German Doro Pesch doesn’t need much introduction. This woman is one of the most successful female metal vocalists of all time, and her career, which has been going on for decades, still shows no signs of fading. On the contrary, next year, the “Metal Queen” will release a new studio album, and at the same time, she will also celebrate her 40-year career as an artist. I met the very good-natured Doro in July in Tampere, and here are the results of our friendly conversation.
LIVING IN THE PANDEMIC WORLD
Doro, first of all, how have you survived the corona pandemic so far?
I had corona only a couple of weeks ago. I started to feel really bad, so I did a corona test. It seemed that everything was okay because the test was negative. Then on the next day, I took another test, and that was positive. We had to break down, and we did cancel some shows. It was at the end of our spring tour.
Did everything go easily when you had the infection or were your symptoms how serious?
It wasn’t good at all. One time, the lungs went pretty bad. When I was a teenager, I had lung tuberculosis. So for me, I could hardly breathe. And yeah, for ten days, I felt pretty crappy. I had a high fever and couldn’t breathe. And then, on the first day, when I was negative again, we traveled to the Czech Republic because there was the first big festival. It was Metalfest. It was the second. The first one was M3 -festival in America, and Metalfest was the second one we did. And then I thought I wanted to take it really easy. So we flew to Hamburg, but then there were no more available connecting flights, and then we had to go to the festival by car. And actually, we drove for about 15 hours, and then we arrived really early in the morning. I thought, “I want to take it easy, rest, and relax.” And then it was like… that there was no way to do it that way! We went straight on stage, but it felt good. When I see the fans, then I don’t feel any pain. I don’t feel sick. It’s like being in heaven. So afterward, that was a different story.
And ever since, we have played at many festivals. We had another festival in the States, and then we did the Barcelona Rock Fest, where I met the guys of KISS, Megadeth, and Judas Priest. We also played at Hellfest in France, which was huge. And we played at another festival in Spain called Rock Imperium. It was cool because we met the Scorpions guys there. We faced another airplane disaster when we went there because the flights weren’t taking off as planned. We had to go to the airport at like 3 a.m. and first fly from Munich to Majorca. Then from Majorca to Alicante, and from Alicante by bus to Cartagena. When we finally got there, we found out that our luggage was lost, and we had no instruments. But the Scorpions guys lent us all the needed gear and other stuff. We really appreciated that, and that was so awesome. So it helps when you have good friends in the business. Now we could do our best, and the show was great. When we travel around the world, instruments, guitars, or luggage often get lost on the way. So it’s part of the game these days! “laughs” Anyone who travels a lot knows this game, but it’s always great when we see the fans – when I see the fans because that’s what I live for. And I can appreciate it now even more after the corona time because not much happened in those two years. We still tried to keep it going then, but it wasn’t the same.
That’s true, and I remember seeing that during the pandemic, you played a couple of “drive-in” shows with the band. How was that?
Yeah, we did some drive-in shows. And then we also did some beach-chair shows where everybody sat on the beach, yeah. That was pretty safe. But it was very hard work because the people were far away, so I felt I had to give ten times more than usual to contact people. But it was a good thing to do and really good training for us. I said, “Yeah, when everything opens up, we are ready.”
CHANGES IN LIFE
I have also learned that you no longer live in New York. Instead, you are now enjoying the sun in Florida. Am I right?
Yeah, but it was a few years ago.
But I remember that you once told me that you would never move to Florida because its climate is just too warm for you. Do things change in time?
Things changed because… I still love New York so much, and I used to live in Manhattan. It was great but expensive, so I moved to Long Island. When the World Trade Center got attacked, I couldn’t go into my apartment anymore because I lived right next to it. I moved a lot to different places in Manhattan. I moved, I think, five or six times, but the last time, I was living close to the World Trade Center. And then I couldn’t go back into the apartment anymore. So all my stuff was stuck there, and I didn’t get anything out of the apartment. So I moved to Long Island to Long Beach because I thought it was safer. And then a few years later, there was this hurricane thing. First was a hurricane, Irene. It wasn’t good. There was water everywhere, and everything was like in the ocean. It starts to mold immediately when stuff gets wet. So we tried to build it up again. But only one year later, it did happen again. It was hurricane Sandy, and everything was destroyed again. I was again looking for a new place to stay in New York, but then I thought, “Maybe I should move somewhere else?” So I moved to Florida. You know, it’s pretty nice when you tour long, and it’s usually very cold because we always do tours in winter, and when you get back to Florida, the climate is pretty pleasant.
That is definitely true. And now I also remember when we talked after the Hurricane Sandy thing, and you told me that you had lost a lot of personal items, including your collection of photos with famous people like Dio and Lemmy on that giant storm.
You do remember that! Yeah, I lost everything, and that’s the most valuable stuff. I don’t care about clothes or things like that, but losing those personal pictures and letters was heartbreaking.
NEW DORO ALBUM
It’s been four years since you released the previous Doro record,” Forever Warriors, Forever United,” which was a double album. Do you have plans for the next Doro studio album?
The new record is almost done. It’s like 80% done, and there are awesome songs. There are anthems, fast songs, and some really soulful songs. So, I think that 80% of the record is already done. I mean, 80% of the songwriting is done, and we have recorded lots of stuff. It will be out sometime later next year.
Do you already know at this point if the new album will be stylistically similar to the previous one?
Yeah, but it’s probably not a double album. The next year is my 40th anniversary as an artist. And, of course, we want to do something special, but it will be a single album.
Because the upcoming album will be something special, does that also mean that the album will also feature some special guests?
