Doro Pesch Discusses Her Musical Career
Doro Pesch is an incredible metal musician with a career that spans the decades without loss momentum. Gaining fame with her band Warlock, Doro has lead a very successful career with her band that's named after her. Recently, she took the mic for some dates with Dio Disciples, a band in tribute to the late, great Ronnie James Dio. And on the eve of releasing a career-retrospective DVD in America, Doro is keeping busy with recording a new album and touring the world. I had the honor of talking with Doro Pesch about the new album and DVD, the loss of one of metal's greatest musicians, and how she got into music as a child.
Doro Pesch: How are you doing today?
Buick McKane: Good. How are you?
Doro: Very good, very good. I’m in Germany still, and I’m heading back to the States next week…actually in a couple of days. We just finished our summer festivals, and everything went great.
Buick: That’s awesome. Do you live in the United States or in Europe?
Doro: Yeah, actually in New York. Yeah, and when we tour, it’s in the tour bus, and the airplanes. We just did a South American tour, and it was actually every day plane rides, like, eleven hours or more. For tours, that’s every day. But usually I live in New York. But in the summer, there’s so many metal festivals, so we live here over the summer. But I’m excited to come back in a couple of days. And then our new DVD is coming out in the states in September, and we are preparing two special shows; one in New York on the ninth of September in Gramercy Theater and the other one September 11th in Chicago. We want to do great, special shows for the DVD release, and there will be many great guests and all the surprises and new stuff.
Buick: That’s amazing. You sound like such a busy woman.
Doro: Oh yeah, it’s always an adventure, that’s for sure, and always something to do; either doing the new record or going on tour, or writing new songs. At the moment, we are actually, between touring and the summer festivals, in the studio doing our new album. It will probably take five or six more months to get it out. But, you know, the DVD is coming out in the States, and it came out in Europe already. And I’m happy with it, now try it in the States.
Buick: That’s great. How long does it take you to actually record the record since y’all are so busy?
Doro: The old school thing was always we were in the studio one, one and a half years, but now we tour almost non-stop, and we do three or four month tour, go to the studio, go tour again. We just came back from South America two months ago, which was a great tour there. So whenever I have some time to breathe…It usually takes up to two years to do it. But in the studio alone, it’s always, like, six, seven months, but it’s never in one piece; I record wherever I feel good. In the states, usually in New York, or in Pennsylvania, or in L.A. too. And sometimes I’m doing stuff in Hamburg. The DVD was done partly in Pennsylvania and part in Berlin. So wherever good people are working, and wherever it feels good. I love working in many different places, many different studios.
Buick: And you also pretty busy earlier this year. You did a few shows with Dio Disciples, and you snuck onstage during Saxon and did a song with them, and you did the same thing with Motorhead.
Doro: Yeah, actually, we did a whole Motorhead tour last December which was great. I love Lemmy and I love Motorhead. He’s a great guy, sometimes he hopped on stage with us. He’s awesome, you know. Lemmy, he’s such a great, great guy, great musician. And it was a total honor to tour together, and usually I sang in the background for “Born to Raise Hell.” It was great. And, yeah, we actually did a tour here in South America, and then I got a phone call from somebody who works with Wendy [Dio’s wife]…I like her a lot, her name is Uda. She was a promoter; she did work at SPV which is a record company I worked on many years ago. And Uda said, “Doro, I’m sitting with Wendy in her office, and Dio Disciples is coming up and Tim Owen’s daughter is getting married. Would you be interested in doing the Spanish tour?” And I thought…I said, “I will cancel everything I had in my agenda, and I definitely want to do it.”
And that was a big honor and I was so happy that Wendy was thinking of me. And we did many great tours with Ronnie, one was actually in 1987; I couldn’t speak English back then. And then our big, long tour was in the States in 2000 and that was a great tour. We became great friends, and we played a couple of times together on festivals. We actually opened up for Heaven and Hell it was, maybe, one and a half years ago. When Wendy asked me, I said, “Oh man, I will give it my all.” And then from that day on, I practiced every day and night, I listened to all the beautiful songs.
