Have you ever noticed how certain things make you feel old? For some people it’s the fact that policemen seem to be getting younger, for others it’s the crushing realization that they are older than whoever is playing Doctor Who, although let’s be honest, the new guy looks about fourteen, or is that just me feeling old… In case you didn’t know it, however, age is just a state of mind. If you think of yourself as old, then you will be, but if you just ignore the numbers and have a good time no one will really care about whatever it says on your birth certificate. Just look at Steven Tyler or Sammy Hagar, both of whom remember the Ice Age - who gives a toss how old they are, as long as they can rock, right?

This is a really roundabout way of getting to the subject of Doro Pesch, Doro to her fans, the pint sized powerhouse who celebrated 25 years as a heavy metal front woman in December with a concert that brought together some of the best rock and metal acts around, every one of whom she held her own against with a twinkle in her eye and a manic fist pumping the air like next doors dog pumping the mailman. Yes, she’s been doing this for 25 years, and yes she’s 45 this year, but it really is just numbers where this girl is concerned, because she still rocks like she did at the beginning.

A week before her big anniversary concert, I meet Doro in Prestatyn, North Wales, where what seems like Arctic winds are battering anyone foolish enough to venture outside. Cold is certainly the watchword of the day, and Doro opts to meet on her tour bus rather than the chilly official interview room. It’s a new sensation for me, and one I would have been ludicrously excited about if it had happened when I saw Warlock support Dio back in the 80’s. Now, though, it’s just another day at the Rock United office, although I can’t help a tingle of apprehension shivering down my spine as the lady in question sits opposite me, and inside of me my eighteen year old self punches the air and smiles like an idiot. Actually, it’s the 40 year old me that’s smiling like an idiot, but I don’t care…

You should know, although it’s probably no surprise, that she looks great. Not ‘great for her age’, but just great. She’s small, polite and very quietly spoken, almost the antithesis of her full on stage self, and she punctuates her conversation with “Ja… ja…” a heck of a lot, sometimes trailing off mid sentence. It’s rather endearing, and she comes across as a dedicated, passionate woman who is very hard to dislike. I feel I have to ask her just how she keeps herself looking so good, so I do. “I’m so happy doing what I am doing,” she says with a smile.“ “That’s the only beauty secret. Do what feels good and you don’t need any cream at all.”

Anyone who has seen her live will know that she obviously has a good time on stage, and after twenty five years I wonder if she still enjoys it more than anything else. “Yes.” she admits, unsurprisingly. “Since I was 3 years old I fell in love with music and it’s still the same, now even more so because now I can appreciate it much more.” Even so, she confesses that it’s not always plain sailing: “Sometimes stage fright hits you when you least expect it to, sometimes in a club full of one hundred people! It’s always a big challenge, every time you step out in front of people, festival or acoustic gigs, I always want to try to be good, to make people feel something.”

She seems fascinated by my digital recorder, and I give her a demo. It seems she isn’t as up on technology as she’d like to be. “I still write stuff by hand,” she says. “I guess I’m more old school.“ For someone old school, I say, it must be odd knowing that whenever you do a gig these days there’s lots of people recording it, be it on phones or cameras. “I don’t mind,” she says. “It doesn’t matter. I just hope it’s a good recording! Usually with the cellphones, on YouTube, you can’t even see who it is! It’s cool that you have something you can see again. I wish we would have had that technology at the Monsters Of Rock Festival in 86 but there’s absolutely no radio footage, just tiny bits.” It must be tempting to boot up the computer after a show to see if people have put you on YouTube, I venture. “Usually after a show I am so exhausted I just lick my wounds! After a tour I sometimes check it. You can tell… when it feels good then you don’t have to worry. When it feels good it probably looks good, and when it doesn’t feel good you don’t want to see it!”

Inevitably, talk gets around to the Anniversary show, taking place in a week in Germany, where Doro will top off the day with a 3 hour show. It’s a pretty ambitious undertaking, and I note from the flyer that there’s some pretty cool guests from all sorts of areas of rock and metal. Doro is understandably very pleased with her guests. “The first one was Leaves Eyes, because we played the Female Voices with them, then Arch Enemy came aboard and I thought maybe it’s cool to have bands and musicians from all types of metal genres from classic metal to death metal, thrash metal to melodic metal, and now we have guests of all kinds. Bobby Blitzer is coming from Overkill, Warrel Dane from Nevermore, Axel Rudi Pell… the guys from Scorpions are coming… some (other) people who are very famous in their countries, that’s a good show for some great talents to do some stuff. We have the old Warlock line up, which played in 86, which for young fans it might be nice to see. The bass player is the only one who is still a question mark, I couldn’t get hold of him.” So she’s looking forward to it? “I’m very excited about it.” she says, and her face shows this to be the whole truth.

It’s nice to see that she’s bringing Warlock back, even if only for a short time, as Doro has recently managed to get control of the name that she was forced to ditch back in the 80’s due to legal bollocks. She’s not going to use it full time, as “The band we have now have been together such a long time.” That said, it’s not going to be left on a shelf. “I have the freedom to use it now,” she says. “Perhaps for a DVD for old Warlock fans.”

I feel I have to bring up “Bad Blood”, a song from 1993 that was aimed firmly at racists. It’s a cracking song with a great message, and I ask how it came about. “There were lots of problems,” Doro admits, “especially in Germany. Racism was suddenly coming up, I don’t know why. We thought, we would write a song and do the video… I guess when people are frustrated they want to let it out at someone. This middle of the Nineties was terrible. We had bomb threats and stuff… it was heavy.”

It’s hard to interview someone like Doro and not bring up the old ‘Female Rock’ thing. No matter how hard you try, it’s always there, running around the inside of your head like a rat on a wheel, or a ferret on speed. She’s used to it by now, however, and is happy to talk about the old days when being a female metal singer wasn’t exactly the norm. “I never thought about being a female, I just did it,” she says frankly. “I always loved music, and to me it was never a big deal and I was always treated with respect. You work with what you have. I always did what I felt I had to do, being a woman it didn’t get in the way. When I was starting out with metal in the Eighties there was just a handful of women, and many girls who were just stuck in the video, but now it looks very dignified… the people doing it and are very talented, very strong, very unique. It makes women look very good. In the Eighties it was very sexy but it looked a little bit cheaper and stuff. I think now the women are much stronger and all the women who are fronting bands have so much to offer, and in the Eighties it wasn’t like that. “

Well, she came through the 80’s with flying colours, survived the barren 90’s and came out of the other side screaming for vengeance. Her new album, “Fear No Evil” is out now and has received the Rock United seal of approval. Doro Pesch lives to rock, and she does it very well indeed, so here’s to the 30th anniversary concert, and long may the Queen of metal reign.

Interview and photos by Alan Holloway, alan "at" rockunited.com
(c) 2009 www.rockunited.com