When I was first asked whether I would be interested in
interviewing Doro Pesch, one of the leading personas in the world
of female-fronted Metal for the last 25 years, I accepted based on
the strength of all the albums that I had heard which were
released by the Dusseldorf-bred artist back in the 80s.
The moment I first came into contact with her latest effort "Fear
No Evil", though, I realised that this highly experienced German
troubadour is capable of releasing albums that will not only
satisfy her loyal fan base but younger Metal fans alike. Please
take the time to read what I consider to be one of the most
enjoyable interviews I have conducted thus far in my career.
Doro, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this
interview, especially as I know that your schedule today is quite
full. I have been listening "Fear No Evil" for the last one and a
half weeks now and it is indeed a very easy-listening and
pleasurable album, so congratulations are indeed in order here.
How is the promotional campaign going thus far and what does it
Doro: Everything is going well and I have been getting lots of
positive feedback so far, something that of course always makes me
happy. You see the record you are working on, your latest album,
is always the one that you feel most attached to, so I am really
happy so far - it's all going really good.
We have started our promotion tour in Spain, we did quite a few
stuff in Germany and a couple of days ago we were in Sweden and
Switzerland. It was only yesterday that I arrived in London and so
far everything is going really well. I believe that people really
like our new record, especially songs like "The Night Of The
Warlock", "Celebrate", "Walking With The Angels" and "Hertzblut".
Even people who like heavier stuff like it as there are songs like
"On The Run" and "Caught In A Battle" which are for more die-hard
metal fans. So far, everything is going well, but things are so
busy, which on the one hand is a really good thing...a lot of
things are happening, all at the same time (laughs).
Of all these countries that you mentioned before, which are the
ones that provide an 'easier' market for you - one that is more
'open' to accept anything that Doro is willing to release, and
which are the ones that you feel that you need to put a better
effort in order to crack?
Doro: The one country where you will find our biggest fanbase is
Spain. Ever since we first toured there back in 1986, my first
ever tour there in support of Judas Priest, we have developed
quite a strong fanbase there. There is a magazine there called
Heavy Rock, Heavy Rock and Kerrang are one entity there, and for
seventeen years in a row I get the prize for being first in the
category of best female musician.
Wow, that is quite an achievement there.
Doro: Yeah, yeah (smiles unconditionally). Even at times when
Metal was not so popular, there it was still going strong, so
Spain is a really good place for us.
South America is also good, a place where we first toured a couple
of years ago. There are so many Metal fans there and countries
where people care about Heavy Metal, from promoters, organisers
and journalists to fans themselves - you can always feel the
difference when you are there as they give everything they have
There is also one girl in the Czech Republic, whose name is Karla
and who is a hard Metal fan, who is now the editor of a very cool
magazine called Hard Rocker and who is a huge fan of our music.
Well, sometimes you really need the whole machinery to be working
in order for things to happen and having people like them being
involved in the overall process makes all the difference in the
world. So far, everything is going really good, the record company
(note: AFM Records) is taking care of all the stuff and so I am
I am happy to know that the reaction of the press has been a
positive one, but I have to ask whether getting a good reaction
from the press is something that you are indeed interested in. If
you, as the contributing artist, are happy with what you have
created, does it really matter what the press believes?
Doro: Well, the most important thing for me is for the fans to
love it as I do this thing for the fans and not for people who are
only really interested in comparing my work with that of other
I guess that being a journalist is a really hard job, as you have
to come in contact with so many different products, even though
some of them may not be what you would normally be listening to.
Anyway, I definitely care more about what the fans will say as it
is for them that I do this, but it does feel really good when
somebody writes something nice or has something good to say and it
really hurts like hell when somebody says 'oh, I don't like this
album' - it really cuts deep.
I once had this manager for seventeen years who once told me
'don't worry, when you get older you will not care anymore' but
that thing never happened to me - I still care, you know? It still
feels like I have only just got my first record out.
