INTERVIEW WITH DORO PESCH
Date: February 10, 2020
Event: Monsters of Rock Cruise
Interviewer: Christopher Carroll
Photos: Christopher Carroll ROCK Photography
Sleaze Roxx: You are so soft spoken and sweet when you are talking to someone but when you get onstage and start singing, the power comes out….
Doro: Effortlessly! Yes.
Sleaze Roxx: I never hear you break, never hear your voice crack. Have you ever had any vocal training?
Doro: [Laughs] That’s a good question! Actually, I don’t believe in vocal training. I had my first band in 1980 called Snakebite, then Beast And Attack and then Warlock but, in 1985, I think it was the second album, everyone — friends, journalists and other musicians — were asking, “Did you go to university “or “Did you study vocals”? That was always a question so I thought I should do something so I took vocal lessons from a very nice, older, American lady. It was hard work! It was not really my type of singing. I told her what we do on stage but back then, nobody [vocal instructors] knew about heavy metal. The teacher would always say, “If you sing like THAT, in one year your voice will be shot and you won’t be able to sing at all anymore.” I thought, “Really”? For her, it was all about singing soft and clean, but I said, that’s not what metal is all about. But, I did it and it cost a fortune.
Then, after a year people were saying, “Hey Doro, why don’t you sing like you did before?” I said, “What do you mean?” They would say, “Before was much better” and I said, “No way! I’ve spent thousands of dollars on vocal training.” And then they said the way I sang before was much better and that, now, it didn’t sound as good. So I thought, “OK. I did it, I’m now at peace. I learned something. I guess! … I don’t remember what!” Then I started singing and like, the natural voice comes out. I really believe when you are a rock singer or metal singer, it should come from your heart and soul and your gut. That’s the only guideline, I would say. If someone shows you what to do and how to sing, then it’s not your voice anymore. I say just go with your heart! I always had a strong voice, ever since I was two or three years old. People always thought I would become a classical singer.
Sleaze Roxx: When you are singing onstage, do you feel like you are singing loud?
Doro: It’s comfortable. There’s no strain. It just pops out… according to the song. The only time it’s difficult is when I catch a cold or I’m sick and that’s usually the case because we always tour in the winter time and after two days on the road, I hear people sneezing and coughing and then I know, “Man… next couple of days it will be me!” Then, everybody thinks we have to cancel the show. She can’t sing. She can’t even talk but it’s like a miracle. When I get up onstage and I see the fans, my voice is there. Nobody would ever really notice. We’ve never canceled one show because of my voice.
Sleaze Roxx: I know you’ve written with a million people so it may differ but can you take me through the basics of how you write your songs. Are you with someone? Do they write the music then send it to you?
Doro: In the ’80s, it was a little tricky because I couldn’t speak English and neither could the band! I’d have an idea and I would write lyrics using a dictionary. Sometimes, it was so funny… Once, we had a song called “I’m The Red Light Star.” We went and played in England, very early on, and some journalist said, “You have interesting lyrics. What is I’m the Red Light Star about?” I told him it was about going onstage and feeling the lights on you so you’re the red light star. He said, “Between me and you, the red light is a district where hookers go” and I had no idea! I’d probably picked it up hearing it in songs like the Police’s “Roxanne”…. You know, ‘Put on the red light.’ I thought it sounded good but when you’re not born speaking English, sometimes it’s easy to mix things up. It was hilarious! It was a great song but it never made the record for that reason.
So, Christopher, the question was how do I write songs. In the beginning, it was different. First there was some music and then I would do some melodies and then some lyrics. When I went to do a little promotional tour in America, around ’86-’87, I had only three days there but after just two days, I knew I wanted to stay in New York. Everything fell into place. I was put in touch with great people. We went into the Power Station to do demos. I didn’t know that it was the most expensive studio, the best studio, because it didn’t look fancy! But when we got the bill for the demos… “Oh my God!” But we came out with such great songs.
Doro performing “Unholy Love” live at the Monsters of Rock Cruise in February 2020:
Monsters of Rock Cruise X – 2020
Ever since I came to the States, I feel English. I dream in English and I write songs in English. Usually, when I fall asleep, you know, the mind is so open so I get a melody and lyrics at the same time. That happens a lot then I bring it to someone I think is good with ballads or soulful stuff or heavy or speed metal or whatever. So I’ll present ideas to either my band or someone I love to work with. One guy I love to work with is Andreas Bruhn. He’s the ex-guitar player for Sisters of Mercy. We met in Hamburg [Germany] in ’95-’96 and ever since then, we’ve been a great team. We are working on the new record, as we speak! Before the [Monsters of Rock] Cruise, I went to Hamburg to present him three ideas and he was like, “OK, let me see what I can do with it.”
