Interview by Tony Cannella
After almost 30 years in the music business you would think that Doro Pesch might become jaded or cynical. Not so. Through it all she has managed to keep a positive attitude and nobody works harder than the German metal queen. In speaking to Doro one thing is abundantly clear, she is the most genuine, down-to-earth and above all the nicest (okay that’s three things), people you will ever meet. In early December 2011, she was kind enough to answer a few questions and here is what she had to say
First let’s talk about the 25th anniversary DVD. Tell us a little about it, and how do you feel that it has finally come out in the U.S.?
I’m so happy that it is finally released in America. It was definitely one of the happiest days in my life, and definitely one of the biggest days we’ve had musically; it was such a great, awesome night. We prepared for the concert for the whole year, and to build the stage took a whole year. The Warlock we had on stage was one of the biggest highlights; it took about nine months to build. In the 80s we always had the backdrop with the Warlock painted on and this time I thought for my 25th anniversary, I wanted to have a really, really big sculpture and it took like nine months, and the guy told me the day before that it might not be ready tomorrow night, and I said it has to be ready because that’s the big day! We had so many great guests, all the people who meant so much to me, people I grew up with and people I admire and respect. Yeah, we had tons of great guests there. To start, the first guest performance was Bobby Blitz (from Overkill). I think Bobby is one of the greatest front people, he has so much energy and is always so powerful and always has a great vibe. He was the first one who came up as a guest, it went really, really great and the fans loved it. So I was really relieved that the first guest went over so great. From there on, my old Warlock band members came up and we did like a little reunion and then Jean Beauvoir came on, Axel Rudi Pell, Chris from Grave Digger, and The Scorpions – Klaus Meine and Rudolph Schenker they came up and we did “Rock You Like a Hurricane” and “Big City Nights”. That meant so much to me. When I started with my first band we always heard about The Scorpions and read about them and I knew they were one of the biggest bands in Germany, so the first time I saw them was in 1986 at the legendary Monsters of Rock festival, actually we did two in Germany and one in England at Castle Donington. It was a phenomenal line up, it was The Scorpions, Ozzy Osbourne, Motorhead, Def Leppard, Bon Jovi and Warlock, it was unbelievable and in Germany The Michael Schenker group was playing on it, so many great bands. So it was the first time I saw The Scorpions and I thought “Wow! If we ever could last that long, and always put on a great show like that”, I was really inspired. It meant a lot to me that they came to my 25th anniversary. It just took one phone call, I called Rudolph Schenker and I said, “Hey, I’m planning this celebration for the 25th anniversary and I just wanted to know if it would be at all possible if you guys had the time and come celebrate with us, and he said ‘you know what? Give me a date and I’ll call you back, and then he called back and said “Yeah, we’re coming”. We played a song with Tarja Turunen “Walking With the Angels” and it went over great. We did the full metal female version of “Celebrate” with all of the great ladies of metal which I think was one of the mega highlights on the DVD. We had many, many more guests and we did “All We Are” with everybody and the stage almost couldn’t hold all of the people, it was so crazy, the fans were singing along, then Sabina Classen from Holy Moses and Liv from Leaves’ Eyes held me up in the air. It was so touching, I cried because it was so great to see all of the fans with their happy faces. It was a 3 ½ hour show non-stop and it was so great to celebrate with my friends and dear fans. The fans came from all over the world from America, Argentina, Brazil, Greece, Italy, and Spain from everywhere. It was one of the greatest days of my whole life and I’m so glad we could record it. We did a couple of release shows in New York, Philadelphia and Chicago, they went great. New York was packed, it was sold out, of course I live in New York most of the time when I’m in America, and it’s like my hometown.
Any chance of any additional U.S. dates coming in the future?
Actually, I think it will be next year. We do our next tour in December in Germany and then I wanted to finish the album. I think it will be next year, I want to do a full tour, but there are no dates at the moment. I definitely want to make sure that we finish the record first.
You are currently working on the new album, right?
