Interview by Gaia Stella Rotondi
Transcription by Alessandro Narcissus
Intro by Miriam C.
On a hot summer day (to be precise on the 12th September) we’ve met in a hotel in the centre of Milan during the promo day dedicated to “Raise Your Fist”, the German metal queen Doro. Let’s hear directly from her the latest news. Some words dedicated to the memoir of the late Mr Ronnie James Dio are present and we join with her to his memory publishing this interview.
Today Femme Metal is pleased to have the metal queen Doro Pesch as guest. Hi Doro, how are you?
Hi there, I’m very good! Thank you for the interview, it’s great to be here in Italy!
We know that your new album, “Raise Your Fist”, produced by Nuclear Blast Records, will be released on October 19. Could you tell us something about it?
We’ve worked for over half a year on it. We recordet it all over the world, from New York and New Jersey to Hamburg, we’ve mixed it in Danmark with Jacob Hansen, who’se the producer and engeneer for all of it. I wanted to make sure that the sound is hard, powerful and really, really good. The first song, “Raise Your Fist in the Air”, I kind of had the feeling it might be the first single. So I sent it out to many people, everybody mixed it, and then it was hard to choose ’cause many were really good, but when I heard Jacob‘s work I said, “Okay, you’re the one!”. There are some special guests on the record: I sing a duet with Lemmy (Kilmister from Motörhead Ed.) on one of my favourite songs, “It Still Hurts”, which is a very touching and emotional ballad, and I love it so much, and I also love Lemmy for the longest time, he’s great! Then we have another guest, Gus G, the guitar player of Firewind, and he plays a solo on “Grab The Bull (Last Man Standing)”. A good friend of mine made contract with Alex Krull from Atrocity and Leaves’ Eyes, and he’s a guest on that song as well. Then there is “Hero”, which was the first song we wrote for the record, and it’s a tribute to Ronnie James Dio: so many fans were totally heartbroken when he died – including myself, I was totally devastated and after all this time I still am! – so I really wanted to say thank you and pay respect to him.
Could you tell us something about the importance that Ronnie had in your life?
Yeah! Beside being an amazing singer, I think definitely one of the best, he was a great friend and my biggest inspiration! I had the chance to meet him many times, we toured together – actually my second big tour, back in 1987, it was with Ronnie James Dio and it was great because it was the peak of heavy metal with big venues and fans, it was unbelievable and really unforgettable! Then we had the chance to tour again a couple of times and one of the greatest experiences was the American tour in 2000, because, as you probably remember, in the Nineties grunge was big and heavy metal had a really difficult time; and then, in 1999 I felt it was coming back somehow and I did a song for Ronnie James Dio‘s new album, then he held a release party in New York and I was there and I went to say hi, and he was like “Hey, I like the song so much, it’s magical!”. And a couple of weeks later we had our record done – I was “Calling The Wild”. We were in the middle of an interview with a radio station in Tennessee, and we were talking and they asked if we had any touring plans, I was like “Not yet, but of course we want either to open up for someone or do our own club tour”, and then the lady said she was like “What about Ronnie James Dio?”, and she was going to interview him in a hour so she suggested us to him! And a couple of weeks later we were on tour together and it was great! The last leg of the tour was in Florida and we always sang the encore together! He went to the monitor guy asking for a second microphone and came on stage. In 1987 I could not speak English that well, so we were just like “Hi, great show”, but in 2000 we really got much closer and became really good friends.
In “Raise Your Fist” you had the chance to work with many other musicians. As you said, you collaborated with Gus G from Firewind and Lemmy from Motörhead. How did it feel to work with legendary and new generation artists at the same time?
It’s great every time! It was a honour to work with somebody special like Lemmy. He’s my hero, I love Lemmy! We played together in the very early 80’s and now we were on tour together two years ago, and it’s great. He’s very soulful and a total gentleman, a great talker, a great musician. With younger generations, when people love music there’s always this common ground. With Alex Krull we always met in Wacken and he suggested that we do something together and his wife Liv Kristine, she was at my 25th Anniversary gig and performed on “Celebrate” along with all those great ladies that met on stage. And we all felt connected then. There is one song on the limited edition called “Strong And Proud” which I wrote to talk about this connection with all the female vocalists. I think it’s pretty cool because we’re all supporting each other and connected, there is a lot of unity.
An EP was released on August 3rd, to precede the upcoming album. The EP contains four songs and it includes also a French version of the single “Raise Your Fist in the Air”. Would you like to talk about the reasons of this choice and about the EP in general?
After I recorded the demo of the song, I played it to some people involved with Wacken. When they heard it they were very enthusiastic about it and wanted me to play it at the festival. It was not finished yet, but they really wanted it, so I was like, ok, I can try. Then I played it and I got a great response. Everybody’s fists were in the air. It was the first day and I played it in front of about 50,000 people, they all liked it, so I thought it could be a great single. Then I tried it out a couple of times when I played in Europe, in Moscow, and I also wanted to play it in Lyon, in France. I tried to say something in the native language, so I asked “How do you say ‘Raise your fist in the air’ in French?” and they told me “Lève Ton Poing Vers Le Ciel” and it was really cool! And then there is another story: one day I was introdued to a girl called Vanessa who really wanted to hear a song in her native language because she only speaks French. On my previous album I recorded several versions of “Herzblut”, like in Spanish and in Portuguese, so I also made one in French and I dedicated it to Vanessa. She was really happy! She has two sons and said “When I have a girl, I will call her Doro!”, which was really cool! I was very happy! So I decided to do another French version on this album.