The key part for me is always the chorus. The parts like the intro, outro or the bridge, we’ll do together, sometimes with my band, as well. We’ll meet in the studio but first I have to have an idea going in. When I have an idea and the whole body is vibrating, you feel there’s magic, THAT’s the best! And that happens a lot. I was doing lots of songs in Nashville. I went there in ’91 and met so many great songwriters but one really stuck out. His name was Gary Scruggs. He’s the son of Earl Scruggs. Gary and I had the best chemistry and in Nashville, they’re so good with words so when I had an idea he made it 10 times better! I’ve always gone back to Nashville to write songs because it was really meaningful and deep.
I really believe in first, getting the melody and lyrics at the same time because, you really want to talk to the fans. To me, my fans are my absolute EVERYTHING and I want to speak directly to them. For example, on the new album, my favorite song is called “Soldier of Metal.” It’s the most beautiful song and it was written for the fans, just to tell them that they can always count on me. I will fight till I die! I will always be your soldier of metal. When I’m not there, you’ll feel me in your heart. The fans are always the most important thing to me in many ways. Sometimes, a fan will tell me a heavy life story or maybe how somebody was ill. I get so much feedback from them saying that music can really heal you.
There was a girl named Barbara. She was half Indian. She fell into a coma and her husband contacted my manager who contacted me. The husband was so devastated. He said, “I don’t know what to do but she is a diehard Doro fan. She always came to your fan club parties.” She’s actually singing on one of my songs. I always let the fans sing on one anthem. I love that! He was so upset and I asked him what I could do. He said, “Well, could you send her a little message?” So, over the phone, he recorded me singing “.. deep inside my heart” for her and I said something nice. He said he played it for her every day and after about 12 months, she woke up! I just saw her at the fan club meeting two weeks ago. There was a big party and we celebrated with the diehard fans from all over the world — America, Russia, France, Germany — and we celebrated our drummer Johnny Dee’s 26 ½ years in our band! We wanted to do it for his 25th but there was no time because we were touring constantly and doing a record. It was in my former hometown and I knew the people. It was where we started out. They were always good to us. When I did my anniversary shows, we would practice there and sometimes Lemmy would come walking through the door and practice with us because he was doing a song with us, onstage, actually a song we wrote together. These people were very supportive. That’s the reason why we do it there.
Sleaze Roxx: You have always had such a deep connection with your fans. It’s heartwarming.
Sleaze Roxx: I did an interview with you, probably 20 years ago and I remember you telling me that you weren’t going to marry or have kids, because you had dedicated your life to the fans and the music. It’s one thing to say that way back then but now… 20 years later, you still have that love for them. That’s rare because artists get tired of touring and tired of the business.
Doro: Yeah, and I think it’s the same, vice versa. My love for the fans, I always feel it back. I know so many of them by name and some, I just know their faces. Speaking of the fan club meeting, people from all over the world came and showed me their tattoos! They have some awesome tattoos. Some are album covers of ours, some are the logo or my face. Great artwork! So, that interview you mentioned was 20 years ago and since then, it’s gotten even deeper. I can appreciate it even more now since we’ve been through ups and downs like when grunge was so big. When metal wasn’t so big anymore, I could still tour all over the world. America was a little bit tough! They wouldn’t release the records anymore because they didn’t have a grunge sound but the diehard fans still got the imports.
Sleaze Roxx: What’s your least favorite part of the whole thing?
Doro: It’s probably the business end of it.
Sleaze Roxx: Are you that involved in it now?
Doro: Yeah, you have to be when you’re self-employed. You always have to take care of what’s going on. The business end of it always sucks.
Sleaze Roxx: You don’t have a middle man, though? Because I can’t see you firing anybody!
Doro: [Laughs] Ask Hans [as she points to her nearly seven foot tall tour manager]! No. I’m not that type, you’re right. The thing we have now is great, though! The bass player, Nick Douglas — 30 years in our band. 30 years! Can you imagine? Johnny Dee — 26 ½ [years]. The two guitar players, Luca and Bas, are 12 and 13 years [in the band].
Sleaze Roxx: Do you have any plans for Tommy Bolan?
