December 12, 2014 Interview – Doro
One of the most legendary names associated with Heavy Metal over the years has been none other than Doro Pesch. Coming to the realization at a young age that music was her passion, and knowing she would do whatever it took to make her dreams a reality, Doro began to make her mark fronting the band Warlock in 1982. After seven years of hard work, Doro released her debut solo album, Force Majeure, in 1989. Ushering in a new era for the vocalist, her sucesss began to spread on a broader international scale, helping launch an impressive career that has been celebrated with twelve studio albums. Now considered of the most influential figures in Heavy Metal, Doro continues to perform live regularly and dedicate her life to music. Recently we caught up with the Metal Queen for a retrospective look at the years gone by, celebrating her 30th anniversary in music, plans for the future, and much more.
CrypticRock.com – You have had quite a prominent career over the past three plus decades beginning with your band Warlock to your solo career. Having overcome illness at a young age and living your dream as a Rock and Metal musician, what has the journey been like for you?
Doro – Since I was three or four years old I wanted to sing. When I was fifteen I had my first band, they were called Snakebite. I had a few more bands and then we started Warlock in 1982. The more I did it I said, “This is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.” I had no idea we were at the right time and the right place and it was growing bigger and bigger. We went on tour with Judas Priest in 1986 and that is when I quit my day job. I was a graphic artist and I said I want to just do music and make people happy. It was the greatest time; for thirty years it was so overwhelming and such an adventure. It was also very challenging. The fans are my true love. I did not know that when I started, but now the fan base is what I live for. It could not be better. It was always a hard fight, but very rewarding. When I was twenty-two or twenty-three I knew I definitely wanted to dedicate my life to the music. I wanted to try my hardest and always give it one-hundred percent. I am very happy even though it is sometimes tough. I never regretted this position ever. When you love something you will go to any length, you can generate energy and power which you normally would not have had.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, when you love something you will do anything to make it possible. Metal has always been a very male dominated field but you were really a pioneer in changing that. Genre equality in Hard Rock and Metal has really grown over the past few decades. In your opinion what do you think of the state of females in Hard Rock and Metal in 2014?
Doro – I think we have super talented female musicians. It was a little bit lonely when I started in the ’80s. There was Lita Ford, Joan Jett, Wendy Williams; I loved them and their voices. Now, I think it is much better because there are great women in all kinds of Metal genres. You have Alissa White-Gluz of Arch Enemy or Angela Gossow who was the lead singer of the band for many years, or former Nightwish vocalist Tarja Turunen, or Lzzy Hale from Halestorm. I must say when I first started, to me, it never mattered if I was a man or woman, I just loved music and the fans. To me, I never felt like I was treated differently. I always felt in the end it did not matter, when you are doing music you are above that. I was always treated extremely well, especially when I started touring with great bands like Judas Priest, Motörhead, W.A.S.P., and Ronnie James Dio. I always felt very supported; everyone was always very nice, loving, and respectful. I never thought it was a big deal to be a woman; I just did what I wanted to do and gave it my all.
Now, I always feel like I am just one of the guys on the tour bus, except I am probably the only one wearing makeup (laughs). I do think Metal is in good shape, there are great women on the scene and there are more and more coming, it is impressive.
CrypticRock.com – Obviously it is silly for anyone to think a woman cannot Rock just as hard, if not harder, than a man. Unfortunately at one time, some closed minded people may have thought that. It is great to see things are more equal now.
Doro – Yes, it should have never mattered. As I said, honestly, I never really felt it mattered. Sometimes people like to write about it, but to me it was always a struggle, man or woman. It is a hard fight just to get a record deal, keep a record deal, or go on tour and make your band successful. The metalheads always knew my heart was beating for Metal and nothing else matters.
CrypticRock.com – Exactly, that is all that matters. In 2012 you released your twelfth studio album titled Raise Your Fist. You are now two years removed from the release of that album, how does it hold up for you as an artist?
