Doro Pesch

September 19, 2002

You're from Duesseldorf, Germany and you've been in the music industry for over 20 years. You're still going strong. How do you do it?

I always got all the inspiration and all the power from the fans. That's the big secret to all the things and I love music. I always wanted to become a singer since I was three years old. I tried to keep it going and I love it so much. Then when we started, it was because I love music so much. Then the fans, that was something that I had no idea about. That's like magic. All the fans kept me alive all these years. There's this strong bond like a deep bond, a real deep friendship. Even when there were really tough times I could always go on and get inspiration sometimes from memories or some things that people said or even when I looked in people's eyes and I knew the song was really, really getting to them. That would make me always want to go on.

Heavy metal has been considered a man's domain with very little room for female competition. When you first started out, did you have obstacles that you had to overcome in regards to that?

No, no, not at all. I really must say I think it's very difficult for every musician to popularize and to survive the music business. I think it doesn't matter if you're a man or woman. I really must say I had no more problems than other male musicians. I think it's what you make out of it. I always try to give 150% and believe in it and eventually it will happen. I think it really does not depend on what sex you are. Actually I think it's not even such a big deal to be a man or a woman. You feel like you're a human being. There's certainly only a few. That was true back then and still I think it's gotten a little bit more with all the great women out there. We're not so many.

Female bands tend to come and go like Drain STH. Is there some reason why they never seem to last long?

I think it's very hard to stay together as a band even for the men. I think it's almost like being married to somebody. When people don't get along anymore and when they have different tastes or want to go into different directions, I know it so well. I know it's very hard to keep a band together. Our band has been together for 10 years. Actually I must say it was a miracle but we get along really well and before that I had many lineups where there was always one person who was a little too ornery or something and it was very hard. I think because there's only so few women doing it and few women's bands, it's made it more obvious that it doesn't last forever. I think it's hard to keep a band and I think it doesn't have so much to do with it being all girls or something. It's hard for all musicians to keep your records and to keep it going. I remember in the '80s when we started, the name heavy metal wasn't even there. I know the first couple of years we did it because we loved it and the music we sang. Then a couple of years later people said "man you're a heavy metal band." It was great. We were really lucky when heavy metal became huge. The right timing and stuff and it all was so exciting. Then I went through the '90s where grunge was the biggest thing and then nobody wanted to support heavy metal anymore so much. It was really hard and so many bands broke up. It's probably a lot of work and dedication and luck and everything. I don't know. It's not easy. We do what we can like recording and touring but we need support from everywhere. Good record company, good management, or whatever. It's always like a little clockwork. I love it but I must say that's really why the record is called Fight because it was always a big fight for everything. For every song, for all the music, for your dreams, and every which way. Nothing came easy. It was all really hard work.

The best bands always stand the test of time such as yourself, KISS, Aerosmith, The Scorpions.

It's their spirit. They love what they do. I must say for a woman maybe there is a decision making point when a woman decides if maybe to have a husband and kids. I don't have one and I don't have kids. I think it must be very hard to make both. Making music and having a family. I don't know. It's very, very hard if not impossible.

You were in band called Warlock and released four albums with them. After that you went solo and your releasing your seventh album.

Could be. That sounds about right.

Why did you decide to go it alone?

I didn't. This wasn't even up to me. Our name Warlock got taken away by our former manager and he really practically stole the name. He had nothing to do with the name but he claimed that it's his. We went to court and the band lost. The manager was the merchandiser who wanted to sell his T-shirts so he had a lot of interest in keeping the name. I couldn't believe it but the judge gave him the name and that was the only reason why we called it Doro. Because I had to decide either keeping the record deal or not keeping it because the record company said another name would not be possible. Just call it Doro because they were afraid that nobody else would make the connection that Warlock is now a new band with a new name. They thought it wouldn't work so that was the thing. It was never really by choice. It was necessary to keep on doing the music.

What an asshole.

