Interview by Tony Cannella
Doro Pesch is a true rock legend. In over 35 years in the music business she has seen and done so much; and through it all she has somehow remained one of the nicest, down-to-earth and humble people in the music business. After completing a brief run of successful American tour dates, she is set to finish out 2016 with a string of European shows. 2017 doesn’t appear to be any less busy for the metal queen as she looks to finish her new album before (no doubt) hitting the road again with her amazing band (Johnny Dee, Nick Douglas, Bass Maas and Luca Princiotta). Recently I had the chance to catch up with Doro and she touched on a variety of topics. Did I mention that next year is the 30th anniversary of the classic “Triumph and Agony” album? Well it is…
Hello Doro. The first question everyone wants to know is, when can we expect a new record?
It’s in the making. We are working on it all the time when we have a couple of weeks off from touring. We have about 5 songs already. We have one song for Lemmy, it’s called “Living Life to the Fullest”. We have 1 song; it reminds me a little of the song “Revenge” – it’s a heavy song – it’s called “Fight Through the Fire”. I definitely would like to get it done next year and put it out next year.
You have always had interesting guests on your records. Do you have anyone lined up for this one?
Not yet. There are certain things in the making, but it’s still too early to talk about; it should be a nice surprise, too. I have a couple of people in mind.
You also released the song “Love’s Gone to Hell” a few months ago. Why did you decide to release it only as a single?
I know that the record will take at least another year. I felt “Love’s Gone to Hell” was so magical, it had so much power, and I thought I wanted to put it out right now, I don’t want to wait until the whole record is done.
You also did a cool looking video for “Love’s Gone to Hell”.
I had the feeling that I wanted to do a top-notch video like we did in the 80s and 90s because I thought this song had a lot of class; it’s not like a normal rock and metal song, it deserves something really expensive and classy with a great look. We did two versions of the video for “Love’s Gone to Hell” and we did it via crowdfunding. All the great fans from all over the world supported it, and we could make it the way we wanted it, in a beautiful castle and beautiful locations. It was actually the longest video shoot we ever did – it was 5 days – usually it’s 1 or 2 days, but this one was 5 days. I showed it to the record company and they said they, “loved it, but could you do one version that is safe for kids, where there is no blood”. So, we did one with the story and one where there is a little story, but more of the performance. With the fans, they were so awesome; I’m so grateful and so thankful. All the die-hard fans, they said “yeah, let’s do it”. I was thinking about doing a normal video, like we did on the last record “Raise Your Fist”; we did it by ourselves and with some friends doing camera work and stuff and I thought it came out really good. “Raise Your Fist” was a fun video, but I thought “Love’s Gone to Hell” was a different animal. The fans got some really unique stuff in return, for example, my stage clothes or a lifetime VIP pass – that was the first thing that was gone. I think it was a great experience; I’ve never done crowdfunding before, but if there is something that really calls for some important things – like a top-notch video – I thought that was a great chance to realize something. We probably wouldn’t have done a video at all. In this day-and-age nobody has a budget. In the 80s and 90s we would always put out a new record every two years, but in this day-and-age we are non-stop touring so it always takes a little longer. We did the “Strong and Proud” DVD which took like two years to make, to make it really nice quality. It is eight hours long, and there are many great concerts on it. I think everything came out beautiful, but it took between 1 ½ and 2 years to make. In that time, I was always doing work in the studio for the DVD and on the side, sometimes when I had an idea. Working on the record, to me, is always impossible when I am on the road touring, or when I’m in the studio concentrating on something else like the DVD. We already have 5 songs which I think are killer, we have more songs, but 5 songs I definitely know will make the new record.
It seems like you guys are always on tour, so it must be difficult to find the time to record a record.
Yeah, and it is a totally different mind frame. On tour, I am always concentrating on putting on a great show, and then after the tour, I feel like I am totally exhausted, so I always need a couple of weeks to rejuvenate and get new energy, so I couldn’t go right back into the studio like one day after the tour, it’s impossible for me. To write songs it’s a different thing; you must let your heart be open, your soul your spirit and think about things which are important or which are a reminder of certain experiences. I always feel that on tour, physically it gets very challenging and writing songs you must work with your soul and your spirit. I always need some time for myself or some quiet time. It could be that there is one idea that is coming on tour sometimes when I am going to sleep at night on the tour bus. Sometime I got some ideas when I fall asleep and I thought “I have to sing it on my iPhone before I forget”.The pressure is always on, because I always know that after so many records – after 17 records – the people expect a lot. Certain ideas when you write songs they’re okay, they’re good, but then I think, “oh no, they have to be fantastic to make the record, they can’t be good or mediocre”. It always takes time to get the best of the best for the fans.
Speaking of the fans, you are one of the best artists with their fans that I have ever seen.
From day one, I think it was that way. There is a deep connection and just feeling like we are amongst friends. It is so sacred to me.
