INTERVIEW AND PICTURES BY MARKO SYRJALA
German vocalist Doro Pesch is one of the best-known female singers in heavy metal, and she has earned the designation of Metal Queen. At first, Doro became known as the lead singer of band Warlock with whom she released four albums including the classics TRUE AS STEEL (1986) and TRIUMPH AND AGONY (1987). The band disbanded in 1989 and Doro then started her successful solo career which includes, so far, twelve studio albums. The latest album titled RAISE YOUR FIST was released last October and this time the tour arrived in Finland. I met the always joyful Metal Queen in the backstage of Club Nosturi and here are the results of our nice conversation. Read on!
RAISE YOUR FIST
Metal-Rules.com: Okay, let’s start with some current things like the twelfth Doro album RAISE YOUR FIST…
Doro Pesch: I always counted my albums with the Warlock stuff but you’re probably right here. “Laughs”
Metal-Rules.com: I think that you’re right here but anyway, you said in many interviews that you were really proud of the album when it was released. How does the album feel now after seven months from its release?
Doro Pesch: Yeah, it’s still super. You will probably see tonight on stage. It’s a super, like – there are songs like “Raise Your Fist”, they go over really well. “Revenge” is always something for the old school metal fans. We just added the new song “Rock till Death” on the set which was rehearsed just one the day before the Scandinavian and the Russian dates. One of the absolute highlights I think is “Hero”. In every set, it’s very touching, very emotional. I think that’s something that especially the fans will love Ronnie which I guess is almost everybody from the metal world. That’s one of the absolute highlights and yeah, I’m super excited about the album still and new songs work awesome live.
Metal-Rules.com: That’s good to hear because nowadays, bands usually just start to plan for the next album once the previous one is out.
Doro Pesch: Not me “laughs,” I think there are so many more gigs to come, festivals to play. Yeah, I think I’m still very satisfied with this album and it’s yeah, it will take a long time to start the new one.
Metal-Rules.com: That’s good because then you did something right with this album.
Doro Pesch: Yeah, it’s a good sign when you can tour behind a record for a long time.
Metal-Rules.com: I’m really delighted about the title track because it’s a true anthem in the vein of “All We Are” or something like that. To be honest, it’s been a while since you have created a new anthem which might stay alive for long, you know what I mean?
Doro Pesch: You’re right, you’re right. I tell you, you can never force it. When people say, write another one like “All We Are” you can never do it like that because “All We Are” is already there and anything that copies that song is not right. It took a long time but it doesn’t matter.
Metal-Rules.com: I think you did succeed this time with “Raise Your Fist”
Doro Pesch: Yeah, I think so yeah. When you hear it tonight as long as the fans know it, but I think most of the fans will know it, yeah, it’s really, it’s a great anthem.
Metal-Rules.com: There’s something about the promotional video of the song. I think it’s mostly shot in Long Island?
Doro Pesch: In New York, yeah, all over New York and we did it ourselves. It’s actually, we rented a truck because it’s so hard to get permission in Manhattan to do the filming. Actually to get a permit is almost impossible so we went and got a truck and then we checked out the cool neighborhoods and then we just jumped out and did it. What was so great, I was in a couple of really fucked up neighborhoods which always looks the best, always looks like “Escape from New York” kind of a scene. Then I was singing and then suddenly I felt I wasn’t alone. Then I saw people were coming up and some gang members. I said, ‘Oh God,’ then everyone, the cameramen said ‘Oh, we’re in trouble now. Then I talked to the guys and said, ‘Hey, we’re sorry to invade your territory, we’re just shooting a video, you know, it looks cool here.’ They said, ‘Yeah, it’s where we live and it’s our street, our block.’ I thought, ‘Yeah.’ Then I said, ‘Well, you know, you guys want to check out the music?’ Then we played, we had a big boom box, we played a song. I said, ‘Aw fucking great, let’s do it together.’ All kinds of people joined in the video. It was so great from all kinds of, all kinds of people. People who definitely never got in contact with metal, I must say. Some homeless people were – they were suddenly coming up dancing and it was so, it was so nice, it was so nice. Then, when we were cutting the video, the guy who was cutting it, he’s a great friend of mine, he said, ‘What should we do?’ I said, ‘Put all the great people in the video.’ He said, ‘Really?’ I said, ‘Yes! Please!’ It’s so, I was so, and it was so much from the heart. It’s a combination. The guy who was jumping up in the air, he’s our keyboarder and technician on this tour, Harry. You will see him today. He’s a very young guy, very young, but it’s so great that you know since we’re doing it now for such a long time you’re seeing the second, third, or fourth generation – everybody is, you know. I guess when your tastes metal once, then you’re hooked.
Metal-Rules.com: I know. There’s no turning back.
Doro Pesch: No, no, no – it’s got that way now. I love it.
