Heart of Steel: Interviews

Metal-Rules.com Interview with Doro Pesch 

Interviewed by EvilG

Some of you will remember Doro from her successful career with the German metal band Warlock. That band fell apart in the late 80's but Doro's musical career did not end there! After spending a good part of the past decade pursuing a solo career in Europe, Doro has once again obtained a record deal for the USA with Koch Records. Her new CD Calling The Wild is out now. I was given the opportunity to speak with Doro just prior to the release of her CD in September.


Thanks to Koch Records
and to Mark Morton for making
this interview a reality.

I heard your new CD today, it finally arrived, and considering it's been a while since I have actually heard something from you I was pleasantly surprised. The CD sounds great, great vocals, an impressive list of guest appearances, etc..

Which song did you like the most?

I lean towards the more more upbeat ones like "Burn it Up" and "Now Or Never."

"Burn It Up"? Oh cool! And on the other on, the solo was played by Slash!

And he did a really good job. I also liked the songs you did with Lemmy. I guess you've been acquainted with him for a while?

Yeah, I met him in (I think) '86. The first time was at the Monsters of Rock Festival in England. We played together, we were on the same bill and that's when I met him the first time. And you know, I kind of lost track of Lemmy for a long time. When I was at home listening to all kinds of records I saw this record No Sleep At All by Motorhead. I wanted to play it and in the inner sleeve there was this cute picture of Lemmy and me backstage at the Monsters of Rock Festival! I thought, maybe I'd give him a call or write him a letter and ask if would be interested in doing a song together. So I did, and I made a little photocopy of the picture and I wrote underneath it - "Hey Lemmy, remember this one?" and "how about doing something together?"

I sent it to the management and I didn't really expect that somebody would call back, I know how it is, things get lost and I didn't know if Lemmy was on tour or what. So anyhow, two weeks later my cell phone rang and I first thought it was a joke from one of my band members. But it wasn't! It was really Lemmy and he said "Hey Doro, it's me Lemmy, and I love that idea" and "come on over to England or to LA." I told him whatever would be better for him. He said he was just working in L.A. with a guy Bob Kulick who he said was a good producer with a very good studio so maybe we could do it all together. So then I got over to L.A. and Bob asked me what would we play on the songs and my drummer was here in New Jersey and we wanted to record the next day so he said how about Randy Castillo or Eric Singer? I thought that was great so he called them both. At first we though Randy would do one song and Eric the other song but Eric was so pumped that he played both songs in one day. He really played great. Then we sang together and Lemmy played an acoustic guitar solo in "Alone Again." 

 

Yeah, and it was actually pretty good!

Yeah, nobody knew he could play guitar! When he played it everybody in the studio was like, their jaws were dropped and it was like - wow man!! He did it in one take and came out with a big smile saying 'how was it'? We said "Lemmy, that's it, that's the keeper." For me that was really awesome, it was definitely one of the highlights of the record and he was a super-nice guy. And even though I met him years ago, it was the first time that we had so much time to spend together and talk about everything. It's rare to find someone with his experiences and to have been so long doing it. We had really great conversations and personally and musically I think we got along awesome!

 

How did you decide what material to cover, for example the song you chose from the Motorhead CD 1916, why that particular song? (Love Me Forever).

When I was in L.A., Lemmy came to the hotel and we wanted to do the song-writing together and I had prepared a lot and had a lot of ideas and he had a lot of ideas. Then he said "there's one song that I wrote already, like two years ago, do you want to hear it?" I said that I'd love to, then he played "Alone Again." As soon as he played it, about 10 seconds after I said "that's the one, I want to do that one!" I loved it. I said that there was no further song-writing needed. He was happy about that and said if there was ever a single, what would the b-side be? Then I told him that the song "Love Me Forever" was always one of my absolute favorites and asked if he would be in the mood to re-do that song again. He thought it was a good idea because he thought that song never got the attention it deserved. We made up our mind really quickly and the next day we went to the studio to record this stuff. I think he was really pleased with how it came out and I was surprised that the voices matched so good. 

