Interview: Doro, the Queen Of Metal
Doro talks being the boss, punks with guns, and battles with redneck promotors
Doro (born Dorothee Pesch in Düsseldorf) has long been regarded as the Queen of Metal. Ever since she first came to prominence in 1984 – as the frontwoman with German band Warlock when their debut album, Burning The Witches, was released – she has proven herself to be a powerful and individual vocalist.
Her dedication to metal has never wavered, whether with Warlock or, more recently, as a solo performer. No wonder she has a reputation as an inspiration for the next generation of female singers and musicians.
When did you first realise you could sing?
I would have been two or three years old. My father was a truck driver, and I spent a lot of time with him as he drove around. He would always play the radio very loudly, and I sang along. People soon got to know that I had a very loud voice. I just fell in love with music, and for me the turning point was hearing Lucille by Little Richard. I was three, and it took me over the edge.
What made you want to be in a band?
That came from the fact that I was an only child, and wanted to interact with others. At school during our music lessons I was the one person who was happy to stand in front of everyone and sing – very loudly.
Other than singing, have you ever done anything else in a band?
I was a roadie for a while before becoming a vocalist. I used to carry around the bassist’s equipment, which was really hard work. Then in my first band, Snakebite, I had to drive the tour bus. Well, it wasn’t strictly a bus, more a van. But I did all the driving. What all this taught me was to have a sense of responsibility, which I still have.
Do you find it easy to be the boss?
I would never describe myself as the boss. But I am the one who always oversees everything, and I am willing to do whatever it takes to get things done properly. But it does not mean I see myself as more important than anyone else. Because I take on the responsibility of ensuring things run smoothly, the guys in the band can relax and have a drink. But that’s fine.
How do you keep your voice in shape?
I have an oil I use to lubricate my throat when on tour, but that’s it. I never warm up before a gig. That’s something I took from Ronnie James Dio, who never felt the need to warm up his voice prior to performing.
What’s the worst gig you’ve ever done?
The first one with Snakebite. It was at a place called the Rose & Crown in Düsseldorf. This was in an era when punks and metalheads did not get on. There were a load of punks there, and they did not like our music, so they invaded the stage, destroyed a lot of our gear and tried to break up our instruments. It was awful. There was even one very drunk punk who threatened us with a gun. Thankfully he passed out, and that’s when we discovered the gun was loaded, so it could have been worse.
What’s the craziest thing that’s happened to you on the road?
That was on an American tour, in Nevada. We were due to play a club when the tour manager called my motel room and said we had to cancel the performance because the bar was full of rednecks, with no sign of any true fans. There was also no stage and no PA. He was really worried for our safety. Reluctantly I agreed. Then I got a message that the promoter and twenty of his ‘friends’ were coming to the motel with baseball bats, keen to see the singer who’d cancelled the gig because she was sick! We – band, crew – were all so worried that we climbed out of our motel room windows and fled to the tour bus; I had to leave behind all of my stage clothes and make-up, grabbing just my jacket and passport. We got on the bus just as the promoter’s gang turned up, and they followed us for five hours before giving up. That was very scary.
Do you still have any ambitions?
Oh, yes. I’d love to compose music for movies. I’ve just done that for Anuk 3, and I really enjoyed the experience. It’s coming out on my own label, Rare Diamonds. I’ve just started this to put out special editions of my music. The first will be a compilation of my German-language songs, featuring a new recording of David Bowie’s Heroes, in German.
Doro's next studio album is due to be released by Nuclear Blast in August, a week before appearing at Bloodstock.