DATE OF INTERVIEW:
23rd April 2009
Legendary German vocalist Doro Pesch, the ex-Warlock frontwoman, has enjoyed a long and successful solo career during the past two decades, and 2008 saw her reach an astonishing 25 years in the business, marking the occasion with a special show in Germany that included performances from several illustrious guests from the scene. With the release of a new studio album, 'Fear No Evil', earlier this year, she has proved to fans and critics alike that age and time has not dampened her enthusiasm or ability to produce quality rock-metal anthems. Metal Discovery's Elena Francis met up with Doro in London at The Forum at the start of a 10 date UK tour supporting Saxon to chat about her lengthy career; the new album; that special 25th anniversary concert; and a lot more besides...
METAL DISCOVERY: How are you?
DORO PESCH: Very good. We just came to London today and we are very excited about the tour. Tonight will be the first show. Actually, it’s the first show of this whole leg of the tour. I guess it will be the next one and a half years full tour.
(Doro Pesch on her recent, and potential future, collaborations with ex-Nightwish vocalist Tarja Turunen)
“It used to be a side effect of when you do something with someone you become great friends and you stay friends forever, like partners. It’s great. With Tarja, I think it would be very nice to tour together.”
Doro Pesch backstage at The Forum, London, 23rd April 2009
Photograph copyright © 2009 Elena Francis - www.metal-discovery.com
Interview by Elena Francis
MD: Wow, that’s a lot of touring!
DP: It’s because the record just came out a couple of weeks ago. In the States it will come out on the 12th of June but here it’s out a couple of weeks.
MD: You’re looking forward to playing with Saxon, good friends of yours.
DP: Oh yes, very good friends! We did a long tour I think five years ago and that was awesome and I love Biff and I love Saxon.
MD: It’s hard not to love Saxon.
DP: Especially live shows. I think Biff is one of the best frontmen.
MD: Ever. Live, definitely.
DP: Yeah. I got all my inspiration from Saxon when we started having our first band; it was even before Warlock. ‘Denim and Leather’ and all these old records. I love them so much. I was influenced by the British wave of heavy metal.
MD: And you’re playing St. George’s Day as well which is a great day to see Saxon.
DP: Yeah. And the venue, I think I’ve never played here before. It’s nice.
MD: I hope everything will go fine for you. I’m sure it will. So how have critics and fans been receiving ‘Fear No Evil’, your latest album?
DP: So far I’ve only seen good stuff and good reviews. What I care the most about is what the fans have to say because I do it purely for the fans. So far it’s been received very well, I think. Tonight we will play two songs because we have a 40-45 minutes. We will definitely play ‘Celebrate’ and ‘Night of the Warlock’. Actually, ‘Celebrate’ was the most successful single we ever had in Spain. It went into the charts at number three. Usually only normal pop songs [get there] so it was very good. In Germany, the whole album hit number eleven. That was great.
MD: You’re very proud of this album, aren’t you?
DP: Yeah, yeah! I’ve heard over the last couple of years that metal was growing stronger and stronger and stronger and so then you can actually really see it in the charts as well. That’s great. So far, so good. We are playing ‘Night of the Warlock’ and ‘Celebrate’ and then a best of list from the first record to the new one. ‘Burning Bridges’ and ‘All We Are’ and ‘I Rule the Ruins’.
MD: ‘Warrior Soul’?
DP: Yes, and from ‘Warrior Soul’, ‘You Are My Family’. We picked one song off each album which the fans will like the most. ‘True As Steel’.
MD: How in your own words would you say this new album is different from the other work that you’ve done?
DP: It sums up all the 25 years pretty nice and it has lots of anthems on it. I love anthems. I think it has some good old school songs on it, with ‘Night of the Warlock’ with the intro and the background vocals, and then some more modern songs like ‘Running From the Devil’; I think is a little bit more modern. It has one of the hardest songs on the record; ‘Caught in the Battle’ is one of the hardest songs we ever did. Some special things, like ’25 Years’, that’s thanks the fans a lot. It has all the good things from the ‘80s to now. The album cover was painted by Geoffrey Gillespie again.
MD: It’s very reminiscent of the ‘80s album covers – the really dramatic warrior pictures.