I did three shows in Spain together with Ronnie’s band; Simon Wright, Craig Goldy, James LoMenzo and Scott Warren and Toby Jepson, he was the other singer. I sang with Toby, and sang those parts; it was nice, it was great. It was very emotional and…man, but it was great. And we all tried our best. No one can sing as great as Ronnie James Dio. We just wanted to keep his music alive, and everybody tried their best. It was in honor of Ronnie, and I was so happy that they asked me. It was great. And they treated me like family; it was so great to be a part of it.
Buick: Right. Are you the only woman who’s ever played with Dio or in Dio Disciples?
Doro: Oh, Emily, I don’t know. Maybe, maybe. I’m not sure. I don’t know, I’m sure he has played with other ladies, but I don’t know. Usually, on the tour in 2000, me and Wendy were the only girls on tour, it was great. But to me, it’s not a big deal to…I just try to be a good person. I don’t know. But Ronnie was my biggest inspiration, biggest motivation, and it was great. I miss him so much, like so many fans. I guess we all feel the same. You know, it’s such a loss. I still can’t comprehend.
Buick: Absolutely. There’s so many other musicians God could take. Why did he have to take one of the good ones?
Doro: Yeah, yeah. I think he was the best singer. I think there will never be somebody like Ronnie, and that’s sad. He was, like, the greatest singer and the greatest person. He was always so kind and so gentle and very warm, like, his heart was a heart of gold. It was great. And I was so happy that I had a chance to talk to him and we had many laughs. He had great stories and his jokes were the best; Dio was so funny. He had a great sense of humor. He loved the fans, he was always there for his fans…everything. Like, he always did the show long, or the tour was long. It was always the fans were the most important thing.
Buick: Stories of his kindness have really spread around. I’ve heard that from so many people that he was just the nicest guy.
Doro: Yes, yes, he was. It was unbelievable. He was the nicest and very caring, and I could honestly say when we were on tour together, he treated us so good, and he was always there. And he said if there was any problem, please come to me, talk to me, and stuff. There never was a problem, but thanks so much for saying that. He was very caring, even to the support bands. It was unbelievable. And he was great; I watched his show every day when we toured in America together.
It was a long tour, long shows, and I couldn’t believe how great he was and how his voice sounded. By the end of the tour we finished in Florida, we did three gigs in Florida. And my band…we were always watching on the side of the stage. And my band said, “Hey, Doro. I think you’re up.” I said, “What do you mean?” And then we saw Ronnie, he was going behind the stage, and we thought, “Where is he going?” And then suddenly he had a second microphone, and he came up to me and said, “Okay, you can come on now.” Usually we sang the last encore together, like “Long Live Rock and Roll.” I had the biggest smile on my face, I looked happier than the moon. Actually, a couple of fans took photos of that, they’re in the new DVD, the new book as well. And, of course, the DVD is dedicated to Ronnie James Dio. There were magic moments.
Buick: That’s amazing. Well what do you think about Black Sabbath potentially getting back together?
Doro: I heard that. I don’t know if it’s true, Emily. I just heard some rumors. Wow, that’s amazing. I’ve never seen them. When I started my first band, somehow I never had the chance to see them. It would be great, but I saw Heaven and Hell and that was awesome. I saw Heaven and Hell with Ronnie a couple of times, and actually, we had the chance to open up, and that was great too. But yeah, wow. I mean, they definitely inspired so many bands and musicians and the heavy metal movement. It started with them. That would be great.
Buick: I think so too. One of my favorites and a lot of other people’s too. Well, speaking of starting your first band, how did you get into music, especially being a woman, years ago when things were different in the world?
Doro: Oh, Emily, I love music! From when I was very, very young, I loved it so much. And I think my first song I remember was when I was three years old. Back then there was no heavy metal, but there was Little Richard, and I listened to the song “Lucille.” And his energy, his voice…I was so amazed. I was just old enough to make the record player work, and I listened to that song I don’t know…hundreds, thousand times. My parents, they almost got a little bit worried that I don’t want to do anything else other than listen to music. I formed my first band when I was sixteen, and we didn’t even know that it was heavy metal or metal. We just played what we felt, of course, high energy, loud, passionate. And it was from super, super hardcore speed metal to super sensitive, dark power ballads. I had many other bands, then we formed the band Warlock. It was the right time, we were at the right place, and we said, “There are more bands like us.” Because back then, it was 1982, there weren’t any magazines. No magazines.
