A conversation with Doro Pesch*

doro

If I could go back to 1987 and tell my younger self that I would be interviewing Doro for a music blog in Denver 25 years later, I’m sure my first questions would be “what the hell is a blog and why the hell am I in Denver?” After that I would probably start counting the days until 2011. Doro would be celebrating her 25th year as an artist and I would still be in my bedroom with my Sony Walkman singing “All We Are” (or watching recorded episodes of Headbangers Ball while eating Cheese Balls). I was 10 years old in 1987, Doro was 23. We are both much older now.  But  not much has changed for Doro. Powering through the ‘grunge’ years and continuing to release albums as DORO, the ‘queen of metal’ is gearing up for her fourth decade in the business with a performance at the Wacken Festival in Germany, the U.S. DVD release of her 25th Anniversary Concert, shows in New York and Chicago, as well as an album of new material. I spoke to Doro via telephone from Germany…

25 years is a long time in any business, especially the music business. To achieve 25 years as a female in the heavy metal genre is pretty much unheard of. What is the secret to your longevity as the ‘queen of metal’?

It’s the love of the music. I love it more than anything else in this world. I am not married, I don’t have children. I love the fans and the music so much; it’s just always kept me going. Even when things got really tough in the 90’s with grunge and everything – there’s just so much support. I don’t ever think about doing anything else. It’s just the love, that’s my secret.

What are you doing in Germany right now?

Getting ready to fly to the Wacken Festival. I’ll be singing a new song called Raise Your Hand that will be on the new album. I will perform there and maybe do some guest spots – and then I’ll be coming back to the U.S.

What are the plans for an album of new material?

It will take a couple more months – but we have some great new tunes, a couple anthems – some really fast and really hard. I will try Raise Your Hands out at Wacken, a real heavy metal anthem. The songwriting is going really well and it’s probably most like Triumph & Agony. Some of it is super hardcore and dark and then there are some ballads, which I really love. It should be out in the spring.

So tell me about this album and DVD that is being released on Nuclear Blast in the U.S. It was recorded in Germany in 2008, correct?

Yes. I am so happy it’s finally being released in the U.S. The DVD is already out in Europe. The main DVD is the 25th Anniversary Concert – one of our biggest concerts, a beautiful venue in my hometown, so many guests were there – Warlock reunited — it was so awesome. It was our longest concert at over 3 hours. There was a beautiful stage with a castle and ruins and as a highlight we had big Warlock almost like Iron Maiden’s Eddie. It’s awesome. I think the fans will love it. The second DVD has all kinds of stuff on it — festival highlights and footage from various events and from China and our 2,500th concert…

Speaking of the live show, you are doing two U.S. dates in support of 25 Years in Rock, correct?

Yes, we will play the Gramercy Theatre in New York on September 9th and Chicago on September 11th and maybe have a release party in L.A. as well. L.A. is not for sure, but I hope so. There will be many, many special guests and I’m so excited. Then after the new album comes out in the spring, we will do a full tour.

When you say a full tour, are you talking about the U.S. or Europe?

Probably Europe. I would love to go into every small village and town and city but it doesn’t always work…

We were just speaking to Stevie Floyd of Dark Castle a few weeks ago. She is an up-and-coming artist and I can’t help but believe you helped pave the way for artists such as her. What advice do you have for artists just starting out?

I would just say always give 150% and just do whatever you love. Always fight and never give up. There will be a lot of ups and downs, but you just have to hang in there. Keep good people around you – a good manager – sometimes are hard to find. Be yourself, believe in yourself, yeah. Never let anyone get you down. It can be hard when you start. In the beginning it was hard, I was always hoping everyone would love (the music) and it just didn’t go that way. It comes with the territory. Just do what feels good to you. Sometimes you just gotta be lucky. But never, ever give up.

Explain a day in the life of Doro? What are you doing when you are not making or playing music?

Right now it’s all about touring – shows and big festivals. When I’m not touring I’m usually at home writing music. I do try to answer fan mail and stuff like that. I usually do that around Christmas. Really sit down and answer it. I do play some sports, but no other interests… I don’t have a family, a husband or children. Metal really is my family.

Looking back on the years, what are you most proud of?

Really, it has to be meeting people. I was 15 when I started my first band. Meeting all the greats – it’s just the best. Just doing metal every day. Playing all these great festivals – the best day in my life was when we played Monsters of Rock and then we got the call to go on tour with Judas Priest. I quit my job to go on tour with Judas Priest and my boss thought I was crazy but told me to go for it and to never come back. I told him I would give it my best. Then in ’87, on tour with Ronnie James Dio – it’s been very good to me.

Any regrets?

No, no, no, no, actually it was all good. Sometimes it was hardcore, but no, it was always good — all these years and I definitely thank the fan base.

25 years with no major regrets in pretty impressive! Let’s end with some word association…

Lemmy – Icon, Very Funny, I love him so much

Grunge – Some of the worst times of my life were when grunge was big

Angela Gossow – Good Friend, Great Singer, Awesome

Amy Winehouse – One-Of-A-Kind, probably too sensitive, very sad

Black Metal – Venom. It depends on the vibe, but I am a fan

Ronnie James Dio – The Greatest of All Time, heart of gold. When I first met him I couldn’t speak English, but we ended up being really good friends.

New York – 1987. Triumph & Agony

Thanks so much for your time Doro and good luck at Wacken!

Thank you and thanks so much for your support for metal and people who support it. Hopefully we will see each other in the future.

* at the end of this interview, I realized my mic wasn’t working properly and I had only recorded every fourth word. The rest was static. Doro actually had a lot more to say than what is written above, but this is the best I could piece together from the mangled recording and my flawed memory and still stay true to what she had to say. I also have to add she was one of the nicest people I’ve ever spoken to on the phone and she sounds like she’s still living the dream.