There was a true fight for this interview among the MetalKings.com stuff, but finally it was us two who got the honor to interview "the ultimate queen of heavy metal." Truly, no matter what kind of hard rock or heavy metal people listen to, they always have the deepest respect for Doro Pesch, the one and only lady in metal who managed to survive on the scene for nearly two decades without ever losing just one bit of intensity that her records and especially live shows are so charged with. In the year 2002, she put out an ambitious and experimental, but still heavy and mindblowing album called "Fight", and our goal was to find out as much as possible about this new effort, as well as to throw some light on not so well-known moments of Doro's career. Incidentally, doing that was another true fight, for the telephone connection was the worst we have ever experienced, and Doro had a real hard time trying to figure out what we were telling her out of various weird noises in her receiver. Then it was our turn to have a real hard time when we got down to deciphering the conversation from tape… Anyway, here is what came out of the fight.
MetalKings.com: Hi Doro, we were all waiting so much to see you in Moscow in June, it's a pity that the festival did not happen. And our first question is about festivals. You played at Bang Your Head in Ballingen, Germany, a couple of weeks ago, and you also played at Wacken Open Air before. Which one do you think is better?
Doro: Oh, I think they're both really great festivals, they're the best festivals in Germany. Wacken is a little bit bigger and has a bit darker feeling, and Ballingen is a little bit smaller, but really sweet, and people are in their best moods, and it's a little bit… I don't want to say "happier", but there's a really good mood. I would say them both speak for themselves, I can't say which one is better, they're both the best in their own league.
MetalKings.com: We've been to Wacken, but we've never been to Bang Your Head…
Doro: Yeah, it's different, but the audience, they're like "Wow!", they're so great, it's totally happening. It's a little bit smaller, they don't have many stages, there is just one stage, but it allows the people to concentrate on the band that is playing. So it's different and the two festivals are hard to compare. But I think you would love it!
MetalKings.com: Let's continue with questions about live shows. You played a gig with the Dusseldorf Philarmonic Orchestra on July 1, 2001, is that right?
Doro: Yeah, it's something that I will probably do just once in my life, but it was pretty good. The songs, especially the ballads, sounded so great! And it's a pretty different feeling when there are strings playing behind you, not just one little keyboard. Soundwise it was really good. We recorded it, and it will probably come out. SPV is planning to put my DVD out next year, and there will probably be some clips off this show, as many people are interested in it.
MetalKings.com: On that show you played a song called "Let Love Rain On Me". Where is this track from, is it a cover version?
Doro: No, actually I wrote this song myself. It's a lovely song, but it has never made it on any album. I wanted to put this on my new album, but it was too strange, there was orchestra playing and stuff. It will definitely appear on my next release, this DVD or something else. It's a lovely song, I wrote it with a guy in Nashville called Gary Scruggs. We wrote it a while ago.
MetalKings.com: And you also wrote a song ("Fight") for a German boxer, Regina. How did that idea come to your mind?
Doro: Regina and me have been really close friends for quite some time, for a couple of years. I'm a big boxing fan, I've been a fan all my life. When I was a little girl, like two or three years old, I would always watch boxing on TV, it was always fascinating. Five years ago I picked up Thai boxing, and my coach told me to go to a Thai contest, saying "you will learn from every fight." And I went to all the fights, and then I went to all the fights of Regina. A couple of times Regina went out to the ring to "All We Are" (a song off Warlock's "Triumph And Agony" album - ed.), and that made me so happy, I thought that it was great. We talked after one of her fights, and she said, "Yeah, I've been to your concerts many times!" It was like five years ago. Since then I've always visited her fights and she's been to my concerts when I was close to where she lives. On this New Year's Eve we talked on the phone. We wished each other a happy new year and then we were talking about our future plans and stuff. I said, "We're just doing another record, we're on tour." And she said, "I'm getting ready for my next fight next year. Wouldn't it be great if we could do something together?" And I said, "Yeah, it will be super!" She said, "I've always loved "All We Are", but maybe you could do a new anthem for me to go out to the ring to?" And I said, "Regina, I have two songs that can fit perfectly for it, check 'em out." The songs were "Always Live To Win" and "Fight", I sent her the demos, first she chose "Always Live To Win", but then she changed her mind and said, "I wanna have something heavier, let's set on "Fight"." So we recorded the final studio version, I did a little intro before the song, and I think that came out really fine. On July 17th she's boxing again, she's defending the champion's title, and we will all be there, the whole band, and we might play live before she goes out to the ring if the TV channel allows it, if they don't consider it too heavy. Otherwise, the tape will definitely be played. Our cooperation wasn't planned, but everything turned out so good. And I believe that when things are let to be they fall into place, you don't even have to force them. And this was definitely a case of that kind. Regina is a great woman, she's pretty and she has a strong character. And the fact that the record is called "Fight" was like one last piece to the puzzle which made it work.