Yeah, all the bands have their stories. We were very young when we started. My drummer was 14 years old and it all started really nice and innocent and easy and fun. Then we signed all kinds of contracts and we signed our lives away. You have to pay for it eventually. I know every band has almost the same story. It's probably part of the deal I guess.

It's like you get a band together and then you have a fifth member. He's your attorney at law.

Yeah, that's right. I always thought in the beginning I was really, really innocent. I thought if somebody takes me I'll do this, then they do it. I only believe in handshake deals which I still do. I still love making handshake deals instead of signing a contract. I always think when it's down to the contract then somehow it's not good anymore. Back then I did some stupid things. The other people are not like me. They are business people. Definitely not naÔve. On the other hand I like to stay that way.

You were the first female to perform at the Donington Monsters Of Rock Festival. That must have been pretty kickass.

I tell you my knees were shaking and it was like 120,000 people. I had never played in front of so many people. It was in England and back then it was very important to make it in England because it was the ticket to go to America and now these days it's totally different. It doesn't mean anything anymore but back then you had to prove yourself in England before you even got the chance to go to America so it was so important and we were all so nervous. I threw up because I had so much stage fright. The show went amazingly. It was really good. After that tour we got the Judas Priest tour in Europe where we supported Judas Priest which were our total idols. It took off after that tour. It didn't matter that I was a woman but what mattered was that we were the first German band there. They had never had a German band there and it was unbelievable.

You did an album called Calling The Wild which featured musicians like Eric Singer and Slash among others. Was that a pretty cool project to work on?

Yes, very. I love working with other people, especially people that I admire. I was in the studio with Lemmy and it was amazing. We recorded with Lemmy and Eric Singer played the drums on these two songs and it was so good. I always like when I work with somebody and then we become great friends afterwards. That's great. I really like good people and you really do your best and there's a lot of inspiration but everybody is totally different. Everybody has their own magic and it's very nice. It's an honor to work with great people. On this record we had a couple of guests too which was great. Chris Caffery from Savatage who played guitar on a couple of songs and we wrote a couple of songs with Jean Beauvoir who is the ex-guitarist of The Plasmatics, and Russ Ballard. We wrote one song together for this record. Pete Steele, we did a duet called "Descent". I love how his voice sounds on the song. It was a big thrill to do that.

You hooked up with Joe Taylor, Nick Douglas, Johnny Dee, and Oliver Palotai. Have you worked with this group of musicians on previous albums or do you change your lineups like some artists such as Alice Cooper tend to do?

No, actually we've been together as a band for 10 years. Actually my bass player, Nick Douglas, has been in the band for 12 years. We recorded the first album together in 1993. We did a live album together which I very, very much liked so much. We've been together for such a long time, 10 years. Unfortunately we had to get somebody new in the band because our last guitar player who played on the American tour died of cancer. He was a great guy and great player and he didn't make it. We had no idea. He himself had no idea. He thought it was a bad cold and he didn't feel well. It was cancer and so we had to get somebody new in the band, Oliver Palotai who plays rhythm guitar.

Your new CD is entitled Fight.

I think the title was a long time overdue because like I told you before, it was always such a big fight. Everything. A fight for the music and to survive. There are two songs on the record which are called "Fight By Your Side", an anti-war song which I wrote back then during the Yugoslavian war together with Gary Scruggs. I love him. I always go to him for the most important ideas when I have things in my heart and in my soul which are really important to me. I always go to him. He lives in Nashville and writing with his wife. We wrote "Fight By Your Side" back then and it didn't make the record because the A&R guy didnít think he wanted such a heavy political song on the record but now after the 11th of September I think the world is changing so much and I wanted to put the song on it. Another song is "Fight" and that's the title song and it's dedicated to a lady. She's a world boxing champion and I met her five years ago. I picked up tai boxing five years ago. I learned tai boxing and doing it and I would play Joey and others and I watched her fighting a couple of years ago the first time. She came in with our anthem "All We Are" and I thought this was pretty cool. After she was fighting I told her that we wrote a song and she said "I know, I know". She's a big metal fan and hard rock fan so we became friends and then this New Year's Eve we called each other to wish each other a happy New Year and then I decided we would do something together. She asked me if we could write another anthem for her to go into the ring and that's what we did. That's how "Fight" came about.

