One of the pioneers of female fronted metal bands, Doro Pesch is back with a new album, and this time she really means business. With 25 tracks, “Forever Warriors, Forever United” is set for release on August 17th 2018, and showcases several guest appearances: Johan Hegg (Amon Amarth), Doug Aldrich (ex-Whitesnake, Dio, The Dead Daisies), the late Warrel Dane (Nevermore, Sanctuary) and many others.
While she was getting ready for her performance at the Wacken Open Air Festival, which happened last weeked, Doro spoke with Sonic Perspectives author and interviewer Rodrigo Altaf about how Lemmy influenced the new album, her touring plans, and the idea of putting together a “ladies of metal” tour, amongst other topics. Check out their conversation in the audio player below, or read the transcript available; and remember to subscribe to our Podcast in several platforms to listen and be notified about new interviews and contents we publish on daily basis.
My guest today is someone you can call a metal pioneer. She played with Warlock for a number of years and she’s had a lengthy solo career since the mid 80’s. Ladies and gentlemen, the Metal Queen herself, Doro Pesch! How are you today, Doro?
Hey, very good. Very good! I’m just getting prepared for Wacken – we’ll play in Wacken in a couple of days and other summer festivals, and it’s all good!
Tell us about the new album, “Forever Warriors, Forever United”! Are you going to release them together or separately?
Together! It’s like two records but it’s my first double album with twenty five songs on it and lots of anthems like “All for Metal”, some cool stuff like “If I can’t have you no one will”, which was just coming out on video yesterday. It’s a duet with Johan Hegg from Amon Amarth All good stuff!
Yeah, I listened to it the other day and with 25 songs, how long did it take you to write and record the whole thing? Did you have help from outside writers this time?
Actually I did! It took about two and a half years and some songs did it with my band, some songs I worked with my old producer and guitar player Joey Balin, who did the “Triumph And Agony” and “Force Majeure” albums with me. One song was written with Jack Ponti, which is the song “Backstage to Heaven”. And one song I wrote with David Bryan, he is the keyboarder and piano player in Bon Jovi, and he wrote a nice ballad called “It Cuts So Deep”, which I think is a killer song! Some songs I wrote by myself, others I did with a great guy with whom I’ve been working for many years – his name is Andreas Bruhn, the ex-guitar player of Sisters of Mercy, and we’ve been working together for at least 22 years, and we did most of the stuff. And every song came out in a different way and the first song, which was actually the inspiration for this album was a song written for Lemmy, called “Living Life to the Fullest” because when Lemmy left, oh man, it was so painful, so heartbreaking. And I went to his funeral and while I was sitting in the airplane, I was having this idea for the song “Living Life to the Fullest” to honour him and to thank him, and lyrics, melody, everything was there! And then I called my friend Andreas and said “I wanna record this right away” and we did it. And this song is what really started the whole process [of the new album]because you never know what would happen in one year, so I’ve had this kind of urgency to do a new record right now and it took like about two and a half years, we had about 40 songs and then I called the record company and they would only take like twelve songs. But then a couple of months ago they said, okay, go for it. And then we picked our favorites and ended up with 25 songs.
And it almost feels like a tribute to Lemmy, because like you said, you have a song that was inspired by his death called “Living life to the Fullest”, you’ve covered a Motorhead song called “Lost In The Ozone” and you duet with Lemmy on the song “It still hurts”, right?
Yes! We did many duets together. And I worked with Lemmy, I think, the first time was in 2000, and the last time on “It still hurts”. I loved Lemmy so much, he was my best friend – him and Ronnie James Dio. And I miss him so much, and I thought it should start with Lemmy and it should end with Lemmy. There are some bonus tracks, but I love that song so much because it has such great lyrics, and I I think Lemmy was such a great lyricist! He really hit the nail on the head and was so deep, so honest and sad…and the whole CD is dedicated to Lemmy – it says so on the booklet, and I miss him every day.
