INTERVIEW WITH DORO PESCH
Date: August 18, 2021
Interviewer: Christopher Carroll
Photos: Christopher Carroll ROCK Photography
YouTube Videos: Rockin’ Ron (R.I.P.) for Decibel Geek TV (second to fifth videos)
Band Websites: Official Website, Facebook, Instagram
ON SEPTEMBER 24, 2021, DORO PESCH WILL BE RELEASING A NEW LIVE ALBUM TITLED ‘TRIUMPH AND AGONY LIVE’ TO CELEBRATE THE 35TH YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF WARLOCK’S LANDMARK RECORD ‘TRIUMPH AND AGONY.’ SLEAZE ROXX CAUGHT UP WITH THE EVER FRIENDLY FEMALE SINGER TO CHAT WITH HER ABOUT HER MEMORIES SURROUNDING RECORDING THAT ICONIC ALBUM.
Sleaze Roxx: Since you guys are releasing the new live album ‘Triumph and Agony – Live’, I know it’s been a long time, but, I thought it would be interesting to go through each song and you can tell me what you remember either about writing the song, the meaning of the song, or performers on it… anything that stands out for you! The album starts out with “All We Are.” What do you remember about that song?
Doro: Actually, I sang “All We Are” and then I thought… ‘It needs to have a nice gang vocal, as well.’ I was always a big fan of [the band] Accept. You know, they had nice background vocals and I talked to my producer at the time, Joey Balin, and I said, ‘We need some people to really belt it out… Give them some beers!’ And then we called in all our friends and even got people off the street and we said, ‘Hey, can you help us?’ We need that sound, you know, it’s so powerful. And then the guys were so cool and everybody came up and then there were tons of people in the studio and I was sitting next to the engineer and then we were playing the song and they were singing and singing. And I tell you, when I looked at everybody’s eyes and faces, I could tell, this will be the single, this could be really a big song, a big anthem. We recorded it and it became the first single and it was the first video in a time when MTV was playing the heavy metal videos and Headbangers Ball was going strong and we recorded it [the video] in L.A., in the L.A. river basin. And it was a big production. I think it looked like a Steven Spielberg movie! It was like hundred 50 people running around. [We had] a great video director. It was so awesome.
When it came out, the first time I saw it on Headbangers Ball. I was a big KISS fan. I’m STILL a big KISS fan, and Paul [Stanley] and Gene [Simmons] were introducing the “All We Are” video on Headbangers Ball! I almost died. It was so unbelievable! It became a big hit, and I’ve always played it ever since we put out the original ‘Triumph And Agony’ in 87. There is not one show where we didn’t play “All We Are” and sometimes, we even played it three times. Like usually, it’s the last song in our set before the encores. And sometimes in some venues or countries or cities, people were singing “All We Are” after three, four songs, you know, right in the middle of [other] songs. And when there was no stopping them, we said, ‘Okay, let’s play it.’ So we played it. And then in the end, they’re saying, ‘Oh yeah, again’, so we played “All We Are” again. And then of course, at the end, I asked which songs you guys would like to hear because with so many records, and interesting choices…. And then it was “All We Are” again. So sometimes we have played that song three times and I think the people didn’t seem bored at all.
Doro’s “All We Are” live video:
Sleaze Roxx: That’s awesome!! How about “Three Minute Warning”? What do you remember about that song?
Doro: Yes. “Three Minute Warning” was the second song we wrote for the ‘Triumph And Agony’ album. It was actually about my manager. Alex Grob was his name. He is an American citizen but he came from Switzerland. So the song is about a stranger in a strange land. [It came from] the stories that I would tell people, you now, [lines like] “I’ll change it all some day.” You know, [thoughts like] I will make the world better and stronger and it was a very fast, almost speed metal, song. And we played it for the first time, actually in 30 years, so it was a lot of fun. We just played it on the last festival. I just played a festival in Belgium. It was the Alcatrazz Festival and it was awesome. That song is really wild, it’s fast and it reminds me of the good old days. It’s kind of a little speed metal. It’s so much fun to play!
Sleaze Roxx: It’s full of energy. On this whole album, you wrote every song with the producer, Joey Balin, right? How did that work out? How did you guys write? I mean, did you get together for writing meetings or did you give him ideas?
