Doro Pesch counts as the Queen of Metal and will soon be celebrating their 40th band anniversary. The star spoke to her about the corona pandemic, her upcoming tour, experiences in her career and women in metal.

Hello Mrs. Pesch, how are you today and how happy are you to be able to play concerts again?

It’s great that it’s starting again. I’ve been touring constantly for the last 40 years and in the last two years everything has suddenly changed. Suddenly I wasn’t in a different place every day. Nevertheless, we tried to make the best of it: We went through everything from drive-in cinemas, concerts, beach chair concerts or live streams. Still, I missed the tour bus a lot. I grew up as an only child and the boys on the crew are like brothers and family to me. Last year we were still on tour in England.

How have you experienced the corona pandemic over the past two years? What does Doro Pesch do when she can’t make music?

I’ve written songs and been to America a lot. Because I have a green card, I was still allowed to enter the country. i love all animals At some point I decided to stop wearing real leather – and then I became vegan. Now I’m always the one trying to plant something vegan on the crew. Most of the time they like it when I cook, but if it turns out to be vegan afterwards, it’s not so great after all.

Do you have a favorite animal?

I love horses and am a typical horse girl. But also dogs and actually all other animals too. I once had two parrots when I lived in New York – I loved them dearly. One woke me up every morning, came running and laid on my décolleté. Before that, I didn’t even know that birds could develop such a deep relationship with a human.

This week is the first date of your European tour. Are there any highlights on the tour that you would like to reveal?

A band member did not want to be vaccinated. In England the tour started again and you don’t get a work permit if you can’t show a vaccination certificate. Even with the joint trips it is impossible. Now we have two new musicians with us. A Brazilian named Bill Hudson and Stefan Herkenhoff from the band Beyond The Black. We played together last year.

It will be something very young, fresh with a lot of energy, power and fire. That’s how we do the set list. We play many old classics, but there will also be highlights and lots of surprises from 20 records. We will definitely also play unusual songs, which the fans certainly don’t expect. But I know for sure that they will be very happy about it. There will of course be beautiful structures, pyro shows and visual highlights on stage.

Would you say that women rock musicians are perceived differently today than they were 20-30 years ago?

In the beginning I was pretty much alone and there were only a handful of women in the world. It used to be 98 percent men at the concerts, today it’s fifty-fifty. There are so many wonderful great women. I’ve never found it difficult as a woman and have always just done what I’m passionate about with body and soul.

I would say that in the beginning it was generally difficult to make a name for yourself as a band worldwide. I can’t say it was any different as a woman. It used to be particularly difficult for a German band to become known in England or America. You always had to prove yourself.

Can you tell us about the moment when you came into contact with metal for the first time and maybe already thought: I want to do THAT too?

I’ve always loved music so much. Ever since I was 3 years old I wanted to be a singer. It started when I had my first band, we didn’t even know we were making metal. That was in 1980. We just made music, powerful and heavy. But there were also ballads. We just did what we wanted to do. There was never a direct trigger where we said ‘We want to start a metal band now’.

At some point I did an apprenticeship as a graphic designer and quickly realized that I couldn’t do without music. I had tasted blood and didn’t want to do anything else in my life. It’s now our 40th band anniversary and I never expected it to go that long.

The breakthrough came with Warlock and years later we played at Wacken. 390 people attended the first time and the number has increased every year. It was exciting to see how everything got bigger and bigger.

Did you have a plan B in case the music didn’t work out?

Not really. I never cared about success. The main thing for me was always to make music. There was a dry spell in the ’90s when grunge was suddenly fashionable. Then we were pushed aside. Moments like this always bring you back down to earth. It reminds you that you have to put in more effort again.

I had contacts with a filmmaker from Switzerland and was allowed to make film music. Later I was asked if I would like to take on a role. The film is called “Anuk – the way of the warrior”. That was an exciting project.

You also recently won a lifetime achievement award.

Besides Rock Antenne, where I have a show every month, there is another big radio station in Germany for rock: Radio Bob. There was an awards show for the first time and I was invited. I had no idea what to expect there. Then I was there on Friday and won the “Lifetime Achievement Award”. A lifetime achievement award. That’s totally great!

Do you think that women who want to be successful with music must always automatically be sex symbols, across all genres? While men can also become bald-headed and beer-bellied superstars?

With metal and rock it’s a bit different than with pop music. You should always stay true to yourself. The best thing is if you don’t pretend and don’t immediately follow every fashion trend. It’s different with pop music – you have to reinvent yourself regularly. Most of the time it’s important to be sexy. I personally find natural sex appeal much nicer. Beth Ditto, for example, is very popular and successful because of who she is.

I prefer to go on stage in a t-shirt and put on a really great show. For me, it’s always sexy when someone sweats a lot during a performance. It shows that someone gave their all and was fully involved. What I like best is when the fans in the audience are all drenched in sweat and have exhausted themselves completely. That means it was good.

