INTERVIEW WITH DORO PESCH
Date: October 27, 2020
Interviewer: Ruben Mosqueda
Photos: Christopher Carroll ROCK Photography (first, second, fourth and fifth photos)
“We made many, many records and did many, many tours, but when grunge arrived it was hard to survive. I recorded all those records in America, but because they didn’t sound like that [grunge]. It was tough to sell them. Things were better by 2000 when I released ‘Calling The Wild’ which featured Lemmy [Kilmister] and I got a chance to tour with Ronnie James Dio. Things are always up and down, and up and down. You just have to hang in there,” recalls the Metal Queen Doro Pesch during her conversation with Sleaze Roxx on October 27th, 2020. Things have taken a turn for the better, but Covid-19 has put a squash on the band’s touring and the new material has been staggered. Doro has a new collection titled ‘Magic Diamonds – Best of Rock, Ballads & Rare Treasures’, a 56 track collection of highlights from her career. It’s due on November 13th on her own imprint Rare Diamonds Productions. Check out the collection and enjoy the interview.
Sleaze Roxx: You have a new three disc collection coming ‘Magic Diamonds – Best of Rock, Ballads & Rare Treasures’ on November 13th. It’s got 50+ songs in it. What influenced the release of a collection like this?
Doro Pesch: It’s 56 songs! We had plans to play festivals and do some touring in 2020, but in March everything was either postponed or canceled. So I went back into the studio to work on the new record. We already had some nice songs for the new record. I was looking through my archives and when I did that, I just thought that I needed to make a ‘Best of’ record. I wanted to put 15 to 20 songs on it. I was listening to some DAT cassettes and I had all kinds of adventures listening to some of the tapes. I then wanted 25, then 35 songs on it, then 55 and the list just got bigger and bigger [laughs]! I maxed out on 56 songs! I had to stop there [laughs]! We have included a lot of deep cuts and unreleased versions, and we remixed live songs and we recorded some new versions in the studio with different arrangements.
Sleaze Roxx: This will be a release that will be on your own label.
Doro Pesch: That’s right! It’s on Rare Diamonds Productions I started that a few years ago when I got back the rights to the albums that I did for AFM and SPV. Those were the records that I did from like 2000 to 2011, so I got those records back and I got four to five DVDs and I wanted to release them myself so we put together ‘Rare Diamonds.’ I wanted to do some nice fan stuff. I wanted to do some picture discs, maybe some cassettes and other stuff that would be really fun for the diehard fans. It was so much fun listening back to the DAT cassettes from the late ’80s and early ’90s. There’s a lot of live songs that we don’t play live much anymore. It was just so much fun listening to them and it made time fly by so fast [laughs]! Yeah, the new album will be coming out next year, because we couldn’t tour much this year. I went into the studio to work on the album, so when I start something, I have to finish it. The new record will be out in 2021.
Sleaze Roxx: So eventually all of the AFM and SPV albums and DVDs will be released?
Doro Pesch: Oh, yeah! Yeah! That’s what we are doing to do. I have also found a bunch of the demos for those records and demos for my first band! I need to find out if I can get permission from all of the past band members to see if we can use them. It’s going to be hard to locate them all but I’m going to try [laughs]! I can tell you that the ‘Love Me In Black’ record is coming out next year on vinyl. ‘Love Me In Black’ was never released on vinyl so I want to release that and I also want that on picture disc. This will be for the diehard fans, collectors and vinyl lovers!
Sleaze Roxx: How much help did you need in selecting and unearthing the recordings that turned up on ‘Magic Diamonds’?
Doro Pesch: It took a long time to master, because there were a lot of old [studio] recordings that just sounded different and there were live recording that just sounded different. I wanted a record that sounded like the last studio record ‘[Forever Warriors, Forever] United.’ I really liked how that sounded and I found a studio called Rock City Studio. There’s very nice people there. I spoke to the engineer that we needed to make the songs sound like that, not the studio tracks but the live stuff. There was always something on the live stuff. There was either feedback or a guitar was out of tune or something. The engineer there was just so very, very helpful. I looked forward to going to work together everyday, sometimes in different rooms because of the virus. Sometimes we wouldn’t even say “hello.” We would go right into our rooms [laughs]! It was a strange way to work, but we did it. We were talking only via microphone or by cell phone. We would bring in the guys in my band and they would replay some stuff or some solos and we would put it all together.