The guitar player on “Raise Your Fist” is Luca Princiotta, an italian musician. How did you meet him?
I met him a couple of years ago. I was in Italy doing a little appearance for Clairvoyance. There I met Luca and I knew he was a great musician. Then joined us for the keyboard when Oliver Palotai was busy touring with Kamelot. We really got along and played many gigs, so he joined in as guitarist for the new album.
You have released also a video for the single “Raise Your Fist in the Air”. We know that you love the city of New York, but the video was shooted in the Bronx area. Why did you choose this place and how would you describe this experience?
It was quite an adventure, quite dangerous too! In New York it’s very hard to fill in to get a permission and stuff. So we were like, okay, you know what? We just go there with our truck. We go everywhere we want and when the police comes we just get back on our truck and run away! We went all over and then elsewhere too. We went to all kinds of neibourghoods in the Bronx and in Harlem, and while I was singing, suddenly people were coming up to see what we were doing. At a certain point there was like a gang, and we were like, “Oh God, sorry, we were just shooting a little video!”, but they liked the song although I think they were more into rap or that kind of music, so we asked them to join us and it was really cool! Everybody came in, we shot under a bridge, there were also some homeless people who showed up as well, even a guy who said he liked jazz but stopped all the same, and my band was in the video too, so… gang members, homeless people of New York, all united by music, it made all of it immediate. It was much fun!
You often play at metal festivals, such as the Wacken Open Air. What do you think about festivals and how is your relation with the fans during these events?
I love playing festivals. My first time playing in Wacken was in 1993 and there were maybe 2000 people. It was very small, just the area where now the bands’ dressing rooms are. And since then every four or five years I came back, and a certain point there were 20,000 people and the whole thing was going bigger and bigger. What I love so much was that the organisers of the festival were two die-hard metal fans, because no one wanted to do metal festivals in the early 90’s, so it was a festival from fans to fans, you can still feel it today. And the village near it, everybody is very welcoming to all the metalheads, back then somebody even welcomed us to sleep, which is really great because, you know, all those guys with long hair and tattoos and stuff… So I specially love Wacken, but I also love Gods of Metal, Metalcamp… I love it all, every festival is special in its on way. People from everywhere come and enjoy so much music, you can see all your friends, all those bands, all the fans of other bands, everybody has stuff to do but you can reconnect with the fans.
In 2006 you made your cinematic debut in the film “Anuk”. You returned to the set for the second part of this film that will be released at the end of 2013, and it is called “Anuk – The Path of the Warrior”. Would you like to talk about this film and the shooting? Is it true that the soundtrack will contains music from the upcoming album?
Yes. The producer is called Luke Gasser. He asked me for the movie and then I did some more music for the film, very different in a way, for there is not only words. We were doing the music together and I just came back for shooting the movie. It was a little more difficult than usual because I also had to do the promotion then go on tour. This is the second part to end “The Path of the Warrior”, it’s an adventure, the good guys against the bad guys, it’s set in 2000 BC. The first movie was a lot of fun! It’s an independent movie, the budget is not big, it’s just not like a Hollywood budget, but everybody put so much energy in it. It’s very demanding, getting up every day in 5 o’clock in the morning, then working hard for 16-18 hours a day, there were 50 horses, many people who did the stunts, I was filming often in the water so I also hoped I would not get ill – but I didn’t! On the last record, “I Lay My Head Upon My Sword” was for the movie.
You’re on the metal scene since the early 80’s. Is it difficult to hold the crown of Metal Queen for such a long time? What is changed since the beginning of your career?
Well, it’s so nice when people have good things to say about you, it makes me so happy! But actually I’m just a normal metalhead. I still love metal, I still love the fans. I just try to make the fans happy, which is the most important thing to me, it’s my mission. For so many years it’s been great and I owe much to the fans, they always support me in good and in bad times, like when grunge was big in music. I love my fans more than anything and it’s my aim in life to make fans happy and to give them something they can believe in and enjoy, give them some positive power. Now, being called a “Metal Queen” is such a big word, I just work each day to make something nice, but it’s only me, I still feel like when I started it all, when I was 22. It feels like 6-7 years ago, not certainly like 26 or 27!
Thank you so much for being here and replying our questions. Is there anything else you would like to say to your fans?
Yeah! The most important thing in this world to me, which will never ever change, is my love for them. I’m still there, I’m still giving 100%, and I want to say thank you to all of them! They give me all the energy and all the support, so… thank you so much, it’s very important to love each other!
Exclusive Photos shot by Anna Fortini