Raise Your Fist
“Every record is the most important record,” says Doro Pesch. “It’s like having a baby. I feel this one is very, very strong.” The German singer is talking about her 11th solo record Raise Your Fist with the delight of a new mother. “I always pour my heart into my music,” she says. “When you’re in tune with the music and the songs you know what it wants, where it wants to go and what it needs.” Doro has spent the last two years writing the 13 songs recorded for the album - a labor of love, dedicated to her fans with a few special surprises. A native of Düsseldorf, Germany Doro first came to prominence in 1982 with German thrash metal band Warlock singing such anthems as “All We Are”, “Earthshaker Rock” and “Metal Tango”. After four albums, international success and star power she launched a solo career releasing a string of successful albums including ones produced by Gene Simmons (Kiss), Jack Ponti (Alice Cooper, Bon Jovi) and Die Krupps. She blazed new territory by singing songs in German as well as English creating an intoxicating ethnicity to her vocal performances.
On Raise Your Fist there are two songs in German while the title track was released a couple months earlier in both English and French. “You have to make a decision which version to put on a full-length album,” says Pesch. “English is very important because it can reach a wider audience. However, sometimes the German version somehow feels better. I think there are certain songs that don’t need a translation, you can just feel it. I love to sing in other languages. On the EP of Raise Your First I did a French version of the song. I must tell you, I love the French version. It reminds me a bit of Trust, the French metal band. They had English versions of their albums and French versions, I always preferred the French ones even though I couldn’t understand them. There’s a certain magic about other languages. To sing in German is sometimes difficult because we have such long words. Once in a while, if I have an idea coming out in German, it will have a certain magic. It’s hard to reach that level in another language. On the last record I did a song called ‘Herzblut’, that I did it in Portuguese, French and Spanish. I tried to write it in English but it didn’t work, the depth somehow wasn’t there. The song tells you what it needs, what it wants.”
Over the years the metal queen has had the privilege and opportunity of working with many of her personal heroes. On 16 May 2010 Ronnie James Dio passed rattling the metal world to its very core. The loss had a profound effect on Doro since she had not only toured with Dio but had become close friends with him. “Two and a half years ago when I was working in the studio in New Jersey, I head the news of Ronnie’s passing,” says Pesch. “I couldn’t believe it. Like so many fans, I was shocked, it was so heartbreaking. It was probably the deepest pain I’ve felt since the death of my dad. I was talking about it with many of my friends and fans, many people called me because they knew we were on tour together and they just wanted to say something, to talk to somebody about it. On tour we would have such great times talking and laughing. We really became close friends especially on the last American tour in 2000. In 1987 when I first toured with him I didn’t speak English very well. I would just say, “Great show!” but that was about it. In 2000 we could actually carry on a conversation and we became great friends.”
“Over the years, when I would play festivals, I would cover a Ronnie James Dio song. When it came time to think about this new record I wanted to do a song for Ronnie. One night when I was drifting off to sleep the melody came to me so I recorded it on my iphone. Then I started writing and it came so easily, the verses and the chorus, I wanted to make sure every word was perfect. I called an old friend of mine, Joey Balin who worked with me on Force Majeure (1986) and my last record Fear No Evil (2009). I told him I wanted to write a song that gave thanks, honor and respect. I called it ‘Hero’. Joey helped me with the verses. We thought it would be cool to call out some of Dio’s influential songs. It was almost written by itself, done very quickly, in a couple of days. We went in the studio to record it and could feel it was very emotional. Ronnie always told me he loved my version of his song ‘Egypt, The Chains Are On’ which was such a great complement and gave me a lot of confidence. I had ‘Hero’ mixed in Germany by the same guy that recorded my very first demos with Snakebite in 1982. So it was very special.”
What attracts many to Doro’s music is her unique ability to touch the soul. “I learned that you have to touch people’s hearts - that’s the most important thing,” says the singer. “Your music has to come straight from your heart, be totally honest and real. Not fake. If I can reach someone’s spirit in a ballad or rock songs, that’s the best for me. I hope the fans always feel they get the best out of me. I try and give them the best that I can. I love it so much when I see in their eyes that they want to hear something good, they want to connect, they want to enjoy something and forget about the every day stresses. I’ve always loved the combination of rocking out with really important songs like human rights, healing or forgiving. When a song warms the heart, connects our hearts, I feel the best. I remember what it felt like when that happened to me. In 1985, I saw my first Dio show. I was standing by the mixing desk and when the show started and the curtain went up, I almost fainted because it was so great. My knees started to shake and I almost fell over.”