Metal-Rules.com: At some point, you also had plans to shoot another video… Was it for the song “Engel”?
Doro Pesch: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Actually, we were starting – we were actually shooting it and yeah, but then we hopped on tour and we did all kinds of gigs, the 70,000 Tons of Metal, the cruise, then American tour. I didn’t have any time to complete it yet. Then I thought, yeah, you know what, I’m used to the 80’s and the 90’s with the big budgets. This one we did ourselves so you know I thought oh, it would be nice to have like a real movie company doing it but so far, but it just didn’t work out.
Metal-Rules.com: Anyway, even if it’s a low budget think it’s still important to make those because there are channels like YouTube which are really important for bands nowadays.
Doro Pesch: Yeah, but on YouTube, there’s sometimes a – oh, YouTube, there’s no more MTV or nothing. No more Headbangers Ball and stuff like that. It’s just – but yeah, yeah, I’d rather do a nice DVD to really take care of it nice, that you can have many good songs. The last DVD 25 YEARS IN ROCK, it took a couple of years to complete – for the mixing, for the cutting. It was very involved and I thought, ‘Oh yeah when we do a couple of the 30th Anniversary shows and doing bits and pieces.’ I probably thought of concentrating more on the new DVD than making a video clip out of that. And “Engel”, it’s in German. That’s the only thing that’s not maybe so interesting for Finland or for America, England. It would be cool– but I love the song Engel”, but the song with Lemmy, “It Still Hurts”. That would be, that would be a great video too, no – but I haven’t asked from him yet “Laughs”.
Metal-Rules.com: Lemmy has done few cameo appearances on other bands music videos, like the one he did with Airbourne some time ago. Have you seen that one?
Doro Pesch: No.
Metal-Rules.com: It’s a great one. Lemmy’s driving a truck in the video and the band’s playing on the trailer back. It’s a really funny one.
Doro Pesch: Oh that’s a great idea! Oh, what a great idea. I saw him in the Slash video too. Yeah, yeah it would be nice to shoot video with him. Hopefully, we can do it in the future. We had such a great time in the studio when he was singing. I remember I did That Metal -show with Eddie Trunk in the afternoon and then later at night we recorded that song in L.A. When Lemmy was singing I got chills. Every word he said… it was like oh so great.
Metal-Rules.com: The cover art of RAISE YOUR FIST, it’s once again created by Jeffrey Gillespie. You started working with him back in the 80’s, right?
Doro Pesch: Yeah, ’87 yeah. ’86, ’87 yeah. He was the one who did the TRIUMPH AND AGONY album cover and ever since I love him so much. This album actually had two covers. It was one time this one and one time this one. I thought I want to do – for the limited edition I want to do the painting and what a nice stuff. I love his work, I always said. Always were – I think he’s great.
Metal-Rules.com: I have to admit that he has a really personal and recognizable style.
Doro Pesch: It’s always good because then we can always do our stage show look like this and the backdrop and I’m don’t know if we have the skulls here, but we have all kinds of skulls on stage and sometimes we need the big trucks. It’s sometimes in clubs it’s not possible adjusting big stage but it looks really good.
Metal-Rules.com: There are always some interesting little details hidden on his covers which you don’t recognize at first sight and that’s great.
Doro Pesch: No, no, at first not, but then yeah, yeah. Actually, because it’s a square here there’re all kinds of little things he painted it. There’s some cool stuff and yeah I think he’s, he’s pretty artistic.
Metal-Rules: You are designer by yourself so you do know who is good and who’s not.
Doro Pesch: I could never paint like that but yeah, yeah, I was a graphic artist when I started and then…
Metal-Rules.com: Would you think of painting an album cover for yourself?
Doro Pesch: That I draw or paint? No, because I think for example, Jeffrey Gillespie, he’s so state of the art and it has to be good so I don’t have – no, I could never reach that level. I do everything else, like the logos and everything else, the booklets and stuff or when we do a photo session, and that’s enough for me.
Metal-Rules.com: Right, there’s work enough already “laughs”
Doro Pesch: Yeah.
RECORD COMPANY TALK
Metal-Rules.com: RAISE YOUR FIST is the first album by you released by Nuclear Blast. How’s the cooperation with them been working so far?
Doro Pesch: It’s been great and we already had a very successful collaboration with the DVD. That was actually the first release in 25 YEARS IN ROCK… AND STILL GOING STRONG. It was great and so I knew the real record would be even better. The guy who was working with me, his name is Marcus Wolsky, he was my product manager in AFM so he knows me. Marc was just a super nice guy. He’s very soulful and we always connect on that level and I love that and he’s like, he’s a guy with a lot of heart. That’s for me the most important thing. If somebody doesn’t feel it then it’s like so impossible to work together. With Marcus we don’t even need to discuss things, it’s so clear – okay this one, this one. I’d ask him, I’d say, ‘Well, the Lemmy song I have a couple of mixes.’ Then I gave him all the mixes. Then he’d say, ‘Doro, isn’t it clear to us?’ I’d say, ‘What do you mean.’ He’d say, “it’s the first one.’ I said, ‘Yeah, I know, the first one, of course.’ We did seven other mixes of that song but the first one was it and it fared the best. That’s great, that’s great to work with somebody who understands. I love that.
