By Sam Barker
Doro Pesch has been at the pinnacle of heavy metal since its very creation. Metal’s first lady is now celebrating thirty-years of non-stop dedication with her upcoming DVD box set, Strong and Proud – 30 Years of Rock and Metal. Doro has been passionate and active in the heavy metal industry all of that time, and her soon-to-be-released DVD set does it’s best to cram those thirty-years into one box set.
“It’s seven or eight hours long, the whole DVD,” said Doro with pride in her voice, “and the documentary is almost two and a half hours, so for the fans I think there’s a lot of stuff to see.”
Strong and Proud has many guest stars and performances, including the beloved late Lemmy Kilmister from Motörhead; reminiscing over Lemmy definitely struck a chord with both Doro and myself. What heavy metal fan was not distraught at the loss of such an amazing icon?
“When Motörhead played there was the one Wacken show,” Doro said, referring to the Wacken Open Air Festival shows featured on her DVD. “It was super-hot, and the weather was unbelievable. And Lemmy, he walked off the stage after seven songs of the Motörhead show. He came up to me and he said, ‘You know, I’m really exhausted today… but if you really want me to, we can do something together.’ And then we spontaneously said, ‘Yea let’s do ‘Breaking the Law’. There were magic moments that weren’t even pre-planned.”
Lemmy was such a pivotal part of both the metal world and Doro’s personal world. “He was my closest friend from the music industry. He saw when somebody could do good things, music wise, for sure. He definitely supported me. We’re rockers!” Doro even opened up about the impact Lemmy’s death had on her. “Our last record was actually with Lemmy… and the song was called, It Still Hurts. It was very very nice, a beautiful ballad. I would have loved to have performed it live together, but… It’s unfortunately not anymore possible. But every time I hear the song I feel like Lemmy is right with us. I went to his funeral, I flew to LA and on the plane there, suddenly it came to my mind, and I wrote a little song for Lemmy. It was called, Living Life to the Fullest. And I want to put it on the new record. The new record is in the making and will probably take another year.”
A woman like Doro, such an integral part of heavy metal culture, has invaluable insight into how the heavy metal culture has developed over the past three decades. “I am so happy I have been able to witness the beginning, when something started,” said Doro with excitable passion in her voice. She then went on to explain the struggles of the nineties as a heavy metal musician caught up in the decade of grunge. “It was very hard to survive that time, because the industry didn’t support metal anymore like they did in the eighties, and suddenly it was very difficult to keep it going. That was the nineties, it was very low for metal.”
Fortunately, Doro thinks that heavy metal is now in a great place: “I think it’s growing and growing, and I think it’s as big as it was in the eighties,” Doro says with hope. “Metal is stronger than ever! Of course we miss our two big heroes, Lemmy and (Ronnie James) Dio, and so many other great musicians. I would love to have stuff going on forever, but I understand it’s not possible always. We always try to never ever have a goodbye tour, to always keep it going. Like Lemmy, to the very last gig.”
We also discussed how the roles of women have changed for heavy metal since the early eighties; Doro is a brilliant role model for female heavy metal fans worldwide. “At the beginning when we started in the early eighties, I think the role of women was not as respected as it is now. I think there’s no question about it, no doubt about it. In the eighties, I think especially in all the videos, all the metal bands, had the naked sexy girls dancing around… I think it looked very stupid. And in the eighties, there was always a hard line to walk. Everyone is portrayed now as strong and not totally cheap, and I think women are much much more respected now. I must say I never had any problems with it in the eighties, I was always treated really good (by the) bands we toured with. I always felt I was one of the guys.”
Speaking of strong women, Doro‘s DVD is aptly titled Strong and Proud – 30 Years of Rock and Metal. “I think strong because we are still going strong! I always try to keep my mind and body and soul strong, and I am always highly motivated at every show. Every show I treat it like it could be the last, and I give it my all. And proud, I am really proud that I survived the music business! Because it was sometimes hard core, all kinds of scenarios, good and bad. Sometimes unbelievable. But I am so happy, because the fan base always gave us the energy, the power, the good feedback to always go ahead and tour and take all the hurdles, and deal with all the problems we would have to face.”
Doro also hinted at an upcoming Australian tour, so watch out! “There are talks that we are coming back to Australia on tour,” said Doro, towards the end of the conversation with excitement. “We’re definitely working on a tour again.”
It was incredible to be able to talk to the lovely Doro Pesch, a woman who has been an icon not just for young female musicians, but for every fan of heavy metal. Her dedication and enthusiasm over the past thirty-years is unsurpassable.
Strong and Proud – 30 Years of Rock and Metal, will be released on June 24th through Nuclear Blast.