That song was played at the fight on August 17th.

Yes, it was against an American woman and the American woman was great. Her name was Yvonne Caples and she was really, really great and it was a very, very tight and very tough fight. What I liked the most, there were many other fights going on and all the other boxers came into the ring with some pop songs and some really soft songs, and when Regina came in the ring with "Fight" I think that song was so good. We were all sitting there, the whole band was there, and we were sitting there all proud and stuff. All nervous when she was fighting. God we are all nervous when we go on stage but it was even more nerve racking to see that fight and we were hoping she would win. She did but it was a very tough fight and the other girl was really good. It was exciting.

I listened to the CD and it blew me away. What was the inspiration behind it and how long did it take to record it?

It took about eight or nine months to record it. We did pre-production in Germany in my own studio. I have a studio together with the band Die Krupps. Do you know the guys from Die Krupps? It's more like an industrial band. We met many years ago and now we've become really good friends and partners. We did all of the rehearsals and pre-production and then we went to Pennsylvania to the Soundmine recording studio with a very nice guy, Dan Malsch, is his band. He's the guitarist in the band Maraya and he has this beautiful studio. We went there to record everything live and I did my vocals while the band was recording and we wanted to do it in a live situation. Not even trying drums, then bass, then guitar, and then vocals. Everybody recorded at the same time and the place was so big and we could do it there. It was great and we had all kinds of inspiration. I think fight was a key word. Every song is a little bit connected to it and then the song "Undying" which I wrote because our guitarist, Mario Parrillo, didn't survive it and my father died two years ago. When these two close people left I was so heartbroken which I still am but sometimes I feel their spirits around me and I wanted to write a song to give other people who maybe have lived through the same tough times some hope and that not all is lost. I had to write the song "Undying" to give it some positive effect. I really truly believe that love is undying and it was one of the main things. Another song is half in German and half in English. It's called "Hoffnung". That means hope. I think it's some hope for this time and fight the good fight. Fight for what you believe in and live in only the most positive way. Every song, especially the ballads have a deep almost spiritual meaning. The record has a wide spectrum from words and messages and the same is with the music. It has a wide range of all kinds of moods.

I love the artwork on the album. Can you tell us about the person who designed and have you worked with him before in regard to cover art for your CDs?

Yes, his name is Geoffrey Gillespie and he's an English guy who lives in France. I met him in '86 and he painted our most favorite Warlock album, Triumph And Agony. It was the most successful and I always loved his style and yeah, he did Triumph And Agony. Angels Never Die is another album he painted and it is not the first time that he's painted an album cover and I really love how he does it. I like his style a lot. I just told him "Hey Geoffrey, go for it. I would like to have a hawk sitting on my arm" and he said all right. When I got it a couple of weeks ago I was so happy that it came out nice. That was exactly how I had imagined it. He does a really great job.

He captured your likeness on there. That was really good.

Yeah, first we did a little photo session and then I sent him the photos. He painted the outfit and then I had to get it. I just had a T-shirt on and I thought nah this is a cool outfit that you painted. I had to go to the lady who is doing all the stage clothes and I told her "I want to have exactly this. It's a painting and is hard to do" and she did it. It looks exactly like that. Great imagination.

You did a duet with Peter Steele. How did you hook up with him?

