Twenty-five years is a long time to be doing anything. It is especially hard to last in the fickle here-today, gone-tomorrow world of rock and roll, but that is exactly what the German metal queen Doro Pesch has managed to accomplish. For twenty-five years, DORO has been a testament to hard work, dedication and perseverance. She has recently released her latest CD titled "Fear No Evil". It is perhaps her strongest collection of songs in many years. Don't believe me? Just check out "Celebrate", "Night Of The Warlock" and the beautiful duet with Tarja Turunen on "Walking With The Angels". Great stuff! I have interviewed DORO many times and have always been blown away by the passion and enthusiasm she has for her music and the love and respect she has for her fans. Not only that, but through it all she remains humble and above all else is one of the nicest people you will ever meet. Recently, I had the opportunity to chat with DORO about a plethora of subjects.
First let me congratulate you on the new CD "Fear No Evil". It's really great! In your words, how would you describe the overall sound and feel of the disc?
DORO: “I think, it came out really well. It's a little bit heavier than the previous records and it's a little bit more metal. It has some super die-hard songs on it and in general, it has a good mix of beautiful anthems, like "The Night Of The Warlock", "Celebrate" and "Running From The Devil". It has some special moments on it, too like "25 Years" and it has more of an epic, bombastic, nice sound. Every record you just did is usually the favorite, because you feel so attached to it. This one I think came out so nice and I think it has all the ingredients between super heavy, old traditional eighties metal style and new modern sounds. I think, it sums up all these years. Also, the art work came out really nice. It was done by Geoffrie Gillespie again. He's my favorite painter.”
You mentioned, that it's a heavier direction. Did you go into the studio thinking that you wanted to make a heavier album?
DORO: “When I start an album sometimes I have some ideas, but usually I always follow my good feeling, my instincts. Then while I'm in the studio, certain things develop or come up while you do things, that's when it takes shape or form. I had three songs in mind, that I wanted to write, they were "Celebrate", "Night Of The Warlock" and "Walking With The Angels". These three songs I wanted to write, because of the 25th anniversary. I wanted to have an anthem, where everyone can sing along. I wanted to write "The Night Of The Warlock", because we were building a stage set for the 25th anniversary show. It’s a real Warlock for the first time. Usually, it's always the backdrop, so I wanted to write a song, especially for the Warlock. With "Walking With The Angels", I wanted to write a hopeful, spiritually uplifting song - that was the foundation, then everything else came about later. Sometimes, I have a little outline, but then it takes about a year or a year-and-a-half. Sometimes you start somewhere, but then you end up somewhere else. I always feel it out. It's always such an adventure and a great challenge.”
Another highlight on the CD is the duet you did with Tarja Turunen (ex-NIGHTWISH singer) on the song "Walking With The Angels". How did that collaboration come about?
DORO: “I was always a big fan of NIGHTWISH. I saw the band perform live at Wacken in 2002 and I thought she is an amazing singer. We also have a friend in common, Regina Halmich. She was the third year world boxing champion and I did two walk-in anthems for her. Last year she finished her career and I wrote a song for her, called "The Queen". While I was there and one day before I met Tarja, she was performing a song as well before the fight, we were talking and we really got along great. We said it would be beautiful, if we could ever do something together. Then a couple of months later when I was starting the album, I wrote "Walking With The Angels" with a very good friend of mine, Joey Balin - he was the guy, who produced the "Triumph & Agony" album and the "Force Majeure" record. I called up Tarja and I said: “Well, I have a song, which I think would be perfec”. I think, Tarja has this great angelic voice, so I sent her the song. She called me back and said: “Oh man, I love it, let's do it!”. She had one song, she wanted me to be a duet partner on as well. It's called "The Seer". I did my vocals for "The Seer" and she did her vocals for "Walking With The Angels". We performed both songs on the 25th anniversary and I think, it was one of the absolute highlights!”
You also worked with Joey Balin once again, as you mentioned. How was it working with him again?
