There is no question who the Queen of Metal is. Famous for heavy metal anthems such as “All We Are,” German goddess Doro Pesch has been supplying heavy metal to the world for nearly 30 years.
With a bulldozing new album, Raise Your Fist and a European and U.S. tour to follow, Doro sat down just long enough to talk about her music, her fans, and the legendary Ronnie James Dio.
Geeks of Doom: You have a European tour starting soon, followed by a U.S. tour – are you excited?
Doro Pesch: Very excited, very excited! The guys of the band arrived [in Germany] yesterday. Today is the first rehearsal, Wednesday we start. All over England and France and Germany and Spain…we’re heading for the UK tour on the 20th November…and then the beginning of January we’re going to America and doing the 70000 Tons of Metal cruise ship. You’ve probably heard about it, so much fun! And we’re doing the same in May, it’s for the Europeans, it’s called the Full Metal Cruise and it goes from Hamburg to Paris to London to Amsterdam and back to Hamburg. So yeah, lots of exciting stuff!
Geeks of Doom: And this is all in support of your new album Raise Your Fist – what has the reception been like so far?
Doro Pesch: Super, super fantastic! So far it’s great, it hit the German charts number 16, so it’s top 20 and we are all really happy. The feedback so far is overwhelming and I think it’s one of the best records we’ve ever done. I think a couple of songs definitely have the potential to always be in our setlist. I think “Raise Your Fist In The Air” is definitely one of them, and maybe “Rock Till Death,” “Revenge,” and we will see what the fans really love the most. I think it’s a strong, strong album. Great songs and I can’t wait to play it live. We just did “Raise Your Fist In The Air,” we played it live a couple of times and we got the same response like “All We Are” and it’s always usually our highlight song to close the show!
Geeks of Doom: I think “Rock Till Death” is one that will always be there.
Doro Pesch: Yeah, I got that feeling too. And the song for Ronnie James Dio, “Hero.” It’s a song where many fans said, ‘you’ve got to play it live.’ So I guess we will rehearse 80% of the new record and then maybe do it like no concert is the same, like we always change songs to keep it exciting. Some of the fans they travel with us the whole tour or part of the tour so everybody can be totally reassured that it will never be exactly the same…and the fans can always call out the songs they want to hear at the encore so we will be prepared.
Geeks of Doom: Also on the album the duet between you and Lemmy, “It Still Hurts,” is a really, really good song. How did that come about?
Doro Pesch: I love Lemmy. It was so many years [ago] now and we did two songs together in 2000. I was actually on the Calling The Wild album and [performing a cover of] “Love Me Forever,” the old Motorhead classic I love so much, so I asked him if we can do it and [Lemmy said] ‘yes’. Then Lemmy played me a ballad on acoustic guitar it was called “Alone Again” which Lemmy wrote and I thought, ‘wow, that was the most soulful song I’ve ever heard!’. Man, Lemmy singing that song, it was so great. Many years later actually when I had the song “It Still Hurts,” I wrote it actually [about] an old love affair but it still hurts, you know? Then the song was done and somehow in my inner eye I saw Lemmy singing the song…it’s such a great honor to have Lemmy sing on this album. We’ve been friends for so many years, I met him I think in ’83, ’84 the first time in the UK. He probably doesn’t even remember, but for me it was like, wow! It was unbelievable and ever since we did a lot of festivals together, we did a tour together two years ago actually in Germany which, ah, it was great. We played the legendary Monsters of Rock festival in ’86, it was the biggest day in my life! It’s so awesome that Lemmy is singing on it…everybody loves Lemmy.
Geeks of Doom: It would be amazing if you could get Lemmy to perform every night!
Doro Pesch: [Laughs] Oh yeah! It’s probably unrealistic, but maybe for a great festival or maybe the 30th anniversary shows, so I will try but I know they [Motorhead] are always touring. Actually now we are touring at the same time…maybe we can hop on each others’ stages if it’s possible. But for a great, special night it would be awesome. Lemmy actually came to our 20th anniversary, which was unforgettable. It was celebrated 9 years ago before my home town in Germany and Lemmy and [Motorhead drummer] Mikkey Dee came and it was certainly the highlight.
Geeks of Doom: That would be very cool. The song “Hero” you mentioned that was about Ronnie James Dio – what did he mean to you? Did you know him?
