INTERVIEW – The Queen of Metal, DORO PESCH
By Shane Pinnegar
I recorded this interview with the legendary German Queen of Metal DORO in early 2011, and a computer crash rendered it lost forever… or so we thought. Thankfully some intense tinkering has resurrected it just about intact, so here, from the archives, is the long lost ROCKPIT – DORO interview!
Throughout the interview Doro talks passionately yet quietly, breathily – and our allotted twenty minutes somehow mushroomed to forty. Although Ms Pesch was on the line to talk up her at-the-time just-released “25 Years In Rock” Box Set, comprising a DVD, CD and photo booklet, which is a magnificent document of Doro's live and a worthy tribute to her long career, [CLICK HERE FOR REVIEW] she was more than happy to delve deep into her career and personal life, even being so gracious as to record a birthday wish for my daughter, whose birthday is just a couple of weeks after her own.
My sincere apologies to Doro that this interview was lost for so long, but I hope presenting it in it’s entirety here now, almost a year later, will make some amends - enjoy…
SHANE: Hello Doro – thank you for taking the time to talk to THE ROCKPIT
DORO: Hey Shane, this is Doro
SHANE: ‘25 Years In Rock’ - the trailer looks amazing, you must be really happy with that?
DORO: Yeah, but Shane the whole DVD took like six, seven hours, but you haven’t seen the whole DVD yet Shane, just the trailer?
SHANE: Yeah, I haven’t seen the whole thing yet, but the trailer does look great, but I’m getting the DVD next week...
DORO: I think it came out so nice and it was just a joy to work on it and to do the concert [for my] 25th year [in rock] - that was actually the main part and there’s many, many more highlights on it and reviews and backstage parts. Like one documentary is one and a half hours long and it just came out really good because we had such really a nice time and the whole package is really great, and it is one of the best DVD’s we ever did!
SHANE: Excellent, you sound really excited so it must be really good.
DORO: Yeah, it’s actually coming out here and yesterday we had the release party, and afterwards, just partied, drinking and having fun…
SHANE: (laughs) Well that’s always good. The show that you filmed for the DVD, how big was the crowd?
DORO: The crowd was about eight, nine thousand people, and it was in a beautiful venue, it looked a little bit like Madison Square Gardens, in Germany of course, so it was just like a whole town and excellent venue ya - it’s like an ice sport hall where the ice hockey teams play and it was pretty big.
SHANE: Fantastic. It looks amazing so I’m looking forward to watching it. [It IS amazing – if you don’t already have it, dear readers, go and get it NOW!!]
DORO: Wait until you see the whole thing! I think for all the guests and all the fans, it was a magical evening I must say, and it was my longest show ever, we cut off for the DVD some stuff from the sets, I think three songs we couldn’t fit with some technical stuff, but it’s [pretty much] the whole show. Ya, it was definitely magic, and people from all over the world came to the show from Mexico, Australia and Argentina, like from all over, it was an assortment there, they had flags and everything! Afterwards I was having a talk to the fans and you know, some people said ‘Yeah that’s awesome’ and I said ‘You’re so kind’.
SHANE: Magic. You’ve had such an amazing career, twenty five years, do you have any regrets?
DORO: No Shane, it was, I mean it was always hard, like it was always a fight, like every year. But it was the best, and I’m totally dedicated to the music, and so dedicated to the fans, and I never, ever regretted it. It was always like, sometimes you have to go through hell but then you know, when you see like the happy faces when you’re looking at the fans then you know, or you want to get something out of it and you feel like empowered or something.
DORO: But that’s awesome, so nothing was ever too painful which would stop me doing it, but it was hard and, wow… 27 years now, ya, it was still sometimes hard, it was never easy, but you know, you get rewarded in so many ways, so it’s great, it’s fantastic.
SHANE: Has it got easier now? Are you more accepted?
