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Although Germany's Doro Pesch is an international metal legend, it has been many years since one of her albums has had a proper stateside release. The fact that the reigning Queen of Metal has been virtually ignored in the U.S. speaks volumes about how bad things got during the '90s in the land of rap and homey. Finally, the sun is rising again in the brave new world and the former Warlock frontwoman is back with a vengeance. The latest release 'Calling The Wild' is not only an addition to her long legacy, but a second coming of sorts. It is with honor that the Metal Update rolls out the red carpet for the warrior's return.

Metal Update: The unfortunate reality is that many young American metal fans have no idea who Doro is, or even who Warlock is. Could we start off with a little history to bring them up to speed?

Doro Pesch: Yeah. It was 1983, I got my first record deal and it was on a little independent label, it was called Mausoleum, and I went off with Warlock for a couple of months and we wrote ten songs. Actually nobody expected anything, but it was suddenly like really becoming huge. Nobody thought we would sell anything, but it was suddenly really going to happen. Then we released our second record, that was called 'Hellbound', on a major label, it was Polygram, and then we had the chance to go on tour with all these great people like, Judas Priest. We played the legendary Monsters of Rock festival which was the best festival which you could get. That was the big break for us, and that was in 1986. Then, after that, I went to America. I always wanted to go to America - the whole band - that was always the total dream. And I did one record, it was called 'Triumph and Agony' which is still my favorite Warlock record. It was quite big here, and we had a song on it called "All We Are", do you remember that one?


MU: Absolutely, the video was on Headbanger's Ball, right?

DP: Yeah! That was really good for us. We went on a 1 and 1/2 year tour in America and it was probably the peak of the heavy metal time. Then we had a couple of problems with like, you know, the managers and the producers and one of the managers, he owned the name, and we went to court to get our name Warlock back, but we lost. I don't know for what reason, but the manager, he could use the name, and the band couldn't use the name anymore. So I went under the name Doro, and we continued under the name Doro. And then in '92, it started to get a little bit more difficult 'cause we weren't all together. When we didn't do much, it was really impossible to keep it up here in America. In Europe, we could always do great touring and get all the records released, but here in the states, we didn't get records released. And then we did like eight records which didn't get released, and now it's the first record, 'Call of the Wild', after so many years. And we've got the new record company, it's Koch Records, and it's coming out the 12th of September and I'm very very happy to be signed with them. And they asked me if they could get the rights to all the other records which haven't been released here, and we're just working on that which makes it ... Every time I did a record, it was like pouring everything, like heart and soul and everything into it and so there's another chance to release it.

MU: So this is a very exciting time for you.

DP: Yeah, it's a fantastic time. I felt like rock was coming back, like 2 years ago, I heard that Madison Square Garden sold out in 2 hours - Iron Maiden, Rob Halford, Queensryche - did you hear that?

MU: Yes, I actually got to go to that show. Were you able to go?

DP: No, no I played in Germany. It was a festival called Wacken, but I wanted to. (laughs) We played on the same day. And then one day later I came over here and I heard it was great. Man, have you ever - that's a great sign that rock is definitely back. I think they didn't even do it in their heydays.

MU: How was Wacken?

DP: It was fantastic. I played Wacken 6 years ago and there were maybe like, 1,500 people there. Then, I played it 2 years ago, and there were like 18,000. This time, I think, there were more than 30,000 people there. It was fantastic, it was so cool, so great. And the atmosphere from the fans - they were camping out there, in the same area - they were really wonderful. There was not even a huge headliner, it wasn't Metallica or Iron Maiden playing, there were still 30,000 people. It was quite amazing.

MU: Tell us about the March Metal Meltdown.

DP: Did you see that?

MU: I was there - it was great.

DP: You did see it! (laughs) It was much too short, we could only play seven songs. I thought, man, coming all the way from Germany and we only play like 25 minutes... It was worth it, it was all worth it, but it was too short. The organization could have been a little bit better. Thankfully, I wasn't one of the bands who had to play in that room where two bands were playing at the same time. I was happy to play it. So many great bands were playing there. But it was too short. I thought every band should at least play 45 minutes. I saw a couple of bands that only played 18 minutes. You just get warmed up by that time.

MU: It was great for the U.S. fans to get to see you play.

DP: Yeah, yeah, yeah. All the records, man, the hopes were up high, and I couldn't believe it. We always had a worldwide record deal but then they wouldn't release the records anyway. It was mindblowing every time. I can't believe myself that we waited all these years, and stuck it out!

MU: And now it's time.

DP: And I think it's a great time. Like, in Europe, it's kind of different, when something hits big, like, let's say grunge, everything else still can exist. But here - all my friends in other bands, we all got dropped at the same time. (laughs) But now it's good again.


