Interviews > Doro
Doro
Interview by Athena Schaffer

Just like Boudicca of legend, the Warrior Metal Queen Doro continues to fearlessly lead the masses into musical battle, with admirable strength, confidence, and finesse. Her latest release, Fear No Evil, (AFM Records) is a prime example of why hordes of ravenous fans continue to follow her charge – anthemic chants, catchy musicianship, and moods from raw emotions to pure celebration. Following on the album’s heels is the 2 DVD/CD set – 25 Years In Rock, which features her star studded guest-packed anniversary concert at the LSS Dome, and includes special features such as a documentary and behind-the-scenes highlights. Originally hailing from Germany, fabulous frontwoman Doro Pesch is joined by drummer Johnny Dee, bassist Nick Douglas, guitarist Bas Maas, and guitarist/keyboardist Harrison Young. The band is still tirelessly touring on the strength of the Fear No Evil album, including shows in Russia and her first ever visit to Japan! The Crowgrrl caught up with Doro by phone right before the release of 25 Years In Rock!

Hi, Doro! How are you?

Pretty good! I went to see Accept yesterday night here in Manhattan, and it was packed!

Really?! How was the show?

I think excellent! I think Wolf Hoffmann is one of the best guitar players! I think it was fantastic! Absolutely fantastic!

I was just reviewing their new album yesterday.

Yeah. Did you ever see their live show?

Back in the day when Udo was with them. Not recently.

The show yesterday was really, really great! My jaw dropped, it was that phenomenal!

Your new album is phenomenal, too! And you have a lot of exciting things going on, don’t you?!

Yeah! We just finished working on the new DVD which comes out in Europe in December, and in the ‘States in Springtime. It’s called 25 Years Of Rock And Still Going Strong. It’s like the big celebration of the 25th Anniversary concert with many great guests like The Scorpions and Bobby Blitz from Overkill and my old Doro band members – it was great! We just finished it.

Now we’re preparing to some shows here, a few dates, then next week we go to Japan for the first time. I’m so excited! I’ve waited so many years to go and now it’s the very first time we get to play over there.

Are all those voices yours in the two a-cappella tracks, “Buccal Nudity” and “A Brief History”?

Yes, those are all my voices, ala Bobby McFerrin, which, incidentally, is how I compose my songs. I don't really play an instrument. So I hum all of the lines, all the loose arrangements into a recorder for musicians to hear what I want. It is a technique brilliant employed by Bill Cosby on one release in particular that I own: "Where You Lay Your Head."

Why is that? You should’ve been there a long time ago!

Yeah, Athena, but it was the first time in my life that somebody said, “Well, there’s a female ‘frontman’.” Over there in the Eighties, that was absolutely a No Go. The record company said to me, “It’s a problem that you’re a woman.” That’s the only time I had ever heard that!

That’s crazy!

Yeah! I couldn’t even believe it! Then there was a release in 2000 and they said, “Yeah, that is a great release in Japan! But there will be no touring.” The A & R guy said, “I am so sorry to tell you but there is still a problem.” I could not believe it again!

So now it’s the first time that it’s OK. I’m so excited and so happy! I’ve never been so happy! But I had never experienced anything like that. There was always something.

But you have a huge fan base there, don’t you?!

Yeah, Huge! The fans there were always die-hard followers. We were big there in the ‘Eighties. Really, really big! It was one of the best countries for us. The record selling was huge!

I don’t know. Maybe after I’m there I can tell you more. But that’s what I’ve heard – the people who were in charge would not book us because I was a woman. I always thought, “Wow!” But it’s OK now and now we’re going.

You’re also going to be playing Russia, aren’t you?

Yeah, Russia. We’re going to tour with Motorhead in November and December. Then we’re doing our own tour in Europe again. We’re going to start on a new album and next year do more shows in the ‘States, and tour South America again. There’s never a dull moment!

So this DVD is only one show?

That’s the main part. It was the 25th Anniversary – it was the longest show we had ever done. It was 3 ½ hours long! There were great guests, and a great stage set. We did it at one place in Germany called the ISS Dome. It looks a little bit like Madison Square Garden with like a “jaw will fall” effect. We had fireworks. It was done very nicely.

We have documentaries on the DVD as well, about 2 hours long. Then the highlights of this year and last year of the great Summer festivals like Wacken, the Bang Your Head Festival, and footage from China. We went to China a couple of times. So there are some good highlights!

Another thing – I was a graphic artist before I started music. I love logos and designs and types. On the 2,500 concert – it was actually a special event for me as well – a friend of mine who also has a tattoo studio said to me, “I would love if you could give me a tattoo like ‘Doro Show 2,500”. I said, “Really? I should?” She said, “Yes, please do it!”

