“I never thought of doing an album tour before but for the Triumph and Agony record it’s definitely the thing to do because it’s the best Warlock release and it was the greatest time for us musically. The making of the album was magical.”
More female artists are participating in metal than ever before. This revolution, in a male dominated scene, must have started somewhere. In my mind it began with the band Warlock and their famed effort, Triumph and Agony. Whenever I think about Warlock, I think about what could have been. A heavy metal act from Germany established in 1983, their pinnacle achievement was ironically appropriate. A triumph for metal but agony for fans worldwide when the group unexpectedly split and we realized this famous moniker was really a shooting star, suddenly brilliant but sadly not meant to last…
Doro Pesch is an artist I have always respected. Sexuality is an irrefutable motivator but Doro has always chosen to flaunt her voice instead. This ‘leather maiden’ is now metal’s undisputed queen. About to embark on a mini tour in the US celebrating the 30th anniversary of Triumph and Agony, I recently had the opportunity to speak with her.
Please enjoy some excerpts of my (9/5/17) interview with Doro Pesch where we discuss Triumph and Agony, anniversary tour dates and fronting a metal band.
Doro Pesch: Hi David! This is Doro. How are you today?
David Halbe: I’m fine thank you. I appreciate you taking the time to talk to me today.
Doro: Thank you for having me. I’m very excited for the tour coming up, in two days I will be heading over from Europe so it’s perfect talking to you today.
Dave: Excellent. Hey, I wanted to mention that I’ve actually seen you perform with Warlock back in the day on tour with Megadeth and Sanctuary.
Doro: You did! Which city was it?
Dave: It was in Chicago at the Aragon Ballroom.
Doro: That’s great! You know, I just saw Dave Mustaine at the Summer Breeze Festival in Germany and we played Wacken as well. Dave Mustaine was there and so was Warrel Dane from Sanctuary! We all got together to talk, it seemed like no time had passed!
Dave: Cool. That’ s a bad ass little story.
Doro: Today (9/5) is the actual date that the Triumph and Agony album came out exactly thirty years ago.
Dave: Kick ass! That’s some history, what a kick ass album.
Doro: Thank you!
Dave: So what brought about this upcoming anniversary tour?
Doro: Actually, it started last year. I was doing an interview and somebody asked if for the 30th anniversary of Triumph and Agony (1987) we would do something special and I thought wow, I didn’t realize, it was thirty years ago. I thought it would be awesome to do something for it so I called up Warlock guitarist Tommy Boland and I said Tommy you know, next year is the 30th anniversary for Triumph and Agony would you like to do something special for it? And he said absolutely, I am totally in. So I was thinking about it, what could we do and I saw many bands over the years sometimes do a tour or a show of only one album which was very special. I never thought of doing an album tour before but for the Triumph and Agony record it’s definitely the thing to do because it’s the best Warlock release and it was the greatest time for us musically. The making of the album was magical. It was extremely special to me. We all had the time of our lives, it was almost overwhelming. I had a feeling this was going to be different from the previous record (Hellbound – 1985) all the songs had this vibe, great melodies and lyrics, it was just a higher quality.
Dave: I agree. I’m a ‘80s music video junkie, what can you tell me about the one you did for “All We Are”?
Doro: We did it in LA (Los Angeles) and it was my first time there. We had a great director his name was Mark Rezyka and he did all these huge music videos (Cheap Trick, Quiet Riot, Heart, Cinderella) and we were just this little band. I felt like this video would definitely do something. It was an exciting process, during an amazing time.
Dave: Tell me about the album cover.
Doro: The album cover was painted by Geoffrey Gillespie we’ve always remained in close contact, it was one of the first covers ever done, I think it has a supernatural, spiritual kind of quality to it.
Dave: Defiantly, sounds like you guys were hitting on all cylinders back then. How’d you decide on these current tour dates?