Metal-Rules.com: I have spoken with many bands who are now on Nuclear Blast. Bands like: Overkill, Anthrax, and Kreator. Everybody keeps on saying that Nuclear Blast is a perfect company for metal and hard rock bands because people in Nuclear Blast do really understand what metal is all about. Do you agree with that?
Doro Pesch: Totally, totally. I must say it’s – I think all the independent record labels when they are doing your record and when they are a metal label it’s much less complicated. When you have a major label then people are always compared maybe to their pop acts and they expect the same album sales and then when I was on big, major labels, on one hand, it was great, on the other hand, oh man, it was so tough because they always wanted to have a hit single which sounds totally to me like commercial shit. Then they always want me to change the image. Then one time, ‘Now cut off your hair and dye it black,’ because LOVE ME IN BLACK was coming out. I was like, ‘No fucking way.’ Then, ‘Now you have to change your image.’ It was getting more commercial, more commercial and so to me, it was all like that was very difficult. When I went from Warner Brothers to SPV that was for the first time that I felt man, I’m completely free in what I want to do, what I want to give out. They said, ‘Just do what you feel, you’re too good, you know what the fans – you know your fans the best, just go for it.’ I was so relieved. I was what – nobody’s trying to change you or trying to squeeze you into something you’re not. That was great. Now, with Nuclear Blast too, they have complete trust and just say, ‘Go for it” too, “Do what you feel.’ Then when I get the result I think from every artist they know it’s the purest form of what the band wants to do and that’s like the most powerful tool. But yeah, yeah, I love – Nuclear Blast, they’re great. What I told you before about Marcus Wolsky, we were great friends before in AFM. When he changed back to Nuclear Blast – he came from Nuclear Blast and then – that’s to me, it’s super, super. It’s very – it’s almost like a friendship and it’s yeah, super.
Metal-Rules.com: With this new label, do you think that there’s any chance that they might re-release some older albums of yours because some of those are really hard to find nowadays?
Doro Pesch: Oh, I think that’s complicated because that’s all like it was Polygram or Warner Brothers and since they all chanced… the people who worked with me back then they are not anymore there because the industry got so small from all the hundreds of people. It would be very difficult. We tried because now my 30 year anniversary is coming up. We wanted to do maybe a collector’s box but it’s impossible to get all records so, yeah – it would be nice, but it’s very difficult to do.
Metal-Rules.com: I know it’s difficult. There are many bands who keep on fighting with the same problems…
Doro Pesch: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Then you know contracts. I never took care of that shit. I always wanted to do music. I’m not a businesswoman. I just want to make the fans happy. Contracts, it never meant to be anything, it just bothered me actually. The manager and the lawyer, sometimes we didn’t even get a lawyer. I just don’t want to be that person, I don’t want to be a business person. It’s not good. Of course, I’m happy that people do that job, it’s great, but for a musician, you want to do what you love and you want to, you want to do music and paint and do photos and make a good performance. It stresses me out too, I must say, the business aspect in all these years it was always terrible. When you feel that people want to rip you off. You look in their faces and you know that guy or whatever he wants to steal all your rights your – it’s like, oh man. It’s, but it’s I guess part of, part of the –
Metal-Rules.com: That’s part of the music business, unfortunately.
Metal-Rules.com: A few years ago Hurricane Irene stormed in New York and it hit even your house quite hard. How did it go this time with hurricane Sandy?
Doro Pesch: Yeah, yeah, Irene was nothing compared to the Sandy shit. That was the first time that I thought, oh man, and everything was destroyed, wet and destroyed. You couldn’t save anything anymore. Now the Sandy thing, everything is completely destroyed. Probably the house has to – I rent an apartment. It’s not my house but the drummer, he bought this house and rents half of it. Probably you have to – it has to be rebuilt from scratch. Now it’s the same dealing with the insurance. In America they have sometimes not so much insurance or no insurance but all this stuff which was dear to me, like photos, something that Ronnie James Dio wrote to me, it’s all gone, it’s all in the ocean, stuff that can never be replaced.
Metal-Rules.com: Were you in New York when that Sandy happened?