DORO: Yeah, I feel after doing it so many years maybe people know that you’re not going away so quickly and in the beginning when we had our first one or two records all the people said ‘Yeah, it’s like you know, the flavour of the month’ or ‘They’re a one hit wonder’ and all that, you know. But now after twenty six years I can say we are here, and people yeah, people respect us more, like the fans. I’ve always had a great relationship with the fans, the fans have been awesome. Industry people, they are always, ‘Lets see how long they’re going to last’ or ‘How long that girl will last’, in the beginning…
SHANE: Well, they know you’re not a novelty anymore - they can’t get rid of you!
DORO: Yeah exactly [laughs] No matter what it takes… you know it was great to be a witness to the 80’s when we just became bigger and bigger… when we started, we didn’t even know then we were doing heavy metal, we just played, you know, and they said ‘Hey you guys are a heavy metal band’ and I said Óh that sounds cool!’ [both laugh] and then we started to see more magazine covers [dedicated to heavy metal], and then later on, so it was a great time, it was growing and growing and then in the 90’s there was such a big thing, you know, such a big surprise and a big shock when grunge took over.
So then like we became like smaller and smaller and wow, and then the records didn’t come out anymore, so that was quite a big shock! I must say now I am really happy because I guess I can appreciate it now even more so than I could in the 80’s when, you know, everything goes great and it’s always going up. You never know what you have until stuffs not going so well and in the 90’s, yeah it was definitely tough!
But 1999, I got the first phone calls again and the first festivals and tour offers and then I thought wow, I can’t believe it but then I guess maybe we really are coming back.
SHANE: Yeah. We’re back!
DORO: We’re back and it’s so great!!!
SHANE: You had a lot of big stars guesting at the show, as people will see on the DVD, did you have to turn anyone down? Was there a big queue of people wanting to be a part of this?
DORO: Oh actually, yeah, one year before the concert took place we started to prepare for the show and to check which venue and who would make a tour. So I called up all the people who meant something to us or who had toured with me, or people I grew up with - I grew up with The Scorpions and we played together in 1986 at the legendary ‘Monsters Of Rock’ festivals so I called up Rudolph [Schenker] and said ‘We’re celebrating our 25th anniversary and it would be so great if you guys could celebrate with us’, and he said ‘Yeah, let’s see when we are not on tour’. And he called me back and said ‘Yeah, Doro we’re coming’, and I couldn’t believe it, it was such a big honour! I guess I could have called even more people because so many people were so good, you know, they treated us so good – [everyone] was like, YEAH! But I tried all the people I should have and who would be interested…
There was a couple of people like Motorhead who were there at my Twentieth anniversary, but I knew Motorhead were on tour, but I called them but they were like ‘Oh you know, we’re on tour’
SHANE: It must be a nice feeling knowing that you’re so well respected by these guys that they’ll make the effort to come out and join in this big celebration show with you?
DORO: Ya Shane, ya, that’s, that’s awesome, you know, and it was actually so nice to feel all their support, all of the fans that night, it was so awesome, all the musicians, all the big stars. It was just so supportive and definitely giving it their all and tried to make the event really magical and they were all like so nice to the fans and even after the show, we had a big party and everybody was there and talking to the fans. It was so great and I really appreciated it - they said they wanted to make me feel so good and the fans as well and yeah, they wanted to make this night really, really awesome and that was great, most definitely. I played so many sets and I know how it is, usually, the artist when you are there, you play a gig and then you leave and you know that’s it, and that night everyone stayed and partied, until six or seven o’clock in the morning.
SHANE: (laughs) Nice.
DORO: So it was no rush, nobody was rushing off, and I couldn’t believe it, it was awesome for me and being a real metalhead, with so many metal fans and it’s just like, wow, it was so great!
SHANE: (laughs) How does it feel to be the undisputed Queen Of Metal?
DORO: Oh Shane, I get embarrassed !!
DORO: Its so nice when so many people have said really nice things, it’s like, it’s awesome, it always makes me feel so happy when I hear those things.