Yes, maybe?” Laughs”
Now that you say that, I can’t help but think it’s a pity that Lemmy and Ronnie aren’t with us anymore…
Oh, I tell you, it would have been, I mean, that would have been so great to have them on the album. But we are planning on something special, and we have already booked a venue in my former hometown, Düsseldorf. The venue used to be called the Philips Halle, but now it’s called Mitsubishi Electric Halle, and the day is the 28th of October in 2023. So we have booked it and hope there’s no another coronavirus wave coming. So that date is booked, and we’re working a lot on it. And the new record should be out before that.
Which record label do you have a deal with at the moment?
It still is Nuclear Blast, but I also formed my label three years ago. It’s called Rare Diamonds Productions. For a moment, I thought it should be “Magic Diamonds?” But then I changed my mind.” No. It’s Rare Diamonds Productions.” I put out a couple of records through that label, like the” Triumph and Agony Live” and the” Für Immer,” and all the CDs and DVDs which are not available anymore. And all the records which are not available anymore. You know, I’m totally old school. I like vinyl and box sets and all that stuff.” Triumph and Agony Live” was even released as a cassette. So I appreciate all that collector’s stuff. And I know that our friends and fans still like that stuff too. But so far, we are still in Nuclear Blast.
Have you been in talks with Atomic Fire Records, formed by the former employees of the Nuclear Blast?
Yeah, they actually came to see our last gig before I got sick. When we went on tour, only two shows remained before I got corona in Germany. They came to see us and said they would like to talk with us. So, I thought that after all the festivals, after the tour, then we could talk. But at first, maybe, I want to finish most of the record, so I know exactly what to do with it. But I know that releasing only a digital album version is not an option for us.
It’s great to hear that there’s new Doro music on its way, but are there plans to re-release some older albums as well? Because many of your past albums are almost impossible to find nowadays?
Yeah, I got the rights back for the SPV and AFM-era stuff. But in the Polygram era, it’s impossible to get it back. We asked, but they said they wanted to put it out themselves. We got the LOVE ME IN BLACK album rights back, and we put it out on vinyl because it was never released on vinyl before. But sometimes that’s tough, especially when people know something is happening again, and the fans might like it. So you don’t get anything for free. But all the AFM and SPV stuff we got back. And I don’t know if you have seen all the re-released albums on vinyl, colored vinyl, and like that.
I saw some of it, and it’s great. But how about all the Warlock stuff?
It’s all Polygram stuff, and so far, no luck. We already tried to get that stuff back for my 30’th anniversary, with no luck. Then I tried it again for my 35th anniversary, and I tried really hard but with no luck. And now we want to try again for the 40’th anniversary. Yeah, but that’s the thing with big major labels. They always deal with things differently. But when you deal with an independent label, maybe you could talk directly to the people, and they’re all like metalheads, and you can say, “Yeah, let’s do this.” But big companies have different rules. I would love to do that and put that Warlock stuff out again. I would love it, but… yeah. Sometimes I buy Warlock bootlegs because some countries, like Poland, always have high-quality sounds, and sometimes I buy a bootleg because they look great!” Laughs”
One thing that has also changed since our previous chat is the band lineup. Could you tell me a little more about those changes and the reasons behind those decisions?
Yes. Nick (Douglas), who’s been our bass player for 31 years, doesn’t want to take the vaccine. At first, he said, “I’ll think about it.” And then, one and a half years later, I said, “You’ve got to get vaccinated because you don’t get a work permit in some countries if you don’t show your vaccination pass. For example, you must be vaccinated three times to get a work permit in England.” So, we did a tour with Michael Schenker last November in England. And then it became clear that you have to be vaccinated; otherwise, they won’t let you into the country, and there is no tour. It was then the same in many countries, clubs, and festivals. But Nick said, “No. I don’t want to do it.” And I said, “Nick, man, you’ve been 31 years with us.” But he had made his decision.
So then we found Stefan, the new bass player. We once played a show in Siberia, and he was also there with his band Beyond the Black. One time, we were sitting together on a plane, and I said to him, “Man, you’re such a good guy.” And when I found out that Nick didn’t want to do it anymore and he couldn’t travel, I thought, “Hey, how about Stefan?” Then somebody told me that Stefan was out of the band Beyond the Black. So I tracked him down. Somebody gave me his telephone number, and we talked and talked.
He then did one show with us in Austria. That was at the Wildstyle & Tattoo fair in Salzburg. I really liked his playing and his look because he looks very metal. I liked it, so he’s in the band now. And Luca, he’s still sometimes playing with us, but he got a little boy. He’s a dad now and said he doesn’t want to tour that much anymore. If we have a one-off gig somewhere, he’ll do it but not two days in a row anymore. So that’s the reason why we Bill Hudson to play with us. We played the American tour and the Russian tour with him, And yeah, this is why we have changed the lineup. And sometimes, Tommy Bolan will join us when we do a Warlock -set.
We have to close this interview now. Anything else you want to add?
Yeah. I want to say it was fantastic to be back here in Finland. It is awesome. I love the Finnish fans, always have, and we’ve had many, many, really successful records and DVDs in Finland. I think that one of our albums was number one on the charts here, and I really could feel that everybody knew all the songs when we played tonight. That was great, and it makes me really happy. Today was a fantastic day, and I hope we will be back soon. And I hope the fans come to see my tour next year, the 40’th Anniversary tour. We definitely want to celebrate it all over the world, and maybe also at some festivals. We will have a great record out with some special guests you all will know, so yeah!