Doro – Shining Like DiamondsTuesday, 17th November 2020
There is only one Doro. The Metal Queen is one of the most enigmatic and charming people in the genre that one can speak to. She has a passion that simply exudes from her as she speaks of her experiences and time in the genre, and people that she has met along the way. It’s something that her new greatest hits collection, Magic Diamonds, captures so well. You have decades of classic tracks, showcasing both heavy rockers and gentle ballads, all brought together in one lovingly put together package. It also gave us an opportunity to chat with Pesch about how she put it together, as well as handling quarantine and her thoughts on drive-in concerts – amid a plethora of other topics.
Dead Rhetoric: How did you decide what would make the cut when you were figuring out the collection?
Doro Pesch: It was difficult because usually I am attached to every single song! We have so many records, so I thought I’d pick the 20 best songs or my favorites, but then it turned into 30 then 40 songs and then it became 56 songs! I maxed out the cd capacity and the vinyl too. It’s three cds or 2 vinyl records. I just picked my favorites and I talked to the fans. I’m usually in a tight connection with them, so I asked what they would love to hear, or with live or new versions. Some said “Fortune Teller” or “Even Angels Cry,” so checked for some nice versions of these songs. It was a group effort! But I’ll tell you, its volume one. There are many, many more songs which are waiting to be heard as well. Maybe in the next five years I’ll do a volume two.
But with this one, it’s favorites and magic moments. There’s duets, which I love so much – with Lemmy and Pete Steele. All of these great moments in my life. We also remixed a lot of live stuff from the last tour. It was heartbreaking because the atmosphere was so great! Now this year there’s not much going on. We did a few drive-in shows but that was about it. So I wanted to put lots of live stuff on it for uplifting energy for fans who can’t go to concerts at the moment. It was a lot of fun to put it all together, and it brought back memories from the early ‘80s to now.
Dead Rhetoric: What are your thoughts on the drive-in concerts?
Pesch: It was a great adventure. It’s not the same, like a normal concert or festival but it’s better than doing nothing. We were all so happy that we could do it. The fans had a great time, and the band and road crew all had something to do. Usually people think about it being too much with another tour or gig, but everyone was so ready to run. It was great. When we did the first one, someone filmed part of it on a cell phone so we put it on our socials and in two days it had so many views! I think like 600,000 people saw it and then we got more phone calls from promoters and people who own drive-in theaters asking us to put on shows. Some of them had never done a rock show but thought they could pull it off. So we did more drive-in shows and it was so great.
Every show was totally different. Sometimes the rules and regulations were very strict, and sometimes they were more loose. I asked if I could go into the audience, with social distancing, and sometimes the answer was no and a few times I could do it as long as I was wearing a mask. So I did, no problem, and I wore a mask and sung anyway! It works! It actually looked a lot like our “All We Are” video. We played on top of a tourbus and everyone was in their cars, and they are frozen but come to life through the magic of metal and it looked exactly like that when I hopped on stage. It was like déjà vu! Going back in time to 1987 to when we filmed that video. That was surreal.
Dead Rhetoric: It goes to show how hungry people are for some live music now too.
Pesch: Yes, they came from all over Europe! It’s definitely not allowed anymore with the borders closed, but when we did it, people were coming from all other countries. It was so funny! The first ten rows were only black cars. You always see the metalheads with their black t-shirts and logos, but there were only black cars [laughs]! It was so metal.
Dead Rhetoric: The collection also showcases a ton of duets and collaborations you’ve done with other metal musicians. How important are these relationships that you have made through music?
Pesch: Super important! We all became great friends. Most of the people that are on the album aren’t here with us anymore. Pete Steele was a great guy, and we did the song “Descent” together. Lemmy, that was the first duet I did. Lemmy was my best friend. Lemmy and Ronnie James Dio were the most important people to me in my life – my musical life and personal life. They were the two that meant so much to me. I miss them every day. I had the longest time in the studio with Lemmy. We recorded two songs – “Love Me Forever,” which is on the album, and we did another acoustic song “Alone Again.” I didn’t know that Lemmy was such a great guitar player but he was. It moved me to tears, so we recorded two songs in LA with Bob Kulick – he died a few months ago. He was so sweet and a great guitar player.