DORO: And I understand not everybody likes every song, or they like other bands so I just concentrate on the people who like our music or like me and then when they have something nice to say that’s so nice.
SHANE: On the DVD, you’ve got the 1986 Warlock line up doing a few tracks, is a full scale Warlock reunion something you’d ever consider?
DORO: Ya Shane, maybe for some festivals, we did actually one big festival in Spain where we could be headliner, that was last year , that was actually fun. But the original line up, with the bass player, she gave up music like 20 years ago and she said she definitely doesn’t want to do it anymore, so on this 25th anniversary DVD we had our bass player filling in for her – Frank, our first [bass player] didn’t want to play anymore - she was like ‘Please don’t make me play I can’t’!
And we have to respect that, so it’s actually hard to get everybody, but it wouldn’t be possible [unless] Nick was there to play the bass. It would be cool but so far there’s nothing planned, but not a whole tour because everybody has regular jobs.
But festivals would be, yeah, so much cooler.
SHANE: You keep your personal life pretty private, do you have to work pretty hard to manage that?
DORO: Oh Shane, actually there is no personal life, what you see is me!!
SHANE: You just live and breath metal, do you?
DORO: Yeah [laughs] – 24 hours a day! I made a conscious decision to, yeah, to stay dedicated to my fans and to the music and I definitely don’t want to get married and I don’t want to start a family. That’s just definitely my family, it’s a little bit different because it’s not in a conventional way, but I feel that we are all a big family and everywhere I go in the world I feel at home and always feel at home. That’s where I wanna be, and that’s definitely where the heart is, with the fans.
SHANE: Well you’ve got family here whenever you come Down Under again.
DORO: Oh yeah? Awesome.
SHANE: I think it was 2003 that you toured Australia?
DORO: Yup, yup, something like that ya, it was so many years ago already.
SHANE: I know, we need to get you back.
DORO: Oh it was just so good! And it could be [good to tour Australia again], I definitely want to come back.
SHANE: And I believe recently you trained and you’re now a tattoo artist?
DORO: Oh ya just on the side, just for fun, I had a fan of mine say ‘Oh can you give me a tattoo?’ because it was like the 2,500th concert in March and I said ‘Are you sure?’ and she said ‘Yes’ and she said that she was a tattoo artist and she had all the stuff there and she said ‘Yes, please do it, it will be great’ and then I did it and then she actually said ‘Ok lets maybe do it for a good cause’ here there is an organisation called A Heart For Children and then we said ‘You should get many fans to all say sign your signature on my arm and then I wanna have it tattooed next. So I thought ok, I could do it for a good cause and then we did it for somebody and yeah now there is so many other fans that say ‘I want that too’ and then we said, ok, lets do it, so whenever there’s time and so, and whatever makes the fans happy and yeah I think it’s just ok, you know. I’m not an expert, but I think it looks nice.
SHANE: Your album covers are excellent examples of contemporary fantasy art, have you had any fans ask you to tattoo one of your cover pictures of you onto them?
DORO: [laughs] Actually, I may just stick to my signature and you know, and write some. But I’ve got, you know, I think I haven’t got no time for that, you know, I mean it’s a lot of work and a friend of mine, many asked if she could tattoo the new DVD cover and she said ‘Man it takes a lot of time’.
SHANE: Oh I’ll bet.
DORO: So, I think I wouldn’t even want to try it because I wouldn’t want to have somebody look like a bad comic book [laughs] - I couldn’t live with myself! So I’m going to just leave that to the experts.
SHANE: [laughs] Fair enough. “Fear no Evil” is a great album, one of your best I think. Have you started working on a follow up studio album yet?
DORO: Yeah Shane, I’m juggling around with some ideas and I’m going to concentrate on a new one next year, after the tour is over we have to do the Motorhead tour, which is actually starting in a week and then we tour until the end of the year and then I’ll totally concentrate on a new album. I have some ideas already, and I was so happy with the “Fear No Evil” album you know, so it might end up in that vein maybe - but sometimes we start somewhere and then it comes out totally different! But [that album is] something that was I was very, very happy with, so I hope it’s another nice one that the fans will love!
