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Music’s transcendent power has taken singer Doro Pesch across multiple continents and afforded her the ability to share her unique gift with a fan base that spans generations. For over three decades Doro has been anointed as The Queen Of Metal thanks to her powerful pipes that fronted Germany’s Warlock. Earning a spot as the only woman fronted band on the seminal Monsters Of Rock tour, Pesch is quick to always credit her fan base for her longevity, and always mindful that challenges present themselves to all, regardless of gender.
“I truly believe it was our fans that propelled us throughout. Men and women together showed so much to me and Warlock and I still feel I couldn’t have done it without them because as much as I hate to say it, the business end of music can really bring you down, man or woman it doesn’t matter,” stated Pesch.
Pesch recently celebrated Warlock’s acclaimed 1987 Triumph & Agony record, stating the ‘timeless songwriting’ prompted her decision to do a brief 30th anniversary tour and to reunite with estranged guitarist Tommy Bolan. After a lengthy battle Pesch has finally earned the legal right to once again play under the name responsible for her initial success, though carefully titled Doro: The Voice Of Warlock to avoid any future issues. Coupled with her upcoming new record due this summer via Nuclear Blast, Pesch proudly shared her positive energy while reflecting on the arduous legal battle.
“It was a very long process, and costly. I felt it was finally time to see it all the way through and I feel relieved and re-energized now that it’s over; It was just a nightmare. Back then, the record business had artists under their thumbs and it became impossible to record and play under the name, so I went with the name ‘Doro’, which we thought would be for just one record because it at least it had my name, something for the fans to recognize,” reflected Pesch.
Warlock won over it’s initially small audience in Germany, playing packed clubs while Pesch rushed from her graphic design jobs to transform into a leather clad Metal warrior of sorts, an iconic image that lives on throughout every record’s art concept. On the cusp of Europe’s burgeoning rock scene and playing parallel to Britain’s New Wave of British Heavy Metal, Warlock carved its own niche and was ultimately rewarded with a rabid fan base Pesch cannot thank enough. She reflected on Warlock’s quick rise and the band’s rapidly changing goals.
“We were able to grab the attention of some executives during our 1984 record Burning The Witches. They couldn’t believe it when they talked to us! We were just kids and my English was not very good but I was always up for the challenge and we always had to prove ourselves, no matter what,” she said.
Warlock’s indie label, Mausoleum struggled to support the group’s desire to branch out, though Pesch remains very complimentary of their efforts. There was just no U.S. connection to bring the group for stateside tours and coupled with Germany’s restrictive and oppressive Berlin Wall, Warlock was already at a crossroads.
“We really wanted to share our music with the people that were so good to us but it was very hard. Warlock would cross over through Hungary because customs was not as strict but they ended up confiscating all our copies of Burning The Witches because they said the cover was pornography. Art is something very important to me and I was so disappointed that even though we played a little, we had nothing for the people,” sighed Pesch.
Doro’s desire to take Warlock global finally came to fruition thanks to longtime friend and producer, Henry Staroste. The group expanded on it’s hallmark sound of galloping guitars and frantic drums by further highlighting Pesch’s soaring, melodic vocals with ‘85’s Hellbound. Featuring stronger melodies without losing energy, Warlock was evolving its songwriting without losing their hallmark power.
“I always love everything we release and I was proud of that record but was still disappointed that our music was not released in the U.S. Henry worked very hard for us and we were finally able to fly to the U.S. and play for the American people!”
Warlock embarked on an 1988 tour opening for thrash act, Megadeth and the slot offered so many opportunities for them to transcend genres, cultures, and even gender. It was then Pesch began her love affair with New York and made the impacting decision to reside part time in the U.S.
“I watched every show they played. I thought the U.S. bands had great songwriting. I never care about genre. It’s Metal and I love it! I love the passion, the energy and believed New York was a reflection of this. I did think thrash was powerful and unique and I really liked watching the growing fan base support it. To me, it’s all music and I can feel the love they were putting into it, every note,” she laughed.
Asked if gender ever played a challenge to her during Warlock’s first U.S. tour, Pesch quickly stated that touring is hard, no matter what but what followed the tour was far harder than experiencing any crowd hostility or negative press.
“In America, my bassist had quit and it felt like everyone was not handling the pressure very well. You just cannot imagine the amount of pressure! At the time, the record business was very powerful and it even got to the point where my guitarist, Tommy Bolan was told to leave the group and it devastated me. I felt I did not have my say,” stated Pesch.
Triumph And Agony turned out to be Warlock’s swan song due to inner turmoil, label pressure, and ultimately, Warlock being unable to record or tour under their name. Pesch stated all the members remained friends and her recent reunion with Bolan for the anniversary tour of Triumph And Agony reaffirmed her love and respect for band mates, past and present. Pesch once again reflected on Bolan’s initial departure and Warlock’s fleeting success.“When your group can no longer record or even play you have bigger problems than just creativity. When the group was called ‘Doro’ it worked but then it just evolved into a solo career. I always thought about Tommy and missed our chemistry. I never wanted to stop and going ahead as Doro was my way of continuing. I was crushed about Warlock and disappointed when U.S. executives tried to make us sound more commercial like Def Leppard or Bon Jovi. They are good bands, too but that is not what Warlock sounds like,” stated Pesch.
Many Metal acts fell by the wayside during the glam or ‘hair metal’ explosion, prompting many of the genre’s trailblazers to breakup or attempt to refine their sounds to match the times. Dozens of U.S. bands filled arenas with sensational stage setups and outlandish costumes, while the harder, less commercial groups were often overlooked. Pesch believes the 90’s were actually the toughest on Metal.
“I believe when Grunge broke was very tough on Metal bands. We all fell on tough times then. I felt those bands were good but I was not that kind of singer, it was not for me. I was still recording and experimenting with newer sounds but it was heartbreaking to me that my records went without being released in the U.S. for so long,” said Pesch.
It was not until 2000 that Doro’s music became available again in the U.S. Pesch was still filling clubs in Europe but the U.S. demand had changed dramatically due to fickle tastes and trends moving at faster speeds. She credits the loyal fans for their patience and her enthusiasm for what marks her 13th record is undeniable.
“I cannot wait! I know it’s been awhile since Raise Your Fist in 2012. We have a lot of it done and I just want to share so much with the people. People always ask how my new music will sound and I tell them, it’s me and will always have the power, passion, and energy. It’s a magical time and it fills me with joy to be able to do this every day,” exclaimed Pesch.
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