MetalKings.com: So why did you choose "Fight" as the title for the record?
Doro: I think the title is perfect for the time. Nowadays for a person everything is like a fight, you fight to survive, you fight for your music, you fight for your dreams, etc. And I think that every song on the record is related to the subject of fighting. Even the song "Undying"… It is about my father who died two years ago, and he lost the fight to survive, it was so painful, and I had to write the song to give other people hope. "I Will Fight By Your Side" is another song that is very important to me. It's an anti-war song, it's against violence and weapons. It was a song that I thought that it has to be on the record. And in a couple of months I realized that the whole album has to be called "Fight". Usually I decide on the title in the last couple of weeks, just before finishing the album, but this title was like carved in stone about half a year ago.
MetalKings.com: The album was partially mixed and produced by Chris Lietz (ex-Die Krupps). But why don't you work with his former bandmate Jurgen Engler any longer? (the two men co-produced Doro's "Love Me In Black" (1998) and "Calling The Wild" (2000) albums - ed.)
Doro: Yeah, I had to produce it myself, and Dan Malsch and Chris Lietz produced it with us. And Jurgen was producing his own album at that time, it's the record of his band Dcay.com, it's called "Deeper Into The Heart of Dysfunction". But he played on my album. Jurgen is a great guy, he said, "When I finish my album we start yours." But his album's production took longer than it was expected, so I started doing "Fight" with Chris, and Jurgen finished his own album just two months before we finished ours, so it didn't work out timewise. But he played guitar on "Legends Never Die". Who knows, maybe in the future, we'll definitely work together again. And we're owning a studio together, the Atom H Studio, and Chris Lietz is an engineer there. He's a great engineer, and when I have something I always work with him.
MetalKings.com: "Fight" features a song called "Descent" that you perform together with Peter Steele (Type O Negative). How did you meet him?
Doro: I was thinking about not doing another duet for the new album, because I had had two duets with Lemmy from Motorhead, and to me personally it was a super-highlight, it was really great. While doing this record I was in New York, and there was a big concert going on, it was for families of the victims of September 11, and many bands were playing. I met a woman from Germany there, we'd known each other for quite some time, Uta is her name, and she works for Roadrunner Records. And she asked me how my record is progressing and whether there is a duet on it. I said, "No, and I don't even know if I wanna have another duet." And she asked me if there was a person whom I would like to do it with. I gave her a couple of names, like Ronnie James Dio and then Pete Steele. And she said, "Pete Steele? I know him, actually I know him very well! Maybe I can put you guys together." A couple of days later I got a message on my answering machine, Pete called and said, "I got your number from Uta, she said you may be interested in doing something together. Let's talk and let's meet." And we met in New York, I played him some demos, and there was the song "Descent", I wrote it with my guitar player (Joe Taylor), and I told Peter that I could imagine him and me doing it together. And he said, "Yeah! I can do it!" He liked the song and he sang on it, and afterwards I sang on it and thought "Wow! This definitely has to be on the album." It came out really fine, it isn't a ballad, it's something really dark, and his voice sounded great. That's how it came about.
MetalKings.com: Is there anybody else whom you'd like to sing with? What about Ozzy?
Doro: Oh, Ozzy would be great, and Ronnie James Dio, Rob Halford, James Hetfield would be great too. David Coverdale… I was a great David Coverdale fan. We'll see. I have a plan of making 20-30 more albums, so who knows, maybe I will get them to sing with me. (giggles) I really love doing it, I love working with other people. We just did two duets, one with Udo Dirkschneider, that was really interesting and came out really nice.
