Doro Pesch has always done things her way. Whether as one of the pioneering frontwomen of the ’80s in Warlock, or subsequently as a solo artist, to say that the German “metal queen” wears her heavy metal heart on her sleeve would be a vast understatement. So much so that half her life ago, she decided to forgo any thoughts of having a family life in order to devote all her time to her musical passion.
When her solo career looked to be a casualty of the grunge scene of the early ’90s, Pesch continued to make album after album true to her style of rock and metal, refusing to sell out to the changing demands of record companies. Even if it meant declining notoriety in the United States. Now, nearly 30 years after debuting with Warlock in 1984, Pesch’s career has been reinvigorated even though her love for it never wavered.
In the 14 months since we last spoke, plenty has happened to Pesch. Twelve months ago, her New York City-area home was ravaged by floods from Hurricane Irene. But on Nov. 6, Pesch will be releasing her 12th full-length solo album Raise Your Fist. From Jan. 28-Feb. 1, 2013, she’ll be performing on the third annual 70000 Tons of Metal cruise from Miami to Turks & Caicos. Mere hours after the ship docks back in Miami, she’ll head up to Tampa to kick off a U.S. tour with Sister Sin (see dates below).
No stranger to collaborations, Pesch teamed up with Sister Sin to do a video for Motorhead’s “Rock N’ Roll.” On Raise Your Fist, she once again teamed up with Motorhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister for the ballad “It Still Hurts.” Ozzy Osbourne and Firewind guitarist Gus G. appears on “Grab The Bull (Last Man Standing).” The CD also features fast and heavy tunes “Take No Prisoner” and “Little Headbanger,” as well as an ode to the late Ronnie James Dio called “Hero.” Click on the video for the title track in the box at left.
I phoned Pesch, 48, at her second home of New York earlier today:
Hello Doro! How are you doing?
Hi! Very good. Nice to talk to you, Jay! How are you doing?
I’m doing wonderful! It’s an absolute pleasure. Thank you for taking the time.
Q: I wanted to congratulate you on the new album. It’s fantastic. I want to start with the first track, “Raise Your Fist in the Air.” Were you trying to consciously write more anthem-type “All We Are” songs on this record?
A: No, not conscious-like. It was developing, and I had the demo. And I played it to the guy who was doing the Wacken Festival in Germany. He said, “Oh, great! Open up the festival with the Wacken anthem for metalheads. What a special song.” I said, “It’s not done, it’s not finished. I can’t.” But yeah, so I played it in Wacken for the third time last year, and actually it was great, like “All We Are.” I saw 60,000 fists in the air. Wow! I love how it came out, the inspiration. Magic. And I love playing it live.
Q: I know you make New York your home in the United States, and the video was shot there. It appears you have some homeless people appearing with you. Can you talk about how the New York scene tied in with the song?
A: We rented out a truck and thought, “Let’s go to all these cool places.” We were driving around going to all kinds of places. Under the bridge, and then the video director said, “Ooh, that looks really cool. Let’s try it.” We were humming out the song, and people were coming up. More and more people came up and were singing. One guy that you see in the video, he’s older. He’s wearing a white T-shirt. He’s 78. He said he loves jazz and then he said, “I love the church.” People were coming up to party. Then some gangs, and I thought, “Ooh, maybe we’ll get in trouble. We’re just trying to make a video.” Everybody joined in. It was so cool with all kinds of people. And we had some Wacken footage that we shot last year with all the metalheads. It’s awesome. Everybody had such a good time singing. It was a lot of fun.
Q: The album has a great mix with a few double-bass drum songs, the ballad with Lemmy, the song with Gus G., and the tribute to Ronnie James Dio. Do you feel this is one of your most well-rounded efforts?
A: Yes, it’s so hard to talk about a new album because you always want it to be the best and most exciting. It feels to me like another Triumph and Agony album. Great anthems. Guests like Lemmy. I love Lemmy very much, he’s been a friend for so many years. It was so great to do something together with him again. We did something together in 2000. I got chills.
When you and I spoke in August of last year, I asked about you performing on the 70000 Tons of Metal cruise. I was on the first two, but I’m not planning on going on the next one, and now you’re going to be there.
Q: But I was able to interview (Overkill singer) Bobby “Blitz” (Ellsworth) on the cruise this year and asked him about being on your 25th anniversary DVD. He said he has a crush on you professionally. Your thoughts?
A: Wow, it’s so overwhelming! Bobby said something so nice. I can just say I feel the same about Bobby. I think he’s one of the best front guys ever. I always get so much inspiration when I see him. His stage presence, his energy. I think his energy is the highest of any frontmen I’ve ever seen. Hearing something so nice, it’s great! I was so happy when he came to the 25th anniversary. He was the first guest on that show. It was a 3 1/2-hour show. I was hoping it would be alright. In a big show, you have to pay attention to so much stuff — the audience, the musicians. The whole stage show was huge. Bobby came out. He made me feel so relaxed and so good on the first song. Then afterwards, the whole show was flowing. He was just sending the right vibes. It was an honor to work with him. I always get inspired when the other people go full-out, and I always enjoy Bobby on stage. Yeah, professionally, what he said, it’s so great.