DORO: “It was pretty good. We were really, really good friends, but in the years when metal wasn't doing so well, we kind of lost track of each other. He came with his brother to a show, we did on the "Warrior Soul" tour (the tour we did with Chris Caffrey), then the next show he came again. That was at the Highline Ballroom in New York. We said: "Hey, let's try to see, if we still have good chemistry" and then actually I think we really had. We did like four or five songs together and two songs made the album "Celebrate" and "Walking With The Angels".
"Celebrate" is another obvious highlight, featuring a who's who of metal singers. What was it like having all of those talented metal singers on the song?
DORO: “Yeah, oh man, it was so much fun! I'll quickly tell you how it came about. I wanted to write a song for the 25th anniversary and when we wrote "Celebrate", I thought it would be so nice to have a great choir on it, like on "All We Are" and "True As Steel". I contacted all of the fan club members and we recorded the chorus vocals and the background vocals - we recorded that in Germany in Bochum. The engineer said: “Well, give me enough stuff I can choose from..”. Sometimes we had ten people singing, sometimes fifty people singing, sometimes just the men, sometimes just the women. While all the girls were singing, I thought “Wow, this sounds so great” and I thought I would like to do a full-metal female version of the song. I flew to London, England and I gave the girls from GIRLSCHOOL the demo of "Celebrate" and I said: “Well, just check it out, if you guys have time” and they actually sang it right away in the studio and they sent it back. I thought it sounded really great! Then I contacted my friends or people I was on tour with, like for example from BENEDICTUM, the singer Veronica Freeman, they were the opening band on our last European tour, and we are great friends, so I thought that Veronica would be great on it. Then my old friend Sabina Classen from HOLY MOSES, which I know from the early eighties and Angela Gossow from ARCH ENEMY. I also contacted Floor Janssen from AFTER FOREVER. Actually, we are really good friends and I sang one duet with her on their last record as well. So I invited all of my friends and people I have a history with. There are many, many more ladies, I would have liked to have involved, but we had a short amount of time, so I contacted all the girls you see on the single. Then I went to see SAXON on a festival and I gave Biff (Byford) a version of the demo as well and I asked him, if he was up for some singing on it and then Biff's vocals came and I thought he did a great job on it. So we did three versions, one with the fans, one with Biff from SAXON and the full-metal female version and that came out as a single. It was the most successful single, we ever had! In the Spanish charts it spent many weeks at number 5 and then it went to number 3. For a metal single, that is actually unbelievable. We never had a top 10 single before. I feel really attached to that single. It was one of the most successful and the most fun to make!”
I can definitely picture that song being a live concert favorite for years to come. Tell me a little about the single for "Celebrate".
DORO: “Oh yeah, yeah. We did it one time and it was great. "The Night Of The Warlock", which is on the single as well. I also wrote a song with Jean Beauvoir for the single. It's called "Rescue Me". I think, the whole single is really nice and it's definitely worth it to get both the single and the album. But yeah, "The Night Of The Warlock"… I felt, that it's good for the first single, too. Everybody kind of knows the song before we play it. It was actually the song, where the Warlock came up behind the drum riser. It was I think a huge spectacular moment.”
How has the feedback been from fans and media to "Fear No Evil"? DORO: “I think so far it's been wonderful. I haven't heard anything bad and I'm always happy, when I read good things and to hear that some people really dig it. So far I've gotten really good feedback. The album charted in Germany at number 11 in the regular album charts. It was almost top 10, but for it to be at 11, that was unbelievable. The last record, that charted so high, was the "Force Majeure" record in '89. That went to number 5. Then all the other albums were usually top 20, but never that high. I'm hoping, that it will do good in the States. It's coming out the 2nd of June. I'm glad, that we can have a good amount of time to prepare things. We want to get on tour there, right after the summer, in September. We might play a couple of festivals in the States too. Our booker is working on it, so I think that is good timing.”