Doro: Having three guitar players at the same time, it’s exciting! For America, he’s definitely touring with us. Worldwide, he’s played some great shows with us in Spain, Sweden Rock, Wacken [Open Air in Germany]…
Doro performing “Touch of Evil” live at the Monsters of Rock Cruise in February 2020:
Monsters of Rock Cruise X – 2020
Sleaze Roxx: As much as you work, when you have a month off… Wait, do you ever have a month off?
Doro: No. Not yet.
Sleaze Roxx: What do you do with any time off? What’s a normal day off for Doro?
Doro: Oh, it’s always connected to music. Coming up with ideas, going to the studio, rehearse for another tour. I love artwork. You know, I’m a graphic artist so press packages, logos and stuff. My normal days are always connected to music. Having free time is rare… That’s rare. After a tour when I’m sick, maybe I’ll take a nap for two days! I like sports. I like martial arts.
Sleaze Roxx: Yeah, I heard you were training in Muay Thai.
Doro: Thai boxing, Wing Chun and Escrima.
Sleaze Roxx: Oh, wow! You’re also vegan. What’s your favorite food?
Doro: Falafals and anything with avocado.
Sleaze Roxx: I don’t imagine you have a problem finding vegan food these days.
Doro: It depends on the country. Like in Russia, everything is meat or South America, everyone wants to treat you to a good steak. These stage clothes, they’re all custom made, synthetic. There are a couple of people who make them for me and then, whatever works. Like the jacket, I had on for the photos, I got it in England. It had my name on it. I thought that was cool! It’s fake leather, as well. I get them from all over the world. I have this beautiful vest because I had a Mötorhead t-shirt on, and we had a picture of it on Facebook. There was a girl, who was a singer. She said, “Doro, I have a vest for you.” She showed me some pictures. It was a Mötorhead vest. She said, “I know you love Lemmy so the vest is yours.” So it came all the way from Australia to Germany about two weeks ago!
Sleaze Roxx: I know you have a show in a few minutes. I love when you sneak “Love Me In Black” into the set!
Doro: “Love Me In Black”!
Sleaze Roxx: I’ve only heard you play it at shows when it’s requested! I remember being up front for a show and you were actually asking the crowd what songs they wanted to hear. You were taking requests! I screamed out “Love Me In Black” and two seconds later, you guys were playing it even though it’s not normally in your set. Does the band learn songs outside of the setlist?
Doro: Yeah, yeah. They know at least 50 songs. Speaking of “Love Me In Black”, something interesting in the making is a ‘Best of ballad’ CD and I want to re-record “Love Me In Black” for it.
Sleaze Roxx: Wow! Well, whatever you do, don’t lose that eerie feel to it.
Doro: [With a sly smile] Yeah. Actually, I think it’s one of our best songs. Also, it’s not out yet but we did some work with Lita Ford recently. We had a great producer — Gary Hoey — super guitar player and super nice. It was a really great time! I think all the recording is done and she just has to mix it. I can’t wait! I can imagine it could be a single.
Sleaze Roxx: It’s that catchy?
Doro: Yeah! And it was so much fun working with Lita! It was very cool.
Sleaze Roxx: Really?
Doro: Yes, Totally. TOTALLY! We were like a three-piece — Lita, Gary and me. We got along so well. We had such a deep vibe going, deep friendship, ever since we had the cover story in RIP Magazine!
Sleaze Roxx: At that time, they said you two didn’t get along.
Doro: I think they made it up to sell more magazines [laughs]! There was a ‘bury the hatchet’ article too. No, we always got along great, ALWAYS. People, sometimes, they want to stir it up to make it interesting but no, we were always great friends. I was inducted into the Hall of Heavy Metal History a year and a half ago in Wacken, by these American guys. We stayed in touch and they asked me if I would induct Lita so I did. Then, we said we would be stupid not to do something together. We did it a couple of months later.
Sleaze Roxx: Thank you so much, Doro. You’ve been so open. I love talking to you. Any last words for the fans?
Doro: Yes, come out to one of the shows. We’ll play all your favorite songs, stuff off the new album, songs off ‘Triumph & Agony’ and ‘Burning The Witches’ and all the highlights off each record!
Doro‘s “Love Me In Black” video (from live DVD Strong And Proud):
Taken from the extensive Live-DVD/Blu-Ray ‘Strong And Proud’. ORDER HERE: http://nblast.de/DoroStrongAndProudNBSee DORO on tour: http://www.doromusic.de/date…