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Interview

Doro Pesch Discusses New Album, "Forever Warriors, Forever United," Lemmy, Warrel Dane And More

Heavy metal has its fair share of heroes and legends. While many bands mean a lot to people, heavy metal has given the world of music some true icons such as Ozzy Osbourne, Motorhead's Lemmy and King Diamond. In a genre which is seen to have been dominated by men however, a number of woman have made their presence known and voices heard, perhaps none more so than Doro Pesch. Doro achieved success fronting Warlock, who released four albums before legal issues meant she had to change the name of the band to the eponymous, Doro. As a solo artist, she's released a number of stellar albums, creating pounding anthems and satin smooth ballads, collaborating with everyone from Lemmy to comedian Helge Schneider in the process.

Last night, Doro kicked off the tour in support of her first double album, "Forever Warriors, Forever United," performing as special guest to fellow metal legends Saxon. I was lucky enough to meet up with her after her set and discuss the new album, the influence Lemmy had on the record, the impressive cast of collaborators and how the place of women in heavy metal has changed over the decades. You can watch the interview in full below, while an excerpt reads as follows:

Diamond Oz: You've just done an amazing show! I saw you at Bloodstock a few months ago which was also incredible, but this time you've changed the setlist up a little bit and it's not so Warlock orientated. The new material sounds amazing!

Doro Pesch: Oh good! It was the first time we've played "Blood, Sweat and Rock & Roll." We were so excited about it but everybody sang along, it was great!

Oz: And of course that comes from the new album, "Forever Warriors, Forever United." It's been six years since "Raise Your Fist" so I'd imagine quite a lot of material has built up over that time.

Doro: Yeah, totally but we always release something every year like DVDs and then we spent about two and a half years collecting all the new material together. It always takes a long time to really get into the mindset and make sure everything sounds right and now it's a double album for the first time!

Oz: I suppose when you've got that fire, it's very hard to put out.

Doro: Yeah exactly!

Oz: And I think the first song you wrote was "Living Life To The Fullest," which is a tribute to Lemmy...

Doro: Yeah, I've even got my favourite Lemmy shirt on right now! Yeah that was actually when everything started, I wrote that song for Lemmy in the plane on the way to his funeral. Mikkey Dee was on the same flight and everybody was so sad and then this melody came to my mind and I thought, "I want to write a song for Lemmy" so I called my engineer and said, "I want to record this right away!" So I went to Hamburg and worked with a great guy, Andreas Bruhn, the ex guitar player of Sisters Of Mercy, who I've known for many years and he knew how important it was to me because he co-wrote "It Still Hurts," a duet I did with Lemmy on our last album, "Raise Your Fist." So we recorded it and then it all started from there, I had some more ideas and I wanted to write some songs purely for the fans, like "Soldier Of Metal" and that's one of my favourite songs on the album. So I sent it to our painter Geoffrey Gillespie and he created the artwork from it.

Oz: Yes, it's very striking.

Doro: Yeah? You like it?

Oz: Well I've bought the t-shirt so I must like it!

Doro: (laughs) Good good! I wanted to have something like Mad Max and Geoffrey has done all our artwork since "Triumph and Agony." And it's nice to be back here in the UK because it was in 1987 (the year "Triumph and Agony" was released) that we toured here and all across Europe with Ronnie James Dio.

Oz: Well speaking of the new album, there's a lot of guests on there. It's like a who's who of metal if you like; Jeff Waters, Chuck Billy, so many people, but the one that stood out to me was Helge Schneider. I couldn't believe it when I read that! The guy that did "Käsebrot" and "Wurstfachverkäuferin"!

Doro: He's actually a jazz musician and a great talent who can play almost all instruments! We played at this festival in Mannheim and I saw him out the corner of my eye standing there and I couldn't believe it. After the show I said "Hey" and "What are you doing here?" and he told me that he's playing there the next night and asked what I was up to. I told him that we're making a new record and he said, "If you need me, call me!" I told him that we have a saxophone solo on one of the songs if he'd like to do it so two weeks later he came in and me my bandmates were on the floor laughing. He has this really dry sense of humour and though I had to translate, tears were rolling down our faces because he's just so funny.