 

Yeah so was I. Lemmy is not known as a ballad or slow song kind of guy, but he can really do it.

Ohh man, he's so soulful and powerful. When he sang, I had goose bumps. We didn't song together in the same room when we were recording it. I was in the control room and he was in the recording room. When he sang I thought it was beautiful. 

 

It seems as if you prefer or enjoy working with a variety of different musicians. Do you prefer that as opposed to working just with people that are in your band?

No, I must say I don't prefer it but it certainly is extra special. To have Slash play on "Now or Never" and Al Pitrelli on the song "Dedication", every time it really was something extra special. There was a different vibe in the room and they put so much heart and soul into it. It was fucking amazing. I love to play with the band but every song is different. I want to treat it in the right way. Sometimes people love more of the heavy stuff and they don't dig the slower stuff or vice versa with people only into the ballads and they can't vibe on the heavy stuff. So I though on this record I wanted to do justice to every song with the best energy, people and playing. Usually I've been choosing one producer and one studio but I've always thought that something was lacking. I was dependant on the guys taste or if he wasn't into ballads for example...I thought ballads weren't taken care of as well as they should be. This time I thought every song should be made different. Sometimes we did it with the band, sometimes with other people.

 

Is there anybody out there who you would love to sit down and write a song with and record with that you haven't yet?

Yeah, that would be James Hetfield of Metallica, that would be great. We've played many times together way back when like when it really started you know.

 

On the song "Terrorvision" on the new CD there's a line about 2 minutes in where you say "don't mess with me motherfff" and it stops. Was that cut deliberately or did you do that yourself?

No it was cut deliberately. "Terrorvision" was on the last record Love Me In Black which unfortunately didn't get released here in America. I thought a couple of those songs were great and I wanted to re-record them. When I re-recorded "Terrorvision" it was the label who told me that I had better cut that out. I mean in Germany or in Europe you can say whatever you want, in Europe you can say 100,000 times fuck...whatever. It's funny, it's really funny but...

 

The first time I heard it I said "what happened there?" It sounds like it was recorded but in the mix it was turned off or something.

Yeah it was recorded and that's exactly what is was. We just turned it off in the mix. I told the engineer...I think we working that for two hours. It was like "don't mess with me" and I was like no no no. Then we left the line out all together then we left it was "don't mess with me motherfff." Then I said well give me a little bit more of the "f" It was like little kids working on something or playing with something. It took us longer then recording the whole song (laughs).

 

On the new album you've also modernized the Billy Idol song "White Wedding." I was wondering what you choose Billy Idol and why that song in particular?

I really think its a great song. It was always one of my favorites. Actually we were in the studio sitting and doing a little jam session then somebody was playing the riff to "White Wedding" then I started singing to it. That's when I thought that it fits and sounded pretty cool. So we recorded it. At the end of the day when we had like 40 songs and everybody couldn't pick their favorites and "White Wedding" was always under the best ten and I though I want to definitely have that on the record. I must say I am not a big fan of cover versions. It's not necessary for me to have that on every record but sometimes it's fun to do. I think it came out pretty cool and it's one of my favorites. 

 

I liked how the piano fit there in place of the guitar picked melody line.

We've played it a coupe of times now and with the summer festivals, we just played Wacken in Germany, and we played "White Wedding" for the encore and it went over well, it was really good. People were totally into it. So for an encore, I think that's pretty good.

 

I realize you've had a successful music career since the 80's but you must also realize that there are a lot of metal fans who don't know that you continued on since Warlock...especially in America where you've had the frustrating problem of not having your recent releases put out.

Yeah, it was always heartbreaking. I was still living here in New York most of the time. We did the records most of the time in New York or in L.A. I had a worldwide deal with either Polygram or Warner Brothers. My hopes were up high and then it was heartbreaking when they wouldn't release it. Then it was of course impossible to go on tour for many years. Then I did the record "Love Me In Black."

