Heart of Steel: Interviews

Interview With Doro Pesch
Interviewed and pictures By Marko Syrjälä

This interview came out a little bit late, but better late than never. This was done at the Sweden Rock Festival earlier this year. After many phone calls and the great help of SPV press people, I managed to get this done.  This interview turned out to be quite KISS related...

 

doro-pic3.jpg (35696 bytes)Back in the 80's Warlock was well known everywhere in a metal world. Why did you change the band name?

We did lose the name. We lost the rights to the name by our former manager - it wasn't my choice then. He actually stole the name from us. Back then we went to court and we lost. The band lost and manager won for whatever reason. He won the rights for the name Warlock and we couldn't perform anymore under the name Warlock. Back then we couldn't perform anymore and we couldn't make any more records. Then the record company said we should have a new band name, and name it DORO. And so we did. It was a true tragedy because we never wanted to change band name. Everyone knew the name Warlock. That was not a fortunate thing but...

 

 

Was there some misunderstanding between you and your manager when you signed that deal?

I signed a lot of contracts and this happened. I was never interested enough in business things, 'cause I have always been much more into music than business. I have signed my life away many times. People just trust each other too much. I trusted the former manager as well, and he was the biggest thief of all of them. We were friends as well. It was really shocking and strange. Actually, I heard that he is here today. [at the Swedenrock festival] It would be nice to see him again. When I was younger, I thought that I would just want to go on making music for the rest of my life and there was one part which ended, you know? We lost the name, and we had all our money spent on the law suit. And the judge wasn't an asshole, but, I was just kicking and screaming when they carried me out of the court. Next thing I knew was that name was taken away. So, there is no justice some times, and this case with the record company  and changing the name was the only way to go on.

 

 

doro-pic12.jpg (30237 bytes)But you managed to keep all the rights for Warlock songs ?

No, there was no problem with that. That's the reason I am still able to play that older stuff. Thank god for that! But the damage was still done. I always liked the fantasy world which was around the name Warlock:  the witches, mystique and so on.

 

 

Back in 1991, Gene Simmons produced your album. How did you manage to get him to be your producer? I also remember that I have seen some video clips from year 1988 where you and Gene we’re on some festival together. Was it the first time you met him?

Yeah, that was the first time when I actually met him. I think we were in the dressing room, and I was so nervous to meet KISS, cause I was a BIG fan when I grew up. And then suddenly there was somebody singing "All We Are" in the corner of that room and it was Gene. I was totally shocked. Then we got introduced for the first time. I think it was in Germany.

 

 

In Schweinfurt?

Correct. You seem to know that better than me. In 1990, I thought that maybe we should cover a KISS song or try to write a song with them, and then I met Gene and  we had meeting in a hotel in New York. Actually it was a surprise for me. I told my manager that I would love to write a song with them or something and he said "that probably won't happen because they are too busy, and we don't know how to get a contact for them." Actually my secretary, who was a former girlfriend of Gene, said she had Gene's number.

 

 

Gene doesn't have girlfriends, you know?

Sorry. I mean she was one his old "friends" as you know, and she called them up and they said that Gene was very interested in working with some new bands. We set up some time, and next thing I know, my manager calls me at 10 o'clock in the morning and told me to wake and meet in the Park Hotel on 57th Street in New York. I asked, "what for?" and he said, "You'll see." He didn't tell tell me who it was. I got to the hotel and my manager asked, "Are you ready ?" I said, "Ready for what ?" He said, "Somebody's waiting there." I said, "Who?" And he said "Gene Simmons." Then I totally lost it and ran circles around the block at least three times before going in. Then my manager asked, "Are you ready now?" And then we met him.

 

 

Gene had him own record label called Simmons Records back then?

Yes he did.

 

 

doro-pic9.jpg (28966 bytes)How about Tommy Thayer? He played most of the guitars on you album. Did he also write some songs with you and Gene?

The thing was he was originally a co-producer of that album, and he worked for Gene.

 

 

Almost a fifth member of KISS since 1989?

Yes, he is Gene's personal assistant or something today. Tommy was also a great guitar player. I met him and Gene said, "Maybe you guys can work it on?" And that's how it went.

 

 

Did he play all guitars on that album?

No, there were many players on that album. Tommy played the main stuff but there was many more players as well.

 

 

How did you end up recording the KISS song "Only You" for that album?

Well, it is one of my all time favorite songs, and there is one funny story when my guitar player Joe came to rehearsal for the audition. We were auditioning new guitar players for the band. There were about 15 candidates and they were all pretty good. We chose one - I think his name was Steve, he was really good and I told him you've got the gig, and the rest of the band was happy.

 

 

doro-pic13.jpg (45669 bytes)Was it before or after the recording of the "Doro" album?

It was before "Angels Never Die" back in 1993. Then  we did a little practice, and one day later Joe came down to rehearsal and I thought, "Oh no" and we said, "OK you shouldn't came here for nothing, so maybe you should learn a couple of songs?" We played, then I said, "I'm really sorry but we already have a new guitar player." So, Joe started playing and after one hour I had to do an interview, and when I came back  the band was pretty excited, then I thought OK. So then we played two songs, and the second one was "Only You." Joe was the only guitarist of all players who played that song, so right then he surprisingly got the gig. We had tell Steve that we were sorry, but Joe just has better chemistry with us. We fit better together and the other guy just left.

 

 

Sometimes chemistry is more important than just technical side?

Exactly. And because "Only You" is my favorite song. The chords of the song are so beautiful. I just love them.

 

 

doro-pic8.jpg (40286 bytes)It's a good cover version you did on "Only You". And when you play it on live it sounds even better!

Have you heard that live record we did after the "Angels Never Die" tour?

 

 

Yes, I have heard.

