Doro Pesch Interview for House of Hair Online
By Ray Van Horn, Jr.
HOH: Obviously you’ve been pounding the pavement on tour, doing a lot of EPs and DVDs since your last record Warrior Soul, which leads us to your new album Fear No Evil. How would you describe these past few years in this ever-changing metal climate; have things been a little easier, harder or not much different for you?
DORO: I must say, the time for metal right now is so good. We’ve been touring nonstop; it truly feels like the eighties almost! Now being able to do a record which represents all I’ve done in the past 25 years, I wanted to write good metal anthems that were really hard and have lots of double-bass stuff. Plus I love those soulful, melodic ballads. I wanted to have a record which represents all the many years I’ve been in the business. We wrote all the songs we could and I picked the ones I loved the most.
HOH: Fear No Evil is one the heaviest solo albums you’ve ever done. Your band has been well-seasoned working together so long on the road with you, but do you think they stepped things up a notch for you on this album?
DORO: Yeah, yeah. Usually every record has been a hard record to make; it’s never been easy. This one was really smooth, very easy and it was a lot of fun. It had a couple of things which I wanted to write songs for, like we did one for the 25th anniversary (“25 Years”) which was in my hometown in Dusseldorf. People from all over the world came last December and we were actually preparing this huge concert for a whole year, so I came up with enough ideas to write songs for this special event. For example, “Celebrate” was written for this anniversary gig and “The Night of the Warlock,” for the first time we had this big warlock onstage…it was huge! It took a year to build. Some of the ideas just came out very naturally. My guys and I get along so good and we’ll always play together. We know each other so well we can work with each other without talking about it. We just play and perform.
HOH: Definitely “Night of the Warlock” is a song a lot of people are talking about for obvious reasons. I know better than to entertain speculations, but would you at least see the Warlock guys coming onstage again and joining your current band like they did a few years ago?
DORO: The guys in my band are so tight and we work so well together. I would never want to jeopardize my relationship with them, but maybe a couple more Warlock gigs having them come onstage again could be a possibility. The Doro band, however, we’re really the best of friends and I want to think very carefully how to juggle it all. They come first because we’ve been doing this for so long, through ups and downs. With the Warlock name we’ve always had a problem, but in the past two years I got the rights to the name back so now it’s a little easier to use the name Warlock. Thank God; it’s been a really long time! (laughs) It’s here where it belongs. I’ve heard of many bands having these problems; it’s pretty common, I think.
HOH: I can appreciate your decision because I think this band is in there for you and I hope you keep this lineup together as best you can. This is definitely the tightest band you’ve had since Warlock.
DORO: Yeah, man, I’m so glad you said that! Since you’ve seen us play live, I think you can see that. Nick Douglas, our bass player, has been with me for over 20 years and Joe Taylor (guitar) has been with me since 1993. I definitely want to try and keep them together for many, many more years! (laughs) Then Johnny (Dee, drummer) made a great tour manager for our last tour in America; he was a great drummer and a great tour manager!
HOH: Following up your mention of “Celebrate,” we have a traditional Doro power metal anthem, which is something we’ve always come to expect on your albums delivered just by yourself. Yet this time you have a whole slew of guests such as Saxon’s Biff Byford, Girlschool, Holy Moses’ Sabina Claussen, Arch Enemy’s Angela Gossow, just an entire entourage of metal stars. What was one of your favorite moments getting “Celebrate” put together?
DORO: I wanted to write a song like “All We Are” from (Warlock’s) True as Steel where everybody can sing along, so we wrote “Celebrate” and I invited all the fan club members to participate. They came from all over the world, we met in this one club and we were singing. My engineer said ‘You need to give me enough choices’ (for background vocals), some with five people, some with ten, some with just the men and some with just the ladies. So we had a couple of versions and there were the females singing where I thought, ‘Wow, this calls for an all-female version!’ I then called up all my friends and people we’ve had a long history with or just from being on tour with and I called Sabina Claussen, whom I’ve known since the eighties. Girlschool, I flew over to London to meet them, Benedictum’s Veronica Freeman I got from her doing spots on our last tour. There were all these people I knew and I asked if they wanted to sing the chorus and that’s really special, because it’s the 25th anniversary. I sent out the demos and some people came into the studio and other voices came back and the mix of them all together…ahh, it’s oh, so good! Then we had Biff of Saxon and oh, man, now we had to have one mix with the fan version, one female version and one Biff version! They all make great versions but on the record we put them all together. It was probably the most fun song to make. It went pretty fast and easy too. I want to thank all the people who participated; it was so great! On my 25th anniversary show, they all came out onstage and did the all-female version in Germany. It was wonderful! It was the longest show we’ve ever done, over three-and-a-half hours.
