their A game. We also had the chance to work on some pre-production with Jeff Pilson (ex-Dokken/Dio) which is always a joy."
A Sound of Thunder released their third album, "Time's Arrow", one year ago for label Mad Neptune. That album was partly funded by the Kickstarter Campaign. The band are pursuing that same method for financing their new album "The Lesser Key of Solomon". Nina advised "The original goal was only $10k. We wound up making way more, over $21k, and that was so incredible. It inspired us to do way more than we ever thought we would. I'm ecstatic with how well it turned out!"
Nina elaborates on the making of "The Lesser Key of Solomon" and what fans can expect.
"It is our newest album and definitely a step forward in the 'dark' area. Each one of these songs tells a story, and each one showcases the band's skills more than ever. I'm really excited to show this album to the world because I think it really emphasizes our versatility as musicians." Although no street date has been announced the band hopes for a 2014 release.
Fans can see Nina and her band A Sound of Thunder supporting Benedictum and Leather on the three shows this month as well as appearing at this year's 'Women of Metal' festival on July 12th in Pittsburgh, PA. The festival will feature bands such as Mind Maze, Beyond Eden and Midnight Eternal with partial proceeds benefitting The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Regarding the band's participation Nina responds, "I heard about it recently and thought it sounded fun. I'm a big fan of 'Flight of the Valkyries' and I love the kind of camaraderie it brought together so I was only happy to participate."
After Veronica and Leather finish their run of shows the two stars will collaborate in the studio.
"I am doing a solo 'rock' album on Frontiers and I have invited Leather to sing on it. You can see the crazy pictures we took on Facebook. But we are doing a duet and it is sounding really cool. Making some last minute changes to it but really a fun song" explains Veronica.
Benedictum, Leather and A Sound of Thunder begin their run of shows on June 26th at the Empire in Springfield, VA followed by June 27th at Le Grand Fromage in Atlantic City, NJ and wrapping with "Warriors of Metal" on June 28th at O'Sheckys in Columbus, OH.
Chastain - http://www.facebook.com/davidt.chastain
Leather - http://www.facebook.com/leatherleone
Benedictum - https://www.facebook.com/Benedictum.Official
A Sound of Thunder - https://www.facebook.com/ASoundOfThunder
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