SHANE: Oh I’m sure you’ve got a couple more left in you Doro.
DORO: Yeah I have, definitely, at least twenty more I hope!
SHANE: I hope so too.
DORO: As long as the fans really like, and as long as we are happy and healthy that’s no problem yeah.
SHANE: Absolutely. Now you said earlier that you recently clocked up your 2,500th show which is just an incredible number of gigs - apart from the 25th Anniversary Show featured on the new DVD, which of those shows have stood out as really defining moments in your career?
DORO: I think the 2,500th show was definitely, it was very great and that was actually the longest show ever that we ever played - I think three hours and twenty minutes! The 25th Anniversary show I think was two hours long, and that one was even longer and just so special and everything. In ’86, the ‘Monsters Of Rock’ Festival in Donington in England, that is definitely one of the highlights of my life, and the great big tours with (can’t transcribe 20:31) in ’87 and in ’86 with Judas Priest – that was my first and biggest tour. You can imagine in the 80’s when I was opening for them - it was unbelievable! And I think the Wacken festivals, yeah they were very special - the one we did with the orchestra, and we did the DVD from that. And I think that was in 2005, it was pretty massive… and to be honest, whether it was small or big or or a festival, I treat them all like it could be the last show and like every show should be the best rock n’ roll show for the fans and it doesn’t matter if it’s in front of a big crowd or on a big stage.
Every show I try to perform like the best one, so every show is important, yeah, sometimes some little shows are [really special]. Just like on the last America tour and we got told we can’t play, and the club was packed, and I said ‘Why?’ - and they said because there’s not enough electricity and it’s so small, you know! It’s like a little punk club, and I said ‘Really?’ and then they said ‘Yeah you can’t play’! And then I looked at the club and the club was really, really small and it was like in an industrial part of town, nothing was going on, just old factories which didn’t run anymore and I thought ‘Hey’… and it was a Sunday of course! So I said ‘Let’s get some more electricity in and lets play’ and then they said ‘It’s too dangerous’ and so on, and I said ‘Lets try it’ and yeah, and then we did and it was for like maybe one hundred people, but the club was packed and it was one of the best shows ever!
SHANE: [laughs] Great.
DORO: It doesn’t matter, I like it, you know! Sometimes you know when you have to fight against all odds, that’s so much fun to, you know when you survive that’s even better, so yeah, so all our shows there, like yeah, it’s always a big honour to play in front of the fans and I want to make it as good as I possibly can.
SHANE: Your lyrics have always been very uplifting, going right back to Warlock days, does that positivity and strength come from the health scare you had as a teenager? [When Doro was 16 she fell ill with a mystery disease that took doctors a long time to properly diagnose as pulmonary tuberculosis. The illness forced her into hospital for almost one year, during which time she made a promise to herself – if she gets well, she will dedicate herself to her only real passion: MUSIC]
DORO: Ah yeah, Shane, I don’t know, maybe… maybe it had something to do with it because when you come that close to dying then, you know, you have a different perspective.
Then you’re so happy and you know – [it’s a] new day and I can totally sympathise with people who have a difficult life. I totally tend to know how they feel, what they feel, all kinds of problems, you know… you never know exactly, but I kind of get an idea and then, yeah, I feel that for me maybe it is more important to me to write uplifting songs.
I think some people… when I give positive energy or hope, I think that’s very important and I want to definitely continue that. Even the song ‘I’m Dying’ - that was on when my Dad died, and I was devastated, but I was totally, [the song] blew my mind and it was so painful [at the same time] and then I thought ‘Wow, I definitely want a life so devoted to give to other people’.
That positive energy [helped] to be able to survive that great, great loss and so yeah I concentrate sometimes on these things and I mean I love loud music when it’s just about rock n’ roll and a great riff, some rock lyrics, but yeah - some deep and meaningful lyrics on each album, that’s important too.