Doro Pesch: Yes, I had the great honor to meet him several times. It was actually [on] my second big tour in the ’80s – my first tour was actually with Judas Priest and my second big tour was with Ronnie James Dio in 1987 and it was such a great tour. Priest was my favorite band and Dio was my favorite singer, so needless to say I was in heaven! It was so great and we got along great, always joking, laughing; he had a great sense of humor. And we had another long tour in America together, it was actually in 2000, and there we became really great friends. It was the time when grunge was on the way out and it was the first real metal tour again in the States and it was Dio, Yngwie Malmsteen, and us. Oh man, it was such a great tour. So much energy. The fans were having such a great time and we started in San Francisco…and then we ended in Florida. It was three gigs in Florida, I was always watching the show every night of Ronnie and it was so overwhelming. I must say I learned a lot and it was so great to watch it and to hear his voice every night and the songs.
Then one time he walked off the stage and everybody said, ‘where is he going?’ and then my band, they were always watching with me, and they said, ‘oh you know what’s coming up!’ I said, ‘no, what’s coming up?’ and, man, Ronnie came back with a second microphone which he got from the monitor guy and I thought, ‘oh no, oh no!’ [laughs] I start shying away and then my band is [saying] ‘no, go onstage!’ and Ronnie said, ‘hey, Doro, let’s sing the encores together.’ I said, ‘Ronnie I don’t know exactly the lyrics,’ and he said, ‘it doesn’t matter, just let’s have fun!’ We sung the last three shows, always the encores, together and it was such a great time. Unfortunately there weren’t any iPhones, no videocameras handy, no cell phones with video and stuff so I just had some photos of it which I put in the last DVD and they’re great photos, I look like a ten year old! I was such a happy baby, my smile was definitely from cheek to cheek, from ear to ear! I was always a big fan and like millions of fans I was so shocked and so sad when I heard that Ronnie left and it was actually a couple of weeks later I wrote the song “Hero” to say thank you and “Hero” was the first song for the record.
Geeks of Doom: I think “Hero” is a great song, I think he would be proud of it too.
Doro Pesch: Yes, I hope. Somehow it felt good when it was all done. Actually when it was all starting I thought, yeah, it feels good and it feels right. So I hope so, yeah.
Geeks of Doom: With the Doro band you’ve had a lot of changes in band members over the years, but you’ve been working with bassist Nick Douglas now for 22 years – what is he like to work with?
Doro Pesch: Oh Nick is a total sweet person, as sweet as you can get. He’s super gentle, very soulful, very sensitive. Always gives it his all, like 120% every night when we hit the stage. Nick’s an animal on stage even though he’s very shy, a very quiet person when we are in the tour bus or backstage, but onstage he is the wildest band member I have ever had! It’s awesome, he’s super cool and we’ve never had a fight, always a great time. He knows what’s important and he knows why we are doing it: to make people happy and to give it our all and that’s why he is now 22 years in the band.
It’s sometimes tough touring all year round; you can’t have a family, you know, girlfriend, boyfriend. It’s very tough and if you want to have like a normal life or a personal life, it’s very difficult. So when somebody says, ‘I want a family’…
Geeks of Doom: That’s the end of the road for them?
Doro Pesch: Yeah! [laughs] But usually we’re all still in contact.
Geeks of Doom: Does it help you to relax and perform when you know Nick and Johnny [Dee, drums] are doing their own thing on stage?
Doro Pesch: Yeah totally, totally. And we’re really tight, it’s like family. We’re best of friends besides the music as well, so Johnny and Nick they are super important for me and every night I know we can do it no matter what. Even when the PA sucks, the club sucks, the situation is maybe not as you wish, we know we can always do it, we can always get the crowd really excited, and nobody would ever know that there are maybe some technical problems or whatever. So we can definitely go through thick and thin. I can always feel like I can totally rely on them.
Geeks of Doom: A lot of your fans are getting younger and younger. Does it surprise you that you are still finding new generations of fans?
Doro Pesch: It’s awesome that the new generation of metalheads are coming to our shows and festivals. For example [at European festivals such as] Bloodstock or Wacken, there are more and more younger fans and it’s great. It’s very important too because the fans who are 50 or 60 years old sometimes they don’t go to a concert or maybe they have a different life now…sometimes the dad and mums they bring their children in. I know in America it’s not allowed in the clubs because of the alcohol license and stuff, but here you can bring kids. I think that’s so funny and as long as they have earplugs and they are protected – it’s important because I know, I had tinnitus for almost 20 years, it’s not fun. So kids definitely have to have earplugs but when they are rocking out and some little girls they tell me we, ‘saw your video on youtube or MTV and I want to do the same, I want to start a band’ and then ten years later you see the same people, you hardly recognize them, but then they have a band! I love that.