That live album is so super good! And "Only You" is also included for that one.

 

 

Most of the fans don't even know where that song comes from.

No they don't. But it is a good for me, hehe.

 

 

Anyway, it's a smart thing to do a cover for a not-so-common song. There are many people who call them selves a Kiss fan, and they don't know that song at all.

Yes, that's right. I was a big fan of "Music From The Elder" album. I loved it. Many people don't like it, but I do. Another favorite of mine from that album is "Under The Rose" . It's a very under-rated album anyway.

 

 

doro-pic6.jpg (7315 bytes)My favorite from "The Elder" is the last track from the album which is called "I"

Gene wrote it.

 

 

We'll that's very true. I'm still a huge fan of his anyway.

Yeah, that's true. I'm still a fan. I think that KISS Alive II my favorite album of all time.

 

 

How about Alive I?

In America, everybody was more into Alive I but, Alive II is my favorite.

 

 

doro-pic4.jpg (26919 bytes)Why did you only make just one album with Gene? What happened?

Well, Gene is a very busy person all the time. He has KISS right? I knew that right from the start you know, when I met him in a hotel and then he said, "You know what Doro? If we wanna do something together, maybe we try out two or three songs." I didn't even expect to do a whole record, or that we would do so much together.

 

 

I heard some rumors that the two songs "Mirage" and "Something Wicked This Way Comes" from the "Doro" album, were originally written by Gene for the "Hot In the Shade" KISS album?

Really? I don't' think so, but I'm not sure. Who knows? Maybe those didn't fit into that album style or something? Because they are both really good songs.

 

 

Well H.I.T.S is not their best album.

It's not my favorite either. It's an OK album. We have one of Gene's songs on the new record! It's called, "Legend Never Dies" and it sounds really good. He wrote that a very long time a go.

 

 

doro-pic14.jpg (26939 bytes)How did you come up with that song?

Well, I have a demo of this song at home and I have always wanted to record it   myself. We had just finished the new album, and this was a perfect fit for this album.

 

 

Well, it's more than ten years old?

I think it might be even older. I've always loved that demo version, but it never fit into the record. This was the perfect album to include that song.

 

 

What did Gene think when he heard you're going to record his old song?

Yeah, I told him we are going to do that song.

 

 

Does he want any money for that?

We'll see! Two years ago we were on American tour with Dio, which was a great tour. It was Dio and Yngwie Malmsteen and us. When we played in L.A, I called up Gene and told him we are here. He came down and it was great. I told him that I would like to record that song and he said, "Go for it." He hasn't heard it yet. Let's hope that he likes it! It's one of the highlights on the album for me personally. I hope that people like it!

 

 

During your career there has been numerous line-up changes in your band. Why?

doro-pic7.jpg (30597 bytes)Well, maybe because I have been doing it such a long time. Over twenty years now.

 

 

Do you consider yourself a difficult person then?

Well, ask Joe. He has been with me over ten years now. The bass player has been in the band twelve years. Well, but now this band has been together for about ten years. There hasn't been any changes, except the keyboardist, who is not a permanent member. So I think that ten years or twelve years together is a very long time.

 

doro-pic10.jpg (45330 bytes)

 

So, you are not a difficult person? At least you don't seem to be that kind of person.

It's never been my choice when somebody left the band. Some people just gave up music. Like my bass player from Warlock - he was fed up with the business and just gave up playing completely. Others turn to drugs. That wasn't my choice either. Bobby Rondinelli and Tommy Henriksson formed their own band, and they wanted to do their own thing. He auditioned once for KISS and he didn't get the job. I don't know. The chemistry wasn't so good between them, but for me its the biggest honor in a world to work with Gene. When we went L.A and started recording, the band didn't show up and they had started their own thing and that was it.

 

 

Your new studio album "Fight" is the first album featuring your own band playing, besides the live album you did back in 1993. Why didn't it take so long?

doro-pic2.jpg (48915 bytes)Well, we did some stuff which was a bit of industrial, and then we worked with a lot with drum loops and that kind of stuff. We're working with this one guy on that "Love Me In Black" record which I really like. That guy is Jimmy Harry. He is a guy who does everything himself, like guitar, drum programming and it was different times in the music scene. Jimmy Harry is just so brilliant and easy to work with. And then there has been just different situation during all these years. And it's just been like that.

 

 

How did you find Britney Fox and ex-Waysted drummer Johnny Dee to play for you? Did you knew the band Britney Fox before?

doro-pic16.jpg (35455 bytes)Yes, of course I knew his old bands. Actually he still plays with Britney Fox. We had a different drummer before, and he came over to Germany. He played Wacken and some more festivals, but he didn't like Europe. It was three weeks before the actual tour. We did some festivals, and then we had a few weeks break until the main tour. Wacken is one of the biggest festivals in Europe, and after that he said he couldn't take it anymore. He wasn't made to be on the road you know - he was a great guy and great musician. But touring: some people just don't like it. And we actually had a keyboardist who was a friend of Johnny, and I went down to his room and told him the drummer is quitting. He said, "Do you know my friend Johnny Dee? At the moment he's not doing too much, but he is playing and might be available." The phone ring in the middle of the Wacken tour, and it was Johnny Dee. Ever since then, he's been in the band.

 

 

doro-pic5.jpg (41280 bytes)He's an amazing drummer, I have to say.

Yes, he is one of the best. I was happy as hell when he joined the band.

 

 

So you have ever seen Britney Fox video for the song, "Girlschool"?

Yes I have. That was actually my first touch for him ever. Very funny one.

 

 

How about coming to Finland again? It's been 16 years now since your last visit.

Well, actually we are planning to have a full European tour starting from next October and we'll see what we can do. See you all there!

 

 

Thank you DORO!!


Band Website: www.doropesch.com