Doro: When I originally asked Tommy, I said I didn’t want to do it right away but then we had the big rock festival coming up, Sweden Rock Festival. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s a huge festival, it’s almost as big as Wacken and basically they said: So you guys wanna play? We love the Triumph and Agony album and it would be an honor to have you, you can play right before Aerosmith.
Doro: And at first I thought no, I wanna do little small clubs for the first few gigs (laughs) but it didn’t work out that way so things happened right away. It was a huge festival. All of the songs came off really great, some of them we’ve never played live before, ever. Some songs were immediately recognizable to me, others I’d nearly forgotten.
Dave: What’s one you really wanted to play live?
Doro: Well, there were two that we never played live before one is called “Make Time For Love” and the other is “Kiss Of Death”. “Make Time For Love” is a great power ballad but it never got played live because we didn’t want to have too many ballads in the set. Especially in the shadow of “Für Immer”. On the Megadeth tour we played “Cold, Cold World” and “Three Minute Warning” but I’ve never played them as a solo artist. It had been so long since I had sung them I’d almost forgotten. Every song on the album is powerful, I don’t think there any fillers on there.
Dave: I agree.
Doro: You know those albums, where you play the key songs but there are others that are not as good?
Doro: On Triumph and Agony every song is special even the songs we haven’t played in a long time or never played, like “Kiss of Death”. That song has a unique kind of a flair, it’s a really cool vampire story.
Dave: Totally. Will any live video or audio be taken to commemorate these events?
Doro: Actually, I want to do a live record of the Triumph and Agony album. We recorded it at the Sweden Rock Festival so it’s already done.
Dave: Kick ass, I didn’t know you already did it.
Doro: Actually it was the first show so we want to record a couple more shows just in case but I think it sounded really nice. We will definitely record some more shows to make sure everything sounds prefect. The process will probably take another year and as we are talking about it, I’m going to release it on my own label it’s called Rare Diamonds Productions. I plan on re-releasing all of my records, many of which are out of print. I’m going to release them with some special stuff, limited editions, picture discs and 7 inch records, the old school stuff that we all love.
Dave: Sure. Maybe even do a new take on the Triumph and Agony cover by your friend, the artist?
Doro: Dave! I tell you, that’s why I love doing interviews; that’s a great idea but then everybody would probably compare it to the original.
Dave: But so what? They’ll be talking about it. I would want them to compare it anyway because it is comparable.
Doro: Yes that’s very true. That’s a killer idea by the way. Thank you for sharing it with me.
Dave: No problem, I’m glad to help. Can I ask you a personal question?
Dave: When I got into metal you were one of the few women able to successfully front a band. I always respected how you did it without flaunting your sexuality. Has it always been important to you personally to be recognized as a serious artist and not a sex symbol?
Doro: Jez, you know I’ve never thought of it that way. You know back then I was just doing my best. I was just trying to take care of the songs and make great records. When I’m on stage I’m never thinking about performing in a provocative way, for me it was just be natural. I never planned on anything that wasn’t just me being me. My image has always been my own. I love leather, I actually don’t use real leather anymore because I don’t want to hurt any animals, I didn’t know that when I was younger but I do now so I wear the fake stuff that looks like leather and feels like leather but it’s not real.
Dave: That’s commendable.
Doro: It just took so much time to do everything that there was very little time to think. People would tell me my look is not very sexy but it just never registered. I’ve always been about come as you are do as you feel.
Doro: You know, I always wanted to do well on stage, I like the head banging you know? Getting sweaty up there. I like it when Tommy Bolan (Guitars – Warlock) bleeds.
Dave: (Laughs) That’s fuckin great!
Doro: Moving to metal would never work with a skirt. Wearing a skirt on stage is very, very rare for me. I could never consider doing something like that. To me the music and the stage performance are always the most important thing.
Doro: I remember when I was working on my first solo album in the ‘80s, Gene Simmons (KISS – Bass, Vocals) was the producer, it was unbelievable. For the first time I was working in L.A. before that I had been working in New York and down there (in L.A.) it’s all pretty and stuff.