I totally understand that not everyone can like everything,
especially with Heavy Metal, which is a special music for special
people. There are a few songs with very specific messages that
only people who have had a similar experience can really relate to
There is a song in our Fight (2002) album called "Undying", a song
that some people didn't really care at all for but also a song
that many people who had lot a loved one really related to -
people who had a close relative or a girlfriend dying. This is a
thing that I totally understand and accept - still, I am really
happy when people understand my songs and manage to connect with
In the 80s, if you were a Death Metal fan you would not be
listening to traditional Metal, but now things are far more
relaxed - fans are more open and that is great.
Heavy Metal has been around long enough to witness the addition
of many young journalists in its ranks. Do you find journalists to
be far more open-minded nowadays compared with how their
colleagues used to be back in the 80s?
Doro: Yes, I agree with you on that - they are indeed much more
tolerant nowadays. Back in the 80s, if journalists did not like
your record they were ripping you apart, but nowadays they go easy
on you (laughs).
You tend to see that kind of attitude much clearer in festivals:
back in the 80s, it was impossible to have all kinds of genres
represented in one festival, but now things are much different.
You have huge festivals like Sweden Rocks where you have die hard
Death Metal fans watching a performance of a band like Status Quo.
We also played that festival and everything was cool. In the 80s,
if you were a Death Metal fan you would not be listening to
traditional Metal, but now things are far more relaxed - fans are
more open and that is great.
love to be able to surprise people with my work. I never
thought about things becoming easier for me as a consequence
of what you said before - my music comes out as it does and
sometimes it is far different from what anyone would
I see many young people nowadays, who normally listen to the
heaviest stuff around, being happy enough to go to a Led Zeppelin
concert and that is very promising. People no longer feel the need
to be part of a very specific group of people, regardless to what
that name might be and that probably makes your life much easier
as an artist, as you now must have access to a much wider
Doro: Yeah, that is true. As far as my music is concerned, I
always act based on how I feel at the time an album is created. I
want my music to be honest, even if that means that my record will
not be dead on what people would expect.
I love to be able to surprise people with my work. I never thought
about things becoming easier for me as a consequence of what you
said before - my music comes out as it does and sometimes it is
far different from what anyone would expect, but every record that
I do is a mirror of the time during which it was recorded and of
the experiences that I had at that given time.
I am, of course, also glad to see that young fans can appreciate
bands such as Led Zeppelin as these are bands that we grew up
listening to and whose music we fell in love with all these years
My first experience of becoming addicted to music was at the age
of three, at a time when Heavy Metal was not around, when I first
listened to Little Richard's song "Lucille". I was immediately
drawn by his energy and his voice...oh boy, it was mind-blowing.
was listening to this song over and over again and I know that my
parents were already getting worried about the fact that their kid
was sitting all these hours in front of the turntable, only
listening to this one song (laughs). Then, of course, I acquired a
huge record collection, but my addiction to great music was from a
very young age.
OK, let's focus now a little bit on "Fear No Evil". There has been
a two-year gap between this album and your previous effort
"Warrior Soul". When did you first starting shaping in your head
the ideas that led to the creation of your new album?
Doro: I began working on new ideas back in September 2007, when I
told everybody that I wanted to be left alone. I have two places,
one in Dusseldorf/Germany and one in New York, so I told everybody
that I was going to New York and I wanted to be left alone - not
to have to pick up the phone, just to concentrate on creating the
new record. It was while being there that I came up with the first
I was thinking of our band's 25th anniversary, one
which we celebrated a couple of weeks ago in Dusseldorf and of the
show towards which I was working for more that a year, when I
realised that I wanted to write a couple of new songs for that
The first couple of songs that I wrote were "Celebrate"
and "The Night Of The Warlock" and "Walking With The Angels" came
a little bit latter. These two songs that I first wrote were what
we really needed, as I wanted one song that reminded me of songs
like "All We Are" and "True Steel", a big anthem with a sing along
choir theme that everyone can participate in during a show, and so
"Celebrate" came to life.
