Known as the “Metal Queen,” Germany’s Doro Pesch has been a trailblazer for female metal musicians. Breaking into what was undoubtedly a boys club in the mid-80’s with her band Warlock, Doro displayed an intense and impressive vocal style while embracing her sexuality with confidence and control. In 1987 Doro relocated to New York to work on what would be Warlock’s final record Triumph and Agony. The album was a milestone for Doro, spawning videos that would be played on MTV and landing the band tours with both Dio and Megadeth. Now 30 years later Doro returns to New York’s B.B. King’s this Sunday (10) to perform the record that helped launch her solo career and cement her place in heavy metal history. This past Tuesday Doro spoke with El Prezidente of The Chainsaw Symphony radio show on 91.3FM WTSR to discuss the upcoming U.S. anniversary shows, the making of the album, Lemmy, and more. Here are some excerpts from the chat. Listen to the entire talk on SoundCloud below.
How are you?
I’m good, everything’s good. Getting excited for this little tour and today’s actually the day that Triumph and Agony came out 30 years ago so.
Today’s the exact date!? Time flies huh?
Oh man, totally. I remember when we did this tour for Triumph and Agony with Megadeth and Sanctuary and I just saw both Dave Mustaine and Warrel Dane of Sanctuary a couple of weeks ago at the summer festivals, one was at Wacken and the other one at Summer Breeze. . . and its unbelievable it seemed like time was flying by.
That’s great. So you’ve got the big tour, B.B. King’s September 10th doing Triumph and Agony in its entirety. I just listened to the whole album and it holds up so nicely. I was just wondering what kind of memories came flooding back rehearsing maybe during some of the songs you haven’t done for a while?
It’s great to play the whole record because some songs we’ve never played live for example a song like “Kiss of Death” or “Make Time for Love” and somehow it almost got forgotten. Then this time we were rehearsing and all the other songs just sounded so unique and special, there were no fillers and they all sounded like the same level of nice melodies, lyrics, and every song had something special, something magical. And now we have done two shows, one was Sweden Rock Festival and the other was Norway Rock and we played the whole record and it was such a joy to play and with Tommy Bolan our original guitar player playing all the solos so he’s on board and it sounds so nice, so much power. I think it sounds exactly like the record just wider and more powerful.
Were there any songs where you were kinda like, “oh man I really wrote myself into a corner here, how are we gonna do this?” like especially 30 years later.
One song, it was “Touch of Evil.” We wrote it and then I wanted to have a powerful drummer so I can make some screams. We had our little demos and it didn’t sound powerful enough so I talked to my manager and he said, “Doro don’t get nervous just go into your studio tomorrow morning and there will be a surprise.” And I thought ‘ok “well who is it?” And he said “Well I can’t tell you, just go be punctual.” So I went into our studio, it was Power Station Studio in New York which was the greatest studio at that time, such a great sound great vibration. So I went in there and right in front was Cozy Powell with a big smile and he said, “hey I’m your drummer tell me what track you want me to play on” and I thought ‘oh my god, we’ve got this song “Touch of Evil” and I want to really scream’ and he said, “no problem.” He played on it and it was so unbelievable. He was such a heavy hitter we thought our ear drums would explode! It was one of the songs that at first we couldn’t pull it off it didn’t have enough power and then when Cozy played on it was so fantastic so amazing, and by the end of the day I was doing my vocals and screaming, screaming and suddenly there was like lightning coming into the window, all the way into the studio then going back out this little window and we all got scared and thought “oh my god what did we do!” We all immediately ran out of the studio and started working the next day again and everything was ok but man it was like wow some heavy powerful energy!
That is a stand-out track to me, the screaming that you do at the end of that track, you’re almost screaming in tune as Jamey Jasta from Hatebreed says, its a scream but you’re hitting notes, but it sounds painful. It sounds like you’re tearing you’re throat apart! was it painful?
Actually no, I can scream like 10 hours and it’s not painful. Its just so much fun but, I saw the engineer’s face you know and his eyes were almost popping out he thought “this little girl is crazy!” But yeah I can scream all day it doesn’t matter, it never hurts.
How do you pull that off do you do a lot of vocal warm-ups?