Sleaze Roxx: There’s a number of the ‘hits’ on this album in different forms. Your biggest hit and trademark song at least in North America is “All We Are.” I don’t think you could ever leave a stage anywhere without doing that one, right?
Doro Pesch: You’re right! [laughs] I haven’t ever played a show without “All We Are” since we recorded it. There have been shows where the fire alarm has go off and I have managed to squeeze in “All We Are” [laughs]! Our last North American tour, we played with Metal Church. On one of the shows, I was just about to play “All We Are” and the fire alarm went off! No one wanted to leave, so I thought, “Well, let’s play it a little bit” [laughs]! So we did the short version and then everybody ran out [laughs]! So yes, “All We Are” has always been played since about 1987.
Sleaze Roxx: How much does “All We Are” mean to you? It’s a global hit. It was like you said a song that you recorded with Warlock and then continued to perform in your live solo set through the years.
Doro Pesch: That’s right, that’s right. I came to America in 1987, I always wanted to come to America. It was like a dream came true. I got connected with some very cool people. One of those people was a guy that played piano and guitar and his name was Joey Balin. My manager at the time said “I think you should meet Joey Balin. He could show you around and introduce you to the club scene, show you stores and everything.” I agreed, so we went out one night and he showed me all of these cool clubs. I really liked hanging out with him. I asked him if he wanted to do a little jam session. He accepted and we went to his place. I was telling him about my first tour in East Europe when the Cold War was still going on. I told him about it and he enjoyed the stories! So from that conversation we wrote our first song which was “East Meets West.” So the next day, I went to see my manager and he asked, “So how was it?” I said, “It was great! We wrote a song too it’s called “East Meets West.” Do you want to hear it?” He said. “Yes.” So I pulled out a cassette of the demo of it. I played him the song and he said, “Wow! That’s great! How about you two write some more songs?” So we did and we wrote another song and then another song, until we had an album’s worth of songs. My manager suggested we go into a real studio to record the songs and we went into The Power Station [in New York City].
So the guy from the record company came down to listen to what we had and he said, “You know what? This is amazing! You can stay here keep recording and that guy can [Joey Balin] can be the producer.” So then we started tracking the ‘Triumph And Agony” album and we had all these great people on it. Cozy Powell played on some tracks. I remember when it came time to record the background vocals for “All We Are”, we brought people off the street. We had some fans come into the studio. I remember standing in the studio with the engineer watching the people singing with these happy faces and having so much fun. They were signing their hearts out! I also have a great memory of the video shoot for “All We Are.” It was my first time in L.A. and it was a huge production, it was like 60 people! We did that on the set where ‘Terminator 2’ was filmed. It was just so awesome! Then I stayed! America is so awesome!
Warlock’s “All We Are” video:
Sleaze Roxx: You have a lot of tunes on ‘Magic Diamonds’ with the guests. You have “Now Or Never” featuring Slash. How did you get Slash to work on that one with you?
Doro Pesch: Right when I was recording the ‘Calling The Wild’ album in 2000, he was in New York as well where we were recording the album. We had been put to dinner with many, many people. He was there! We got along great and afterwards, I asked him if he was interested in playing a solo on one of the songs. He agreed to do it so he went to the studio that we were using in New Jersey and he did the first take which was great! He did it again and the second take was even better! It was just so amazing! I think that was meant to be.
Sleaze Roxx: There’s more guests featured. There’s “Breaking The Law” with Udo Dirkschneider, “Bad Blood” with Blaze Bayley, a couple people who no longer with us — “Love Me Forever” with Lemmy and “Descent” with Peter Steele — and you also included the “Egypt” cover by Ronnie James Dio. Those recordings must mean a lot to you?
Doro Pesch: I miss them so much. I was the closest with Lemmy and Ronnie James Dio. They were two of my best friends. Pete Steele — I had met briefly before we did the recording, but that was so awesome! I remember with Pete, we had gone out to dinner a couple of times. It was so much fun! He picked me up in the big vehicle that was like a cross between a jeep and a van. It was a huge loud thing [laughs]! We were driving around and he was cursing at everything with his deep voice [laughs]!