With regards "The Night Of The Warlock",
I wanted to write a song about the Warlock and build a huge stage
set with him in mind for our anniversary concert - one that would
include castle ruins and also a big sculpture of the man himself.
Actually, it took as a whole year to build this set as it was
quite huge and that's when I began thinking about a song capable
of contemplating such a thing, an 80s sounding composition with a
proper big intro, of which I was always a huge fan.
When I first
recorded the demo of this song, I was the one to do the male voice
in the intro and the result was hilarious (laughs). You see, we
toned down my voice so you couldn't really tell that it was me
doing the narration, but then I asked my drummer Johnny to do the
honours as he loves doing such things and has an evil laugh that I
love so much. So he did the voice, we recorded it at it worked
The first songs that we recorded as a demo were "I
Lay My Head Upon My Sword" as I felt like doing a political song
with a lot of symbolism and a message that says that in the year
2009 we should be able to solve problems in a different way, not
by the use of weapons ad through war!
Now, the message behind "On
The Run" is a totally different thing altogether. I have many
friends who are great guys with great hearts but who somehow
always manage to mess up their lives, are always on the run and
always close to getting in trouble, so I felt like writing a song
with that in mind. After these songs were recorded, we went on
tour in the states and we did all the summer festivals. A couple
of weeks ago, we did a tour in China.
Now, that must have been a really interesting experience.
Doro: Oh, yes! It was so wild and different. At first it was a
little bit difficult to get into the country as the authorities
has to listen to all the music and read all our lyrics prior to
giving us their consent. Well, I did give them all the harmless
stuff to read, but we played absolutely everything live (laughs).
Our 25th anniversary show was also great as we played in front of
8000 of our fans and I also saw many of my personal friends and
fellow musicians there. In addition, we finished our new record,
something that I am really happy about, and today I actually saw
the finished product for the very first time.
You mentioned before how you asked people to leave you alone in
order to begin working on ideas for "Fear No Evil". Does that mean
that you are the only person that gets involved in the creating
process of a Doro album, or do your band members also get involved
in the process?
Doro: Each time a tour comes to an end, I ask my band members to
start working on new ideas, but of course I am the one who handles
all lyrics and melodies. These ideas I either present to the band
or to other people/musicians with which I feel a connection.
instance, I did a lot of stuff this time around with a friend of
mine that is called Andreas Bruhn who was the ex guitar player of
Sisters Of Mercy - a person with whom I have been working for many
years. It was to him that I have presented my idea behind the song
"Hertzblut" as it was a German idea which I though that he would
be able to understand better than most people. I worked with him
in "Hertzblut", "Caught In A Battle", "It Kills Me", "Running From
The Devil" and "25 Years". Working with him felt so good so me
made quite a few decisions together.
Then, I did a couple of songs
with the band, some songs I wrote all by myself. There was a song
in my single "Celebrate" called "Rescue Me" which I did with a guy
called Jean Beauvoir (ex-Plasmatics), so you can see how every
song we did for this album has been handled in a different way
than the rest. We worked in three different studios this time
round; one in Pennsylvania, one in Hamburg and one in Bochum.
I have been meaning to ask you a question with regards the
production of the album, as I believe that some of the most
powerful compositions of the album such as "Caught In A Battle"
and "On The Run" seem to suffer from a bad sound, especially on
the drums. What went wrong there?
Doro: "Caught In A Battle" was a song that we recorded in Hamburg
and "On The Run" was in turn recorded in Bochum. Sometimes,
especially when you have double bass featuring all the way through
a song, the guitars or the voice can end up getting washed out
We tried to mix these songs in a couple of different ways
but the voice ended up being almost non existent (laughs). The
drums ended up sounding great, but the voice could not be heard,
so we felt that we had to make a decision that led to what you can
hear in the album today. I do remember my voice being too low on
the final mix of both those songs and that didn't feel so good, so
we decided to let the drums suffer instead (laughs).