MetalKings.com: Why "Song For Me" is only a bonus track, why isn't it on the regular album version?
Doro: Have you heard this song?
MetalKings.com: Unfortunately not yet.
Doro: It's super sweet, I love it so much, and I had a hard time deciding to put it only on the limited edition of "Fight". But I talked to the record company and they said they only wanted to have 12 songs on the album and I can feel free to put enhanced material on the limited edition. So I had to make a decision. "Song For Me" is a super intense, but a very sad song, and I thought that I would be better to put it on the limited edition. I think it's a great song, it's moving you to tears. And die-hard fans will buy the limited edition anyway. There are also two videos on the limited edition - "Always Live To Win" and "Fight", they are made of footage of summer festivals such as Sweden Rocks, Gods Of Metal and German festivals. I think it came out really good, and I hope that fans will get the limited edition rather than the regular CD. But I had to decide, and I thought that maybe there are too many ballads on the record, and I decided to put a ballad on the limited edition rather than a heavy song.
MetalKings.com: And did SPV explain why they wanted only 12 tracks? Why not 11 or 13?
Doro: Oh, I don't know, the previous record had like 17 tracks on it and maybe it was way longer than the time allowed, but really I have no idea, there were some technical problems, or maybe when the record is too long the record company has to raise the price, some technical stuff.
MetalKings.com: I've heard that you are planning to do something for a Led Zeppelin tribute album, is that true?
Doro: Yeah, yeah, for the Spanish record company Locomotive Music we did "Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You". I don't know if it's out, but we did it a couple of months ago. I think it came out really fine.
MetalKings.com: And if there was a tribute to Doro, whom would you like to take part?
Doro (laughs): Oh, if I really had the choice, I would love to hear Ronnie James Dio sing a ballad, Lemmy sing a heavy song such as "Burning The Witches" (everybody laughs), Gene Simmons do something, maybe play something from old Warlock days. Maybe some great female singers could do something, that would be great, somebody like Sandra from Guano Apes. And whoever wants to participate, that would be fine. (laughs)
MetalKings.com: Can you tell us why did you decide to cover "Legends Never Die", a song written by Gene Simmons. Is it the same track that was recorded by Wendy O'Williams?
Doro: Yes, it is. Gene Simmons wrote this song and I always loved it. It was the song we started with when we were working on the "Fight" album. I always loved it so much and I thought that it would be good to keep this spirit alive and to say thank you to Wendy O'Williams, I was a great fan of hers. In general, I love songs by Gene Simmons, and it was a big thrill to do one. And I don't want people to forget about Wendy, she was one of the best in attitude and stuff, she was a killer woman.
MetalKings.com: Did Gene or somebody else from Kiss contribute to the recording of that track?
Doro: No, we did it by ourselves, and we brought in some other guitar players, such as Jurgen Engler, he played ebow on it, and Andreas Bruhn, ex-guitarist of Sisters Of Mercy, played on the track as well. (Doro forgets to mention Michael Voss (ex-Casanova, ex-Mad Max, now with Demon Drive), who contributed some guitars to that song, too. - ed.)
MetalKings.com: You know, I've read many interviews of people who know Gene Simmons, and everybody has a different opinion of him. The latest interview I read was of Andy McCoy from Hanoi Rocks, and he said that "Gene is a megalomaniac and always unsure of himself." What do you think of Gene Simmons?