Yeah, we are well into production, we have some killer songs on the way, some of the songs I played live. One song is called “Raise Your Fist”, the title might be “Raise Your Fist in the Air”, but I don’t know yet, it might be like the second “All We Are”. We will continue working on the record in January and it will have some heavy, great fast songs and some beautiful, touching ballads. We can probably expect the first single in spring and the album around summertime.
You did a run of shows in October/November, how did they go?
Yeah, we went all over Europe. We started in Moscow, Russia, which is one of my favorite cities to play in Europe. We have had the chance to play countries where it wasn’t possible in the 80s, there’s like a huge fan following and it’s great. So we started in Russia and then we went to Poland and that was great, the fans were so excited and it was a hell of show, then we went to the Czech Republic, then Spain, Belgium, France and we played shows in Germany, it went really, really well. We started the European tour after the American dates, and everybody was happy, it felt good. The machine worked really well, it was well oiled and all of the songs sounded really good. The band played great – I am always so proud of them. We had a lot of great experiences, met a lot of cool people. We made a lot of new fans, I think, and some of the younger fans who saw us for the very time, that was actually very exciting. We played some songs that we haven’t played in a long time, like for example “Without You” off of the “Burning the Witches” album, which was a really nice surprise. Then the new song “Raise Your Fist” went over really well. We played the Wacken anthem “We Are the Metal Heads” which is always a good song to sing along to. We played many, many encores, as long there wasn’t a curfew, sometimes we played 2 ½ to 3 hours a night.
It must be nice have such a huge catalogue to change up the shows from time to time.
Yeah, every show is different. There are always fans that follow us on the whole tour, so they can always expect something different at the shows.
You have a tour of Germany coming up this month (December 2011), right?
Yeah, actually next week. The guys are flying in tomorrow and there will be two days rehearsal and then we leave on Wednesday. In the next couple of days we are starting, and it’ll go up to Christmas, then I will go back to the States and continue working on the album.
What about the new Christmas single, “Merry Metal Xmas”?
We just released the Christmas single on the 9th of December. You can get it online, through Nuclear Blast and it is also coming out on vinyl, which is a cool thing. It is a duet with Tom Angelripper of Sodom. The cover is very cool, you see pictures of us when we were little kids celebrating Christmas, some funny pictures and then you see some photos of us today. It’s a real good song. It’s a fun song to sing along to.
Who are you working with on the new album?
I am working with Andreas Bruhne from Sisters of Mercy, who I have worked with the last few years. We have some great songs in the making. I’ve worked in New Jersey already with Mike Goldberg. Yeah, there are some other people I am working with. I don’t know who will mix the record; there are some big names so it should be very interesting. I’m just In the middle of weighing all the options and of course I want to get all the songs done. There are some good people who will be coming into the picture, I want to have some great guests and stuff, but I don’t want to say who because then it wouldn’t be a surprise, and it wouldn’t be good if didn’t work out. But yes, there are some great guests in the making.
One of the coolest things that have happened in the past year was when you joined Dio’s Disciples with former members of Dio for some shows in Italy and Spain. What was that experience like?
Oh Tony, it was so awesome and I was so happy when they asked me to fill in for Ripper Owens, I had the chance to fill in for Ripper Owens because he had to go to his daughter’s wedding. I did the Spain gigs and it was one of the greatest experiences and it was such an honor to play with all the cool guys from Dio’s band like Craig Goldy, Simon Wright, Scott Warren and James Lomenzo was on bass, Toby Jepson was the other singer. It was so great to be a part of it, and such a great honor and I was so happy that Wendy Dio thought of me to fill in for Ripper Owens, I was so grateful, so thankful, I love Ronnie James Dio and I’ll always loved him and I was so happy to stay somehow close to the Dio family and I definitely felt part of the family, I felt so welcomed and they were so supportive. Going on stage in front of all the people, it was a wild experience, I always have stage fright, but then it was hardcore. They were so kind to me and I think we did some killer shows together. On one hand it was very uplifting, but on the other hand it was very emotional and sad. It was a very, very intense emotional experience. I am still not over the fact that Ronnie is no longer with us, but it’s great to have his music. I am always thinking of him and it was such a great honor to be part of it and sing all the beautiful songs. I gave my all and I wanted to make the fans happy. Some of songs I fell in love with all over again, songs like “Catch the Rainbow”, that was my favorite song, every time I sang it together with Toby Jepson, it was so powerful. On that tour everyone’s vibe was so cool and so loving. It was unforgettable, so phenomenal to be a part of it. Of course nobody can sing as great as Ronnie, and we always tried to give our best and to keep his spirit alive.