Ronnie James Dio — he took us out on our first big tour of Europe in 1987. We had this long history together then we toured together in 2000. That was so great because metal came back! Like I was telling you earlier, the time between 1990 and 2000 was really, really lean. I remember delivering records to the label and they would ask “Does it sound like grunge?” I would say, “Well, no because that’s not me and I don’t feel it.” They would say, “Well then, we can’t put it out because it has to sound like grunge!” It was so frustrating, because I’m from the era of New Wave of British Heavy Metal! I don’t have grunge in my bones! I remember a guy at the label asked if I was interested in going to the Dio ‘Magica’ release party and of course I wanted to go. While there, Ronnie came up to me and he said, “Oh, I love your version of “Egypt.” I play that all the time!” Then a few weeks later we were on tour together [laughs]! It was one of the best tours that I have been on. It was like us against the world! Metal was back! The crews, the bands and the fans were so happy! So “Egypt” had to be on this ‘Magic Diamonds’ album.
I also needed to include “Love Me Forever” which was my first duet ever and it was with Lemmy. It was recorded with Bob Kulick who passed away a number of months ago. We had a great live version but we had to include the studio version to honor Bob. We always had a cool friendship and we alway stayed in touch. He came to visit us on the last visit we did. He came to see us when we played in Las Vegas. Oh and Eric Singer played drums on “Love Me Forever” too. I did a duet with Udo on his album so when I was putting together an album with an orchestra, the ‘Classic Diamonds’ album, I asked him if he wanted to be a part of it and he agreed to do it. My very first concert was Whitesnake in 1980 and my second concert was Judas Priest and Accept as the support band. I knew Udo would love to do that song! We have gone on tour together many times. He’s a talented singer and a lot of fun. I also want to mention that one of my favorite singers, Tarja Turunen is featured on this collection on “Walking With Angels.” She is great. She’s a good friend, all the people who turned up on this record are good friends.
Doro and Lemmy performing “Love Me Forever” live in 2003:
Sleaze Roxx: One of the many highlights on this collection is the new recording of “Love Me In Black.” That song has some deep meaning to you, I would imagine?
Doro Pesch: Yes! Thank you for asking about that. Yes, that’s one of the records that I was talking about that didn’t come out [in America]. It was still a weird time in 1998 and it didn’t come out in the States. It was released in Europe, but I always wanted it to come out in the United States. We recorded a bunch of shows on the last tour, the fans were singing along and there was a lot of energy and stuff. “Love Me In Black” was included in a couple of drive-in shows that we did. It was fun. It was an adventure and at times a little bit strange, because you couldn’t hear any feedback because people were stuck in their cars. Sometimes, they could stand outside. Other times, the regulations were so tough that they would have to remain in their cars. This version, we recorded three to four months ago and [that we] included in the collection turned out so great! I think it captured the magic and it had to be included. I think every song has meaning to me! I know it’s probably hard to believe but they do.
Sleaze Roxx: It wouldn’t be a touch call to come up with a second edition of ‘Magic Diamonds’ I don’t think.
Doro Pesch: Yeah, yeah! You’re right! It will probably happen [laughs]!
Sleaze Roxx: Last thing, it’s been a while since you made it out to the Northwest. I have seen you in a club. I know you’ve done cruises, festivals and now drive-ins. You bring the same type of intensity to all the shows that you do and the fans always sing along and have an absolute blast.
Doro Pesch: Thank you for talking to me today and thank you for saying that. I try to do my best. When we saw all the shows being canceled and the last show that I did in the States was the Megacruise, then I did one festival with my friends in Saxon for their 40th Anniversary, then everything just fell through and got postponed or canceled. Then someone called us and asked us if we wanted to do a drive-in show. I didn’t know what to say, but they said they would have screens so people could see even if they were far away. We tried to make everything possible that you have in a regular show. We wanted the sound, the lights and the pyrotechnics. So when we got all of that, it was like “Okay then. Let’s do it!” It was a lot of fun, but nothing can replace a regular gig, mostly because people were so far away and you don’t hear them! I am so used to that! Like you said the fans sing along to the songs and that’s what I really miss. I was happy to do something and we all had fun with the band and the fans, but we can’t wait to get back on tour and on stage.