I guess you could get this through import but it was sinfully expensive so yeah we did "Love Me In Black" and I thought it was a very interesting record. For three years we worked day and night on it. I sent it to the fanclub guy, Tony, from America and he loved it. He said he wanted to do everything that was possible to get this released. I told him whatever he wanted to do (to make that happen) do. He asked for copies to send out to record companies. He made cassettes of it and sent them out and within two weeks we had four record deal offers! I thought that this was fucking amazing! No one could get it going, the lawyers, nobody nut the fanclub guy he could get us the record deal. Then the guy from Koch Records, he was immediately e-mailing. I think he got the record and one day later he was e-mailing Tony then he contacted me. Then I went to their office here in New York and I had a good feeling that they would put their heart and soul into it. A couple of weeks later we made the deal. That was great and I love to tell you that story because I only survived because of the fans, the strong fan base. In Europe we could still go on tour all over and they were always selling out and it was all good but America...if you weren't out of Seattle...no fucking way...you had no chances. A lot of bands got dropped, those with the heavy metal reputation or heavy rock. It was pretty difficult to carry on. We always tried. But now, I've heard here from the record company that they would like to try and release all the old stuff. 

 

That's what I was just going to ask!

So yeah, that would be great. Oh cause a record we wrote in '95 was meant for '95 and now it would sound, maybe weird but for fans and collectors it would be super. 

 

How would you compare your new CD or what would you say is different about it from your earlier material or form what you were doing throughout the 90's.

I think it's more modern yet back to the roots. It's all played live and there's no electronica stuff. I was experimented with that a little bit on the last album but this one is all live and I think it has a lot of energy and soulfullness. It has a wide variety of songs like from super heavy to super sensitive with good messages. I love the song "Dedication" so much because of the positive message like for peace and freedom type of stuff and you could put it into a heavy song. I think there is probably a song on there that the fans will probably...well every fan will have a different favorite song.

 

Yeah there is definitely a variety which is good. 

Yeah, at first I wanted to do a double album and they wouldn't let me. They said you've (just been signed) so take it easy (laughs). But I'm very happy with how it came out. What is different from the previous records is that there are so many good people involved. There was only good energy in the room and it was a lot of fun, there was no tension...just good vibes on the record. I think the fans will feel that. I think the intangibles are as important as the things you can see and feel and hear.

 

 So now that you have an album that is domestically released in North America, will you be able to tour?

Yeah we are just working on a tour. Management is talking...we're probably doing the Dio tour. I think that would work out good. I toured with Dio a couple of years ago in Europe and that was an awesome tour. So the managements are just talking about it. If that doesn't happen then maybe we'll go alone out on a club tour or I would hop on a different tour which I don't know yet who's going out in November. I want to go on tour in November. We'll let you know as soon as we know some dates and stuff cause it's all in the middle of being worked on. (Ed. note. I did get an update so here it is!! Acting as warm-up gigs for her pending tour with Metal legend DIO, Doro will perform 3 limited engagements in the North East. On Thursday, October 5th, Doro will open for DEE SNIDER at The Vanderbilt in Long Island, NY. Doro will then perform 2 headlining dates - Friday, October 13th, Bayside, NY Voodoo Lounge and Saturday, October 14th, Old Bridge, NJ Birch Hill Niteclub. Look for Doro Pesch to take 'Calling The Wild' on an all out assault across America soon! Stay tuned to www.dororocks.com for further updates and info.

 

So you recently played at Wacken and the New Jersey Metal Meltdown. Did you notice a difference in crowd response or reaction seeing as how your recent albums were out in Europe and they haven't been here?

I think the New Jersey Metal Meltdown was an awesome show. People had come from all over the country to see the show. I actually only had 30 minutes to play. The guys said if we played two minutes more they would pull the plug. So I couldn't play long, it was like seven songs which is ridiculous. But even though, it was a great show. The fans were singing along from the first song to the last song. They knew every line. I thought "Ohhh man!! They didn't forget me!" That was a great feeling. And in Wacken it was a different crowd because they know me over there and they know the last records well. It was just different because of knowing it more and the response and feedback, the excitement...it was the same I think.