What I really like about you, Doro, is the fact that you are not
afraid to experiment with new things. Other artists with your
history and presence in the scene would think twice before working
on sounds and styles different from the ones that people are used
to associate them with - still, you are confident enough to even
add double bass drumming in one of your songs.
Doro: Yes, when I do love an idea I stick to it no matter what. In
Hamburg, when we did "Caught In A Battle" and "Running From The
Devil", a song which also features massive drums, we followed that
feeling that I had. It is strange as both songs were recorded in
the same studio by the same people, yet they are two totally
different songs, "Running From The Devil" being a more mid tempo
Sometimes it is really interesting to see how a song
develops with time...for example, for both "Hertzblut" and
"Walking With The Angels" we had initially established some
specific arrangement, but at some point we thought 'wait a minute,
"Hertzblut" needs to have a more modern sound and "Walking With
The Angels" a more traditional one'.
You see, I always go in life
based on what I feel and it's hard to always manage to please
everybody, you know? Still, I always do what I believe that feels
best and exciting, even if that means that the drums should be
slightly lower in volume (laughs). It really depends on what each
Metal was always
meant to mean freedom! What is important is for songs to be
powerful, have energy and feeling - that is what Metal is
all about for me, not simply be fast and hard all the time.
I love anthems and great melodies. Every song needs to be
able to stand on its own.
So it is indeed fair to say that you do not feel that you, as an
artist, feel obliged to work within certain boundaries when you
either write or record your music, right?
Doro: No, I do not. Metal was always meant to mean freedom! What
is important is for songs to be powerful, have energy and feeling
- that is what Metal is all about for me, not simply be fast and
hard all the time. I love anthems and great melodies. Every song
needs to be able to stand on its own.
An album as diverse as "Fear No Evil" should be capable of
attracting quite a varied audience. Do you feel confident enough
that this new effort of yours will manage to attract the interest
of the younger fans of our beloved music?
Doro: That would be great! I really gave this album all that I had
so I will let it speak for itself. I remember that when we put out
the "Triumph And Agony" album (Warlock) back in 1987, everything
fell into place; the record company was totally behind it, MTV put
our song "All We Are" on heavy rotation which was a big plus I
must say, the fans were there and Metal was at its peak between
1987 and 1988!
Sometimes you do wish for everything to fall into
place, but it's very rare that this happens as things need to work
like a watch. For example, album sales are currently down and the
whole music industry suffers as a result. We, as a band, are
concentrating more on the live aspect of the business.
I am not a
material person, I do not own a house...everything that I
earn I put back into this band, getting a better light show
or instruments that will create a better sound.
That, of course, makes absolute sense to me as most artists only
really tend to earn money through their live performances, right?
Doro: Yes, that is indeed the case. When we started our career
back in the 80s we used to put out a record and then the record
company would take us out on the road for a tour that would
support the album.
Nowadays we have to go out and tour without
their support and that makes the survival process much more
difficult. In countries like the US, many bands use their records
as a promotional tool and when I first heard that I thought 'oh my
God, times have definitely changed'.
Actually, I love doing
records and I love even more being on the road. Touring is
definitely super important and I really do it for the fun of it as
I love playing music and I love our fans - as long I can survive,
that's all I want to do in life.
I am not a material person, I do
not own a house...everything that I earn I put back into this
band, getting a better light show or instruments that will create a
better sound. By the way, we plan on going on tour for the next
one and a half years.
Doro, do you mind if we concentrate on two particular songs that
specifically caught my attention? The first song is "Hertzblut" -
does that translate to blood from your heart?