The video for "Herzblut" is a cool looking clip. Why did you choose that song and will there be any other videos?
DORO: “The record company believed in that song so much and they said: “Let's do a video”. I was really surprised, that they wanted to do one. I didn't even think, that it would be possible anymore, but the record company wanted to give that song a try. Actually, we recorded the whole concert, the 25th anniversary concert on the 13th of December and it is like three and a half hours long, so we definitely have some more chances to do some more videos out of it. I would love to do "Celebrate" or "Walking With The Angels", but we still have to talk with the record company to see if that's possible to get a second video. But yeah, there’s a lot of great footage there. There will definitely be a DVD from the concert. An MTV type of video I think would be perfect. It's in the making, but not 100% confirmed, but "Celebrate" or "Walking With The Angels" would be the next one.”
I wanted to ask you about the 25th anniversary concert last December. I have heard some amazing things about the show. Was it everything you expected?
DORO: “Oh god, Tony yes. It was actually a really big challenge. We had the 20th anniversary in my home town of Dusseldorf, Germany as well, but it was in the Philliphalle and there were about seven thousand people there. With the 25th anniversary show, we thought “How can we top it?”, because the 20th anniversary went really well, everything just fell into place, we had so many people, so many guests came. So we wanted to try to do as good or top it. I thought, I wanted to have all my best friends and inspirations come. I contacted many, many people. Warrel Dane from NEVERMORE came. He was actually the one with the longest trip. I think, he had like a fifteen hour trip from Seattle. He also used to sing in SANCTUARY. We toured with them and MEGADETH in 1988 and it was our first big tour, so I thought it would be great if he could come. Bobby Blitz (OVERKILL) was there. I admire him and I think he is one of the best singers and front people. Jean Beauvoir was there and Tarja Turunen was there as well. Tarja and I sang two songs together "Walking With The Angels" and "The Seer". All the girls from the full-metal female version of "Celebrate" were there, except for Veronica. She couldn't make it, but we will definitely sing the song in the States, I suppose when we are on tour there. One of the highlights was when we had a little bit of a reunion with the WARLOCK guys. We played about a half-an-hour set and that was really exciting. We performed "Rock You Like A Hurricane" and "Big City Nights" with two guys from the SCORPIONS, Klause Meine and Rudolph Schenker. We've had a long, long history together. The first time we played together on a festival was in 1986 at the Monsters of Rock festival and ever since we have been great friends. I was so happy, that they could come and celebrate with us. It was definitely our longest show,. It was like three and a half hours long and stage-wise, I had a big castle and old ruins. There was a back drop. It actually took a year to build the whole set and then the Warlock appeared during "Night Of The Warlock" and that's like the biggest sculpture you can imagine. It's really huge. We can probably only take him out on the festivals. We will play Wacken this year and the Wacken people said: “Yeah, let's definitely see, if we can have the sculpture come to the festival”, but in a smaller club it's impossible. I think, it was definitely one of the best shows we've ever done and definitely one of the longest. People from all over the world came, from America, New Zealand, Mexico, Spain, England, France, Greece and a lot of German fans. I couldn't sleep two weeks before the show took place. I think, I was working like twenty hours a day, sometimes even twenty-four hours. There was like no sleep and the whole thing was so demanding, but when the show went so well, I was really happy. It was like a big, big challenge. It took everything out of me and everything out of all the people involved, the band, the road crew. I think, we never had so many road crew people and security people. I would love to bring it over to the States one time, but it's probably impossible, but we will definitely do a DVD out of it for everybody to see. I saw some of the footage and it looks and feels awesome!”
The footage I saw of you performing "Always Live To Win" with Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth from OVERKILL was great! He did the song so good, it's like the song totally fit his voice. Any other highlights from the show?
