With the recent release of a career-spanning retrospective concert on DVD and Blu-Ray, Doro Pesch has once again returned to the collective metal consciousness. This is not the first time, nor will it be the last that the name Doro has been talked about in metal circles with such affinity. Strong and Proud – 30 Years of Rock and Metal takes fans from the halcyon days fronting seminal metal act Warlock through her impressive solo output, and even some well-played covers for good measure. When asked via phone interview if she ever thought she’d still be doing this 30+ years later the question was first met with a chuckle. “No.” she stated, “I thought maybe five, six, seven, years. 10 at most, but time flies.”
Time flies indeed, and Doro has been around to see it all these last three-plus decades. “I started when metal was rising.” she said, “Then in the ’90s when grunge started and metal kind of got pushed aside, and then metal came back big time, and it’s great to be witness to all of that.” Doro has done more than witnessed it though. She’s lived it. From the videos that dotted the MTV airwaves to only being actively promoted to European audiences, Doro has felt first-hand the whims of the music industry.
“Before there was always this pressure to write hit songs or to be radio friendly. But for us radio friendly was never what we wanted to do. We wanted to do metal and it should sound metal. We had people telling us our music should be more polished or more pop and we’d just say, ‘No, no, no, no.’ Sometimes we’d do a record and we’d hear the final mix and it would sound so polished and we’d all just want to throw up.”
Vomit-inducing production aside, Doro looks back fondly on her time in the metal scene, and as well she should. While fronting influential act Warlock, she helped put Germany on the map as a hotbed of heavy metal. Although in the beginning it may have been a little hard to tell. “I always loved music” she enthused, “and when I was 15 I had my first band, Snakebite. To be honest In 1980 we didn’t even know we were a heavy metal band. There were not many metal bands we could go and see. A couple years later I started to see the fanzines and magazines and some of the festivals and I thought, ‘yeah we are part of this metal scene.’ But in the beginning we just did what we did and had so much fun.”
If Doro and her earliest band mates didn’t realize they were metal from the start they certainly figured it out at their first live performance: “For our first gig we got $50 and played in this punk club. Back then the heavy metal guys and the punk guys didn’t get along. When we started playing the punks were totally fed up with us and took our instruments away. We were hiding behind the amps and there was this one punk who was pointing a gun at me the entire time. Every song we did he was more and more angry but he was really drunk and luckily he passed out on stage. Then some of our fans handed me the gun and they were very proud we kept playing. But the gun was loaded the whole time! So after the punk guys destroyed everything we finished our set and the guitar player only had two strings left on his guitar and the bass player had one string. When we finished we thought, ‘wow, so that’s what it’s like to play a gig.’ Now nothing shocks me anymore. But in the beginning it was hardcore. Back then nobody cared and there was total freedom, but you had to make sure you survived.”
Doro, thankfully survived those wild, early days and today still thrives. When she looks back on the metal scene of her youth and compares it to today she likes what she sees. “I think for all the metal musicians it’s a strong bond today. In the ’80s everyone had to play by these rules because of the record companies. I think back then, because the industry was so much bigger, it was sometimes hard to do exactly what you wanted. I think now everyone has more freedom to do whatever you like. Today you can build your own fan base through Facebook or Twitter and in the 80s we were very dependent on someone saying, ‘o.k. let’s push or promote this band.’”
The future looks bright for Doro Pesch. With a virtual non-stop tour scheduled through the end of this year and a new record in the works, it looks like this is one artist who, thankfully, will remain strong and proud for a long time to come.