So I started tattooing her, and another friend said, “Oh, that would make a great birthday present!” She asked if she could have a nice tattoo as well. Then I started tattooing the fans, and that appears on the DVD as well. Young girls, twenty years old or so. So this was something a bit special for the fans, and I love doing it. And then we did it for a good cause – we donated money from it to a children’s hospital in Dusseldorf who has a thing called “Heart For Children”.

That sounds awesome! Are you going to be doing more of that?

Yeah, Athena! Yeah! Already there are some fans who have said a tattoo like that would be a perfect birthday present. So I told some of the fans I would do it of course, for free. I wanted to do something like more tattooing.

The thing was for the 2,500 concert we wanted to do everything with “2,500”. We did things like donating 2,500 Euros to this organization, and another 2,500 for another. There were only 2,500 tickets for sale for the concert. Everything was themed around the number 2,500. But I definitely had some people who wanted to have something nice, and of course I love doing it. And I see it makes people very, very happy. Usually I’ll do a little thing like my signature or something, then I see people who say, “Oh, I want to get it tattooed!” So that was challenging, but I did the tattoos – I learned to do them. And they looked pretty nice, too. Maybe not top quality. I’m not the best tattoo artist in the world. But I think since it definitely comes from the heart, it’s a special thing.

Definitely! Now, back to Fear No Evil – you’re still touring on that album, right?

Yeah!

Who did the scary male vocals in Night of the Warlock?

Oh, that was my drummer, Johnny. I wrote the song when I was in New York a couple of years ago when I thought of doing a new album. I thought that I wanted to write something for this great event like this 25th Anniversary. Then I thought it would be great to have this really big stage set – and we thought maybe we can make a giant Warlock backdrop! We were checking into people who could do it; and we found someone who could.

Then I thought maybe it would be cool to have a song for the Warlock in the way he talked. Then he would come up from behind the stage, really dramatic! So I wrote the song. At first I talked myself, then we toned it down, and it sounded totally funny but really creepy. We laughed! It was hilarious!

So I thought maybe it would be better if someone else did that part. Johnny has a really good sense of humor. Our Johnny actually has a really good sense of humor. He did it and it sounded scary.

It did!

He always does it live, too, with the evil laugh, and we always crack up laughing.

Now, your song “25 Years” sounded like a Thank You to the fans. It was absolutely mesmerizing!

Yeah, it is! It is! And actually it was the intro on this concert. And, yeah, the fans are the most important thing in my life. They always were and always will be. I wanted to do a big Thank You to the fans because they are my occupation and what I live for. They always pick me up with good times and not so good times. They are always my strong support system. They’re the true players who push me to be my best. So I had to give a Thank You. I’ve put it in different words in my records before. That was actually the first song I wrote for this record.

I don’t have a family of my own. I’m not married, I don’t have kids. The strong family bond I have with my fans.

Very cool! Now, “Herzblut” is a gorgeous song!

I’ve got to tell you a little story to that! It was like 2 years ago in Belgium there was this girl who was a die-hard fan. She only spoke French because of where she lived in Belgium. She said her biggest wish would be if I could sing one song in her native language. So I did it once before and it meant so much to her! Vanessa was her name. So I said, “Vanessa, I tried!” She said, “Wow, it sounds so nice!”

Herzblut is actually a beautiful word. It means when you do something, you give it your All. You give it your soul, your blood, your heart. Then I thought it would be nice to have it translated into different languages. Then I found out the word Herzblut only exists in German. In other languages I had to re-word it a little bit. But I made a French version of it as well. French and Portuguese.

When the record came out and I saw all three versions, I thought of Vanessa. And she loves it so much! She said, “You have such a beautiful voice! I’m going to have another baby and it’s a daughter, I want to call her Dorothy.” I said, “That’s so nice, but what if it’s another boy?” She said, “Then his name is going to be Herzblut.”

Guess what?! The boy was born and his name is Herzblut! He’s like the cutest little baby, and I’ve got a picture. Of course, I put the picture in the booklet of the new DVD. I’m sure when you see him you’ll think of the song since his name is Herzblut. It’s so nice when songs mean something to people. It’s great! So “Herzblut” is a song and it’s a little boy. It’s touching!

Very cool! Do you have a personal favorite song on Fear No Evil?

I have a lot of them! “Herzblut”, “Night of the Warlock”, “Running From the Devil”, and “Celebrate” because there’s such a good spirit when everybody sings along to celebrate 25 years And everything else, too.

In your current shows, are you mostly focusing on songs from Fear No Evil or your classics? What’s your set list like?