Doro: Yeah, actually it was an accident. My manager said, ‘Doro, you should check out clubs and the record stores and stuff. And I will introduce you to somebody, maybe you guys, will have good chemistry.’ And Joey was supposed to just show me New York city and all the clubs and stuff. I was in heaven because New York record stores were open 24 hours. I fell in love with New York on the first day. So we were checking out the metal scene and then, in the middle of the night, Joey said, ‘What do you want to do? Do want to do something more? See another club.’ And I said, ‘Joey, in Europe, we have great clubs too. I think I’ve seen that everything here is great, but shall we do something else?’ He said, ‘Yeah. What do you want to do?’ And then [we decided to] do a little jam session. So we went to his apartment and then I told Joey about my first time that I did a promotion to it, a former east country, it was Hungary, with our first album ‘Burning The Witches’. I went with another manager.
We wanted to do a nice promotion. We had our whole trunk full of vinyl records and everything. And then we went to the border and, us coming from west Germany here, we’re all happy. We’re all feeling good and free and excited. And then, on the border, the border people stopped us and it got really serious and we thought we would go to jail any second. Then they said, ‘What’s that with records?’ And ‘You want a smuggle records? You want to smuggle pornography’ because on this record is this little girl. She’s like painted [on it]. She’s hanging on this candle and the warlock is supposed to light the candle on fire so it’s a fantasy cover. And we got in so much trouble. So we went into the country, but [with] no records. We couldn’t do any promotion. And I told Joey about it and he was all curious and said, ‘Wow, I can’t believe it.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, in some countries it’s different.’ Then we wrote our first song, and that was “East Meets West” where… ‘There’s gonna be a hell of a mess’.
Doro performing “East Meets West” live at Sweden Rock Festival in 2017:
Doro: Next day, I went to Alex [manager] and he said, ‘So, how was it? The club scene, the record stores…’ I said, ‘Awesome, awesome, but I think we got a great song as well.’ And I played it for him. We recorded it on a walkman and he said, ‘Wow! That sounds really good!’ He said, ‘Doro, you guys should go on. Maybe you have good chemistry?’ So the next day, we wrote “Three Minute Warning” and then, a couple of days later, Joey showed me all kinds of stuff. I was extremely curious as a teenager, [you know how] you want to check out everything. And he said, ‘Did you ever play the Ouija board?’ And I said, ‘No, I think it was forbidden in Germany at that time’ but you know how it is when something is forbidden, you have to do it. So we played the Ouija board many times. The end result was terrible! The house almost burned down but before that, I said, ‘Joey, could you ask this…. whatever it is…, spirit or… [thing that’s] supposed to contact those people…., whatever.’ I’m not sure how it works, but it works. And then I said, ‘Ask the spirit, if he has a message for me.’ And he was asking and then out came, ‘Make time for love.’
So actually, we wrote our first ballad that night and it was “Make Time For Love.” And then song by song, it was [just getting] better and better. And then Alex said, ‘Hey, you guys should record it really like in a real good studio, like a good demo.’ So we went into the Power Station Studio, which was the best studio at the time in New York, or, I think worldwide. And it had such a magical sound, [and] a great engineer. The first engineer we had was Steve Rinkoff. He became the engineer for Jim Steinman and Meatloaf later on. He was super talented, a super nice guy. So he recorded the songs. And then I said, ‘Joey, we need a metal guitar player’ because Joey was an excellent guitar player, but you know, there was always a fine line between rock or hard rock and metal. I wanted to have a wild metal player. So he said, I have a friend of mine, maybe you guys should meet. It was Tommy Bolin. He came into the studio and he was awesome. He was laying on the floor sweating, bleeding, playing all these licks and solos. He had SO much energy.
He played all the songs and all the demos, then the record company, people came over from Europe and they said, ‘Wow, this sounds awesome.’ They said, ‘Doro, you stay and that guy’s the producer!’ We said, ‘Okay, then we did the ‘Triumph And Agony’ album and it came naturally. Then the last song was pretty interesting because we had everything done and we were really happy and satisfied with it, but totally sad that it was over and that everything was done. You feel totally empty and kinda like it’s getting very depressing. And we said, ‘What shall we do? Shall we go to the movies? Or should we have dinner or do something or should we meet friends’ and no, nothing. And then, [we thought] ‘Shall we write another song?’ ‘Okay!’ So we were sitting there writing another song. Joey asked me ‘What kind of song would I like?’ I said, ‘I would like to have something really special, like the wildest fastest, most aggressive brutal song in a whole wide world!’