“I was so amazed and thought if I could ever do something like that for someone else it would be the best. I never thought I would endure so long or have a career like that spanning 30 years. I feel so fortunate and humble. When I was just beginning my goal was to leave something for the people like I felt at that first Dio show. That’s why I did the 25th Anniversary show with Rudolf Schenker and Klaus Meine from the Scorpions. When we were able to get Bobby Ellsworth of Overkill, Jean Beauvoir (Ex-Plasmatics / Crown of Thorns) Enid Williams and Jackie Chambers (Girlschool), Liv Kristine (Leaves Eyes), Sabina Classen (Holy Moses), Floor Jansen (After Forever), Ji-In Cho (Krypteria), Tarja Turunen, Chris Boltendahl (Grave Digger) and Axel Rudi Pell I knew it would be special. I wanted to give the fans something unexpected, to go for the “wow” factor, bigger than life. People ask me if I ever bought a big house or a fancy car - anything for myself. I tell them, ‘No, but I have the DVD of my 25th anniversary show with all my friends!”
Doro is not shy when it comes to crediting her musical icons. “As a singer, I would always learn from the best. Of course Ronnie James Dio was one of my main influences and inspirations but also Rob Halford, Biff Byford, Udo and David Coverdale. My very first rock show was Whitesnake in 1980. Before that I listened to a lot of Led Zeppelin and Robert Plant, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath. When I was three years old I feel in love with the music of Little Richard and his song ‘Lucille’. His high, high energy level was addicting. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to start a band and become a singer. When I was 15 I had my first band, then I went through many, many bands until the time was right for Warlock. There is another singer I love a lot and that is Blackie Lawless. He has a very melodic, soulful, powerful voice. It’s very unique. The Crimson Idol was his absolute best.”
The metal maven invited another one of her heroes Lemmy Kilmister of Motörhead to assist her with a duet on Raise Your Fist called “It Still Hurts” - this is the third time the two have recorded together. “I wanted a duet on this record and I thought if I played it for Lemmy and he liked it he might do it,” recalls Pesch. “We did two songs together on the Calling the Wild (2000) album ‘Alone Again’ and ‘Love Me Forever’. When he played me ‘Along Again’ on acoustic guitar, I was sitting there with my eyes filling with tears until they were rolling down my cheek. It was so touching. As a singer Lemmy is amazing. He has this tremendous voice that is so iconic. When we recorded his vocals in LA at the Sunset Lodge Studio every word was unbelievable and spot on. I got chills. After he finished, he asked, ‘What do you think?’ and I was speechless. It was so soulful.”
Delving into cinema has recently become a passion for the singer. “We just started filming Anuk II,” says Pesch who made her acting debut in the Swiss action movie Anuk-Der Weg des Kriegers (2006). We did three weeks in Switzerland and another in Ireland this fall. I will do some more work on it in January. Eventually, there will be some more metal people in the film. It’s hardcore. There were lots of epic battle scenes and, to be honest, it’s not all fake blood. It was a little dangerous and was like being in boot camp. Every day I got up at four or five in the morning, then 20 hours filming. I was totally concentrating on my acting. A lot of it was shot in the water so I was laying in the water for like ten hours. Gilles Tschudi plays the evil villain and we got to know each other. He’s an amazing actor and taught me so many acting tricks, it made me do much better. There’s so much heart and soul in movie making. It reminds me a lot of music.”
Doro comes to America this winter (2013) for a full tour of the states starting in Tampa, Florida. The dates are: 2/01/2013 Brass Mug Tampa, FL 2/02/2013 The Masquerade Atlanta, GA 2/03/2013 Empire West Springfield, VA 2/04/2013 B.B. Kings Blues Club New York, NY 2/05/2013 Soundstage Baltimore, MD 2/07/2013 Mod Club Toronto, ON 2/08/2013 Montage Music Hall Rochester, NY 2/09/2013 Al Rosa Villa Columbus, OH 2/10/2013 Peabody’s Cleveland, OH 2/12/2013 Blondie’s Detroit, MI 2/13/2013 Mojoe’s Joliet, IL 2/14/2013 Station 4 St. Paul, MN 2/15/2013 Spicoli’s Grill and the Reverb Waterloo, IA 2/17/2013 Moe’s Englewood, CO 2/19/2013 El Corazon Seattle, WA 2/20/2013 Hawthorne Theatre Portland, OR 2/21/2013 Thee Parkside San Francisco, CA 2/22/2013 House of Blues West Hollywood, CA 2/23/2013 Rocky Point Cantina Tempe, AZ.