It’s all the highlights from each record. The title songs and all the classics and highlights from the new album. And some goodies, some surprises like one version of Ronnie James Dio’s “Egypt (The Chains Are On)” because we were all big Dio fans and we toured together a couple of times. They were always fantastic!

And we do songs the fans want – they call out songs they want to hear and we are prepared to play whatever they feel is their favorite songs. So in the encores, they just tell us what to do. But, yeah, we do the songs that are most iconic, the ones that we know fans love the most. The Best of the Best and some little surprises.

Very cool! How does the songwriting process work for you? Do you get the lyrics first? Do you get the melodies in your head first? How do you write your songs?

The ideal thing is when it’s more like an inspiration, when it just comes out. You don’t even think about it, you don’t even work hard on it. It just comes out. Usually when the lyrics and the melody come out at the same time, I will think, “Oh! Maybe there’s something there.” That was always the case with our biggest songs like All We Are or Herzblut.

And other ways work, too. If somebody in the band has a great idea we like to work as a team to develop it. But I prefer to have the lyric idea first and then the melody. Usually I get the idea before I go to sleep, I guess when I’m really relaxed and open. I feel the idea coming, and then I always try to put it on the tape recorder or telephone. But any which way works. It’s hard to say, but there’s no formula. It comes out whatever way it wants to come out.

Sometimes I get really, really inspired by the fans. There was one man – he was at one of our concerts and the stage was pretty low, so we had total contact. This one guy said, “Can I tell you something?” I said “Yeah”, and he spoke right in my ear quick. I thought maybe he wanted to have another song. He said, “I just want to tell you I just survived because of your music. I was just 20 years in jail.” I thought, “Aww!” I wanted to write a song for him and for people who had fucked up in life. I had a song on the last record called “On The Run”. I know people who are drop outs or something – they didn’t manage to get it together or they made mistakes. I wanted to write something that maybe means something to them or gives them inspiration, something they can relate to.

Maybe not every song. Sometimes it may potentially be a great Rock song that you can get positive energy from, and sometimes ballads have a deep meaning.

Are you already writing songs for a new album?

Actually, we’re not sitting down and doing it, but yeah there are some ideas floating around and there are a couple of demos. But we’re not really working on it. We will do that next year when all the touring is over. But yeah, there are ideas in the making.

You mentioned you are a graphic artist. Did you design any of your album covers or merch or anything?

Yeah, actually I’m always doing parts of it, or as part of a team to make it as nice as a thing that the fans would really dig it or like it. But yeah, I always have a little part in it. But then I don’t actually paint the album covers. They are done by an artist named Geoffrey Gillespie. He does the covers, and then I get together with a graphic artist, a friend of mine, to get the graphics done. I must say I love to work on a team that are all talented. When you get a nice gift and wrap it nice and take part in it. For the main part like painting I let others do it, then I’m like “Wow!”, so blown away when I get it.

We always talk about it, like “What’s the new cd or the new dvd about?” A couple of months later I get the package and I’m always so nervous! Then when it’s good, I’m like, “Ahhhh”!

Do you design any of your outfits?

Yeah, yeah! Together with the girl who was doing the tour. We’re always working together. Sometimes I paint it and I will show it to her and sometimes she will sew it and come back with it. Sometimes she will say, “It looks great on paper but it’s not realistic.” So we have to tweak it and change it a little bit. I like my stage outfits, I must say. I could do it in jeans and sneakers but I like to get dressed up for stage. I definitely feel better and feel I’m in the right mind frame to do all my stuff. I put on my clothes and my makeup and then I’m ready. It’s like a little ritual and then off I go.

Very cool! Do you do any of the work on your website or Myspace pages?

Not as much as I should do. I want to do more but don’t have enough time. Especially when I’m on tour. When I’m touring I concentrate much on doing a good show, talking to the fans, and doing autograph sessions. But I don’t spend as much time on the computer as I probably should.

Some friends of ours do it. Our drummer, John Dee, is doing the Myspace. Another friend of mine is doing the Facebook. I don’t do much. I want to do more but there isn’t enough time in the day to get it all done.

I know that feeling!

Yeah! And I’m Old School. I prefer phone talking, and prefer to write my lyrics and my letters by hand. But yeah, the computer is great for staying in touch with everybody, but I’m more Old School.

OK. I know there’s more interviews you’re supposed to be doing this afternoon, so I don’t want to take up too much of your time. But is there anything that we didn’t talk about that you want to tell our readers?

Athena, I want to tell the fans that I want to thank them so much for being so great and for all these great years of support! I’m so looking forward to seeing them at the shows. I’m happy that we’ve spent all these great years together and I hope we have many, many more! At least 25 more. I will be ready for that, and I hope they will be, too. I also want to say “I Love You” to all the die-hard fans.