Doro: Oh, I have the ultimate respect for him. I met him in 1990 when he produced my album ("Doro"), and our cooperation was really great. There were a couple of things which nobody had ever done to me, but he did. When he was producing, he was so sweet, he said, "Oh, I want you to learn some things as well," and he taught me so much stuff, I learned so much from him, he was really a great teacher for me in musical aspects. For example, I wanted to record a blues and Gene said, "Before you do the blues, you have to really make your homework and check out all these blues singers." And then he went with me to all these blues shows, for instance, I saw Gretha James, who I think is the best female blues singer in the world. And in addition to doing a record, I really learned so much from him, I thank him so much for it, he really took care of everything. Every day he was in the studio for 16 hours, I have rarely seen that from producers. Some producers would just come in once in a while and they didn't really care too much about what was going on, and Gene really cared and he made sure that everything was going well. There was a song called "Mirage" that I was really unhappy about, I didn't like the way it come out in the mixing. I was almost in tears, and then Gene said, "Hey Doro, you know what? Do not worry about it, I'll fix it and you go home to the hotel. Come down the next morning and you will have the tape." I said OK, but I was really down, because all your songs for you are like little babies, you want them to grow and stuff. So I went home, and I was really devastated, I said, "Gene this is my favorite song…" The next morning I came down to the reception, and there was a tape, and Gene said, "Check it out and tell me if you like it, I hope so." I put it in - he mixed it all night - and it came out so great I was happy. I have only good things to say about him, it was fantastic working with him, and he as person is really great. We had great conversations, sometimes we had different viewpoints, but it was really interesting. Gene is really intelligent and has a lot of things to say, he knows a lot, so I must say I love him and I saw only the best side of him. (a short pause) And I got an impression that he was very sure of himself, especially in the studio, he always knew what to do and he showed me so many things, it was super. And he was a total gentleman to me, too. Originally I was a great Kiss fan, and then I became a fan of Gene Simmons.
MetalKings.com: You know, on the Internet I saw photos of you and Kiss together onstage that are dated to 1987 or 1988. What song did you sing with them?
Doro: Oh, I introduced them when they went onstage at the Monsters Of Rock festival, we didn't sing anything together. I think it was like 1989 or something, and it was then when I met Kiss for the first time. Everybody knew that I was a big Kiss fan and they called me and asked if I wanna introduce the headliner, and it was Kiss. The photos must be from that show.
MetalKings.com: There are also photos of you together with Lita Ford. Are you still in contact with her?
Doro: We didn't see each other in the past couple of years, but we are still friends. My guitar player, Joe Taylor, has been with me for 10 years, but before that he was with Lita Ford. Back then in the 1980s we saw each other a lot and had a lot of fun together, we became really good friends, but now she has a son and she's not touring anymore. We haven't seen each other for a long time, but we're still friends. When we see each other again, I think we will probably have a blast.
MetalKings.com: About 10 years ago you took part in the recording of a charity single called "Let Love Conquer The World"? Can you tell me a bit about it?
Doro (seems totally at loss): Oh, man, I remember I did it, but I don't even know what came out of it. It was like for a really good reason, but I don't know what for. We wanted to raise money for… there was a specific thing… but I've done so many charity things… It was definitely… a war situation, I think, but I don't know if the money ever got to the right places, I have some doubts about that. I just came there and sang and I don't know much about it.
MetalKings.com: But who put this project together?
Doro: Oh… (pause and a laugh) I don't even know that. (everybody laughs) My musician friends called me and said "Hey Doro, you gotta come, and it's for good reason," but I don't even know who did it. Or maybe the record company called me or something like that, but I forgot who put it together, I don't know.
MetalKings.com: You know, I've asked several musicians who participated in the recording about who put this project together, but nobody remembers that!
Doro (laughs): Neither do I! I know it was a lot of fun to do it, but…
MetalKings.com: The latest addition to your band is guitarist and keyboard player Oliver Palotai. How did you meet this guy?
Doro: Actually I met him two weeks before we started the last tour a year ago or 1.5 years ago. I needed somebody who plays keyboards and guitar, and I heard about him, so he called me and I said, "OK, let's meet." He came down by train, he had to ride like seven hours, he's from another part of Germany, and he's half Hungarian. We met at the train station in Dusseldorf, we talked for 10 minutes and then he left again on the train home. I told him, "You've got the gig," I just went by pure instinct, and I had a gut feeling that he's good, we didn't even check out his playing, but I had a gut feeling that he would be the perfect guy. And he is [the perfect guy], he's a great addition to the band. Before that we never had a steady keyboarder, because keyboards were sometimes not so necessary for metal, but Oliver seems to be pretty steady. At the same time, he has his own thing going on, some death metal project and all this stuff, but it's OK, he knows a lot of things that I don't know. And he's a really sweet guy, I think he's perfect for the band. Now the band has been together for 10 years, and bass player Nick Douglas has been in the band for 12 years, and I have a feeling that they all still wanna do it, so we will continue with this line-up. We've been together for 10 years, it's the longest line-up I've ever had, we all get along really good, there is total harmony going on, and we understand each other without words, that's really great. There has never been heavy fighting, there may be disagreements, but we work them out, and Olli fits in perfectly. He's got Hungarian blood, he's really funny, and the whole band is now like a mixture of different nationalities, everybody has his different ways, different mentalities, and I think it's great, that's a perfect example that it can totally work, that people from all over the world can work together and stay together for 10 years without even fighting once, that's really great. Our drummer (Johnny Dee) is Italian, I found him in the States, but he's Italian. The bass player is half Greek, I'm German and Olli is half Hungarian, but it's really fine.