How do you explain that even today so few women are successful in metal music?

The metal world is full of women, you just don’t notice it. Less of it is played on TV or radio. I don’t want to say that Metal is underground, the scene would be too big for that. Pop music is more common. Concerts and festivals are always full of women, but it’s just not mainstream. But I don’t think that’s a bad thing either.

It was always important to me that the support bands had a woman. At least one who plays an instrument. On this tour, the opening act doesn’t have a woman, but I always think it’s nice to be able to exchange ideas a bit. Also, the guys in the band always behave really well when there’s a woman with them.

You are one of the few German artists who are internationally successful. How do you think you managed to do that?

I stayed myself and always gave my all. I’ve been fighting, sticking with it and never really taking any time off. Even as a child I always wanted to go to America. It was a long way there, which took me via England. Everything was always decided back then – and there you just got everything out of yourself that was possible. I’m a tough guy. If it doesn’t work right away, I kept fighting.

We played a huge festival in 1986 called the Monster of Rock Festival along with Ozzy Osbourne, Def Leppard and the Scorpions. We came off the stage after the performance and everyone stood there with beaming faces. People got carried away with us and we got an international tour. Then also with my favorite band: Judas Priest. We had so many happy coincidences and I tried to take every chance.

Do you have the feeling that German fans often begrudge artists the international success – there are examples from Romy Schneider to the Scorpions.

Not really. That’s not the case in the rock and metal scene. I noticed that when we became really successful in America. People just celebrated there. Everyone was proud of the success. I always had a great connection to the fans – actually from the very first concert. There has always been friendship, intimacy and enthusiasm on both sides.

And in this scene it’s a bit different in general. Even if you don’t know each other, you have a good feeling of friendship. There was a time when all vests wore patches. When you wore them, everyone immediately knew you were on the same wavelength. A feeling like in Wacken. You immediately feel connected to everyone.

Which musicians would you like to record a song with again?

I have now recorded 40 duets. There are still many artists I would like to work with, but I’ve actually worked with so many people. Maybe there will be a duet record.

Now that you have been a musician for so many years, could you imagine writing a book about your life?

Yes, I started writing a book a few years ago. But it upset me so much that I couldn’t sleep. Things weren’t always good and then memories came up that really got to me. I’d rather focus on positive things like touring and nice songs.

In addition, I was also sure that a book of mine would immediately end up in the index. So I would have to write two books – one with normal experiences and one for people who have nerves of steel. Maybe I’ll do that again sometime.

Would you like to tell us an example of such an experience?

We were on tour in America once, in the middle of the desert in Nevada. Our tour manager was at the club where we were supposed to be performing and then called us. We were in a little motel waiting for him to come get us for sound check. The tour manager was very excited and said that we should not play there under any circumstances – and it would be life-threatening. The reason given was that the singer was ill.

A short time later came a call from the reception that the organizer wanted to speak to the sick singer together with 20 henchmen and baseball bats. We escaped down the fire escape, rushed onto the tour bus and drove away. They chased us with pickup trucks for five hours. I regularly looked out the window at the back to see if they were still there. At some point the fuel ran out and they turned around. There we are, we just got away with it.

That’s really a crazy story. Are there any other wild heavy metal anecdotes or weird experiences from your career?

You probably know Lemmy Kilmister from Motörhead. We met in the 80’s when I was in England. There was a huge party and I was supposed to introduce myself. It was about the sausage and it was decided whether a record would appear and whether it would be in the media.

I was supposed to rehearse a set with a band there. After a while we thought it would work out somehow. Because I still had a few hours left, I walked around London. At some point it started to rain, got dark and cold. So I wanted to warm up. Then I met Lemmy.

He stood in the doorway with a cigarette between his gaps in his teeth and grinned at me and said “Ah, Warlock’s Doro”. We became friends immediately and he wanted to have a whiskey with me. I don’t tolerate a lot of alcohol because I rarely or never drink anything. I made an exception. When you drink with Lemmy, it’s 90 percent whiskey and 10 percent coke—if that.

We toasted, smoked a few cigarettes and at some point there wasn’t even any coke left in the drinks. We sat arm in arm and laughed our heads off and at some point he asked me if I didn’t have to introduce myself somewhere. I had totally forgotten the time and was already late. Then I couldn’t find the club anymore because everything looked the same. When I arrived there was dead silence. The band waited on the stage. It was everything. When we could finally start, I had forgotten all the lyrics.

I then sat on a pedestal and waited for the band to finish. When they finished the instrumental and we walked off the stage, it was like, “Okay, that’s it for your career.” And then I said, “Well, now I’m best friends with Lemmy Kilmister.” Lemmy stood in a corner laughing his head off and saying we’re a team now. Then everyone had to laugh. We were then given a second chance and I still got the record deal. We were able to do the tour worldwide and if it wasn’t for Lemmy it would have been the end of me.