Doro: And they were all like hey, do you want to do something with your hair? Don’t you want to get fake boobs? And I thought, oh my god! And it was a totally different scene. The people at the record company didn’t want me wearing dark clothes, no spikes and metal. They suggested I get more feminine and show off a bit more of my chest, do something like Madonna they said. That was always like their thing. They always wanted me to change my style and I was always like no man, I’m a metal woman not a professional clown!
Dave: (Laughs) I get it.
Doro: You know, I am the way I am. I’ve never changed in that regard.
Dave: I agree and I think that’s awesome.
Doro: You know record company people would have me go to a hairdresser and then they would have meetings and discuss what to do with my hair, which kind of haircut I needed and sometimes I ran out in tears.
Dave: No kidding?
Doro: They wanted me to cut all my hair off and one time I got up the courage to go there and see. I went to the hairdresser and he dyed my hair red and I came out as a red head and I looked so terrible!
Dave: (Laughs) Holy shit!
Doro: So I went next door to a drug store and I got some product to take out the dye and my hair got all screwed up and the consequences were that record never came out, It was the Love Me In Black record. The record didn’t get released but I got to keep my hair, strange how it went down like that.
Dave: That’s crazy! Ok, given what you’ve just told me I’m sure you’ve noticed the number of female fronted metal bands is growing – what’s one piece of advice you can give to them?
Doro: I would say always follow your heart. Follow your instincts, never let others talk you into ideas which are against what you feel, it’s not right for you. Always live with truth. Work as hard as you can and never, ever, ever give up. When things start to look gray, you’ve just got to hang in there. Feel out your mission, understand what feels good to you and then go for it full force. Sometimes things take longer than you expect but that’s just the way of things. Remember there will always be obstacles and problems, things are never easy. Music is like life, it’s full of ups and downs, you’ve just got to strap yourself in and hang in there. Do your thing and always give it your all.
Dave: That’s good.
Doro: Here’s another important thing, don’t take long breaks. Keep on working, keep at it. I think it’s important to always stay active and focused. I’ve had many friends of mine that are musicians and they make this great record and then say I’m going to take a year off or I’m going to try another job. If you do that it’s so hard then to get back into music so just work with what you have and don’t ever quit.
Dave: I agree. Maybe with your label now if you decide to sign some other artists in the future, artistic freedom could be your moto, it’s a very open mentality. Let them show you their artistic vision instead corporate hair dye.
Doro: Yes! If I were to ever have a young band and they were to put out a record through that label, I would totally support them for what they are. Don’t change a thing, just do your thing and be your best. I’d even get some quality engineers in there but right now I’m taking care of my own records, many of which aren’t available anymore, I want to put them out again.
Doro: Like I was saying before, special releases, limited editions and such. One that will be out soon maybe isn’t so interesting for a metal interview but it’s a record with all these German songs. The album is called Für Immer and it’s due to be released at the end of October before the start of our European tour.
Doro: It also has a cover version of the David Bowie Song “Heroes” on it, I think it came out great but it has a lot of German songs on it because many of these records just aren’t available anymore.
Dave: I understand.
Doro: I’ve got all the rights back to my music and I thought it would great to re-release them. I will probably put out one or two new records per year, they’ll be picture discs and picture disc cutouts, CDs that are picture discs, little seven inch picture discs, beautiful fun stuff like we had in the ‘80s.
Dave: I’m looking forward to seeing them. Thanks so much for your time today Doro.
Doro: Thank you David for all your kind words today, it’s so cool that you went to that Megadeth, Warlock show in Chicago.
Dave: Thanks! Seeing that tour, it’s like being a part of metal history. Well, thank you again for your time. Enjoy the rest of your afternoon and I hope to see you in Chicago!
Doro: Thank you so much David! See you soon. All the best.
- Doro Pesch – Vocals
- Niko Arvanitis – Guitars
- Tommy Bolan – Guitars
- Tommy Henriksen – Bass
- Michael Eurich – Drums