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Exclusive Interview with Doro Pesch – The Heavy Metal Queen

Cover Photo by Boris Danielson

Interview by Chris Willow

Doro Pesch, a German heavy metal vocalist, started her singing adventure and learned to play piano at the age of 10. She’s gained her fame as a lead singer of ‘Warlock’ and currently carries on with her own group called ‘Doro’. Her powerful anthems like ‘All We Are’, Burning The Witches’, ‘Hellraiser’, Love Me In Black’, ‘Walk With The Angels’, and ‘Lost In The Ozone’, and ‘All For Metal’ sound in our hearts forever. She walks in the first row of heavy metal artists for over three decades, she glides in the metal-air like a dragon protecting her kingdom. Doro is a strong character and one of the top live performing metal musicians who has a massive crowd of devoted fans all over the globe. The sound, the color of her timeless voice is unique. You always know it is her singing. She is also a talented composer and a melody wizard who tours extensively from the very beginning of her career. The magic of live performance, love, and devotion to her fans created her image the most and these are her driving force through the metal scene.  She is very active live performer and doing concerts, festivals and other  important music events every year.

 

Her song ‘You Are My Family’ which opens the album ‘Warrior Soul’ says a lot about her strong connection and feelings for her fans and metal community. She’s toured and performed together with many famous musicians and bands as Lemmy ( Motorhead), Twisted Sisters, Dio, Tarja Turunen, Scorpions, Rudolf Schenker, Judas Priest, Russ Ballard, Axel Rudi Pell, Sweet, Udo Dirkschneider ex-Accept, Amon Amarth and more. Apart from her strictly metal attitude, we can find her fragile and sensitive soul in her ballads and her love for graphic arts and painting. She was practicing Thai Boxing in the mid-’90s too. She is known for her love of animals and nature, all her stage outfit is made of synthetic materials and she is a vegan too. Doro Pesch is the most influential female metal vocalist and the beloved heavy metal icon worldwide.

Chris: Hi Doro! It is Chris Willow speaking.

Doro: Oh Hello! Can you hear me good?

C: Yes, not bad.

D: OK, good. Where are you located?

C: The suburb of Portsmouth, England

D: We play a date this September in Sheffield, England but it is not close to you, is it?

C: Yes, it is not. But we try to catch up with you for a video interview while you will be touring Europe

D: Oh! OK Great. Good, Good! I am calling from Germany. I better switch off a loudspeaker. Can you hear me better now?

C: Yes, it sounds a bit better now. Well, we are here to answer a few questions I think.

D: Oh yes

C: So let’s go for it. You appeared at Monsters Of Rock USA Cruise last February 2020. How do you remember it? Was it a good opener for forthcoming USA tour?

D: Yes, yes I love doing cruises, I did many cruises, a couple of times Monsters Of rock Cruise and 70,000 Tons of MetalFull Metal Cruise the cruise with Wacken people and last year we did Megacruise, it was a cruise by the band Megadeth but with the exception of Dave Mustain he was not feeling good enough, he wasn’t on the board but we did the best for him. I think we made him happy, you know. we played Megadeth’s songs and I loved it. I love cruises, I like bands and fans, it is like a big family. And it is a different atmosphere when you do gigs. Everybody is so happy to have a good time, more relaxed, you do not think like going to work the next day, you can have a drinking party, you know, you can party all the way.

C: So it has warmed you up for USA tour, right?

Doro: Yes, yes, definitely and now I do that show with Saxon it’s their 40 anniversary in my home town in Dusseldorf, Germany and then we play that European tour and festival and then American tour and later on I think we doing South America, Australia and coming back to Europe, and one festival in Sheffield it will be September. So we play all over the globe. I am happy, you know.

 

C: Your last studio release was ‘Forever Warriors Forever United’ in 2018. Do you have any new songs coming up, any new material? Maybe you play any new song on the forthcoming USA tour?

Doro: Oh, well we are currently in a process of writing, making new songs. We recorded some rough material already. But I do not know maybe it is too early to present them on tour, we have a couple of songs aclready and definitely, the new album is in making to be released in the middle of next year. But we have the album, the kind of ‘The Best Of… due to being out around Christmas and we put new recordings of the older songs like ‘Love Me In Black’ on it and it will be as a kind of a special package, you know, we’ll see.

 

C: But how about a new studio album? Do you have any concept for it now?

D: Yeah, not yet now it’s too early.  But I am working on it.I have something in my heart and soul, and then I think where to go with it, I think I will continue in a vain of ‘Forever warriors forever united but it won’t be a double CD but I gonna do powerful, fast, super heavy songs to empower fans with the new energy, you know. It’s gonna be something like that.