MetalKings.com: I know that you and Olli have done a few acoustic shows together. What songs did you play?
Doro: Actually we play all kinds of songs, sometimes we play what people wish, they can always say what they wanna hear. Oliver usually plays piano and guitar. On piano we play "Beyond The Trees" from the "Force Majeure" album, it always goes down really nice, "Fall For Me Again" and "Fur Immer". And on the acoustic guitar we even play "Burning The Witches" and "White Wedding", people always seem to like it. Acoustics has a different magic to it, but it works. And I love doing acoustic stuff, it's nice. I have also played many acoustic shows with my other guitar player Joe Taylor, we are going on a little promotional tour for our record company, we will play in record stores and it will always be acoustic.
MetalKings.com: You've mentioned that you are planning to release a DVD, can you elaborate on it? And what about a second live album or a second part of the "Rare Diamonds" compilation?
Doro: Yes, we're just planning to release another DVD, actually this is our first official DVD, the one that has been released is a bootleg. It's great but we wanna release an official DVD, and for this reason we're recording all the summer festivals, and it will come out next year. And I think a live record will accompany it, we're already working on it. The DVD will contain all the stuff from our old bootlegs, I have even the stuff in black-and-white from the early 1980s that might be really interesting for die-hard fans.
MetalKings.com: Are there any plans to put out something like a B-sides compilation?
Doro: That will be a good idea, but no, there's nothing planned. Probably there will be something only for fans with some great demos which never made it to the records. B-sides and demos would be interesting, but nothing is planned so far.
MetalKings.com: Speaking about singles, why did you decide to perform the U.S. national anthem for the B-side of the "Burn It Up" single (2000)?
Doro: "Burn It Up" was an anthem for an American football team in Germany, we have the AFL, it's the American football federation, six countries are participating in it, Spain, Scotland, there are a couple of teams from Germany and a team from Amsterdam. The Rhein Fire asked me if I could sing their anthem many years ago, and I said, "Yeah, I can try it." And later they asked me to write an anthem for their team. That was the reason why we wrote "Burn It Up" - they have a new mascot, it's like a firebird, and that's why in the song there's a line "Burn it up, burn with fire." Then they won a tournament, it was like two years ago, and they asked me if I could sing the American anthem, it was for the AFL, they always play an anthem at the stadium before the game starts. Usually it's the American anthem because it's an American sport, but once they played the German anthem as well. So they asked me if I could sing it, and I did it, there is no deeper meaning. It was recorded then, and they wanted to have it on the single so they could use it before the song, and I said yeah.
MetalKings.com: And who did remixes of "Burn It Up" for that single?
Doro: Chris Lietz and myself, then Andreas Bruhn, and that's it. We did a couple of mixes because every stadium always wants to have a different version, some dance version or stuff like that, and that was for them. I must say that a couple of years ago it was really important to do all these remixes and stuff. Now the time is not calling for that anymore, but a couple of years ago everybody was doing remixes and stuff.
MetalKings.com: One more question about bonus tracks: why did you decide to re-record "Dedication" for the "Calling The Wild" album?
Doro: Because "Dedication" was only available on the limited edition of the "Love Me In Black" album, there were only a couple hundred copies of this edition and nobody knew the song. Then we played it live and many people told me they would love to have it, but they couldn't get it, especially in America, "Love Me In Black" wasn't released there and you could only buy imports, but not the limited edition. And I said, "OK, we might wanna record it again." And we brought in a great guest musician, Al Pitrelli, the guy who played in Savatage and Megadeth, and he played a solo on our new version. Then we said, "OK, we will put it on the "Calling The Wild" album because only a handful of people knew it from the limited edition of "Love Me In Black". I'm actually surprised that you know that it was on "Love Me In Black". In Russia people know more about everything than here. (laughs)
MetalKings.com: Oh, thank you, thank you very much! Do you mind if we ask a couple of questions about the beginning of our career, the time in Warlock and something like that?