And there are original songs and six covers from Motorhead to Whitesnake. Who else did you cover on this album?
It’s three covers, everything else is original. There are six bonus tracks. The last cover song is called “Caruso”, and it’s an Italian song. A great songwriter wrote it, his name is Lucio Dalla, and it’s a beautiful song – the first one I sing in Italian. Last year I was in Italy, we were touring, and then so many Italian friends said, “hey, you’re always singing in English and French and German, Spanish, Portuguese etc., how about an Italian song?”. I said, “that’s right”. And that song I always wanted to sing and then I called my guitar player who’s actually Italian and said “hey, can you coach me, can you help me with the lyrics” and then we recorded it. This was actually the last song which got recorded. And he played it to his mom and she got tears in her eyes! I like when my music makes people feel something, you know?
Very cool. The first song that caught my attention was “All for Metal”, which of course has icons such as Mille from Kreator, Chuck Billy, the guys from Sabaton and Warrel Dane contributing and that’s quite an anthem. How did you come up with that song and the recordings for the guest appearances weren’t done all at once, right?
We came up with it a year ago, or one and a half years ago and at first it was just melody – this really nice melody, you know, a hooky chorus! And then I was in Wacken last year and I sang one song with Amon Amarth, because on their last album “Jomsviking” I sang a duet with Johan Hegg called “The Dream That Cannot Be”. And they invited me and said “come on up”, and I sang one song, and they had all this DVD production there…so that was the first time that I didn’t have my own show and I could walk around, talk to everybody, talk to all my friends and other bands. I saw Jeff Waters, and next to him was Warrel Dane! He was a great friend of mine for many years. We did a long tour in 1988 with Megadeth, Sanctuary and Warlock, and we became great friends. And then last year I told him I was working on a new record, and all of a sudden he was singing in it with me! And eventually, other friends joined too… unfortunately, it was the last time I saw him. He looked really good, in good spirits and then a couple of months later I heard that he passed away, and that’s really sad.
I actually saw you and Warrel in the same festival in 2006. It was the Live N ‘Louder Festival in Sao Paulo in Brazil. He was there with Nevermore and you played there just after them!
Yeah, I remember! I hope Warrel is in a better place now – it’s really sad.
Another song that couldn’t go unnoticed when I listened to is the one you mentioned before, “If I can’t have you no one will”, the duet with Johan. Tell us about that one.
We had this idea, Tommy Bolan, our guitar player in Warlock on the “Triumph and Agony” days and I. We were always great friends and last year we did a couple of shows where we played only the “Triumph and Agony” album, which was, I think, one of our best records and it was actually released 30 years ago, in 87. And I asked Tony, “hey shall we celebrate the anniversary?” He said “yes, I’d love to”. So we went to play a couple of shows, did a tour in America, and played Sweden Rock Festival and Norway Rock. We had so much fun! And then it was like about 5:00 in the morning, 7:00 we had to leave to take a plane, and then we were talking and talking, and I said: “hey, shall we do a little jam session?”. So we jammed in our hotel room, and the song “If I can’t have you no one will” came out and we did a demo and then I told Tommy “I think Johan would be great!” So I sent it to Johan and asked him to write the lyrics for the verses, which he did. And then he sang on it, and now we did the video, which actually came out recently. And I think it came out so great! You gotta check it out on YouTube and I think it’s one of the coolest songs, very different, brutal, you know!
One of my favorite songs on the album is one I haven’t heard you talk about too much yet – the ballad “Heartbroken”. So tell us about that one as well!
It’s one of my favorites, and the solos on that song were played by Doug Aldrich, who played in Whitesnake and Dio, and is now with The Dead Daisies. We played together in many festivals, and a couple of years ago we played in Las Vegas, and then I asked him if he wants to come up and play a song with us, and we did “Breaking the Law”. I always loved playing that Judas Priest song, and when Doug played, I was blown away. I asked him to play a solo in one of my songs, and he said “yes, send me some songs!” We had this song “Heartbroken” which I wrote with Andreas, and I thought this could be something for Doug. And then I sent him and I was hoping that he would like it, and he loved it! So he played on that, and I think he’s one of the greatest guitar players of all times, and the nicest guy too, so it was quite an honor!
