Interview by Robert Cavuoto
The Metal Queen, Doro Pesch will be releasing her brand-new 2Blu-ray/3DVD+CD box set entitled Strong and Proud – 30 Years of Rock and Metal on July 15, 2016 in the US through Nuclear Blast.
Three decades of Doro are captured in this monster box set that gives fans a chance to see her perform her extensive catalogue of music live. It features her 30th anniversary shows which took place during her 2013 – 2014 world tour and kicked off in front of 85,000 people at the world’s biggest metal festival; Wacken – followed by two sold-out nights in her home town, Dusseldorf, where she also started her outstanding career.
Doro invited all her friends to come to party and perform with her like Phil Campbell (MOTÖRHEAD), Biff Byford (SAXON), Chris Caffery (SAVATAGE), Blaze Bayley (ex-IRON MAIDEN), Udo Dirkschneider, Uli Jon Roth, as well as LORDI. Included in this box set is a two-hour movie/documentary, which delivers deep insights behind the scenes as well as inside the heart of Doro.
In this interview, Doro provides us with a very candid and honest look into her success over the last 30 years and the importance of this tremendous box set!
Robert Cavuoto: You just released Strong and Proud 30 years of Rock and Metal. This is a monster retrospective look at your career and musical catalogue. Looking back, can you believe it has been 30 years?
Doro Pesch: No, I thought this would last six or seven years at the most. [Laughing]. Now it’s over 30 years, more like 32 years. It has been such an adventure and it’s so great to look back at all the music and working with such great people. Like the highlights of my life; my first duet with Lemmy of Motorhead.
Robert: With so many bands talking about retirement, is that something you are considering?
Doro Pesch: I would like to do this until the day I die. When God says your time is up I will go, but I want to continue for as long as I can. I want to continue to make records, DVDs and tour. I’m still in the middle of my creative life and the fans still want to hear it and see me. Things are going great and I’m really grateful for all the years of memories. Now I want to give back as I am a supporter of the Wacken Foundation where we support young bands and musicians all over the world. I received so much great support when I started out in the 80s and I want to continue to help others.
Robert: You’ve accomplished so much in your life, what do you want to be remembered for?
Doro Pesch: On my grave stone I want it to read “…the one who loves the fans!” I actually have that tattooed on my arm which I got right before we started the anniversary tour. When I was 23, I made a conscious decision that I wanted to dedicate my life to music and the fans that supported me.
Robert: You mentioned earlier that you are supporting the Wacken Foundation to help young musicians, what’s the best piece of advice anyone ever gave you when you were starting out?
Doro Pesch: It wasn’t really sitting down and talking about something, it was more about learning from watching great musicians and bands like Ronnie James Dio, Judas Priest, Motorhead and WASP. I watched and learned how they treated the fans. I can remember listen to Ronnie talk with fans and be so supportive and inspiring. I thought if I can ever inspire people like that it would be great. I learned how important it was to speak from your heart and soul like Ronnie did. My first tour was with him in 1987 and I was so impressed how he treated everyone. I learned when you give off good positive energy you somehow get it back in other ways or from other people. Staying positive no matter what and giving off good energy is so important to me. My heroes always had those attribute. When something went wrong they weren’t yelling and screaming, they always tried to make the best of it.
Robert: In your career you never followed trends and stayed true to yourself; tell me about the importance of finding your own style and sticking with it?
Doro Pesch: When you’re young and start starting out, many people will talk you into things or give advice to try and take you in a different direction. Like people at the record companies, who were always so nice and had more experience than me so I thought I should comprise. I thought maybe they know better. They would say certain songs should be more commercial and in 5-10 years you will love it. I always thought if I don’t like it now, how am I going to love it later? I always felt if it doesn’t resonate with me, I can’t do it. In the end I’m glad that I followed my heart. I think it’s important to follow heart and in the beginning I really tried to do that. I’m a singer and have to believe in the songs to sing them. I’ll give you an example, there was this one time when we were making the True as Steel CD and the record company said I should use someone who has experience with writing lyrics; because I wasn’t born in America. I though okay and they introduced me to this guy who was very nice but we didn’t click, he didn’t know anything about heavy metal. He took my lyrics and said to give him a few days when we meet again he would share his ideas. A couple of days later he calls me and ready to meet. There was a song that I loved and think it was called something like “Heavens like Hellfire” and he said he made it much better. He said the record company love it and think it’s a hit. I was annoyed that he spoke to the record company before me but he assured me everyone loved it. When I heard what he had put together, I thought “Oh my God, this is not what I want at all!” He changed the song to “Igloo on the Moon,” I was like, “What the Hell?” That’s not metal, I can’t do that. I had to record it because the record company thought it was a hit and of course it wasn’t. I never played it live and think I only listened to it twice since. I regret ever making that decision. At the end of the day you really have to fight for what you want to do and have to follow your heart.
Robert: There is a documentary in the box set as well, what’s that about.
Doro Pesch: It’s like movie. People who aren’t familiar with me will like it as well. It shows a behind the scene looks at the band before a gig and how everyone is sweating bullets in those moments. Its shows the band in our little universe on the tour buses, back stage, hitting the stage, and what we do outside of the shows. It’s the human side of who we are and what we do. My band has been with me so long like our bassist Nick Douglass who has been in the band 26 years and our drummer Johnny Dee who has been with us 23 years. I thought it would be interesting for the fans to hear what they had to say and how they feel about the band. We are all different from each other but together we have a harmony or magic and I think it come across in the film. I think it’s one of my favorite things in the box set. It’s coming out in the US on July 15th.
Robert: One of the DVDs in the box set is you performing live at Wacken, I have to ask what’s it like playing in front of all those people and does it ever get terrifying?
Doro Pesch: I couldn’t sleep two weeks before the show. I started doing martial arts to help get my mind, body, and soul fit before the show and I still do it now. I thought I was totally ready for the show then went to Wacken and saw Rammstein as he was the headliner one of the nights. They had a big show with pyro and lights, I thought, “Oh my Gosh” how can I top that? I have to be bigger and better for my 30th Anniversary! I no longer felt prepared as I had been. I called a couple people and someone referred me to a woman that I could talk with to help me relax. I barely knew her, but she was very spiritually. I don’t know where she got this from but she said, “Your father has always loved and supported you.” I thought about it and he was my biggest fan and best friend who died years ago. When I heard that I became totally focused and felt better, everything was going to be ok. I didn’t have stage fright anymore and we had a great show. When I saw the diehard fans in the front row singing along, it also helped calm me down even more. That’s was the first show of the 30th Anniversary tour.
Robert: Was there any pre-show ritual at Wacken that help relax you?
Doro Pesch: Before we go on stage we have a group hug and that makes me feel good. It can be nerve racking like jumping out of a plane or bungee jumping. When you get out there and see the fans all the fear goes away.