He is a perfectly nice guy. I like him so much. My guitar player and I wrote the song many months ago and then I thought a male voice would be super on it and it was our bass player Nick Douglas who was trying it and while Nick was singing I just had this idea in my mind that Pete Steele would be awesome on it. I told Nick "hey, how about Pete?" He said that would be great. By accident I went to a concert in New York. It was a New York benefit concert for the September 11 for the firemen and their families. It was a big event and everybody was there and I met so many people who knew Pete. We were talking and then they asked me if I have another duet on the record because the last one had Lemmy on it and I said no, not yet. I said only if the song calls for it then I want to do it. They said well if you had a choice who would it be. I said "well strange enough there's a song called "Descent" and Pete Steele would be awesome on it." This lady I was talking to was actually from Germany and she lives in New York. She said "I know him very well. He's a great friend of mine." I said "you must be kidding." She said "yeah and I can call him." I said "no, no, don't do that." But she did it. She called him and told him about the song. Then we met and actually I played him the song. We went to Brooklyn where he lives and he played me his demos and we got along really, really good. Then he said "okay, let's try it. Let's do it." Then he recorded his vocals in his studio. Just the fact that it came out so nice and the song is probably one of my favorite songs on the record. He's very sweet and the tallest person I've ever met in my entire life. He is so tall it's unbelievable. I don't know how tall he is but he's huge. But huge in the heart as well. He has a good heart and extremely nice.

He's definitely a big boy.

I sat with his 10 year old daughter looking up and it was so funny. We just did a photo session and then we did it telling Peter "you better sit down then you guys are the same size." That was exactly what happened.

"Legends Never Die" was written by Gene Simmons and it was on a Wendy O. Williams album. What led you to cover that particular song?

Because I love Gene Simmons and I'm a big KISS fan. He worked with me on my record in '99 and I always remembered how much I love his songwriting and his songs. This time I thought I would love to sing that because I love the song so much and to keep Wendy's spirit alive. I thought she was one of the best. She had an attitude and I just wanted to let young fans know about her because she had such an attitude and that was the reason I wanted to record it.

That was sad when she committed suicide.

Yeah, I don't know exactly why but I heard that it was tough. I guess the music probably had something to do with it.

I believe she was working with animals at that time.

I heard she was all depressed. I thought she was real talented. She always reminded me a little bit of the Terminator movie with Linda Hamilton. She was quiet. I just got the video of her, an old one from England and she was all naked with some shaving cream.

She was wild.

Yeah, yeah. Our guitar player, Mario, the last time I saw him was in L. A. We played the show together and Gene Simmons came to visit the show. We were on tour with Ronnie James Dio one and a half years ago and it was the third day on the tour. The first day Mario didn't feel so well. He played the show and then the second show he didn't play. Then the third show I told him "Mario, you've got to play. The fans. It's really important." He said "yeah, yeah I will." I called Gene Simmons and I left a message that we're in town and if he had time we would all be so happy if he would come to our show. He showed up and then that made Mario go on stage and play. He said "oh man, yeah, I will play. I will play." That was actually the last time I had seen him and in my mind he was a total legend because he was one of the best guitar players I have ever seen and I've seen so many. He was really good and that was another reason why I wanted to sing "Legends Never Die" because Mario was and I knew how much it meant to him that Gene Simmons came to the show. I remember when he shook hands. Mario was so happy and that was the last time I saw him. That was another reason why I wanted to record that song.

You're in the middle of a major European tour. When did it kick off, how is it going so far, and how long is it for?

We just did all the summer festivals and we did the most summer festivals I've ever done in my entire life. The tour is starting first in Spain on the 12th of October and then we go to Russia. Then we go everywhere like Spain and Germany and then we want to come for a little mini tour to the States before Christmas and then the real big tour in January and February. We don't know if we'll be an opening act or if we do our own tour but we definitely plan on a long tour and I can't wait. I'm super excited to come and rock the world. We'll play everything from the first record to the new one. Whatever the fans want. We want to let them pick all the encores. They can just call out and we will play it.

They're definitely looking forward to seeing you. You don't know who you're going to be on the road with yet.

There's some possibilities and stuff. The touring agent is just booking us but first the record has to come out and then two months later we will come but definitely next year will be a big tour. This year a couple of gigs here and there.

I believe your album comes out over here on the 24th.

Out here it came out on the 19th of August. That's the reason why we started a little bit earlier.

Do you have any other thoughts or comments?

I want to thank them for the support all these years and they kept me going. Thanks for keeping metal alive. I'm really super, super, super excited to come there and I will put on 150% great show and I hope they will all come and watch the show. We will have a great time.

I think that will happen.

Doro Pesch