Doro: You know what, I recently found out that "Hertzblut" has its
true meaning only in German. We tried to translate this word into
many different languages, as we tried to make different versions
of the song in our single - one in German, one in French, one in
Spanish and one in Portuguese. That's when I learned that this
word does not exist in any other language other than the German.
When you do something with 'Hertzblut', with 'heart blood' it
means that you give it all you have as a person. We have lived by
this rule for the last 25 years! As this word only exists in
German, I described it in French as 'With My Full Heart".
What I really love about this song, apart from the fact that it is
a classic power ballad, is the very fact that the lyrics are in
German. Why? It's because that, even though German is a
harsh/strong language, the feeling you get from this song is a
truly emotional one. This is a beautiful song indeed in which
strength and passion work in perfect unison.
Doro: That is great, as this is exactly what I felt too about this
song. Originally I wanted to translate it into English but when I
attempted to do that it didn't feel as good. I do not know if you
remember the song called "Fur Immer"? There were so many people
who were asking me why I did not translate it into English and I
remember that, especially based on what the melody for this song
was, the words 'Immer' and 'forever" did not work as good as
people thought they would.
'Forever' sounds...well, forever, but
"Fur Immer" sounds much more powerful and same applies with "Hertzblut".
I guess that some songs are simply meant to be in a certain way.
When I get ideas, I tend to look for emotional power and then I
let them lead me to wherever it is that they want me to go. I did
work towards an English version for "Hertzblut", but things didn't
really work out...who knows, maybe I will try again in the future.
When I first wrote the demo for this song, I sent it to Andreas
hoping that he would like it. Then he sent it back to me saying
'listen to it, I have added some guitars, so check it out'. The
moment I listened to it, tears started forming in my eyes. I
remember saying to myself 'I love it, I definitely want to have it
in the album'...it really hit me deep as well what you described.
Sometimes when you finish working on a song you realise that what
you have created is no longer yours but something that can stand
by itself.... some songs need to be written in a very specific way
...as they have always been meant to, right?
Doro: Yes. I'll tell you something really funny; it was a couple
of times when I was concentrating on a new record that I told
myself 'oh man, I have a brilliant idea for a new song title' and
I really believed that I would really be the only person in the
world with this idea. Then, of course, I would turn on the radio
or the TV and somebody would present a song with the same title as
the one that I had just discovered for myself...
I have to say; I
really believe that there is a 'well of ideas' somewhere maybe in
the spiritual world where every artist draws their inspiration
from (laughs). I would probably have to think about real examples
here, but this has happened to me many times. These are weird but
also very interesting coincidences.
The other song which I would like us to talk about, one that I do
not think will come as a huge surprise to you, is "Walking With
The Angels", your duet with Tarja Turunen (ex-Nightwish). I was
pretty impressed by how well two different types of female vocals
can coexist in the same composition. That, I assume, was the whole
point behind this song, right? How would you describe the
experience of working with Tarja and how did this collaboration
came into being?
Doro: The first time that I met Tarja was in Wacken back in 2002,
a time when Nightwish were just about to break through. That's
when I first heard the band and I thought 'wow' - I was completely
blown away by Tarja's vocals and overall performance and energy.
After that show, we met each other a few times over the years,
last time being through my friend Regina Halmich which was a
female drummer and a female boxing champion for over thirteen
years. I had a great chance to write two Rocking anthems for her
before she finished her career last year, one of which was called
I actually performed that song for her and as this
was a big celebration, Tarja was also there. So, we saw each other
during the sound check and again during the boxing match and we
became to know each other a little bit better. That's when we said
to each other 'maybe we could do something together in the near
When I decided that what I wanted to do is to write a
song about positive power, angel power, I wrote "Walking With The
Angels" with the help of my friend Joey Taylor with whom I also
wrote quite a few things for my first album "Force Majeure" and
also the "Triumph & Agony" album.