SHANE: Absolutely. If I’m in a bad mood, I’ll go listen to Slayer for a little while to get that aggression out safely, but…
DORO: Ya, ya...
SHANE: …But if I’m in a good mood, I wanna be listening to - you summed it up when you just said positive energy I think, and a lot of your albums really have positive energy.
DORO: Yeah, oh that’s good, that’s good, and as I must say, like you just said, you know, when sometimes you are in a bad mood, like when I listen to Slayer that’s like the best! Yeah, I think, yes sometimes it can be positive for you when you think about it or you talk about the devil and so on, but I think that is something that only metal heads understand. [laughs]
SHANE: [laughs] Yeah, I think so too!
DORO: But sometimes I think it’s very important to reach a soul. Like one time, it was at a concert and the stage was extremely low so the people could like come up and could talk and there was one guy and he looked like he had a really rough life and he said ‘Can I just talk to you?’ and I said ‘Yes, what is it?’ and it was between songs and I said ‘Oh please say it quick’…
He said ‘I just wanted to tell you that I just survived because of your music’ and I said ‘Really?’ and I said ‘In which way do you mean?’ and he said ‘I just got out of jail, I was twenty years in jail’ and I said ‘Really?’ and then I said ‘So what would you like to hear?’ You know, I didn’t ask what he did and that was probably not so cool, but you know, when people tell me things, like how they got good energy to survive certain things, and that’s a great feeling…
SHANE: It must be very powerful?
DORO: Yeah, yeah, but I feel the same, I was always like, I got so uplifted by Ronnie James Dio’s music - oh man, the first time when I heard ‘The Last In Line’, that inspired me so much!
And even before then, when I grew up, there wasn’t any heavy metal and I remember there was one song that made me get into music and that was Little Richard and ‘Lucille’. I think I was like three years old and I listened to that song and from that day on I wanted to become a singer and then many, many years later I started my first band and I think, that was the key, that song of Richard’s.
DORO: And I never met him in my life, and always wanted to meet him. His energy, wow, in that song, that did it [laughs].
SHANE: So talking about Ronnie James Dio, it was so sad when he passed.
SHANE: Do you think there is anyone out there who can possibly fill the gap that he’s left?
DORO: Look Shane, I don’t think so. I think he was so, so one of a kind, so loving and so unique and so talented, so I think nobody could fill that gap. I think his spirit is still here and that people who knew him or people maybe who know his music I think, we will all keep it alive, and the musicians.
You know sometimes it’s so sad, like when you feel like you know that metal heads who are thirteen or fourteen years old, you know, never had a chance to see him live, so I think it’s important to play [his music], especially now - it’s about his music and his legacy and I think he definitely inspired so many people.
SHANE: Oh, absolutely, yeah.
DORO: I must say, I loved him so much and in ’87 I couldn’t speak English when we did the first tour, we just said ‘Have a good show’. Oh great! But in 2000 we really became good friends when we toured in America and there was a three month tour and for the last couple of shows it sold out, we always thanked and said ‘Oh long live rock and roll’ and oh it was so good, actually these photos are actually in the booklet of the DVD!
So, the last shows, and the DVD is dedicated to Ronnie James Dio
SHANE: And you’ve done a little bit of acting recently, is this something that you, you want to pursue?
DORO: Yeah Shane, that was like an independent movie with an independent movie maker, and like it’s hardcore and low budget for people who search their heart and soul for an idea or for a vision. It has a second part coming up maybe next year and the movie was called ANUK: THE PATH OF THE WARRIOR. Yeah, next year we probably plan another one and I’m allowed to write the film music again which was amazing because I always wanted to do something like that. I played the main part Meha. The Austrian movie maker, Luke Gasser - he’s good, I think! We did a couple of things together, so I like it - I don’t like the big classy Hollywood stuff, I like the cutting edge independent movie makers…
SHANE: After twenty five years you must have some amazing stories to tell, do you have plans for an autobiography?