C: Oh, OK. And how do you remember your time with Warlock? Any hard time any magical time to share with us from the perspective?

D: Well, you know we never thought we would go anywhere, we just had our little rehearsal room in Germany, in Dusseldorf, we had no expectations and then, it happened suddenly. We had a couple of diehard fans and they were sending around our cassette tapes and then in maybe two weeks it got to the record company, something like an independent label, but we didn’t think anybody would pay attention to it but we got an offer to make a record which was ‘ Burning The Witches’ which was recorded in 1983 but we were thinking just maybe friends, boyfriends, parents would buy a record, and maybe would sell hundreds of copies. And then in the first month, it was like 20 000 copies sold. It was so shocking for us.

And it motivated the band and the second record was a professional record with Polygram/Vertigo and we became really like professionals and then our first German tour came out with my favorite band Judas Priest in 1986, and the dream came true. 1986 was our best year, we were playing famous Monsters Of Rock Festival 1986 in Castle Donington in England and in Germany and Warlock being on the same bill with Motorhead, Ozzy Osbourne, Scorpions, Bon Jovi it was so fantastic. And in a couple of weeks, we were continuing to tour Germany with Judas Priest and it was so unbelievable. And in England, we went on tour from Judas Pries to the Wasp tour which was a big tour too. And one year later we recorded ‘Triumph And Agony’ album, and actually, I had a chance to go to America, to New York, to do a little promotion tour and I loved it so much and I backed and I did that album, I think one of our best records ‘Triumph & Agony’ with songs ‘All We Are’ and ‘I Rul The Ruins’, and ‘East Meets West’ on it.

And then we went on tour with the legendary Ronnie James Dio (R.I.P) in Europe, I think we played two or three times with him, it was great and unbelievable and Ronnie was super, nice and kind, supportive and I would say the 80s were grant and fantastic. And then the nineties came and it was not so great because the Grange trend was suddenly coming up, metal bands were pushed to the side, it was difficult and hard to survive. And in 2000 we had worldwide release again it was ‘Calling The Wild’ album and I did my first duet and it was actually with Lemmy Kilmister (Motorhead), it was awesome, actually we did 2 songs together. And we became great friends, we always were friends in the 80s and then we were getting closer and closer and did many things together in the studio, we toured together and so on it was a great time with Lemmy.

 

C: You have that glorious name ‘The Queen Of Metal’. You are a true rock personality and it looks like you sold your soul for heavy metal. There is no lie in your eyes when you sing, you sing within your heart. How do you percept yourself as a metal performer nowadays? 

D: You know, I feel a servant to the fans, I wanna make them happy, give them good energy, empower them, you know like we all are one big family, it’s always about big, big trust, the friendship which I deeply appreciate and I tell you it’s the reason get on the tour this year, because of the great foundation of fans, that was always the important scene of my life. And now I appreciate it even more like in the 80s when I was starting out everything was exciting and you really didn’t know what was going on. But now I know it I am so grateful of that great fan base and it is always important to me and I’m still a metalhead and a big fan, you know of metal and other metal bands and I just do what I love doing and I always try to give my best, I always give 110% and to make my fans happy, yeah.

C: Would you like to tell us about your touring line up 2020, about the musicians you are touring with now? 

D: Yeah, I got a man in a band who’s been with me for 30 years. It is our bass player Nick Douglas, I met him in New York in 1990. And he was in our rehearsal room and we were doing an audition and there were 120 bass players lining up and Nick was the first who walked in and I knew he’s the guy. And then my manager said you had to listen to all the other 119 bass players to make sure you made a good choice but I felt with my hearth it was Nick. But I did listen to everybody but Nick was the one. He is still with the band and we still rocking on together and my drummer, he is with the band 26 and a half years, we wanted to celebrate his 21 anniversary but it was so much going, touring, recording so we did it a little bit later but yeah he is 26 and half years with the band. And guitar player he’s from Italy Luca Princiotta he is in the band now 13th year and my other guitar player he is from the Netherlands his name is Bas Maas he used to be in a band called ‘After Forever’, we toured the world together and then we became great friends and we knew one day we would do it together. And in these days sometimes we have a different lineup because of certain reasons you know tours, visas and he is telling from the Netherlands sometimes it’s taking so long to match everything in time so next tour we will do with my old guitar player Tommy Bolan who recorded ‘Triumph and Agony’ album with me and we did the last American tour together and the Russia tour together because Luca, he is now a daddy, he’s got a little girl and let’s see we might doing something later and Johnny Dee our drummer, he’s a dad now too. So we have two kids in a band now. And you know I never thought like that about any of us, you know two little babies… and you know I feel like empowered, you know.