But one other special guest that was very dear to me was Warrel Dane from Sanctuary and Nevermore. I met him on my first big North American tour with Megadeth and Sanctuary and we stayed in touch. I saw him last year at Wacken and I told him we had this song song called "All For Metal" and asked if he'd like to sing on it and be in the video.

Oz: It makes it that much more special. It adds a sad element to the song, though it is all about coming together. It's almost nice to have him on there because we have a voice of the past next to voices of the present.

Doro: Yeah and he actually came to my twenty fifth anniversary on the longest plane ride. It was like fifty hours, changing planes and everything, just to sing one song with us in Düsseldorf and then another fifty hour journey to get home to Seattle.

Oz: Well, going back to some of your earlier songs, my absolute favourite Doro song is "Bad Blood". I was really hoping to hear it tonight or at Bloodstock. Maybe in March when you come back. Part of the reason why it's my favourite is because it has that great timeless message of unity and anti-racism, anti fascism. Unfortunately it's now almost more true than ever because of some of the stuff we're seeing in the world today.

Doro: Yeah and I remember, I think it was voted by the MTV viewers, as best anti racist video in 1993 and they played the video over and over. Actually around that time I filled in for Vanessa Warwick on Headbanger's Ball because she was off on vacation. I think it's a great song and we'll definitely play it next time but you know, being a special guest tonight we only had forty five minutes so only eight or nine songs.

Oz: Of course, you have two new albums to promote, as well as Warlock material as well as "Raise Your Fist" which is as integral to the set as "Bad Blood" or "I Rule The Ruins."

Doro: And of course "All We Are" and "Burning The Witches," which I love because that was our first record and when we first came to the UK.

Oz: Well while we're talking about "Burning The Witches" it's the thirty fifth anniversary of the album. Do you think if the new album hadn't been released this year you would have done something to celebrate it like performing the album in full?

Doro: Actually last year we played the "Triumph and Agony" album in its entirety which was pretty cool. We did some festivals like Sweden Rock but to be honest, playing all of "Burning The Witches" didn't even cross my mind. Maybe we'll do a few shows like that but of course we've just started the tour for the new album and possibly next year we'll play all of "Forever Warriors, Forever United" and maybe squeeze in some "Triumph and Agony" shows but maybe do something for "Burning The Witches" as well.

Oz: Yeah, it always goes down well live because it's like a firework. It just goes off!

Doro: And the ballad, "Without You." We played it a few years ago and I got a little teary eyed. It was actually our first ballad. You know, I like the heavy stuff, the hardcore, aggressive and I like the super soulful stuff.

Oz: Well you do both so well. You have the anthems like "All We Are" and then the ballads like "Kiss Me Goodbye" and "Love Me In Black." They're really beautiful songs.

Doro: Yeah I like it all. Whatever feels good.

Oz: Well, one last thing I wanted to ask you about is that we're now seeing more women than ever in heavy metal and for the most part, a lot of the best music is coming from women. For example we have Nervosa from Brazil or Myrkur from Denmark and so many other amazing female metal musicians. When you were starting out, did you feel it was always going to be male dominated and that you'd be fighting forever?

Doro: You know I always felt really comfortable. It was never a fight, I always had this great connection with metalheads right away. Sometimes I felt a bit lonely but it was always cool and there was some great women around then too. I was always great friends with Girlschool, Lita Ford and one band I really love, Rock Goddess. I'm so happy they're back! I have my own radio show in Germany where I can play whatever I like and I always play "My Angel" by Rock Goddess. There was some great bands back then but now it's a much better balance. I'm a big fan of Arch Enemy and Battle Beast but to me, my role models were all men like Rob Halford, Lemmy, Ronnie James Dio and Bruce Dickinson. For me though, that doesn't matter, it's all about the music. But I was always treated really good.

Diamond Oz's avatar

Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com for four years and has been a metal fan for ten years, going so far as to travel abroad for metal shows.

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