In the past few years you have been a guest on albums by bands like After Forever, Sister Sin and Girlschool. Do you like doing stuff like that?
Yeah, I love it! I love being a guest on other people’s records. There is actually a great connection and friendship with those bands, and usually when we tour together we stay friends, with our support bands or bands we meet in a festival situation. I love it. Girlschool I’ve known since the early 80s and Sister Sin, they actually opened up for us, and I know they are getting a huge following in the states. I’m always happy when people have the right attitude, and they have what it takes. Liv (from Sister Sin) is a great lady and she was actually on our 25th anniversary show in Düsseldorf. She was part of the full female version of “Celebrate”, than she asked if I could be a part of this Motorhead cover they were doing and I said “Oh Yeah, I would love to do it” and we went right into the studio, the same with Girlschool and there is some other bands that I’ve done some work with Saltatio Mortis which is a really great band, last year I did something with Grave Digger. Yeah, I love doing stuff like that.
Are you aware of the Warlock tribute album “Tribute to Steel”? What do you think of it?
Yeah Tony, I think it’s been out for a while. I think some bands did a great job; I love the version of “Für Immer” from the Scandinavian band Sabaton. I think it’s wonderful. The record company put so much thought into it. It was cool idea and a total surprise to me. It came out great.
Speaking of Warlock do you think you might do anymore special shows with them in the future?
At the moment there is nothing planned. I’m concentrating on the upcoming tour (December 2011) and then next year finishing the album. We are still in contact, I still talk to Michael (Eurich – drummer), I saw Niko (Arvanitis) at the fan-club meeting and he always comes to the concerts when we play close by. I don’t know, some people would never want to do it anymore. The bass player (Frank Rittel) is the first one who gave up music; he gave up playing bass, so it’ll probably never be the original line-up anymore.
Does anybody know whatever happened to (original guitarist) Rudy Graf?
No, the last I saw him was many years ago. I loved Rudy, he was a great guy, great musician, but I haven’t seen him in a long time. I invited him to the 25th anniversary concert, I left messages but I don’t know I f I had the right number, he never returned the calls, so I don’t know if he ever got the messages, but I definitely invited him.
Final question. Thank you for doing this interview. Is there anything you would like to add to the interview to wrap it up?
Yeah actually, I just saw Motorhead a couple weeks ago in Germany and there is a new Motorhead DVD out called “The World is Ours” and there was a part where I hopped on stage with them to perform “Killed by Death” a couple of months ago in New York. Wow, I was so happy that it made the DVD. The New York gig was awesome. I just saw it, it just came out and I am sure the die-hard Motorhead fans know about it, so maybe the fans would want to check it out. I definitely want to give the fans something great on the next record, I hope they love it as much as they used to love songs that mean so much to them. I would love to have like another “Triumph and Agony”, which is always one of our greatest albums and greatest memories. I definitely want to try my best to please the fans and make them happy. I definitely put my heart and soul on this record and I hope they love it, and I hope that we will see each other very soon. I deeply appreciate all of the fan support, and I love the fans more and more every day. They are the reason why I can continue doing this and always fight for the music because of the tremendous support and love of the fans. Sometimes it’s really, really hard but I can never give up because there are so many people out there who support us, even in spirit or in their hearts. The fans are the most important thing in my life and will always be. I wish the fans a merry metal Christmas and a killer, happy and healthy New Year and I hope we see each other really soon.