I have the best memories! That personal relationship and friendship means the most to me. When you do something together, you become closer. I always felt like if I was in trouble, I could call up Lemmy or Ronnie James Dio in the middle of the night, whenever or wherever, and they would help me. It was such a good, secure feeling to have someone who cared. It means the world to me.
Dead Rhetoric: There’s an album full of ballads. What do you like about a good ballad when it comes to metal?
Pesch: I think a great melody and great lyrics with meaning – it can be so soulful. It can touch your heart and soul so much. I love singing dark, romantic ballads. Sometimes it has more staying power than a hard and fast song when you rock out. It’s fun and great, and I love it! But when a ballad hits you, it can stay with you forever. “Für Immer,” which means forever – that song I song so many times! At so many weddings! I sang it at biker weddings, in Wacken, in churches – it means so much to people. They have played it at funerals too. It is definitely one of the most meaningful songs we wrote. So a ballad can definitely hit you deep. The song with Lemmy, “Love Me Forever,” that was my favorite song with Motorhead. I loved it so much. I love “Ace of Spades” and these other heavy, great songs, but Lemmy on a ballad! I always melt away. I think it hits you deeper maybe.
Dead Rhetoric: You get that emotional side that you might not otherwise see.
Pesch: Yeah! I love to headbang, I love everything! But when something touches your heart, I love that too. It depends on your mood too. Sometimes you need uplifting, positive songs and anthems. Sometimes you need something when you are by yourself. Like “Love Me in Black” or “Fall for Me Again” – that’s something for your soul.
Dead Rhetoric: There’s this huge collection of songs, what do you hope that people take away from checking this album set out?
Pesch: That they get good energy. That it gives them good feelings and it empowers them and lifts them up. Especially in this day and age where everything is super difficult and crazy. I hope that it brings positive, good metal energy to them. You can feel that we are all in it together. We stick together and it’s a good feeling of being deeply connected. It supports your fighting spirit – we will fight the good fight and make it through without getting too depressed. We have to move on and make the best of this situation and this year. We have to do things for other people. I believe this one saying, from Tony Robbins, that is dead on – ‘living is giving.’ I believe that. I think it’s good to give to others in whatever they need. Maybe they need a smile, a hug, or food. It’s all so important this year. If I can do something with music that makes them feel good, that would be awesome.
Dead Rhetoric: You are always going out on the road, how has quarantine affected you?
Pesch: I was on the Megadeth cruise in February and we played one more big show with Saxon. I was a big fan of Saxon growing up, so it meant a lot to me that they would invite us. It was Saxon, Diamond Head, and Tygers of Pan Tang. Then one week later, a tour was going to start. We had European tours, American tours, a South American tour, and an Australian tour – along with the summer festivals. Then everything got cancelled or postponed. We were going to be playing the M3 festival, which I was dying to play, and that got postponed.
So everything was postponed until September at first, then we found out that September was impossible so we are hoping that everything will be better next year. We are starting early next year, but I don’t know. I don’t know if the time will be good. It’s tough, with being on the road my whole life. But I am always trying to find something to do. That’s why I went through my archives and put together Magic Diamonds. I wanted to work on something I love, and spend time with great memories. But it’s tough not being on the road. There are so many people who know exactly how it feels, and I try to stay positive.
Dead Rhetoric: Are you working on any new material at the moment with the downtime?
Pesch: Yeah, we are working on a new album. We have six songs ready. While we aren’t going out on tour – I love animals so much and I try to support animal shelters and things like that. I met this woman who takes care of ex-race horses. They are racing when they are one or two, and by the time they are five, people don’t want them or take care of them anymore. So she is trying to help these beautiful creatures. So I go there when I have time. Last time, there was this one horse – I felt like we were friends right away. I was driving my car back, and I decided to write a song for these animals. The working title is “Heavenly Creatures.” It will definitely make the new album, though I don’t know if the title will stay, but it will be sung for all the beautiful animals. I love all animals – dogs, horses – but every animal is great. I wanted to do something.