Earlier you mentioned the “Strong and Proud” DVD. I think it is one of the best music oriented DVD’s I have ever seen, if not THE best. You put so much work and effort into it. Are you pleased with how it turned out?
Yeah, totally, yeah. And when you say that you like it so much, that is so great to hear, I am so happy. I think it came out great. We worked on it for 1 ½ or 2 years. The documentary I thought came out great. Even for people who know everything, even like all the diehard fans have all of the videos and know so many things, I thought let’s do a documentary where the guys in the band can give their viewpoint and some other interesting things, which we haven’t done on another DVD because I think that the DVDs should always be special. I thought, “how can we top the 25th anniversary or the 20th anniversary DVD’s?” You never know, you always try your best. You always work with what you have, the tools you have and the time you have. I’m so glad you like it.
You just played a quick run of U.S. dates. How did those shows go?
It went great. The last show was in New Jersey. It was this big festival, the Rock Carnival. It went awesome; the whole tour was great. The first gig didn’t take place because the festival we were supposed to play in Chicago got cancelled – they said they would postpone it until December. I was looking so forward to playing the Chicago area, I love the fans in Chicago. A couple of days before the Chicago show we found out that it is not going to happen, that the whole festival would not take place and we had to re-book our flight, so we started in Columbus and it was a great first show. The rest of the tour went smooth; it was a good run. Next year we want to do all the other places in the States. We definitely want to play more. We definitely want to play more festivals. I love festivals. Many fans know in Europe there are tons of great big festivals, I love playing them and I would love to play them in the States. Any which way, small clubs, small venue, bigger place or festivals, whatever. Every show is great. When I see the fans, it doesn’t matter if there are 100 people or 1000 people it’s always a big honor to play in front of people.
I was at the Stafford Springs, CT show at the Palace Theater and I think I’ve seen you like over 20 times, at least and it is always such a great show. The thing that I have always liked about your show is that they’re kind of loose; meaning you have a set-list but you’re not afraid to deviate from it and do songs that weren’t on the set-list. It definitely keeps things fresh and exciting, especially for people who see multiple shows on a tour. How does that work? Does somebody just call out a song and you, do it?
The guys in the band know, I would say, 70, 80% of our repertoire. When people call out songs that they are dying to hear, we always try to play it. Sometimes the versions are maybe a little bit different but they’re always cool. There are some nice things to maybe improvise if you don’t know exactly the record version. Certain things we can go and change; like maybe the solo is twice as long or somebody just plays whatever he feels. I always want to make the fans happy. Sometimes when they call out songs, which we have never played before with this line-up, that can be a little bit tricky. Sometimes people call out like B-sides or songs from 1984 and then that is sometimes impossible to do. It’s always keeping it fresh and exciting. Every show is new to me and exciting. Sometimes people ask me, “Don’t you ever get tired of playing “All We Are”?”, and the honest truth is I never get tired of playing any song, especially “All We Are”. I love every single song we play in our set-list; it’s always a treat. Every song is different, every song has a different feeling; sometimes hard, sometimes aggressive, sometimes super soulful, sometimes a nice anthem like “Bad Blood”…
That was awesome when you played “Bad Blood” in Stafford Springs.
We hadn’t played it in a little while, and I am never sure if all the fans in America know the “Angels Never Die” record since it was never released in the States. I don’t want to bore people with stuff they don’t know, but usually the die-hard fans they know every song.
What do you have planned for the rest of this year and into next year?
I am going to the States next week to continue working on the recording and then I am going to Hamburg to work with Andreas Bruhne, a guy who I like to work with; we did stuff on the last record like “Raise Your Fist” and so many great things. I have worked with Andreas now since 1996. The European tour starts in November. Christmas and January, February I’m only working on the new record, writing songs and recording, making demos. In March, there is another thing, it’s called Full Metal Mountain and we are on the bill. It’s a concert up in the highest mountains here in Europe and it’s done by the Wacken people. They always have some great new ideas they come up with. I think we will go to Russia again, I think there is something in the making. I hope that we will do another American tour, get some great festivals in America. In Europe, there is some great festivals already in the making. So yeah, it’s non-stop work.
We have come to the end of the interview, Doro. Thank you so much for taking the time to do this. It is always a pleasure to talk to you.
Thank you, Tony. Always, always thank you so much for supporting us and supporting metal.
Do you have any final words for your fans to close out this interview?
I am totally grateful for so many years of support. Metal fans are always to awesome, so loving and supportive. I want to say thank you so much for all of these great years. Next year we want to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the “Triumph and Agony” record. I want to try to do some special shows where we will only play that record and come up with something really, special, so that is in the making. The record came out in ’87, so I definitely want to do something next year. I talked already to my old guitar player in Warlock, Tommy Bolan to see if he would be into it and he was into it, so we will do something special next year. We want to tour the States, worldwide and concentrate on new songs, which I hope the fans will love. I wish everybody the best, stay metal, keep on rocking, I love you will all my heart, Fur Immer and I’ll see you very soon guys and girls.
Photos by Guido Raschke and Tom Row