Doro – I think it was a great record. All together we have written seventeen records! I think Raise Your Fist was one of the best records we have done. We came out with an 30th anniversary edition on October 14th. There is a bonus CD with nine tracks of all our favorite songs from other artists. I think Raise Your Fist deserves another release, it has great songs and great sound. The title track is up right there anthem-wise and everyone loves it; it works so well live. Raise Your Fist received great feedback; I would like to continue in that direction. We are working on a new record and I think it will be in a similar direction. I feel like the album covered everything from hardcore Metal songs to old school Metal, to anthems, and ballads.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, it really is a great balance of songs. The special edition bonus CD is great with the cover tracks. There are some interesting covers such as a Tina Turner track.
Doro – Yes, Tina Turner was the first time I was blown away by a woman. I saw her on TV, I think I was five or six years old, the song was called “Nutbush City Limits,” and I loved it. She had so much energy and power. Back when I grew up, there was no Heavy Metal, so for some people it was strange that I did not pick a Heavy Metal song. I wanted to sing “Nutbush City Limits” for myself and to honor her too. Then I did one of my first Hard Rock songs which was “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” by Led Zeppelin. Then there is “Egypt ((The Chains Are On)” by Dio, “Only You” of KISS, and “Nothing Else Matters” of Metallica. Then there are some new songs. One song called “Warfare” will be the title track of a new Adventure movie coming out in 2015 called Anouk III – Die Dunkie Flut. Then there is a demo called “NYC Blues” which I recorded myself. It is a demo where you can see the purist form of the song which is not watered down by studio production. I can imagine some diehard fans will find it interesting. I thought for the bonus CD it would be special and celebrate our 30th anniversary.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, it really is a great way to celebrate. The bonus CD is actually forty-three minutes long, so essentially fans are getting another full length album. It is a great addition for collectors.
Doro – Yes, there are nine tracks. The next record will probably take another year and a half to finish. I always take a little bit longer to get it right and give the fans something that is nice. We want to do a DVD for the 30th anniversary as well. We recorded already in Wacken in Germany and then we recorded two shows in former hometown in Dusseldorf, Germany with an orchestra and many great guests. We also recorded the show in NYC on October 20th at Gramercy Theater. We invited so many guests such as Bobby Blitz of Overkill, Jeff of Annihilator, Chris Caffery of Savatage, Leather Leone of Rude Girl, and Veronica Freeman of Benedictum. We will put it out probably in early 2015.
CrypticRock.com – That is a great DVD for fans to have. The tour really was special too as it was select dates and a wonderful celebration of three decades of Doro.
Doro – Yes and the second leg of the tour will begin in March of 2015 when we hit Texas and California. I love playing the states; it is always a special treat. Our drummer Johnny Dee is from Philadelphia, Nick Douglas and Harrison Young are from NY, then Bas Maas is from the Netherlands, and Luca Princiotta is from Italy, so we are a really mixed band. It had been a while since we toured North America and we are ready to rock some more.
CrypticRock.com – That is exciting to hear. Speaking of your band, the band has really sustained a strong lineup over the years. What is the chemistry like between yourself and the band?
Doro – They are my best friends, they are my brothers, and I love them to death. We have been together through thick and thin, good and bad. One of the longest band members I have ever had is Nick Douglas; he has been with me twenty-four years. He joined in 1990. I met him in SIR in NYC, there was a big audition for bass players, and I think there was something like one-hundred-twenty other bass players there. Nick came in and I knew it was him. My manager said, “Hey Doro, you have to check out the other one-hundred-nineteen bass players.” I went through all the other bass players and they were all great and trying hard, but Nick was the one. Twenty-four years later, we are still happy together in the band. He is such a great guy, player, and we are best friends. I guess in twenty-four years some people get divorced two or three times already (laughs). Then our drummer Johnny Dee, he was formerly in Britny Fox, he joined the band in 1993 and he is our tour manager on the American tour too. Luca Princiotta has been with us seven or eight years. Bas Maas has been with us six or seven years. Our newest member Harrison Young, he is the youngest and he is super cool. We are going by gut instinct, we do not even have to talk about things, we just know each other so well. The band is better than ever energy-wise and creating a great show.