C: You mentioned Ronnie James Dio (R.I.P) He was a great man. Could you tell me something about meeting him, please? You met him personally, right?

D: Oh yeah, yes I met him personally. Actually, the first tour together was in 1987 and then the next tour in 2000. And that was, actually, it was great we met in a hall and went to dinner together it was great. Then we did a long tour in America, the last couple of shows we did in Florida. And one time Ronnie was singing and then was leaving the stage. And he came back with the second microphone, we were watching his show from a side with my band, and my band said, ok Doro it’s your turn, I said no, no but Ronnie walked up to me and said let’s do the encores together and we sang arm in arm and it was so nice. It was like 3 encores in this show, we were singing together and we did 3,4 gig in Florida and were becoming great friends, it was awesome. And actually, we had plans to do another tour but than…it was like not anymore possible…and then he was doing much better everybody thought he was doing better but than it happened and it was so shocking ( Ronnie died of cancer). I think there is a movie coming out about Ronnie James Dio, some people contacted me that they doing a nice movie about Ronnie and I can tell them all my experiences with him back in 1987, you know I couldn’t speak English that well those days, but we started hanging out later in 2000 and talking, laughing, he had so great sense of humor and it was funny and nice, you now.

C: He’s got legions of fans in the USA. Do you think you can play any tribute to Ronnie on US Tour 2020?

D: Yes, but you know sometimes we did it already one time I recorded a song ‘Egypt The Chains Are On’ on a tribute album and I think Wendy Dio (Ronnie ex-wife and manager) liked it a lot so she put it on another tribute album where other bands covered Ronnie Dio songs. And after I wrote one song for Dio and it’s called ‘Hero’ and it’s a beautiful song and sometimes we play it live, usually as an encore for fans, we ask them what they wanna hear and they call out this song so, you know we play it and another called ‘Egypt’ so you know it’s happening.

C: What do you think about music projects like the ‘Hear and Aid’ project featuring many heavy rock stars, done in 1985? Do you think anything like that could be done nowadays? What is your opinion about this?

D: Yes, yes it is a great idea. I did many projects like that some in England, some in Germany, some in America. One time it was in New York, I think it was called New York Fever, Twisted Sisters was there and many many of us. I think it is a great idea because when you have a thing like that you get a lot of support, you got media you got a good cause. I think that’s awesome. You got a lot of happy people and usually, I am for it.

C: What is your driving force? What does inspire you to compose and create your music?

D: The fans, the people…It’s like you know, that feeling of like deep, deep trust and when they tell me their life stories I am deeply inspired or when we travel the world like some touring it’s so much inspiration, it’s great to see the world, to see the different mentality, different ways of living, different ways of doing things. You learn so much from just being out in the world. And I was feelin’ people who were encouraged me so much, like Lemmy and Dio I can easily feel like I want to write songs for them or for the fans, to talk about friendship, you know. And the last album, the latest album ‘Forever Warriors Forever United’ was started with Lemmy when I was actually in a plane, was flying to Lemmy’s funeral. I was so sad and heartbroken and then this idea of ‘Living Life To The Fullest’ came up like melody, the chorus, everything was there already and I recorded it right away on my little iPhone and then it was the first song we recorded in the studio, I thought it should start with Lemmy and it should end with Lemmy and then we recorded the cover version of the Motorhead song „Lost In The Ozone’ because I loved Lemmy’s lyrics so much. Yeah, so everybody inspired me who was close to my heart.

 

C: Do you listen to any classical music, maybe? Do you have any favorite composers?

D: Oh, Yeah! Actually, I grew up with classical, my parents especially my dad, he loved classical music so I was growing up with that stuff. Yeah, I like that German dude Beethoven, I like him a lot because his music is quite serious which I like it’s absolutely good for metal. And on the latest album I covered a song it was done by Pavarotti, Luciano Pavarotti it’s called ‘Caruso’, it’s actually in Italian and it’s a bonus track on ‘Forever Warriors For Ever United’ and I think it’s beautiful and it definitely has a classical background and Caruso he’s one of my favorite classical musicians. I definitely recommend it for people to check it out to check out that era…

C: Do you incorporate some classical motives into heavy metal? Does it look like a good idea for you?

