Interview ~ Doro

The year was 1987 and metal was dominating MTV and the airwaves. The German metal band Warlock, led by its blonde powerhouse lead vocalist Doro Pesch, released one of the best albums of the year in September of that year entitle Triumph and Agony. Due to some legal issues, it proved to be the final album by Warlock as the band was forced to change its name to Doro. Here we are thirty years later celebrating the release of that classic album with a handful of live dates here in the U.S. by Doro who will be performing the album in its entirety. Guitarist Tommy Bolan will be joining Doro on these dates and it looks to be an amazing night of music for all who are lucky enough to attend. We recently talked to Doro about that landmark album, band’s faking it today and her brand new record label.

Hi Doro! It’s a pleasure to be able to talk to you again and the thought of doing a 30th anniversary of Triumph and Agony tour is an amazing idea! The only downside it seems is that you’re only doing a few select dates here in the U.S.

Doro Pesch: We plan on doing more shows, but at first we didn’t know if people would be interested. We will definitely be coming back and doing more.

Have you played the album in its entirety overseas or will the U.S. dates be the first time?

Yes we have and there were a couple of songs on there that we had never played live before ever. We rehearsed a couple of days and some of those songs turned out so nice and magical such as “Make Time for Love” and “Kiss of Death.” We played two festivals with one of them being the Sweden Rock Festival and it’s a huge festival in Sweden. Norway Rock was the other one and it was great too. For the America tour, we will be playing a bit longer so we will play the entire album and then all of the other classics such as “Night of the Warlock” and “Burning Witches.” It’s great playing the whole album and it brings back such great memories like Cozy Powell playing drums on some of the original tracks. When I listened to the record again so that I could learn all of the words again, I thought it was such a magical time in the studio when we made this record. You could hear the power and magic in it that was stronger than the three albums before it. Tommy Bolan played on it as well and he will be playing with us on these new dates. He’s such a great friend and a powerhouse guitarist.

How long had it been since you played with Tommy?

Actually, he has always played with us when we were in LA or close around. He’s originally from New York but he moved to LA. We’ve always remained friends and stayed in touch. He’s played with us on stage and did songs like “Metal Tango” and “East Meets West.” He’s still the same and a riot just like back in the day. Now, we have three guitar players in this band so there will be lots of guitars and solos.

This album was my first exposure to Warlock back in the day because I was working at an independent record store when this came out. I have to say that it has held us incredibly well to be thirty years old and it still sounds pretty amazing. There are many releases from that same era that can’t say the same.

Yes, I know what you mean; I felt the same when I was listening to it to learn these songs again. It sounds so great and back in 1987 we took a whole year to make. It was at The Power Station Studio and it’s now called Avatar. I didn’t know back then that it was a top notch and one of the best studios, but we had so much fun going in there day and night to record. Every song, every melody, every word and every song had so much depth to it. It took a long time, but it was done well and it was done right. I do think that it really does have a lot of depth to it because nowadays you do so much stuff on drum machines or on a computer. Back then, every note was played for real and with so much power, conviction and passion. The machines these days can’t give you those feelings.

I had an artist tell me in another interview that back in the day, if you didn’t have the talent you were removed from the equation. There are too many machines these days trying to make up for that lack of talent.

That is so true! Back then, Cozy Powell played on some of these tracks and when he hit those drums, he really hit them and you can’t replace that! When I hear a song like “Touch of Evil” and that intro, it has so much impact. You can fake it today, but back then it had to be real. I still like that old school feel and I try to keep it that way.

Another great memory of Triumph and Agony is the artwork that is involved with that album. In this digital age, I don’t think enough bands put a lot of emphasis in cover art these days. The artwork for that album is classic!

I’m so glad that you said that; it was actually painted by a great artist by the name of Geoffrey  Gillespie. He’s an English guy who lives in France and he still paints all of our album covers. The computers do most of this stuff today, but he still paints by hand which I don’t think anyone does anymore. It was a brilliant album cover and the back as well; it was almost like it had two fronts. The Warlock is squeezing me in his hand and it’s so dramatic. I think true metal heads still like the artwork, and the booklet; it’s a whole piece of art.