“Fur Immer” came out [of that]! The first song in German… a ballad, a German, English, Spanish sentence. And it later on became the second single and that song “Fur Immer” [along with] “All We Are” were, throughout the whole career, these were the two most important songs. And then, the record company said, ‘Ah, the record is great, but one song’s gotta go.’ We thought, ‘Which song could that be?’ They said, ‘The German song, you can’t put it on the record and it’s a ballad and it’s in German.’ And I said, ‘No, it has so much magic.’ I really felt it. We had big discussions, many discussions. And I said, ‘Okay.’ Because it was vinyl, I said, ‘Okay, then [let’s make it] the last song on the B-side.’ The last song that nobody would listen to it.
We hopped on tour with the legendary Ronnie James Dio in Europe. In America, it was with Megadeth. And immediately when we started the tour, “Fur Immer” and “All We Are”, they were the two songs which people always wanted to hear. Then the record company said, ‘Oh, the second single, for sure, that will be “Fur Immer”.’ And I said, ‘Well, didn’t you say you wanted to have it [taken] off the record”? They said, ‘No, no, no, no. It’s great. That’s the second single.’ It was all great to make. Great memories and the legendary Cozy Powell played on “Touch of Evil”! That was great!
Sleaze Roxx: How did that come about? How did that happen?
Doro: That worked out like we had a plan. We wanted to have a really brutal song, like fast and heavy. And I wanted to scream my butt off, like, you know, really screaming! I told Alex, the manager, I said, ‘I need somebody with real power, that I can scream and go full out.’ And he said, ‘Okay, um, there will be a surprise waiting for you in the studio.’ So [the] next day, I went into the studio and it was Cozy Powell! He said, ‘Okay Doro, you need some power?’ I said, ‘Yeeeeah!’ So he played “Touch of Evil.” Then I screamed and stuff. While I was singing or screaming, a lightning bolt came into the window. The window was closed, but in the recording room was a little tiny window. And there was a lightning bolt coming in. It had the size of like a handball and it was making one round really fast, totally scary. And then everybody said, ‘Doro, what did you DO? Stop that screaming!’ And we all left that night. We didn’t touch anything anymore. The next day, we came in and we thought, ‘Oh, that’s good.’ You know, the vocal, that’s a keeper. But it was, you could die when that thing would touch you with that. You know, that’s the end of that fun!
Doro performing “Touch of Evil” live at Sweden Rock Festival in 2017:
Sleaze Roxx: That’s amazing. And I notice on that album, you sing higher than you sang on any other album. I mean there are shrill screams and I’ve seen you actually pull that off live too! At first, I figured that you just did it in studio, but you wouldn’t push it that far live, but I’ve seen you pull it off live. That’s gotta be tough! I mean, wow! What was the thinking behind that? Did you just want to push it further than you ever had before?
Doro: Yes. And you know, me being in America for the first time in, oh God, I love America. And then I felt totally free, very supported. Um, everybody said, ‘Yeah, just go for it, just go for it!’ And I said ‘Wow.’ I wasn’t used to that because usually when we recorded something like the records before, everybody was kind of like, criticizing and [saying] ‘Calm down and no crazy ideas’ and all that stuff. In America, they said, ‘Hey, do what you feel. It’s great! Go for it! Scream!’ So I felt totally like there weren’t any limitations, no pressure on. I could just be myself, just do it. And everybody’s thought, ‘Hey that’s great. It’s fun.’ And um, yeah. So that’s how it came about. And yeah, sometimes we open with “Touch of Evil”, sometimes I do that scream, but not all the time when the tour is long. On the first song, you don’t want to blow out your voice! Then the whole tour is in danger. So sometimes I do it and sometimes I hold back a little bit because the road crew, the tour manager, everybody will say ‘Hold back! Hold back! The tour is long!’
Sleaze Roxx: Well that is one amazing album. It doesn’t sound like you wrote one song and then wrote a separate song, then added them all together. It just sounds like everything just perfectly fell into place the way that it was supposed to. Overall, it just has that magic.