No, no warm-ups at all. Just when I hop on stage and when I see the fans, when I can tell the fans are into it or they’re excited then I can just sing 10 times better than when I’m in the studio and there’s no one there or just the engineer, when I see the fans then its just easy. Then I just want to make the best show or the craziest show ever so then its great. Then its even more fun to do for example “Touch of Evil” with all the screams. When you tour in the winter time then it’s a little bit hard because usually everybody has a little cold and you’re always saying ‘no, not me,’ but two days later in the tour bus it always goes around so sometimes the screams get a little bit. Not as hardcore to survive the tour!
I have to ask will you be putting out new music anytime soon, I know you released the single last year (“Love’s Gone to Hell”) and there was some talk of a new album?
Yeah, a new record. We are 80% there, and I wrote a couple of songs with Tommy Bolan as well so he will be a guest on it, We’ve got like 80% almost recorded so I want to deliver the record in March to Nuclear Blast and then it will come out in August for the Wacken Festival. We play Wacken for our 35th anniversary, so the record should come out the same day. That will be the first week in August, but to set it up nice, they need it in March so I have a couple of more months. It seems like a long time, but when you’re always on tour and doing festivals, time flies.
I’ve formed a little record label and it’s called “Rare Diamonds Records” and I want to put out all the records that are not available anymore, and like in picture disc, and vinyl, and all this fun stuff. The old school stuff, the first release, is coming out the end of October it has only the German songs on it and some rare tracks and one cover version of David Bowie’s “Heroes.” It’ll be some fun stuff for the European tour, but it will be released worldwide but it’s probably something just for the diehard fans who like the German songs and it’s called Fur Immer. That’s coming out, and all the records that aren’t released anymore and DVDs that aren’t released anymore, so I formed my own little label so we can continue to put out stuff you can have in your hands like vinyl or a little 7” picture disc something special or a special DVD with a nice booklet.
You did a nice tribute to Ronnie (Dio) on the song “Hero” and I read that you had written a song called “Living Life to the Fullest” for Lemmy last year I was wondering will this song appear on the new record?
Yes, yes it will. It was actually the first song for this record. I was so sad and I miss him so much it makes me so sad sometimes I can’t sleep at night. I was on my way to the funeral on the plane and thinking we had such great times together, touring together and stuff and then this melody popped in my head and the lyrics as well sometimes things come out exactly at the same time lyrics and melody and then it was “Living Life to the Fullest.” I went back to the studio and put it down as a demo and I thought oh yeah it definitely has to make the record. It’s stuff I believe Lemmy would like, it has like a marching drum, I think it’s nice. It will definitely make the record and maybe some more stuff to honor Lemmy. I recorded one Motorhead song, I don’t know if it will make the record, maybe we will put it on the limited edition stuff but, it’s a Motorhead song which I’ve always loved.
Were you and Lemmy ever romantically invovled?
No. I love him so much and loved him so much and I think he had a soft spot in his heart for me but we never got romantic. When we did the first songs together on “Calling the Wild” in 2000 when we were in the studio for a couple of weeks day and night I was driving him around, he loved driving he said, “Doro just drive” the rent-a-car and then he’d put on his favorite CDs either Motorhead CDs or some other bands or artists, for example he loved Skunk Anansie, he loved the singing. So I was driving and driving and we had the best talks and it was so great.
He was my best friend and he was especially important to me because my dad had just died and I was so desperate, and I thought I don’t know how to go on doing what I want to do, and actually by coincidence one day after it happened Lemmy called, it was an unknown number on my cellphone and I thought man I don’t feel like talking to anybody, but then I was curious and I picked up and it was Lemmy and I told him what happened and he said “hey let’s do something together.” I said ‘I don’t know,’ but he said “no, it will put you in a better mind frame,” so I went to L.A. and we recorded 2 songs “Alone Again,” a beautiful ballad he wrote on an acoustic, and he played great, the guitar solo was so awesome. Then we did “Love Me Forever” because that was my favorite Motorhead ballad. So it was a great time and we were always great friends, but I would have never dared to go that way thinking-wise, and he had a beautiful girlfriend that I got along great with, and to be honest when I do music when I’m in the studio that’s the last thing on my mind it’s only about the song it has to be sounding great and the guitars, and the singing, and Lemmy’s bass. I always loved the fast bass and the engineer said that’s too much bass and I said no, no turn the bass up!
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