Doro: No, no, go ahead!
MetalKings.com: Is it true that you were very ill before you joined Warlock?
Doro: Yeah, I was down with tuberculosis for about a year, I was like between life and death, and really closer to death than to staying alive. And that one year of being really close to dying, chemiotherapy and stuff, I said that if I ever come out of here alive I wanna do something, I wanna do music, and two weeks later I formed my first band. It wasn't Warlock, it was another band.
MetalKings.com: Is it the band Snakebite? What kind of music were you playing back then?
Doro: It was exactly the same [as Warlock], it was the same style, the same music, it wasn't much different at all. Pretty much all the bands were kinda the same at that time.
MetalKings.com: Did you make any recordings with Snakebite?
Doro: Only demos and stuff, the first record that came out was by Warlock. (pause) What time is it? Seven? Oh, I have to go to the rehearsal, we have like five more minutes, is it OK?
MetalKings.com: Ah, no problem, let us just ask a couple more questions. One of my favorite songs is "The Fortuneteller" (off the "True At Heart" album). Are the lyrics for it based on any personal experience?
Doro: Yes, they are. Actually it was a personal story. I met a woman who was a fortuneteller in Los Angeles, and I was so touched by it, but so shocked at the same time. And I had to write a song about it. Actually it's one of my favorites as well, I must say. I wrote this song with Gary Scruggs, the guy from Nashville, and we have the same twisted minds, we like these stories. Definitely there is some truth in it, but there is also some dark humor. Anyway, it was inspired by me going to the fortuneteller. We have many songs like that, they haven't been released on any album, but for people who like that style there are many more stories to come. We always play it live on tours.
MetalKings.com: Who are your favorite female vocalists?
Doro: Janis Joplin, Ann Wilson from Heart, Sandra from Guano Apes… I used to like Lee Aaron from Canada, back then I thought, "Wow! She is great!"
MetalKings.com: And what about Tarja from Nightwish or Sabina Classen from Holy Moses?
Doro: Oh, Tarja has a fabulous voice, I'm sorry that I didn't mention her before. It's different and it works so well, she's a fantastic singer. And Sabina from Holy Moses, I like her, she's super special as well!
MetalKings.com: OK, our last question. You have played a show in Moscow. Did you notice any difference between the audience in Russia and in the West?
Doro: Oh, it was so wild, it had so much energy, it was an instant connection, like, right away I felt super close [to the audience]. It was like when you meet an old friend you felt like you have never left, it's ten years apart and you feel like you've never parted. There was an instant deep connection that I thought was fucking great! I think they were very open for the music, totally ready to celebrate, they were totally on fire, I was blown away by that. I saw it in their eyes, they were probably waiting for the concert for a long time, there were many die-hard fans, they were so emotional, there was such a magical moment, and it touched my heart instantly. I think we played like eight encores, we played as long as the people wanted, and eight encores is something that we very rarely do. We usually do three or five, but eight is something super!
MetalKings.com: We're all looking forward to see you live here again, and we're really hoping that the concert would take place…
Doro: Yeah, yeah, we were so sad that it didn't happen a couple of weeks ago, but I'm really looking forward to coming to Russia. And I wanna sing the song "Fight" in Russian, I've just learned that it sounds like "bitva". Is it a good word for "fight"?
MetalKings.com: Yeah, yeah!
Doro: Cool, so when we come we will be prepared to doing something special.
MetalKings.com: Well, thank you very much for calling us, it was a great pleasure to talk to you.
Doro: And thank you guys so much, I'm sorry that I couldn't understand everything, the line is terrible, there are always some noises, but I think we did it good, didn't we?
MetalKings.com: Yeah, we did. Thank you very much once again!
Doro: Spasibo! Bye-bye guys! Ciao!
The Maniac & Lynx
(as Doro & Warlock):
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