Yeah. I actually met him a couple of times in the last time was just a month ago here in Toronto. He was doing a clinic here, and he’s a nice guy for sure!
Yeah, and such a great player! I like it when good people are playing on the songs on the record. It always motivates me and I like having great people as guests, or people you know for a long time. It’s a big treat!
Tell us about the lineup of your band these days. Most of the guys have been with you for a long time now, right?
Yes. Yeah, our bass player Nick Douglas has been with us for 28 years! Our drummer Johnny Dee has been with us for 25 years. Luca Princiotta, our Italian guitar player, has been with us for 10 years, and Bas Maas our other guitar player is from The Netherlands and has been with us for nine years. And sometimes we have a special guest, Tommy Bolan because we got along so great, and sometimes we do a few shows, and as I said he’s the guitar player from the “Triumph and Agony” album. It was actually 1987 and he’s such a powerhouse and he will join us in Wacken because it’s a special show, with pyrotechnics and many guests. I think he’s just, as we speak, he’s flying over and he’ll be joining us on many, many other gigs and festivals. We did an American tour together and we had sometimes three guitar players on stage, so a lot of shredding and solos and lots of fun and lots of energy, I love that! Especially, Tommy – he’s always great because he always gives 180 percent, you know, he never has to think twice about it – he’s on the floor rolling in sweat and blood and that’s what I love. I love to make people feel good and you know, to get the energy going and Tommy, he’s a funny guy and a crazy performer. Definitely, something to look forward to!
One thing that caught my attention is how great your voice is after all those years. What kind of care do you have with your voice these days, and do you find it more difficult to get proper rest between shows nowadays?
Actually, when I go onstage, I tend to be sick as a dog. But when I see the fans, it just pops out and I can belt it out! Before and afterward, it’s a different story. And in this day and age, we don’t take so many days off anymore, so it’s sometimes hard and when we tour in the winter time I always think I’m fucking dying! But yeah, it comes with the territory. It’s great playing live and you know, when I get great feedback of the fans, I’m in Heaven – nothing ever hurts onstage and I don’t feel any pain, nothing, you know, I can break a leg, It doesn’t matter! And touring is sometimes hard, but it’s always worthwhile when I see the people, and it can be big or small. It can be Wacken in front of whatever, 80,000 people. It can be a smaller club in front of three, four, 500 people. It doesn’t matter as long as I see them and we’re connecting and you know, and I live for metal. I made up my mind when I was 24, and I’m so happy that I made this decision because I’m so grateful and so happy. And physically it’s always, it’s always cool. I’m a big fan of martial arts and do it to keep the body strong and you don’t feel any pain when you’re training, sometimes you get hit or something happens and then my trainer says “okay, you can sit down or you can just go on!”. So whatever happens on stage, you know, I don’t, I don’t feel any pain. Yeah, it’s pure joy, pure joy and I do every concert like it could be the last, you know.
And you mentioned the Wacken festival that’s coming up in a few days. That’s got to be a highlight for you for sure. And what can fans expect in terms of set list and performance from you?
Many special guests. We’re up on stage and Johan Hegg will come and we’ll do the song “If I can’t have you, no one will”, and maybe “A dream that cannot be”, and we have a couple of guests. You know, I grew up in the glam rock times with like Sweet, Slade, T Rex, Alice Cooper, and one band that I always loved was Sweet. When I was like seven, eight years old, I already felt that music was one of the most important things in my life, and I actually met the guys of Sweet, Andy Scott, a great guitar player, and I invited him to play, so we will probably perform Ballroom Blitz, one of my favorite songs. We’ll have pyrotechnics, fireworks, you know, the biggest show, and the stage will look like a Mad Max movie. It will definitely look bigger than life!