Doro Pesch: No I was here in Sweden then. I’m happy to say I was here in Scandinavia when that happened. I called my friend Lance and I said ‘Lance, the storm is coming.’ He said, ‘Aw, don’t worry, this time I will be really prepared. I put all our shit and I put like wood in front of the windows,’ and you know, the American things like little wood “laugh” and he said, ‘No, don’t worry.’ I was doing the convention in Malmo, I was there. Then I had to see – and then one day later. Then there were no phone lines in New York. Then I heard it got so bad. Long Island, it was Long Beach that’s where everything was destroyed there.
Metal-Rules.com: I saw the news that night, it was horrible.
Doro Pesch: I only saw New Jersey, but Long Beach was the same. Last time in hurricane Irene they only had Long Beach and not New Jersey but now they had only New Jersey on the TV shit. Yeah, it’s all gone, it’s all gone. That’s why I’m happy that we’re on tour. That’s pretty good because at the moment I don’t have a steady place anymore. It’s like mattress hopping in America.
Metal-Rules.com: Have you been thinking about moving away from that area since then?
Doro Pesch: Ah, I never thought that. Lemmy asked me to think. He said ‘Will you learn now that you move away?’ I said, ‘No, not yet.’ I’ll probably wait for the third time and I hope that will never come. Yeah, I want to try it one more time. After a third time, I will think about it. Now that everything is gone again, it was pretty, that’s – when you lose suddenly everything, that’s a strange feeling. On the other hand, then I thought man, I’m alive, I’m healthy, we have a great tour, the record is coming out, it just came out that week actually. It came out a couple of weeks later in America. It’s all good, it’s all good. As long as you have the fans and the music everything can be replaced except some little memories, but I have them in my heart.
Metal-Rules.com: Right, like personal photos and stuff like that.
Doro Pesch: Actually, there’s a photo of me and Ronnie in the booklet that’s what I meant when he, wrote something beautiful to me. On the photo, I’m holding it. It’s in the ocean somewhere so it’s in the universe.
WARLOCK AND MOVIE TALK
Metal-Rules.com: Of course we can’t finish this interview without some Warlock talk. In fact, it’s true that you do own the name Warlock again?
Doro Pesch: Yeah, yeah, but it’s been mine many years already.
Doro Pesch: Even longer, even longer. One magazine even wrote about it, it’s been a couple of more years.
Metal-Rules.com: Do you have any plans to do anything with the name, some shows perhaps?
Doro Pesch: I don’t even think about that. Yeah so far, I don’t know, at the moment we have no plans. This one guy definitely doesn’t want to do music anymore at all so it would be impossible to have the original lineup, totally impossible. Yeah, then having another lineup, it’s not the real deal.
Metal-Rules.com: Do you also own the rights for the old stuff now so maybe you can put out some vintage material like DVD and stuff like that?
Doro Pesch: I own just the name and everything you know, the record company is still involved and sometimes it’s so screwed up. This one DVD, it always comes out with a new cover and we tried with many legal things to not make them do that anymore but it’s impossible. It’s in all kinds of countries you know. They always put out the same DVD with a different cover and the fans always get it and it’s the same shit on there; you probably have it. It’s the Camden Palace show.
Metal-Rules.com: Yeah, I have the one.
Doro Pesch: You know, we tried to stop it but sometimes, you know the legal staff is sometimes so screwed up and then, you know.
Metal-Rules.com: I remember when we talked the first time, then you said that the old management did loads and loads of money with Warlock merchandise and stuff like that. So maybe you should think about making some money with that stuff too?
Doro Pesch: You know what, I’m not into money and I don’t know….“laughs”
Metal-Rules.com: Ok it’s time for the final question and it is about the upcoming movie ANUK THE WARRIOR. When it’s coming out?
Doro Pesch: It’s coming out I think 2014. It’s the second part of the movie, ANUK THE WARRIOR. It’s the same guy who did the first part of it.
Metal-Rules.com: Is Marc Storace starring in the movie as well this time?
Doro Pesch: No, because he died in the first movie “Laughs” Yeah, he died. Then I said, ‘Can’t we bring him back?’ Then Luke Gasser who’s doing the movie said, ‘How?’ I’m, ‘Ooooh.’ Then they were on tour and doing a new record. I had to have – always when I had a couple of days off I went to Ireland or Switzerland and doing the movie between tours and finishing the record. Yeah, it’s coming in 2014. We’re just doing some more music for it. I think it will come out great. It’s yeah, it’s, of course, another independent movie but I think this is so much better than the first one.
Metal-Rules.com: I think that independent movies are great. There is not too much pressure from anybody and you have more freedom to do things the way you want to.
Doro Pesch: I think so too. The glossy shit that’s – I don’t like that. I know how they, yeah that they could do the movie. It’s very like the budget is not big but everybody is just like quitting their job doing it and building stuff from scratch and it’s just like, ah, so cool.
Metal-Rules: It seems that our time is up now. Thanks, Doro!
Doro Pesch: No problem Marko!
PICTURES FROM DORO SHOW IN HELSINKI 2013 !