Q: Your tour begins when you step off the boat in Miami on Feb. 1 and head up to Tampa with Sister Sin. But you haven’t announced any Texas dates. Will you be coming to San Antonio?
A: Oh my God! I hope so because the last time I was in San Antonio, it was a small club, and we had so much fun. It was almost like a town club, like in a deserted area. It was so great! The guy who’s booking the tour — I don’t know. But the tour is long, so I will definitely ask him.
Q: You teamed up with Sister Sin in the video for Motorhead’s “Rock N’ Roll.” Do you listen to a lot of female-fronted bands today, and do you have any other favorites among them?
A: Yeah, I try to listen to as much as possible. When you’re in the studio and working on the record, 20 hours in the studio, it’s hard. But when you’re on tour, then I always try to listen to every demo I get or new record. I always like to pick and give them what I got, like so much support in the ’80s. I’ve never forgotten about them. It’s good to support each other. I think Angela (Gossow) of Arch Enemy does a great job. I love (ex-Nightwish singer) Tarja Turunen and the girls of Crucified Barbara. Crucified Barbara is one of my favorite all-girl bands. Power, energy, no matter where you’re from, no matter if you’re a man — I try to keep up with everything. Actually on the new record, on the limited edition, there’s a song called “Strong and Proud” for all the female rockers that I wrote with our bass player Nick Douglas.
Q: Some female artists past and present focus more on the sexual image side of rock, and some focus on families by either taking time off to raise families or bring them while they’re on tour. You have always been very unique in that you never started a family and never focused on the sexual image. You always focused on the music and your passion for the music. Do you ever look back and say, “What if I had done those things like everyone else?”
A: I made up my mind when I was 24, 25, to dedicate my life to music and to sing. What truly makes me happy, I don’t need those things. There are a lot of things — yeah, what would it have been like to get married and have babies? I wanted to be a singer. My dad was a truck driver, so I grew up with a truck, and I love to be on the road. I love to make people happy. To me, honestly, the fans — they are my family. (Click here for a live performance of “You’re My Family”). The fans, and the band, the road crew. When you see how it touches their heart — I made a conscious decision when I was 24 to do music till the day I die. I always give it my all. I hope I can do it when I’m 65. The band is in good shape. From touring and headbanging and jumping around on stage, I think I’m in better shape than I was when I was 18. As long as it makes people happy and feel good. I never want to do a goodbye tour, a farewell tour. I want to do it as long as I can till the day I die.
Q: I had heard about a month after we spoke the last time that your home was destroyed in Hurricane Irene floods. Were you able to salvage anything?
A: Yeah, actually, now, I’m sitting on my bed talking to you. It’s not back to where it was. It probably will never get back to where it was. Old pictures, magazines, beautiful gifts from fans, paintings the fans made which were unbelievable. They’re somewhere out there. But I feel good. I get to go on stage and do what I love to do. I don’t need much. From that experience, I came out better. It was bad, but it’s OK. It was a little bit shocking. Now I can totally, totally relate to people who had something happen in a storm or floods or fire where they lose everything. I can relate, and I think that’s a good experience. I’ll probably write a song eventually on that feeling. For this record, it was too fresh, too early. Now I know when things get a little bit hardcore, we’re blessed too.
Last time we spoke, you told me the story about your scream in “Touch of Evil” in the studio.
Q: And today, I was wondering, one of my favorite ballads of all-time from you is “Beyond The Trees.” That is such a very unique song. Do you have any reflections on how that song came about?
A: Yeah, I was working with Joey Balin, which, now I teamed up again with on the last Fear No Evil record and I asked him to finish with me the lyrics on the “Hero” song. Back then, we had the piano. It had a great sound, and I said, “I gotta have this!” The manager said, “No! Are you insane? You can’t do this. You’d give all the money to the PR label.” Then the song came out of the piano. Joe was playing it beautifully one night, and we finished it together. It was the magic of the piano sound, a vibration sound. It’s like a song for an angel, about an angel. Even in 1989.
Danke schoen, Doro! Thank you so much. Best of luck with the album and tour. I sincerely hope you can make it to San Antonio soon, and hopefully we can meet then.
Yes, Jay! I will definitely try my best to come and talk to you again. All the best, and see you guys soon. Thank you for all the support. It’s always a pleasure to talk to you.
- Doro 2013 tour dates with Sister Sin:
2/01- Tampa, FL @ Brass Mug
2/02- Atlanta, GA @ The Masquerade
2/03- West Springfield, VA @ Empire
2/04- New York, NY @ BB Kings
2/05- Baltimore, MD @ Soundstage
2/07- Toronto, ON @ Mod Club
2/08- Rochester, NY @ Montage Music Hall
2/09- Columbus, OH @ Al Rosa Villa
2/10- Cleveland, OH @ Peabody’s
2/12- Detroit, MI @ Blondie’s
2/13- Joliet, IL @ Mojoes
2/14- St. Paul, MN @ Station 4
2/15- Waterloo, IA @ Spicoli’s Grill and the Reverb
2/17- Englewood, CO @ Moe’s
2/19- Seattle, WA @ El Corazon
2/20- Portland, OR @ Hawthorne Theatre
2/21- San Francisco, CA @ Thee Parkside
2/22- West Hollywood, CA @ House Of Blues
2/23- Tempe, AZ @ Rocky Point Cantina
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