D: Yeah, actually one time I did the record with the orchestra it was called ‘Classic Diamonds’

And at first, I thought I withhold and never do it. And then I did it. It was actually for a good cause, it was for animals in need. And they said, ‘Hey Doro did you want to sing a couple of songs’, we had an orchestra and other special guests’. And I said yes, I’d love to and then they called me back again and said the other special guest backed out they couldn’t make. Could you sing more than 2-3 songs? I said, yes and then, in the end, I was the only singer there and another guitar player Axel Rudi Pell he was there and I did it with orchestra and it was such a great show and people were asking can’t you record some more and or can’t you do a tour, then actually, we recorded it with this, it was called Classic Night Orchestra and we played live in Bochum, it was 65 piece orchestra and it was awesome, many special guests came up there and we did some classic songs as well like ‘|Fear Of The Dark’ an old song of Iron Maiden with Blaze Bayley who was a short time with Iron Maiden but I think he was a great singer and we did the best.

And yeah, I did the whole tour with orchestra one time and it was fun, it was great, some songs came up, I mean they were shining, like when you do something in the studio, just making piano and the keyboards and that’s great but when you have like a fantastic orchestra so some songs have an atmosphere and power you know so yeah, yeah I love doing that depends on the song, and depends on the situation.

Chris: When was your last USA tour, a regular tour?

D: Two tours last year. It was last year with Metal Church. That was a fantastic tour. We did 2 tours with Metal Church. Yeah, that was last year. It was great. And now the next tour I am excited about with them and the same manager of Metal Church, we actually met with him on Metal Church tour. And I look forward to this tour, yeah of course.

C: What is your support act for the forthcoming USA Tour 2020? One band or more bands?

D: Yes, we actually have two bands. For the first run, it is an old metal band, you might know it. It is ‘Culprit’ that’s for the first run in Phoenix, San Diego and then the second run it is ‘Lost Legacy’, they are from New York, yeah and then we play M3 Festival in Maryland and we do that special show in Los Angeles, it’s 48th Anniversary Show of the famous Rainbow Club. That means a lot to me because I was hanging out with Lemmy ( Motorhead) there, it was Lemmy’s sitting room, we loved to stay there and we doing that show there and it is a free show, what I like you know, whoever wants to party can join us, yeah.

C: What is your message to your fans of the 2020 Tour?

D: Oh, well we all must play high life and have a good, we gonna play our best stuff of all our albums, the songs like ‘All We Are from ‘Triumph And Agony’, ‘Burning The Witches’ and from latest albums too. All killers no filers, you know. There will be lots of power and something for heart and soul, we gonna create something unforgettable each night, we will play each night a different setlist so if people want to travel, you know around to see more than one show so you can always be sure to hear different songs and they can call out songs they want to hear, the encores if we haven’t played their favorite ones in the setlist so the encores are the chance to hear them, of course for the people from the first raws to hear what they want, some B sides singles and we play like 80% songs of the records so it’s gonna be a lot they know.

C: It was very nice to have you here Doro and it was an honor for me to talk to you to the one and only Metal Queen because you are like a Dragon for me who stands up alone, because your Chines zodiac is Dragon, right?  And it is mine too LOL.

D: Oh yeah, yes, yes that’s right good, good. Dragons are good people and thank you for your kind words, it was great talking to you.

C: Thanks, it’s very nice I like the way you do your music, your shows. You are like a Dragon going alone and legions of fans follow you wherever you go. You can feel it…that power in the air…

D: Thank you for saying that. That’s cool. They always give me motivation, I appreciate when people gather for me when people appreciate… and to see them all, it is great…

C: So see you on the road on the 2020 tour. See you in the USA or elsewhere in the world.

D: Yes, yeah anywhere in the world, like all over the planet we will see you all…

Inspite of some Tour 2020 dates postponed due to the current Coronavirus plague, Doro Pesh is sitill active, she creates and composes new music and is involved in her fresh Covid-19 era projects you can find out about visiting her social media now.

She even did her first drive in show live on Stage in Wohnzimmer Berlin Germany on KARANTENA.TV  – part of the Regenbogen 2 Rock Summer festival DORO rocked Worms, Germany. It was an original,  drive-in live performance for the audience. She is the first metal artist who ever attempt this! as a result of the restrictions imposed due to the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic.Hundreds of her fans gathered at the CARantena-Arena, while complying with the country’s social distancing regulations, of course.

And all her metal family awaits the appropriate time to join her regular, genuine concerts on the road again.! All Stay Safe and All for Metal!

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