CrypticRock.com – That is really wonderful to hear you have that special relationship. Your career has been extremely consistent with touring and creating quality records. Touring can often be stressful being away from home and not having a healthy schedule. Having experienced so much, what is your key to keeping things balanced through the years with music and your personal life?
Doro – Actually, there is not much of a personal life. I decided when I was around twenty-two or twenty-three I wanted to dedicate myself to music, fans, and to Metal. I am very happy and I do not miss anything. I am so grateful to see the fans; it is always the highlight of my life, every single gig, whether it is a small club or Wacken. It was always my dream to do it and I am really happy that it has paid off. When I had my past band I had no idea it would last this long, but now thirty years later, wow. I tell you this, I can be dead tired or sick as a dog, but when I see the fans I have all this energy and it is like heaven to me.
My personal life, it is not much of that. I support young bands in the Wacken Foundation. I definitely want to give back with what I got with all these great bands I had the chance to tour with. I really respected the support bands I toured with provided me. I wanted to give this good energy back to young bands because I know how hard it is to survive and make a name for yourself. When you know what you want and always believe in yourself, I believe you can. Also in my free time, I practice Martial Arts such as Kung Fu and Wing Chun. When I need something else to keep me on track and keep my body in shape I do that and I love it.
CrypticRock.com – That is very admirable that you devote yourself so much to the music. I would like to know, what are some of your musical influences?
Doro – I grew up in Glam Rock times, so it was artists like T Rex and Marc Bolan. Then later on it was Alice Cooper, Led Zeppelin, and Deep Purple. Then I found Metal such as Judas Priest, Accept, Whitesnake, Metallica, Venom, W.A.S.P., Megadeth, Raven, Anvil, Motörhead, and the legendary Ronnie James Dio. I loved Dio so much; his voice, his music, and we had a great chance to together. Someone which was very supportive was Gene Simmons; he produced our self-titled record in 1990. Tommy Thayer, who also played in KISS, co-produced and played many guitar solos on the album. I learned so much from Gene, I was a big KISS fan so for me it was a dream come true for me to work together.
CrypticRock.com – Wow, those sound like wonderful experiences for a KISS fan.
Doro – Yes, we recorded in LA at the Fortress studio. I felt, “Wow, I am in the same studio KISS recorded in!” Everyday I went into the studio my knees were shaking, I never got over it and it was great. When I was fifteen or sixteen I heard about KISS and I never even had the idea I would come to America. Then, in 1986 I came over for a brief promotion tour. Now I am a proud Green Card holder and I love America so much. Eventually I want to become an American citizen. I had no idea all my dreams would come true, especially being in America. Music and Metal definitely saved my life. It is so amazing and I am very thankful.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, music is more than entertainment. It can seriously be therapy for people whether as a listener or creator.
Doro – Yes, especially Rock and Metal. People who love Metal and Rock are definitely a way of living. It is how your soul and heart is beating. That is what I love so much. Everyone is so loyal; the Metal and Rock fans are the most loyal. We still have the same fans that we had in the early ’80s and now we have many more of the young generation. It is a good mix of generations. That is definitely something to say about Rock and Metal. There is a Metal community and a deep friendship.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, it really is unity for Metal and Rock fans. My last question for you is regarding films. CrypticRock.com is a Rock/Metal and Horror news site so we like to focus on all genres. Are you a fan of Horror films, and if so, what are some of your favorite Horror films?
Doro – The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)! I loved the original so much. I think that was the worst Horror movie I have ever seen; I had to look away so much it was so intense. Midnight Express (1978) was another. I know it is not the Horror movie genre, but it was so brutal and a true story. I do love Horror Movies.