 

I'm going to ask a question that I'm sure you've been asked WAY too many times, but I think I've got a bit if a different spin on it and that's the old idea of "women in heavy metal." As you know they are a rare breed, but it seems that in recent years there are a lot more like White Skull from Italy are fronted by a woman, Sinergy is fronted by a woman as is Nightwish. Do you think now that time has passed that people are more open minded, hopefully, to a metal band fronted by a woman?

Well, I tell you...I personally never had a problem with it. I was always very much respected and treated very good and I was on so many tours and supporting other bands...treated very good by the musicians and especially the fans. I think it never mattered that I was a woman. In the end it's always a big fight to fight for your music and fight for your band and for the record coming out and to go on tour and all that stuff. I think it's as hard for a woman as it is for a man. It's hard to "make it" for any band these days. It doesn't really matter if you are a man or a woman as long as you believe in yourself and when you're good at the stuff you are doing, when you are all passionate about it, then that's what it takes. You could be a woman, a man, whatever you know? And you said as the years went by it getting better...I don't know, it's always a big fight. If it never worked I would probably tell you, man it was hard I couldn't get it going cause I'm from Germany or whatever. There are a million reasons why something doesn't work. You are just one man against the whole world or against the whole music business and you just have to fight and find other people to fight with you (laughs). You build a little army to fight with you to make it happen. With the woman or man thing - I don't think that has much to do with it. I've never felt discriminated against being a woman. I've always felt really happy. I always respect when women are doing it and I love it but I don't make an issue out of it. And when someone made a stupid comment once, I don't even let it get to me. I don't even hear that. 

I hope you don't mind if I ask a couple of Warlock related questions?

No of course not, no!

When I found out I was interviewing you I actually dug out some of the old Warlock albums - Hell bound and Burning The Witches and stuff and listening back and saying coollll!!!! So looking back on your Warlock days, do you view that point in your career favorably, or do you prefer to leave the past alone and move on?

Man I tell you, I loved that so much and my heart and soul was so much into it. I was totally devastated when it broke up and it broke up not because of the band but because of all the bullshit around it. It was the record companies, the management, everything. The band had no control any more, everybody else had, and the band did not. It was really tough and there were allot of problems and I was totally heartbroken about it. But those times were awesome, man it was awesome! I will always treasure them. I love to think about the great times.

 

Has there even been thoughts of maybe down the road resurrecting Warlock, or at least the name Warlock? Or are you happy to go by just Doro?

Yeah I have been sometimes thinking about it then I think who should we put in the band since we went through so many line-up changes. In America we toured with a completely different line-up then we had in Germany. It would be kind of hard to resurrect it. It would be a big effort to do it right and I don't want to do it half-assed. Some of the people who were in Warlock have since completely given up music. But I would be very open about it. Another thing is the band I have had for many years now, and my bass player in Wacken celebrated his tenth band anniversary. They are very dear to me and we get along so great. They went with me through ups and downs so much that I wouldn't want to leave them either! It's a hard question to answer but I've thought about it and maybe, there are no plans yet, but who know you know? Maybe when the time is right.

 

I assume your band now plays some Warlock songs live?

Absolutely, we play all the great Warlock songs that is always a part of the show and always will be. On Triumph & Agony I wrote all the songs together with my producer and I sing them all. Usually our concerts are 2-2.5 hours long and all the highlights of the records will be played. From "Burning The Witches" to "All We Are" I love that stuff. We always open up with "I Rule The Ruins", that's always our opening song for many years now. I think that probably will stay. I'll still play all the Warlock songs, I still feel that in my heart.

 

Do you have a favorite CD by Warlock, or is it mainly a number of favorite songs?

My favorite is the Triumph and Agony. That has "All We Are", "Fur Immer" and "I Rule The Ruins" that's my favorite.

 

You still live in New York do you?

Doro Promo Shot Yeah - half and half. Well half in New York and New Jersey and half in Dusseldorf, Germany. 