Regardless of the advancements in technology, there are still some things that are done better when they are done the old school way.

It’s funny you mention that because I have my own record label now. It’s small, but I want to put out all of our old records on vinyl or maybe on a picture disc. It may only be 500 copies, but maybe something handmade that you can put on your wall that looks great, feels great and not mass produced. You can’t get some of our old records anymore and it’s such a shame because many young fans don’t even know that these records exist. Last week, I made all of the necessary steps to have my own label to put out this stuff. I know it’s for a smaller group of people but I think these people will really appreciate it even more.

Did you have to go back and get the rights to all of that stuff?

I got all of the rights from 2000 to about 2013. All of the records that had been on SPV and on AFM, the rights came back to me. There’s one record coming out only for Germany and that will be only the German songs and one cover of David Bowie’s “Heroes.” Sometimes you just have to do these things yourself or nobody will care anymore. I don’t care if it sells well or not just as long as it makes some people happy.

You have some pretty hardcore fans, so I think it’s a safe bet that you will be making quite a few people happy. After all of these years, do your ever get nervous before you hit the stage?

In the beginning, I had so much stage fright that I would have to throw up but I don’t have to do that anymore. It’s not that bad anymore, but it still gets to me sometimes. People think that since I’ve been doing this for almost thirty five years that I don’t, but every show really does matter. Each show is a new challenge and you want to do the best that you can.

You recently posted a video on Facebook of you and the guys in the band in the studio working on the new album. When you and I talked last September, you had released “Love’s Gone to Hell” and we talked briefly about the new album. What’s the update on that?

The record is almost done and the songwriting is about 80% done. It has tons of anthems on it and I’d like to try out some of those by the end of the year while we are out on tour. One anthem has many, many guests on it and it’s a totally different song. There’s some heavier stuff on it and “Love’s Gone to Hell” was the first song from it. It also has a song for Lemmy on it called “Living Life to the Fullest.” We still have a couple of more months to work on it and it will be out sometime next year.

You don’t slow down one bit, do you? After these U.S. dates, you head back overseas for even more live dates.

Who needs sleep and who needs a break? This is all so much fun; I’ll get an idea for a song and then I can’t wait to get back into the studio or show it to my band.  I love music so much and I love my fans so much; to me there’s nothing more important than that. We’re also planning on maybe doing a Triumph and Agony live record with some newer songs with Tommy Bolan in the making. That’s next year as well, so there’s lots of good stuff ahead.

You never cease to amaze me; you run circles around so many of these younger bands. You could write a textbook on how things are supposed to be done.

I was so lucky that I could tour and meet such great people as Ronnie James Dio, Lemmy, Judas Priest and so many others. I learned so much from my heroes and I think the 80s metal bands and the new wave of British heavy metal gave us so many great things and people may not know it anymore. You formed a band back then, but it is so different than what it is today. I don’t even think they make musicians like Ronnie James Dio or Lemmy anymore. I want to do everything that I can to keep their legacy alive and teach the younger metal heads about them.

You’ve been friends and worked with so many legends throughout your career. Has anyone ever asked you to write a book?

Yes and I actually started one time and it got so intense. On one hand it was great and on the other hand it was really, really tough. When I started thinking about those tough things, it got to me and I couldn’t sleep at night. I am so glad that I survived many things, but at times it was really, really brutal. I decided that I had better focus on positive stuff like writing great, energetic music that gave people good feelings. People need that and especially in today’s day and age because so many are living in tough times. I thought about some of the things that went on I couldn’t really write about so maybe there will be two books. There will be a normal version and then one that really goes into everything.

I see that our time is just about up, so we will wrap this up. It’s always a pleasure talking with you Doro! Is there anything you’d like to lose with?

I want to thank everyone for their tremendous support and I love all of my fans. I will always give it my all and I hope to see all of you at these new shows. Keep rocking and keep metal alive!

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