When the demo was finished I
though that it would be great if someone with a more angelic voice
than me was to also sing in it as a duet partner. That is when I
called Tarja and told her 'I have a song that I would like to sing
with you - check it out and let me know what you think'. Her
response was that she liked it and she also asked me if I could
also sing on the winter edition of her last album.
The song that
I ended up performing in is called "The Seer", one that means a
lot to her. I told her at the time 'Tarja, send me the song and I
will do this for you - I cannot sing as angelic as you do but I
will give it a shot'. She sent me "The Seer", I sent her "Walking
With The Angels", we worked on them and then sent them back to
each other, so you can say that we swapped songs (laughs).
played these songs live together for the first time during my
band's 25th anniversary show and I think that we were both nervous
as hell. It was all so exciting; we first did "Walking With The
Angels" and then we did "The Seer" and a couple of times I
remember us holding hands, trying to shake out our stage fright...
Doro, I cannot believe that a person with your experience still
suffers stage fright!
Doro: Every time I go on stage I suffer from it; there is so much
adrenaline involved and also too much excitement (laughs). When I
started back in the 80s, I always had to throw up before a show
'cause I was feeling so nervous - that, I do not have to do
anymore, but I still have plenty of anxiety. That I find to be
good, though, as it shows that I am still interested and that I
care about what I do.
Every gig is a new challenge, regardless if
it is a big or small show - performing in Wacken or in a small
venue. Each show is equally important as long as people are there
to watch a show. To me people are sacred and I always want to give
them something good, something positive and make them happy. I
would give 120% even if I had to perform in front of only two
people and I would probably still be quite nervous on stage
I think that the
difference between nowadays and the 80s is that, back then,
there were only a handful of us but now there are many of
them - ladies with great personalities, strong voices.
If some people
think that I helped in some little way, then of course that
makes me really happy.
Tarja is a very typical representative of the new generation of
female singers in Metal. I personally believe that none of them
would have been able to receive half the recognition that they do
nowadays had it not been for people such as you and other female
artists of the 80s such as Joan Jett and Lita Ford, all of whom
helped kick-start the whole thing. It must make you feel really
proud to see this as being the result of all the hard work that
you've put in all these years.
Doro: Yiannis, I never think of this in this way. I am just happy
when, sometimes in places such as Spain, girls come to me and say
' we saw the "All We Are" video and that's when we decided to form
our own band'. That really feels good...I always try to give my
absolute best, and if this inspires people then it's awesome, but
I am not really responsible for any success that other female
artists might have.
There are so many good and powerful and
talented female musicians out there right now that it's really
awesome. I think that the difference between nowadays and the 80s
is that, back then, there were only a handful of us but now there
are many of them - ladies with great personalities, strong voices.
If some people think that I helped in some little way, then of
course that makes me really happy. Anything that helps or affects
people in a positive way is good.
I was checking your band's website for tour dates a couple of days
ago and I only saw four dates as having been confirmed. Is that
still the case?
Doro: Dates are still in the making. We have a couple of festivals
that they have been confirmed, Wacken being one of them to which I
want to bring the same production set that we had for our 25th
Then we will play the Rock of Ages festival with
the support of an orchestra. That was something special that I did
a couple of years ago in Wacken and it was indeed something really
unique and special. These are the two shows that have been
confirmed, everything else is still in the process.
We are hoping
to begin our tour in April, a tour that will last for one and a
half years...there is something in the making that I cannot talk
about because when something doesn't end up working, people get
upset about it. Regardless of that, we are definitely coming to
the UK where we will play not only our latest material but also
all the highlights of our career.
Well, I will definitely see you in Wacken this year?
Doro: Yes? It's on the Thursday - don't forget!
I won't. Doro, thank you very much
for your time - it was an absolute pleasure talking to you.
Doro: Thank you, Yiannis.
Doro's "Favourite Tracks from Favourite Artists" will be
broadcast on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio on Sunday 1 February 18:00
Interview © January
2009 John Stefanis
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