One question that probably comes up in all your interviews is, what was it like starting off in the 70’s/80’s when metal was dominated by men. Do you have any reflections on that? Was it harder then than it is now?
I think now we have much more freedom when you want to start a band or something – there’s a lot more opportunity to reach your fan base on Twitter, Facebook. I think that it’s great. When I started it was very underground. I started in the 80’s, and there weren’t any magazines in Germany, only fanzines which we photocopied. We had to do a lot of work to get to know other bands or to find out or somebody was playing close to your country. So you definitely have to make much more effort and I think sometimes maybe it meant a little bit more to you if had to work hard to get special records, and especially working hard to see a special concert. I love vinyl records, which are very rare now, but we’re still putting out vinyl with the whole package, double vinyl, picture discs that the fans can hang on the walls. Something for collectors and I miss that sometimes. I like to have something in my hands and we always try to make a beautiful artwork. That booklet that the painting on the cover it usually it’s painted by Geoffrey Gillespie – he’s been doing all my covers since the “Triumph and Agony” album. And then if you have something in your hands, a piece of art, I like it that way. But in the 80’s it was very exciting. There weren’t any rules or limitations or security, people could just come up and stage dive, and some of them even were hanging out on stage! And now it’s more, more rules, of course, I want people to stay secure, you know. When I started my first band, I was 15 and I didn’t even know that we would do heavy metal. And then some fans that came into the dressing room and I said, “well you guys are a heavy metal band”. And we said, “that sounds pretty cool!”. I think every time, it’s difficult to keep your band going, you have to fight for them, Yeah, I think it’s always tough.
And one can say you were a pioneer back then along with Lita Ford, Leather Leone, and a few others like maybe the girls in Vixen. Would you consider doing a tour with just the metal ladies? I think there’ll be a market for that, don’t you think?
Yes, that would be great! I got along so well with Lita Ford – we did a Monsters of Rock cruise some months ago and we got along so great. And you know, we started talking about doing something together. And yes, I would love to do that – it would be something special. I would love it. There’s another great band which I admire that got together again – Rock Goddess, from England. Of course Girlschool, we were always great friends…and of course Lee Aron from Canada. And eventually, you know, we have to do that.
And I think there’s a couple of other newer bands that you influenced as well – Halestorm, Evanescence, Lacuna Coil, wouldn’t you say?
Yeah! I love Lzzy Hale, Arch Enemy, Lacuna Coil… great bands! There’s a better balance now! No, it’s awesome actually. So yeah, I think eventually we should do, we should get together and do maybe a big festival. I’d love that, yeah!
And aside from Wacken, what other touring plans do you have for the new album?
We’re doing a lot of summer festivals and then the tour will start in November/December, and restart in March again. On our world tour, we’ll go into America and Canada and Brazil and Russia and all over the world. And I would like the fans to pick their favorite songs [to hear live]because now there are 25 new songs! I love them all. I really am excited about all the songs. I’d like the fans to pick the songs we play live. Obviously a song like “All for Metal” we’ll play on all the shows. Sometimes we play two, three hours and we are touring nonstop and hopefully play in many festivals and in America, in America, Brazil, Canada. I’m a big fan of festivals, I love them! And maybe next year I’ll do like you said – something with the ladies of metal.
Yeah, that’d be cool! So let’s finish off with a message to the fans who want to see live.
Metalheads, my dear friends and fans, I love you more than anything in this world, and I can’t wait to see you guys live and play the songs on my new record! I hope you guys love the new record. It’s called “Forever Warriors, Forever United”, and it has a lot of anthem songs and I wish everybody the best. Thank you so much for your support, and I love you with all my heart!
Doro, it’s been a pleasure talking to you. All the best with the new album. And let’s be in touch, Ok?
Yes! Most definitely! Which city are you located in?
I’m in Toronto!
Oh, Toronto! We always play there. Then I definitely see you in Toronto and are the best and great talking to you and stay metal!