I did a lot of charity work too. There’s one charity event coming up too, also for animals. It’s a festival in America. It’ll be on October 31st and you can watch it on the internet. It’s a virtual festival. I did two songs for Dave Ellefson’s album too. I did “Love Me Like a Reptile” from Motorhead and “Sheer Heart Attack” by Queen. We had a lot of fun with all of these musicians coming together and covering songs we grew up with or inspired us. So I have been doing some stuff on the side to stay busy too.
Dead Rhetoric: When you think about a song like “All We Are,” what do you think makes it special? That it resonates with people for decades?
Pesch: When we first wrote “All We Are,” we didn’t know it would carry so much magic! The more we worked on it, and then when people sang on it…at first it was me alone, but then we added a background choir, and you could feel the song just wanted to be more than just a song on the record. Then someone suggested it should be the first song on the B-side of the record, but it ended up being the first song on the A-side. It’s unbelievable that the song just finds its way. You just have to stand there and support what the song wants. There was so much magic when people were singing on it. When we were in the studio in NY, it was the Power Station Studio back then. We just got some friends and people off the street. They didn’t need to sing good, but just sing loud. It was mindblowing! Everyone was so happy – face and mouth wide open singing! They sung their heart out. I could tell that it could be a real hit.
Then we did the video in the LA river basin. We didn’t even try, but it was suddenly on MTV all the time on heavy rotation. Suddenly it took a life of its own. People love it worldwide. Doesn’t matter if you are in Russia or Thailand. Everyone sings along and it’s a real feelgood song. I think it’s always good when you have a strong feeling when something comes out, when you can’t sleep and your heart is beating out – it could be something. If you don’t feel anything, even if it’s a nice melody or lyric, then it doesn’t have staying power or end up on the record. But if there’s something where your body or soul is acting up, it might be something [special]. It’s beautiful, and to see when something resonates, wow, that’s a sacred feeling almost.
Dead Rhetoric: Is there anything you’d like to see in metal’s near future?
Pesch: We could be back on the road soon! Otherwise I see people in the recording studio doing stuff. Maybe it takes a little longer but when everything is back to normal, I think bands are going to come out with some great records. I think we will appreciate it even more when things return too – the fans, the bands, the road crew, everyone will be so happy. There will be so much energy. Maybe there will be new sounds and experimental stuff! Now when you can’t do much, the best stuff comes out when you are sitting by yourself in your rehearsal room or studio or cellar. I can imagine lots of great things coming out from this. But it’ll probably take a while.
Dead Rhetoric: Is there anything you would change if you look back on your career? Or are you the type that is happier with the way things turn out in the end?
Pesch: In the end, it was all good! There were lots of learning experiences, lots of ups and downs. I think it’s all good. You learn so much from when things don’t turn out the way you want. I always try to look ahead. Of course, when metal was big in the ‘80s, it was awesome. I thought it would always just go up and up, but it wasn’t so in the ‘90s with grunge. But it was great when it came back! My first tour in 2000 after it came back a little bit, it was with Dio, and we became great friends. So it was all good for something. I believe in good energy. You have to do the best you have with what you have and make the best of every situation, even when it’s not so great. But do your best and learn something or do something for others, or something meaningful. In the end, if you follow your heart you can’t go wrong with that.
Dead Rhetoric: What else do you have planned in the coming year?
Pesch: The new record is in the making, so I hope to release a new album next year. Hopefully there will be a big tour behind it. Hopefully we can play all of these festivals and shows that we couldn’t play this year. I hope that everyone survives! I know a lot of club owners are in big trouble. I hope that everyone stays healthy and survives, and that we will keep on rocking. That we will make the best of this situation. I want to say thank you to all the fans for so many years of great energy, support, and loyalty! It’s so awesome, and I can’t wait to see them all live again. They are my family worldwide and I love them to death!