One of the youngest fan’s, his name is Herzblut and his mum, her name is Vanessa, she asked me once, can I write a French song and it would mean so much to her. So on the last record I did and “Herzblut” was actually a song in German, but I translated into Portuguese and French then I told Vanessa, ‘that one is for you’. She said, ‘really?! Oh I can’t believe it!’ She said, ‘you know what, I would like to have a daughter’ because she has two boys and she said, ‘if (my next baby is) a girl her name will be Doro and if it’s a boy his name is Herzblut’ And Herzblut is now alive! It’s a boy, he’s now one and a half years old. Every year now I get these beautiful cards for Mother’s Day…it warms my heart, I tell you.
Geeks of Doom: You mention your fans a lot and it seems like you’re incredibly close to them. Do you make a point, especially to your new band members, that this is why you’re here and they need to form a good relationship with them too?
Doro Pesch: Yeah. Actually, it goes without saying…I think you can tell right away, you can feel it and with the guys in the band you can see how the fans react. This relationship is so strong you don’t even have to explain. I’m just so happy that the fans they say, ‘your drummer wrote me back on Facebook, I’m so happy!’ So it’s cool, definitely. The guys they’re all involved so the fans they know and the guys in the band they know that the fans to me is the most important thing.
It’s important to out-do yourself because people come to many shows and saw you maybe for 20 or 30 years, so [I] always keep it fresh and young and high energy. I always try to do better than the last gig or better than the last tour, but when you always give your all it’s sometimes pretty tough and the guys in the band say, ‘man, Doro, you play two and a half, three hour shows every night’ and when you have a long tour they say ‘Doro, please, please, you want to kill us or what?!’ [Laughs] It’s so much fun and the fans deserve it…as long as it feels really good, give it all you’ve got. You never know, every day could be the last so I always treat it like it could be the last. But then the next day sometimes I crawl out of the tour bus, I can’t even move!
Geeks of Doom: How do you keep that up over the tours and the years? It can’t be just the energy of the crowd?
Doro Pesch: It is actually. It is the crowd, the deep feedback and deep love of the fans and it goes vice versa…sometimes we have a personal relationship or they tell me, ‘the song means so much to me’ or it helped me to overcome maybe a divorce or somebody dying or like a really heavy situation. It means a lot and I’m always highly motivated because of the fans and highly inspired because of the fans and that’s definitely the only secret to it.
Geeks of Doom: Do you get itchy feet if you’re not on tour, do you need to be out there playing?
Doro Pesch: It’s all good when you do another record. I always have the fans in the back of my mind…I always try my hardest to get something that is great or what is meaningful or what makes people happy or just having a great time. It’s all good…I fell in love with music when I was three years old and ever since music was my drug.
DORO European Tour 2012
20.11.2012 GBR – London Garage
21.11.2012 GBR – Bristol The Fleece
23.11.2012 ESP – Pamplona Totem
24.11.2012 ESP – Madrid Sala Caracol
25.11.2012 ESP – Barcelona Razzmatazz 2
27.11.2012 SWI – Pratteln Z7
28.11.2012 GER – Stuttgart Longhorn/LKA
30.11.2012 GER – Memmingen Kaminwerk
01.12.2012 AUT – Wien Scene
02.12.2012 HUN – Budapest Club 202
04.12.2012 TCH – Prag Retro Music Hall
06.12.2012 GER – Bochum Zeche
07.12.2012 GER – Karlsruhe Substage
08.12.2012 GER – Vacha Vachwerk
09.12.2012 GER – Berlin Huxleys Neue Welt
11.12.2012 GER -Aschaffenburg Colos-Saal
12.12.2012 FRA – Paris Divan Du Monde
DORO U.S. Tour 2013
01.02.13 USA Tampa Brass Mug
02.02.13 USA Atlanta The Masquerade
03.02.13 USA Springfield Empire
04.02.13 USA NYC BB Kings
05.02.13 CAN Baltimore Soundstage
07.02.13 USA Toronto Mod Club
08.02.13 USA Rochester Montage Music Hall
09.02.13 USA Columbus Al Rosa Villa
10.02.13 USA Cleveland Peabody`s
12.02.13 USA Detroit Blondie`s
13.02.13 USA Chicago Mojoes
14.02.13 USA St. Paul Station 4
15.02.13 USA Waterloo Spicoli`s Grill
17.02.13 USA Englewood Moe`s
19.02.13 USA Seattle El Corazon
20.02.13 USA Portland Hawthorne Theatre
21.02.13 USA San Francisco Thee Parkside
22.02.13 USA Los Angeles House of Blues
23.02.13 USA Arizona Rocky Point Cantina