DORO: “Yeah I thought so, too. All of the guests, we had so much fun! They came to the sound check. Some of the guests came one day earlier. The singer for GRAVE DIGGER Chris Boltenthal was there. Another friend of mine, AXEL RUDI PELL came. We were actually on the same label together, Mausoleum. He had a band called STEELER, then he went solo and he's one of the most famous guitar players in Germany. I must say, that I wanted to thank all of the fans and all the guests. It was so wonderful! And of course my band too for learning, something like fifty songs. We had a never ending setlist. It was one of the happiest days in my life, I must say. Regina Halmich came on stage to announce me and the band and she made such a nice speech about my whole career. Of course we played one of her walk-in anthems "She's Like Thunder". In the end everyone came on stage and even though the stage was huge, the people almost fell off stage, because there were so many people coming on stage, like all the bands. Some bands didn't perform that night, but they came anyhow as guests and then we sang "All We Are" together.”
Are you familiar at all with the WARLOCK tribute CD that's out there, "Tribute To Steel"?
DORO: “Yeah, yeah Tony, I am. I didn't listen to every song yet, but I heard that it's out. I actually got a copy.”
So you didn't have any input to it?
DORO: “No, the people did it all by themselves. Actually, somebody wanted to do it in Poland and we had some contact going, but then somebody else did it. I thought, that was such a nice idea and it came right in time for the anniversary show. It made me very happy and I think all of the bands on it did their best. I was actually very touched by it. I thought that's so cool, that after twenty-five years it's so nice, that people take the time and effort to do the songs.”
While we're on the subject of WARLOCK. Do you think you will ever perform with them again or possibly record?
DORO: “Yeah actually, we have one show coming up in Spain. It's a huge headline show in the summer. It is at the Metalway festival in Zaragosa on June 26th. There are many acts on there, like TWISTED SISTER and MOTORHEAD.”
Who is in WARLOCK? Is it the "True As Steel" line-up?
DORO: “Yeah, except Frank the bass player. He gave up music and he doesn't want to play anymore, so Nick (Douglas, DORO's bass player) is doing that show. And then Niko Arvanitis, Peter Szigeti, Micheal Eurich and myself.”
What are your future touring plans?
DORO: “We are going on tour in the next couple of days with SAXON. It's a whole tour of the U.K. It's always a great treat to play with SAXON, since they were my absolute idols, when I was starting out. I love their new record, so I am very happy that we are touring together. The first show is on the 23rd of April in London. Before that on the 20th of April, there is a viewing of the IRON MAIDEN movie in London, so I will be there as well. I did an interview with Bruce Dickinson for his radio show in London on the BBC, then we talked about it and he invited me to see the movie, so I am going there in the next couple of days and then we are doing the U.K. tour. After that, we will do a couple of dates in Germany and Spain. Spain is definitely one of our biggest territories. Then we will play in Russia and we will go to China again. We were in China last November/December and it was so great! It was so different, but we got invited back. After China, we will go back to Germany, Russia, then we will play Wacken, that is on July 31st. After that, we are coming to the States and I am hoping, that we will play some festivals. Then in September we will play a whole tour.”
You are also playing the Metal Female Voices festival in Belgium, right?
DORO: “Yeah, that's October 18th in Wieze, Belgium in the Oktoberhallen. I think, Tarja will play there as well. I don't know, if we will play the same day, because usually it is a two-days festival. But yeah, we will definitely play the female voices festival again. I played there before and it's was a lot of fun!”
Thanks for taking the time to do this, DORO. As always, it was my pleasure. Do you have anything you would like to add to this interview or say to the fans? The final words are yours.
DORO: “I want to say thank you so much to everybody, who supported us for all these years. It is deeply appreciated and the fan base and all the fans, they were always my main motivation and inspiration. I love the fans more than anything else in the world and I'm hoping to see them very soon on tour. The fans will always be the most important thing in my world and my life. I hope, that they will like the new songs and I hope that I will see them all on the upcoming tour. Thanks to everybody so much!”
Visit DORO's official website at: www.doropesch.com/
DORO Rocks; the US fanclub www.dororocks.net/
or My Space: www.myspace.com/doroband