MU: What has it been like for you, as one of the only women in metal, particularly when you were first starting out?

DP: It was always a great feeling, I always felt I was treated really good and treated with a lot of respect. I think it is always hard to survive in music - even when you're male - it doesn't make much difference. I really never felt a difference, I was just one of guys. You know, I tried to fight for my views, for my records, all the time. Every time it's a huge fight, and being a woman or a man, I don't know if it really matters that much. Sometimes, it was not a lot, but sometimes people made a big deal out of my being a woman. To me, it never was a big deal, and to the fans it never was, they liked my music. I was always treated really, really good.

MU: Did it ever seem odd to you that there weren't more women around?

DP: Yeah, especially in metal. I always wanted to have another woman in the band, but then nobody ever showed up at auditions. Yesterday, I saw Motley Crue, the girl, the drummer of Hole was playing with them. It was really great. She put on a super show, it was fantastic, she did a really great job. Odd, yeah, it was strange. But the women I knew in heavy rock, Lita Ford, and Lee Aarons - great singers - we all pretty much stuck together, and we all became friends. I guess women in any field, it's not easy. But it's picking up, and it's a great feeling.

MU: So do you have any plans for a tour?

DP: We're probably touring the U.S. with Dio in October - November. The management is talking about it, and we're hoping to get tour support from the record company. So we're probably going to tour together, which I would love.

MU: Any plans for Europe?

DP: In Europe we would go on our own, independently. The records are coming out about the same time. Worldwide, the 11th of September, and here on September 12. It will be busy to do it all. It will depend on if we do the Dio tour here, when we will tour there. We did all the summer festivals in Europe, which was great. In Belgium, it rained, people were standing up to their knees in mud. But it was worth it, we put on an extra special show to make up for it. We also played the Bang your Head festival in Germany, which is like the little Wacken, it is really good. And a couple of biker festivals, which I love to do, I never did it in America, but in Europe I love to do biker festivals, they are quite different, but fun. As much as I can play, I do.

MU: You do a lot of collaborations on the new album. What was it like working with Lemmy?

DP: It was totally one of the highlights of the record. The record was almost done, and I was listening at home to my record collection. And one time a fan gave me this record from Motorhead, 'No Sleep at All'. It was a vinyl, and I don't even have my record player hooked up anymore. So this time you know, I was in such a mood to listening to Motorhead that I wanted to listen to that record. And then I looked in the inner sleeve, which I'd never seen before, and now I know why the fan gave it to me. There was this little picture of Lemmy and myself backstage. I think it was at the Monsters of Rock festival. That sparked the idea. I thought maybe I'd give Lemmy a call or I'll write him a letter and see if he's into doing something together. I cut the photo out and I wrote him a letter, and I said, "Hey, Lemmy, remember this one? How 'bout doing something together?" And I left my phone number. I really didn't expect to hear back from him because I wrote it to his management and I thought maybe he would never get it or he's on tour. I didn't know where he was.

So, a couple of weeks later, I got a phone call, and then, I swear to god, I thought it was one of my band members. Someone said, "Hi, it's Lemmy." And I said, "Yeah, sure". I thought it was my drummer or my bass player, I didn't believe it. (laughs) And he said, "Yeah, it's Lemmy from Motorhead. Doro, you don't remember me?" And I said, "Wow, yeah, this is great!" And then, Lemmy said, "Hey, good idea - doing something together - it's about time. Where you want to do it?" I told him, wherever is cool for him, I will come, and he said either England or L.A. He told me that in L.A. he had somebody working with him who was doing a great job named Bob Kulick, the brother of Bruce Kulick, and he's a great guitar player too and he did a lot of stuff for Kiss and stuff. "Yeah," I said, "OK, I'm coming to L.A." And I came to L.A., and then the first day we met, we wanted to do some songwriting. Then he said there's this song he wrote like two years ago, did I want to hear it? I said yeah, and then he played me "Alone Again". And, oh, I thought, "Wow, this is beautiful." I said, "That's the one. I want to do it. I really love it." And he said, "Do you want to hear it out?" I said, "Yeah, but I made up my mind, and that's the one." Then I asked him if he's into recording "Love Me Forever" again. And he said, "Yes, that would be great. It never got the attention it deserved, back then."

The next day we went into the studio, and we had another great guy playing with us, Eric Singer, the ex-drummer of Kiss. It took like two weeks, and we had an awesome time and some great conversations. It was great for me to talk to someone who has been in the business for so long. We exchanged experiences, and it was really great. Lemmy is such a spirited guy, and very wise. He has a lot of good stuff to say and we got along so great. And he played an acoustic guitar solo on "Alone Again". One take. Nobody knew that he played acoustic guitar so well, and he said, "O.K. I'm going to play a solo." Everybody looked at each other, and then he played this beautiful solo with a little flamenco touch, and everybody's jaw dropped. It was one take. Yeah, working with Lemmy was definitely one of the highlights of the record.