You moved to New York in the late 80's I believe, if I remember correctly. I was wondering why you decided to relocate there as opposed to remaining based out of Germany?

I was here in New York for a little promotion tour in '86 for three days and then I wanted to stay. I just fell in love with it so much. I thought "I've got to do everything to stay." So then I just stayed. Then many, many years later I thought found myself a little place in Germany - my parents and my friends are still there. But I really fell in love with America the first time I came. On the first day I made up my mind - I need to stay. I'm an American at heart, it feels like....there are no limits. I think it's the best country in the world. I tell you, I've lived all over the place but I still feel that?

Cool, so have you been to Canada?

Yeah, I have been but not as much. I couldn't stay, I was just touring there. I've never lived there. Are you from Canada?

Yeah, that's were you're calling!

Ahhh...I see, I see...I didn't even know that. We played only in Tornoto and Montreal and...

There are only 3-4 cities that band hit unless you do a very extensive tour. 

Yeah and I hope we can do that this time. I dunno.

It would be nice if you could get up here. 

But it's true, I've never lived there so I don't know. But I do like Canada allot. So far from everything else where I've lived and what I've experienced I've thought...man America...yeah that's pretty fucking cool for me man (laughs). And for doing music, that's the main reason I came here. There's so much more possibilities and stuff.

 

I wanted to ask you what kind of stuff you have been listening to lately and if you have any opinions on current metal or newer metal bands that a popular who also came out of Europe like Stratovarius or Rhapsody...bands like that who are more melodic?

Yeah, I tell you I have wide tastes. I still love all the bands I grew up with. I was a huge Kiss fan and Metallica, Motorhead. I like Danzig, Rage Against The Machine. For newer bands I like Rammstein a lot and my friends who I am working with from Die Krupps - have you heard them?

I have heard OF them....

I was working with those guys on the last record and on the new record they have a new project it's called DK dot com. It's brand new just out and it's very melodic, not as heavy as Die Krupps but I think it's pretty cool.

 

Do you still listen to the bands that influenced you like Kiss and Judas Priest?

Yeah I do, once in a while. I love it so much.
When I met Lemmy I listened to all the old Motorhead stuff so many times. It was such a treat. And you know what I fond out? Lemmy did so many ballads before which nobody ever knew that. 

 

Do you prefer the ballads to the more popular stuff like "Ace of Spades" 

I must say it depends on my mood. When it's like early in the morning or when I'm starting to get tired, then I love to listen to some slow songs but I love "The Ace of Spades." We just sang in Europe together "Born To Raise Hell" on stage. It was so much fun. If you would ask me to choose, then I would choose the heavier stuff but I dig the ballads as well.

 

Do you have any other news or happenings you can tell me to let everybody know about?

Well I'm just so happy that something new is coming out and that I'm looking forward to seeing them all live. I will promise a kick ass show, a better show than ever, I look forward to seeing all the fans. 

Yeah, it's been a while for some people here...

Yeah, we'll let you know when we know the days.

Cool, I'll post them to the site.

It is an internet magazine?

Yeah and it's called METAL RULES!!

Yeah the internet is fantastic...to connect with people all over the world.

 

Do you have anything to do with www.doropesch.com?

The doro.de that's...I know those guys pretty well. doropesch.com - I think that's a guy in Holland, I don't know him that well or know how the site is. Is it good?

I've seen the doro.de as well, they both have a lot of similar information (ed. note: doro.de seems to be down for "construction" all of a sudden) both are good. www.dororocks.com is another killer Doro site).

There's many good sites out there. The fans have taken really good care of me. 

 

Well thank you very much and good luck with the release of your album, I believe that's this September.

Yeah, the 12th.

So now everyone can pick it up domestically and not have to pay ridiculous import prices!

Exactly, yeah. Thank god hey, and thank god for the fanclub you know! If he wouldn't of had that idea, probably the record wouldn't of been out this September you know, so that's great!

 

Thank you very much and take it easy.

You too, and it was nice talking to you and have a good day and all that good stuff! (laughs).

 

Band Website: www.doropesch.com