HOH: Your ballad “Herzblut” I think should be your “Fur Immer” for the next quarter century of your career, it’s that strong. As you’ve obtained an American green card on top of maintaining your German heritage, did you feel a need to honor your roots with “Herzblut?”
DORO: Oh, yeah, I love it so much! It’s one of my favorite songs from Fear No Evil. We actually made many more versions in different languages: Portuguese, Spanish, French…it’s very touching and “herzblut” the word, I actually just learned exists in German. “Blut” means blood, but when you put it together it has a specific meaning. When you do something with “herzblut,” it means you’re giving it your all, you’re giving your whole soul and blood. I’ve always thought we have been working in the manner of giving herzblut to the fans, always. This is definitely one of my favorite ballads on the album. I must say, ever since Rammstein had their hit “Du Hast” in German, things have not been so…
HOH: Not so threatening anymore! You know how it is over here! (laughs)
DORO: (laughs) I know, but I feel there’s much more acceptance now for other languages and stuff. When I do a record I thinkonly one song in German is enough. It’s cool to do it, but I’d rather do it in English. Usually all the heavy stuff sounds so much better in English, though it’s awesome when it’s meant to be sung in German.
HOH: “Caught in a Battle…” Doro, I think you’re going to cause a mosh pit with this one! (laughs) This is one of your fastest songs ever, even with “Running from the Devil” and “I Lay My Head Upon My Sword” on Fear No Evil. We’re used to a fist-pumping, headbanging crowd at your shows; are you ready for the pits to open up?
DORO: (laughs) Yeah, I actually wanted to bring the mosh pit back in our sound! We’ve rarely had that and I used to love it in the eighties, so “Caught in a Battle” I would agree is probably one of the heaviest songs we’ve ever done, including the Warlock times. We haven’t played it live yet. We’ve played many of the other songs, “Night of the Warlock” and stuff, but I do want to play this one on our next American tour and see what happens! (laughs)
HOH: Do it! I’ll take the bruises just to see! (laughs)
HOH: Your duet with Tarja Turunen (former vocalist of Nightwish) for “Walking With the Angels” is one of those standout ballads you’re historically dead on the money with, and you get to share the spotlight, so to speak, with Tarja. How did find working with her?
DORO: It was great. It was the first time I’ve collaborated with another female singer on one of our albums. We did do a collaboration with After Forever once which was great, and I thought “Walking With the Angels” had room for an angelic voice. I’ve actually been friends with Tarja for a long time, and I called her up and pitched the idea and she said ‘Oh, I love it, let’s do it!’ Then she gave me one of her songs called “The Seer,” which I sang on and then she sang on “Walking With the Angels,” so we swapped songs. We did it live at the festival, we did it live at the anniversary show, we want to do it again in Belgium; there’s a female metal band show, so we definitely want to do more stuff together. She’s very nice and she’s the former singer of Nightwish. I saw Nightwish for the first time at Wacken in 2002 and I was blown away, especially by her talent, so it was great singing together with her. I love having highlights of the record and collaborations. Usually I do it with guys like Lemmy and Udo Dirkschneider, but this was the first time it was with another lady. I think the song is perfect for it and Tarja was super, super fun and super sweet.
HOH: We’ve talked in the past about your time in heavy metal and the song “25 Years” is reflective of all you’ve experienced in a quarter century performing in this business. With Fear No Evil, you’re making a statement you’re going to be hanging around the metal scene for quite a bit still. What is one of your proudest moments as a musician making it this long in the industry?
DORO: Actually, I think one of the best moments is hitting the stage at the legendary Monsters of Rock Festival in ’86 (with Warlock). We played three shows including Castle Donnington and Germany. It was the biggest crowd we’d ever seen and it opened so many doors. I don’t think I was ever more nervous than on that day. Going onstage my knees were like pudding, but everybody thought the gig went well and people were so into it and then we got the best and biggest tour with Judas Priest in 1986. Priest were my idols and heroes and we’d gotten to tour with them! Just this one day in my life changed everything, the Monsters of Rock Festival. It was a long time ago, but still it’s one of the proudest moments of my life and most important.
HOH: Thanks, Doro for taking the time to chat with us and the HOH listeners!