DORO: Yeah, Shane, I first want to make many more records and then many more concerts and tours and festivals and yeah, I guess eventually, but not now. Even the DVD it took eight months to do, like every day, and even a book, it would take so much time and so maybe I’ll do records and go on tour and eventually of course [a book] because we have tons of great stories and some stories you wouldn’t believe! Sometimes I thought maybe I’ll write two books, one normal book and then one book where it tells the truth you know. [both laugh]
I guess it would be too shocking, you know, to the norm, to the masses, but yeah, maybe in the future…
SHANE: Looking at the track list on the DVD, you’ve got a whole bunch of some really rocking ladies performing on ‘Celebrate’, do you feel that women in rock and metal are finally accepted?
DORO: Yeah, yeah Shane, totally, totally! I think they’re greater in metal, like they’re great role models and just strong, powerful and have great personalities, great voices, very talented. I think, yeah it’s a great time. In the 80’s it was a little bit different but now it’s a great time and when Tarja Turenin gets so much success I think it’s a tremendous thing – Tarja is a tremendous singer - and I celebrate all the girls and ladies that [I’m lucky enough to have a] friendship or history or like something in common with. And that was so cool that everybody from a different metal genre from death metal, thrash metal to gothic metal to traditional metal, everybody’s been, you know, like in perfect harmony and I thought that was so great and yeah, I think the women are just, it was a great time and to be honest I never thought there was a different advantage when I started the first band - I think the fans knew I had metal in my heart! [laughs]
And I think it’s about talent - it doesn’t matter where you’re from, it doesn’t matter if you’re man or woman, but certainly now it’s a great time and many, many more woman are doing it now than in the 80’s.
SHANE: And it’s about time too.
DORO: Yeah, yeah, very so. Metal is much more tolerated now too than in the 80’s.
SHANE: If there’s one song or album in the history of rock that you could have gone back and had a help to create, what would it be?
DORO: Oh yes, I would say, oh, ahh, oh man that’s a hard question.
SHANE: There’s so many isn’t there?
DORO: Yes, sure, there is so many and it would be, I guess since we’re talking and you know, over in Australia… I’m a big AC/DC fan and when I was over there I was so excited to see all the clubs where AC/DC first played, I was amazed, yeah, so it would have to be AC/DC when Bon Scott was still alive.
Being there, and maybe just listening and just enjoying, and seeing what’s going on, that would have been great! I was a big Bon Scott fan, and I’m still a big AC/DC fan and I think the new singer is doing really great, but yeah man - Bon Scott, yeah!
I have never seen him live, so I would be just sitting in the corner of a studio just watching all the music going down and the creation and stuff and just listening to that, not helping, just enjoying it.
SHANE: Cool. We ask everyone we interview, what for you is the meaning of life?
DORO: For me, the meaning of life is being good to other people, and doing something positive, and hopefully the world would be a better place. You know, just doing positive things and using the talents God has given you to the fullest potential, to make everybody feel good and to make it a great place to live.
SHANE: Awesome. So if you could somehow go back in time and say one bit of advice to the sixteen year old Dorothy, who is in hospital on the brink of death, what would that bit of advice be?
DORO: Oh, it would be never, ever, ever give up. ALWAYS believe there’s a light at
the end of the tunnel and always keep a positive attitude and be there for other people.
You know, I think helps you to feel good when you do good stuff to other people, and when you make other people happy, and when you make other people feel good. But that’s for your own soul and just trying to keep alive with something that you love and yeah, being yourself and you know, making the best of what you’ve got, you know.
SHANE: Beautiful. Doro it has been a wonderful experience talking with you, thank you for your time, good luck with the DVD and the CD.
DORO: Ya Shane, to you as well, it’s such a great time talking with you – I hope we can come back and tour Australia, I hope that we can come back soon.
Thanks to Rachel Haniford for transcribing this epic interview!