DP: Yeah. I must say, when we do a record I always kind of vibe it out if it needs a photo or if it needs a painting. I called up the painter and I said: “Hey Geoffrey, I think this one is more metal so we need a painting.”
MD: Yeah, a lot of the covers now are done on the computer but no one does paintings anymore.
DP: You’re right! Me too, me too. I was a graphic artist before I became a musician so the hand-painted - I still love it. Every year, he asks me do I want it on a computer or do I want it painted. Of course, painted. I don’t even like…I mean, sometimes when it’s good but I like stuff done…
MD: The old way?
DP: Yeah. It takes much more time, more effort but…
MD: It shows, doesn’t it?
MD: On the song ‘Walking With The Angels’ you have Tarja Turunen singing. How did that come about then?
DP: Actually, that’s my first duet with another female singer on our record. I did one time a duet with After Forever - Floor Janssen. Actually the guitarist we is playing this tour here in England and then our guitar player will come back after the England tour. I thought I wanted to write a song about angel power and then I thought “Man, it might be so nice to have someone with a more angelic voice singing it.” I met Tarja many years ago for the first time at Wacken. I saw Nightwish for the first time and I was blown away. I have this friend of ours; her name is Regina Halmich. She was for 12 or 13 years [an] undisputed boxing champion.
MD: Oh, you wrote the single for her?
DP: Yeah, two walking anthems and then the last song, she quit her active career last year. It was a huge event and Tarja was there and I was there. While we were doing soundchecks we kind of got to talk to each other and said: “Man, it would be so nice to do something together eventually.” And then a couple of months later, we were working on this song and I thought it might be the perfect song for Tarja. I sent her the demo and she said: “I love it” and she did it. And then she sent me her demo. She wants to do a winter edition of the last album and then this one song ‘The Seer’ on it.
MD: Oh, that’s the EP that you’re on?
DP: Yeah, and then I sang on ‘The Seer’ and she sang on ‘Walking with the Angels’ and it was really nice. I love it.
MD: So it’s the beginning of a new musical partnership maybe? Could we expect more from you?
DP: Well, if she wants to do it [laughs]. It used to be a side effect of when you do something with someone you become great friends and you stay friends forever, like partners. It’s great. With Tarja, I think it would be very nice to tour together.
MD: You’re both playing the Metal Female Voices Fest on the same day in Belgium.
DP: Is it on the same day?
MD: I think it’s on the Sunday, yeah. I’m fairly sure. Will there be a vocal collaboration maybe?
DP: I think we would make that work.
MD: Because she joined you for your 25th anniversary concert.
DP: Yeah, we sung both songs ‘Walking with the Angels’ and ‘The Seer’. I can imagine we’d want to do that. It always needs a little bit of preparation; sometimes we have to refresh the lyrics and stuff but I think we will do something.
MD: Tarja’s not the only person who has appeared on the new album. You’ve got several. How did that come about and how did you decide who to choose because I imagine you know lots of musicians?
DP: Yeah, actually all my closest friends and people that I have a long history with or we go on tour with, for example Veronica Freeman from Benediction was our opening act on the last ‘Warrior Soul’ tour. Actually, I wanted to write a song for the 25th anniversary, something like ‘True as Steel’ or ‘All We Are’ where everybody sings along. I called up all the fan club members and we met in Germany. It’s a pretty nice club in Bornholm. People from all over the world came and we sang along. The engineer told me to give him many choices, for example ten people singing, sometimes fifty people, sometimes only two people singing, the men and the women. When women were singing I thought this sounds so great, so special. Then I thought I want to do a full metal female version and then I called up all the girls. Actually, I flew over to London to see Girlschool. They played with Dio and then I gave them the demo and they were the first ones I gave the demo to. They recorded it in their studio and it came back and I thought wow, that sounds great. I then went to call Angela in Arch Enemy, Sabina Classen, Floor from After Forever and Liv from Leaves’ Eyes. I thought it might be so interesting to have people from all sorts of metal genres from goth metal to death metal to thrash metal and then we mixed it all together. It’s actually a very exciting version. I gave Biff the demo as well and I got the vocals back and thought oh man, this sounds great. We have three versions: one with the fans only, one with Biff and one with all the ladies and on the record we have the one version with everybody but I think all the versions came out really great. Now we’re here together two weeks with Saxon. It worked out perfect.