Doro: The live version kept the live feeling, which you can’t even get in a studio setting. I think live, I can always think 10 times louder and more powerful! You hear the atmosphere, the fans… That’s the ultimate. So yeah. Then the 30 year anniversary was coming up and then I called Tommy, the guitar player. I said, ‘Hey, shall we play the entire album one time?’ He said, ‘Oh yeah, I was waiting for this phone call. Let’s do it!’ So we rehearsed it and we already felt like some songs we’d never played live, but they came on really good, like “Kiss of Death” and “Make Time For Love.” And then we did an America tour, a Spain tour. We played many festivals, Norway Rock and Sweden Rock, and Sweden Rock was the first festival we did and that’s what you hear on the record. It’s mainly Sweden Rock.
Doro performing “Kiss of Death” live at Sweden Rock Festival in 2017:
And we did a BluRay as well so you will see the whole Sweden Rock performance and then there’s the documentary. The whole thing is like 90 minutes long. And yeah, but Sweden Rock, it just had, it was a perfect day. Perfect moment. The cameras were great. Top-notch! The microphones on each instrument were great. So, we picked Sweden Rock and put everything else in a documentary… bits and pieces, the Spain thing. And so, that’s how it came about. But because of the lockdown and we had so many gigs and festivals and touring and stuff planned… America tours, European tours, a South America tour and then everything got postponed or fell through and all the festivals got canceled or postponed. So, I thought, ‘I’ll go back into the studio and the first item was the ‘Best of the Magic Diamonds’.’
At first, I wanted to do like 15 songs. And then, it became 56 songs. It’s called a ‘Best of Rock, Ballads and Rare Treasures’. And I went through all the archives and stuff and there, I found “Make Time For Love” and I thought, ‘Ooh, that’s a rare treat for the diehard fans.’ And we mixed it and recorded it and then, this year, when we knew we couldn’t tour like normal, I went back into the studio and checked out all the ‘Triumph And Agony’ footage, like the visual stuff and all the recordings, so we did it and now it’s done. And it comes out in all kinds of forms. I’m old school, like on [marbled?] vinyl with a big, big record cover. It’s life-size, it’s the Warlock and me, and a figurine that’s the Warlock hugging me and the cassette and, um, yeah, the buttons patches. Old school stuff from the ’80s, what we all liked and of course, CD and yeah, you can get it streaming as well, but, but that old school stuff I like!
Sleaze Roxx: Love it! And this comes out in September?
Doro: Yes, September 24th.
Sleaze Roxx: So now have you guys started planning any U.S. dates yet?
Doro: It’s so up in the air. We have committed to a couple of tours here in Europe, in the UK, in October with Michael Schenker. And then we’re up for some more festivals here actually. Next week, it starts again and in England and France, Poland, Germany, Austria, all over, but we don’t know if it will really take place because numbers are going up here. It’s so, it’s so crazy…. So, American dates, we had two tours, which we probably want to move to next year, but maybe something’s coming up before. It was always back and forth. We are ready to go every time! We love to play all the festivals, like American festivals. We play Wacken this year, if it takes place… It’s in September, it’s called Bullhead city. It’s not the original Wacken. It’s a little bit smaller, but it still holds like 25,000 people. They want to do it, I think between 25 and 40,000 people. So if all goes well, so September, it’s like stay a couple of weeks away.
[Interviewer’s note: Wacken was unfortunately canceled shortly after this interview.]
Sleaze Roxx: We will be looking for that! I noticed that you have a lot of things that are streaming online. Whenever you play shows, I’ll get messages showing that I can jump on there and watch your streaming. So that’s nice for us, but we want to see you live. So we’re looking forward to you playing the U.S.!
Doro: Yeah, live! It’s no comparison to any stream though. Yeah, me too. Me too. I’m ready. I’m excited to see the fans and play all these great songs!
Sleaze Roxx: Well, I’m really excited about this live ‘Triumph And Agony’ album! I can’t wait! Thanks for doing this ‘run through’ of the songs on the album. It was interesting!
Doro: Great talking to you. Even though I couldn’t see you, I could feel you and feel your good vibes!
Doro performing “Cold, Cold World” live at Sweden Rock Festival in 2017: