Doro Pesch discusses new album CLASSIC DIAMONDS, Warlock and more

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INTERVIEW AND PHOTOS BY MARKO SYRJALA

Former model Doro Pesch formed a band, Warlock, in the early eighties, and together they reached great success worldwide until they called it quits by 1988, as Pesch launched a solo career. She released her new album called “Classic Diamonds,” After seventeen years, she finally returned to play in Finland. This interview was done right before their show in Helsinki last November.

THE LATEST NEWS

First of all, congratulations on finally being here in Helsinki. It’s been a while since your last visit here!

Thank you, Marko. Yesterday in Oulu, the fans were so excited and so amazing. I think everybody had such a good time then!? It was totally a worthwhile thing to do. First, we flew at 6 o’clock from Oslo to Helsinki, and then we took the train to Oulu, which lasted something like eight hours. It was the longest trip I’ve done with a train in my life. Six o’clock in the morning we took the first plane, and it was snowing so hard that it was difficult to get into the airport, and after the flight, we waited a couple of hours, and then we jumped on the train, and it was eight more hours until we were in Oulu, but it was all worth it (laughs). It was so great to play there, and today we took another train from Oulu to Helsinki. It was another eight hours, and you know? That was hard. I’m not used to doing things like that, but here we are (laughs)! We are also having a new record company AFM now, which is good. It feels like the first time in years someone is really taking care of us (laughs)!

SPV released your last couple of records here in Europe, and now you are with AFM. Do you know who is releasing your albums in the USA now?

Yes, SPV released the last couple of records, and I was extremely happy with SPV because of what they did for us. When our deal was up, we looked around and then AFM, you know the guy Andy? He’s a musician himself, and he said, “I would love to do it” and “I would love to do something special” because the orchestra stuff is a risk for any record company, and he said, “It’s a good idea let’s go for it.”

We then said, let’s try it, and they were really supportive, and I think in the States? I was just over there last week. It’s like three letters like in AFM, but do you know Tuula, the distributor for our new album in the US?

I can’t remember?

Well, I can’t remember, but I know it’s the same company that Udo Dirkschneider uses. That’s all I know because they said that Udo is on the same label, on the same distributor, and so on. In Europe, it’s AFM, but in the States? I know that album will be out there at the end of January or early February, and I think the label is called “The End” something?

The End Records?

Yeah. That is the name.

This is your first time in Finland with your band Doro?

Didn’t I play here in 1989 with Bobby Rondinelli on drums?

No, you didn’t.

In the other interviews, I’ve told everybody that I was here in 1989, so I was wrong then (laughs).

The last time you played here was back in 1986 when Warlock supported Judas Priest.

But in 1989, we did a Scandinavian tour with Bobby Rondinelli, but we didn’t come to Finland at all?

Unfortunately, you didn’t…

Do you know that for sure? I believe you. When you read all the other magazines, it’s all wrong (laughs). Because I said that for them all, but you could be wrong, Marko?

No, I’m not. I’m not wrong, I know! (laughs)

Well, you know. I’m really sorry when I make people write the wrong stuff, but the last time was 1986 with Warlock. Yesterday our first Finland concert in Oulu was fucking great. I think the fans were so happy.

CLASSIC DIAMONDS

Last year when we met again in Sweden?

That was two years ago?

No, I mean last year in Sweden Rock pre-party=

Ah. Sweden rock warm-up party. I do remember now.

At that time, you said that there was a brand new studio album also coming out soon?

Yeah, that “Classic Diamonds” album is the one I meant then (laughs). This album took eight months instead of two months to get finished. Originally we thought we could do it quickly, but then it took eight months to do, and now I’m doing a new studio album. When we spoke last time, the new studio album was just in the planning stage no more. I think (laughs).

Ok. But then you said there might be a live album, classic album, and studio album, everything coming out within one year?

Did I say classic album then?

Yes, you did 😉

I must have been like that. Do some things happen, and some don’t? (laughs)

How about the new actual studio album, then? Do you have any songs already finished for that one?

I have a couple of songs already, and I would like to have them out at the end of next year?

Have you used any outside writers with you this time?

Not yet. I have done stuff just alone. Some songs are really nice already, and after this tour is finished, I’m going to start focusing on the songwriting process. The recording will begin in January, February, or in March for sure.

 

CLASSIC DIAMONDS was mixed in Finland, am I right?

Yes. We did it in Finnvox Studios, and it was great. There is that guy called Mika Jussila who did the mastering. Do you know him?

Yes, I know him.

He’s a fantastic guy, super good. He did a great job; actually, I knew for the last couple of years that great sounds are coming out from Scandinavia, so I was always going to do mastering all over the world. We did the latest album in America, but sometimes I wasn’t too happy with the results, and this time we booked a mastering studio already. Still, then somebody told me about Finnvox Studio in Finland. We sent a couple of songs to Mika, and he did it for free. He said, “I’m doing a few songs for you, and we’ll see if you like it?” Then he sent those songs back for us, and it sounded great. I was like, okay, “I can’t say my mastering studio, whoever we were booked already that we are not using him?” When I told him that, he was so cool for us. He said, “I would love doing it, but it’s more like? this is not my work, but it’s my hobby,” so we were “free” to use Mika and Finnvox instead of his studio.

Some songs on the record are quite different than the original versions?

They are different from the originals. That’s true. There are some new arrangements, and there is a lot of stuff added here and there.

“I Rule The Ruins” and “All We Are” are my personal favorites on this album. Which is yours?

On this record? I think my favorite is “Breaking The Law”?

A new version of “Love Me In Black” is also cool here.

Yes, it is. “Let Love Rain On Me” I like it a lot too. It is the single from this album. I don’t know if it’s in the sale here? On the single version, there are four different versions of that song in different languages. We did it in French, Spanish, and English. The Spanish version especially sounds really beautiful. It’s so nice that it tops everything, I think? Also, doing a duet version of “Breaking the Law” and Udo was an extra special and cool thing to do.

“Let Love Rain On Me” was doing very well in charts in Europe too?

Yes, that’s true. It was the best-selling single release in our history. In Spain, it was number seven, and that has never happened before. We have never been on the charts ever. I just saw Rock Hard magazine, and that single was like a number one record in Rock Hard in Spain. So in Spain, it’s a real hit, I think? We have never been in TOP 10 before. We were on that list before Anastacia and Madonna, and that’s unbelievable! But in Germany, it was like three weeks on the charts, the single which was better than we had with “Bad Blood” which stayed for one week on the charts. The single charts usually don’t have too many metal bands there, as we all know (laughs).

But this time, you did quite well?

Sometimes I get a breakthrough, too, and that’s good (laughs).

WACKEN FESTIVAL 2004 AND WARLOCK

I saw your show at Wacken recently.

This year?

Yes, this year (2004). You did two shows there – one with your band and Heavy Metal Orchestra and another one with your old band Warlock. I also know that you filmed those shows. Are you going to release a DVD or live album from those shows?

Well, I don’t know at the moment. With the orchestra stuff, we will release a new DVD just in a couple of weeks, and it’s called “Classic Diamonds Live,” and there’s a Wacken show included there.

What other stuff will there be on that DVD?

Highlights of the tour, behind the scenes, and that usual stuff, you know? And that Warlock stuff we don’t know? We have not so many lawsuits because of the ****. I don’t know if you are allowed to release anything?

When we spoke two years ago at Swedenrock Festival, you said you could not use Warlock’s name, Warlock?

That’s true. The case is still going on, and we tried to do the show under that name. It was so touching and went because we weren’t allowed to do that show, and then we had to name it “Warlock 1986,” and that’s how we did it but now. There might be a couple of lawsuits waiting because of that? It’s a complete mess. Like it was in the eighties, it’s still a mess. I don’t know what will happen, but I hope that we win this time? It’s all about the name, so if we could get the name back, then no problem. Next year we have to go to court again, and it’s horrible because we just wanted to do a great gig for the fans, and then shit like that happens.

Warlock sounded surprisingly good at Wacken. If I remember correctly, some of the guys gave the music a long time ago?

Yeah, like Frank. He didn’t play bass in sixteen years. He didn’t touch his bass in sixteen years, and when we did our twentieth-anniversary gig of mine in Dusseldorf last year in December, I invited everybody. I said I wanted to invite all of the guys to come, and then I did phone calls and asked if they wanted to come? They said that it would be nice to play a few songs together, but the bass player said, “No. I haven’t played my bass in ages!!” Then we borrowed a bass for him from somewhere, and actually, we played three songs, and he did it very well.

We had a good time, and we all got along well; it was like three hours and fifteen minutes, and fans loved it. The next thing that happened was that the Wacken people called us and they asked if we could do something very special because it was their fifteenth-anniversary concert. I said, maybe we could bring the orchestra people, and maybe I could call the Warlock guys? And that’s what I did. They had to think about it a little bit, and Frank said again, “Well, I didn’t play the bass in a long time, which is almost like a half of my lifetime,” and I said, “C’mon, just practice and do it!” I think he did. Remember he didn’t play in a long time? He did pretty well?

Well, he did okay in Wacken…

I think he gave up playing 198…? whatever 1987 or 1988.

So, he quit playing?

Yes. He never touched his bass again. He sold all his stuff and quit.

Do you know what he was doing after that?

Just normal stuff, regular jobs, and so on. I think that nobody else except the drummer has a kid. He was trying to get paid but not for music anymore. He was so fed up with the music business that he gave up.

Some more questions about Warlock? If you are lucky enough and you win all the lawsuits and stuff, would you still do something together in the future?

Like I said before, we have so many lawsuits going on that I don’t know if it’s even possible?

How about doing something with just a little bit different name variation? If you just switch one letter to another or something??

One letter, hmmm? I would then be too close to “name” We tried all options and stuff, and I would be a completely different name, and in Wacken, we used the name “Warlock 1986,” but I hope that judge will change the thing. We are not as stupid as we were twenty years ago, and the whole thing still sounds so unbelievable that I can’t understand it at all.

How about the guys? Would they want to do something?

Yes, but I mean not things like a long tour and stuff because they all have regular jobs, and the drummer has family and other things, but maybe we would do some festivals. If we have the name back, we could definitely make plans, and I must say, to be honest, it’s a little bit tricky because with my band, I know, we have been together for so long. Nick has been in a band for fourteen years, Joe and Johnny, the drummer, have been eleven years. I have to find a way to go smoothly because you know they have been with me all ups and downs, and I don’t want to let them go.

Ok. Then we just wait and see what’s going to happen in court.

Just wait and see “laughs.”

 

It was announced that Udo Dirkschneider was coming to sing a few songs with you at Wacken, but he never did it. Chris Caffery said in Wacken that you were waiting for him, but he never showed up. What happened in Wacken? When I met Udo a month ago, he said…

What did he say…?

He said, “I was on holiday then, and nobody told me about the Wacken thing?”

SHIT… I don’t know what to say? Sometimes the fucking manager or whoever organizes things mess things like that. The next time I will do it by myself (laughs). We were planning that Udo would come, and we arranged “Princess Of The Dawn” and “Balls To The Wall” for the orchestra because of that.

And Udo was lying on the beach at the same time (laughs)……

Yeah (laughs). It was a shame because I think it would have been great, but I guess that people didn’t understand what was going on. I mean, the communication was fucked up, and it would have been great. Next time I have to do it by myself (laughs). When you count on other people, you can never be sure what will happen, you know. That was the reason it didn’t happen, and we are very sorry about that. Next time??

I can tell you that it was a classic show with or without Udo, plus with Warlock, it was a true highlight of the whole Wacken festival. You arranged an excellent show for the Wacken festival’s fifteenth anniversary!

That’s great to hear.

Even the Warlock thing was kind of nostalgic, and it was nice to see and hear. I still personally think that the classic show was even better?

That’s also nice to hear. Of course, it makes me extremely happy because it was a big risk to do. Like a do symphony show, everybody was like “pure metal,” and I was soooo nervous before and through that show.

Blaze Bailey (ex-Iron Maiden) was one of the special guests who showed up in Wacken. You opened the classic orchestra show with Iron Maiden’s classic “Fear Of The Dark,” You shared vocal parts with him on that song, which was a nice idea to do in Wacken. How did you come up with that idea?

It was originally Blaze’s idea. He came with us on this classic tour of what we did for a year. Blaze is a great guy.

How did you decide to pick him on tour in the first place?

Because we toured together many times before like just regular, not symphony stuff and then two people asked me if I wanna participate in a concert which was like benefit concert for little organization they called “Animals in Need” and that’s how I met the classic, the metal classic orchestra, and all these people and I said yeah definitely I want to do it. Then I said, maybe we could get some other musicians involved, and I called Blaze and asked if you want to do something together, and he said, yeah. Then he had his new record coming out. We did “Fear Of The Dark” together, and then we decided to take a tour together, which was cool. He is a really nice guy, and I think he’s very talented, and he deserves all support from the fans.

Should he get more respect from the people?

Entirely. I thought that that was good for him and me. Especially in Wacken, many journalists and other people saw the show and liked what we did together.

You also had Chris Caffery (Savatage, TSO) playing with you. How did he come to this picture?

He played on the last Doro album, on the FIGHT record, and we met then again in Belgium at Graspop Festival. There we did some commercial stuff together. We were giving autographs, and we did some signing sessions, and we were talking, and I said, “You know we are playing in Wacken this year?” and “Do you want to join us on stage as a special guest? Maybe we can do Udo songs. I knew that he’s used to playing with the orchestra because he plays with the Trans Siberian Orchestra, and he said, of course, and then he did it. It was just an idea that happened.

By the way. Why wasn’t your regular drummer Johnny Dee sitting behind the drum kit in Wacken at all?

He was the percussionist on that show. I tell you. On this DVD, “Classic Diamonds,” he’s on drums. He played on the whole tour, and he was so good, and he had so much fun. It was like, I think he stepped out of the plate with the percussion. At first, I was like no one knew what to do. We only had two days of rehearsal before that show, and it was really stressful as it’s always in Wacken. There is so much pressure in the air because there are so many people there with big expectations, and that was a little bit tricky, but on tour and you will see that on DVD. There’s a Hamburg concert on it, and some other shows and Johnny is shining there. I mean enjoying it, and after the tour, he said that he didn’t think that it would be so great, but it was like… Everybody has to change stuff a little bit like Joe with all acoustic guitars. They definitely had to get into the wide mind frame, and of course, it’s hard when there are forty people on stage. Forty people are all important, not only five people in the band, so it was like we had to adjust a little bit to get it to work.

Do you have plans to do some more concerts with the classical orchestra in the future?

You know it’s financially a huge production with forty people, and there are lots of things you have to take care of with such a group of people but if somebody like promoters is into it is willing to put on a show, that’s good. Even if we would play for free, the cost of hotels, food, flights, and stuff is tremendous, but we will do it if somebody wants us to do it? Maybe some special stuff ?. We would love to do it, but when we finished the tour, we told everybody that this was the tour, and it was over. Even getting everybody together is hard because they come from all over the world. There were people from Russia, Korea, Poland, Germany. It’s a big production, and in Wacken, we did like the full production when on tour; we only had about half of the people with us. All the things, rehearsals and stuff, it’s tough but for special things maybe? A rock Christmas or something would be a great thing to do.

KISS AND TELL

We have always spoken a few words about our favorite band, KISS so let’s keep the tradition alive this time too… Have you seen Gene Simmons lately?

I haven’t seen him in the last few years (laughs).

Did he ever say any comment of your version of his song “Legends Never Die,” which you recorded for the “Fight” album?

No. I just hope that he loves it a lot (laughs).

Did he ever ask for any money for using that song?

No? For the songwriting and stuff, you know he should? He’s always good connected, so I hope he likes my version of his song (laughs).

Have you heard his solo album “Asshole”?

Yeah.

What are your opinions on that album?

Is the title like? I must say I was a little bit shocked by the title. At first, I thought it was a working title, but when it came out, I was like…what? I love his version of “Firestarter” I think that’s really cool how it’s done and everything else; I think it’s unique and different. I think he did something different on the side, even some acoustic songs. There are some songs I like a lot, but overall, the whole album was very surprising. Everybody knew it would be something different, but “Firestarter” I heard it one time on MTV sort of video night, and immediately I had to have it. That sounded cool, and to be honest, I always want to hear “Firestarter” and then just a couple of other songs. I haven’t listened to the complete record yet. Usually, when I have one song I like, it’s always this one song and the rest.

Have you heard that there’s also a solo album coming from Paul Stanley?

That’s interesting. Everybody has to do what they have to do? (laughs). Do you know if there is a new KISS album in the making too?

Maybe? Who knows? The problem with these older bands is that they sure can sell many concert tickets but who’s buying their new albums?

It’s terrible. I know that by myself?

Many great metal bands who sold millions of records in the eighties are now selling only a few thousand?

It’s not fair. I know?

Do you have any ideas about what kind of numbers your albums are selling these days?

I think that I remember that TRIUMPH AND AGONY sold something like two million copies or something like that? And now the last one is called FIGHT. I can’t remember it now, but I know that the previous one, CALLING THE WILD sold more than 70 000, and FIGHT was a little less. The record company said that the market overall went down for the record sales about 25%, which was confirmed in my case, so I think that FIGHT sold about 40 000 copies. The new album with the orchestra has sold so far about the same number as FIGHT did, so it’s also about 40 000 copies.

Our time seems to be running out now, so I have to ask one more last question. Is there any chance you could play any KISS songs time this, especially for me (laughs)?

Oh no. Now you are telling me that just five minutes before the show (laughs). I think that’s the guys in the band aren’t ready to do that, but I’ll ask them, of course (laughs). I have to talk to them, but they always hate me when I say, “could we please do this and that song?” …and they don’t know it. It’s like I don’t want to have trouble with the band, but I will ask. We do play everything from the eighties, from the nineties, and we do a good mix of songs then, I think. Maybe we don’t do that Cappella song because I know that the guys don’t want to do it. But Kiss… I don’t know (laughs). Yeah, Johnny would do that, but Joe, the guitar player. He’s a guitar player, and if we played “Legends Never Die” as an encore, he would kill me because of that (laughs). I’m pretty sure about that. But I’ll do my best.

Ok, I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen… It’s time to finish now. Thank you once again for your time, and see you at the gig!

Thank you!

Special thanks to Spinefarm and Tuula Salminen for getting this interview done !!

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