Then we did our first record, and we signed to a German metal label. Actually, we had four record deals at first. We chose Mausoleum because they had the coolest metal logo. On both of the Ms, there were, like, two drops of blood. We had no clue, no idea; we were totally naïve, but we wanted to do a record. Then the first record came out, it was called “Burning the Witches.” Then we did many festivals and gigs. Then we did a second record, it was “Hellbound” in 1985. And then after that record, things really started to happen. We played in 1986…our third record had just come out, it was called “True As Steel,” and we played the legendary Monsters of Rock Festival. It was in England and two in Germany. It was, back then, one of the biggest things, tons of fans, record companies, everyone was there. We did a good show, the fans, they loved it. There were totally freaking out. Then everyone said, “Let’s give Warlock a chance.” It was then the first time I got American interest, then our record came out in America, and we did our first big tour in Europe with Judas Priest. It was awesome and it was so big at that time in the 80s, like, the really, really biggest times of metal.
Yeah, then we did the Judas Priest tour; they were very, very nice and cordial to us. And the second tour was actually the Ronnie James Dio tour in ’87 after our album “Triumph and Agony,” and that was my first record I did in the States actually. I went to the States for a little promotional tour, like two or three days. And after two days, I knew I wanted to stay. I told everyone I wanted to stay. Then we did the “Triumph and Agony” album which was one of our most successful records with “All We Are” on it. Then we did a couple of videos, and we were so lucky, suddenly was playing “All We Are” in heavy rotation. We did many more supports for some great bands, and we did our own tours. Now I’m working on record number seventeen, and I love it every day more and I love the fans more and more. This love for music just grew and it never mattered to me that I was a girl; I just love music above everything else. It doesn’t matter where you come from, it doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman. I’ve always had a great connection with the fans.
Buick: That’s an amazing career.
Doro: I know, I know! I just celebrated our 2,500th concert already and the 26th Anniversary which is the main part of the upcoming DVD, which is a little while ago because it took one and a half years to make this DVD. And we did a long tour after the last record and “Fear No Evil” came out in 2009. But, yeah, now the DVD’s coming out with the big celebration. It was the nicest concert I think we’ve ever done, the greatest guests, beautiful stage. It’s really nice.
Buick: Are you going to do your DVD release shows differently, are they going to be more theatrical maybe?
Doro: Yes, more theatrical and of course we want to have more surprises and great guests, a couple of things I can’t tell you. Chris Caffery is coming, we are playing together, and Mark [Tornillo] from Accept, the new singer from Accept, he’s coming, and many more guests. But we want to do a really, really special show in New York on the 9th of September in Gramercy Theater and September 11th in Chicago, Reggie’s Club, and because that’s such a heavy date I want it to be different than the New York show for the September 11th thing. We want to make it really, really special.
Buick: That sounds like so much fun. I wish I could go.
Doro: Yeah, there is one coming up in L.A. We’ll do a whole tour once we release the new album, which it’s in the making and it’s going really well. But it will probably take a couple more months to get it done, then from the the beginning of next year we do a full blown America tour and definitely come to L.A. and play all over. But these two shows are to celebrate the release of the DVD. We tried so hard for the L.A. thing, but it was too short notice. But we’ll definitely do something special there the next time we go. I love playing L.A. I love Chicago and New York, but L.A. would have been great. But next time when the next record is coming out.
Buick: Is there anything else you would like to say?
Doro: Yeah, Emily. I want to thank the fans for all the great support all of these years, their love. And I will always try my best, I will always give 150%. I love the fans more than anything else, and that will never change. I hope I will see them very soon, and thank you for everything. You guys are always deep inside my heart. And keep metal alive.
Emily is an avid supporter of the New Orleans scene, often filming shows and conducting interviews with local bands to help promote their music. She also runs her own site dedicated to the New Orleans scene, Crescent City Chaos.
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