MU: And you also worked with Al Pitrelli on the album?

DP: Yes, yes. I just saw him yesterday with Megadeth and it was good to see him again. I think he's an awesome guitar player. Really awesome. I always tried to contact him when we were doing the records here in New Jersey. I just did two records with Jack Ponti, a great producer and a great guitar player. He said, "Doro, I know this guy who could give another flavor to the record, and his name's Al Pitrelli." Then we called him, and every time we were in the studio, he was on tour . So I met him last year for the first time after a Savatage concert in Cologne, Germany and he said, "I always wanted to play so bad but the schedule was so tight. How 'bout now?" I said, "Wow, Al, it's 3 o'clock in the morning. I don't know if the guys in the studio are still there." And then I tried and nobody was there. I said, "How 'bout tomorrow?" And he said, "Yeah, that's cool." The next day he showed up with his whole crew, like 10 people were in this tiny studio. It was great. It was awesome playing with him. He's a passionate guy. So that was another highlight, definitely. And then Slash played another solo on "Now or Never". Which, man, he played a ripping solo. It was also special to work with him. To play with all these different stars was a dream come true. There definitely was some magic to the record.

MU: You've collaborated with so many different people on this album, as well as over the years. Besides the issue with the Warlock name, was there anything that prompted this approach?

DP: The thing was, even in Warlock, we had many studio musicians playing that hardly anybody in the band played on the records back then. It always gave us a lot of problems, I must say. Band members were bummed out when they didn't play on the record. It was the producer's choice. So I'm used to playing with a lot of people. With this record, I thought every song should get the right energy, and the right players, and the right studio, and the right producer. I wanted to treat every song like it would be the only song on the record. I thought it's better to have a couple of people working on it than one person. Usually, you're dependant on one person to play, so, for example, if somebody is only into ballads, they're not into the heavy songs. So I think every song should be played by the players who would love the song. And technology is so great these days, you don't have to be stuck in one studio all the time. I love working with different people and playing together. It creates magic and you can get what you want. What you always looked for.

MU: On tour, do you feel you are able to recreate that magic with the same musicians each night?

DP: Ah, live is a different energy. Live, I always found out that it works really great. I'm together with the same people for so many years now. The bass player, Nick Douglas, he's with me for 10 years now. He was celebrating his tenth band anniversary at Wacken. And Joe Taylor, the guitar player, has been with me for several years now. And live we seem to work really well. Sometimes we pull things off live better than it's recorded on the record. And the guys in my band played on the record as well. It's never that they're totally left out.

MU: Do you have any favorite songs on 'Calling the Wild'?


DP: Yeah, a couple of them are my favorites. I love the cover version of "White Wedding". I think that came out really cool - a little bit heavier and darker and I think it's really nice. I'm not such a huge fan of cover versions, but every once in a while, when it's the right song... And this one, we did a little jam session in the studio, and man, it was so cool, it was great. "Dedication" I love. It has a good, positive message. "Scarred" -that's not the obvious one, but I think it has such a great mood, and it was done with a person I totally respect, Jimmy Harry. He's from New York as well, and I met him and worked with him on the last record, 'Love Me in Black'. That was a great record. We worked on it every day for like three years, and then it wasn't released here. I was totally bummed out about that. It was definitely one of, if not the best records I ever did. "Terrorvision" which I wrote with Jimmy, was on the last album, and I re-recorded it for this one with Die Krupps. That was great. It was not easy to get permission for the other record company for that. And "Constant Danger" I love, and "Kiss Me Like a Cobra". It depends on what mood I'm in, which are my favorites.

MU: What songs will make it into your live setlist?

DP: I want to play each highlight of every record. Back from the Warlock records, like the first record, 'Burning Witches', from that record to the new one. And definitely play older songs, it doesn't have to be all songs from the new record. Actually, when we play, I always like to, kind of adjust, to the place we are in. Like, when I feel that the people are into the heavier stuff then I will put more heavy songs in the setlist. And the band, they have a hard time with me because I'm always changing the setlist on the spot! (laughs) It's hard for them. But I believe it's the best way. I think to play the same thing every day isn't exciting. Every show should be like the only show, or like the last show you ever play in your life. The concerts end up being lots longer than they are supposed to be, like 2 and 1/2 hours. But when we're opening on tour, we won't get the chance to do as long of a set, so we'll see how we do. We'll try our best to put on a great show that no one will forget.


review of Doro 'Calling the Wild'






Interview: Laura German [ ]
Editor: Brant Wintersteen [ ]
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