Interview: Doro Pesch Reflects on Femme-Powered Career and Her Role in Classic Metal

Since the very early days of metal, Doro Pesch has been holding a candle among the greats, first with her band Warlock, and then later and still to this day as a solo artist. While almost everyone in the heyday of heavy metal is male, except for Girlschool and a few other noteworthy exceptions, Pesch never had a hard time gaining respect as the godmother of heavy metal, despite the fact that, in this writer’s humble opinion, she would be even more recognized and celebrated if it wasn’t for the amount of marginalization she does receive.

And it also used to be a bit lonely, according to Pesch. Not having much in the way of femme community, she still made some great friends, but wished there was more of a sisterhood backstage. Now there is, and she couldn’t be prouder or more supportive of her fellow artists. She has nothing but good things to say about the scene and her peers, as well as a lot of other causes that are dear to her heart. We chatted with Pesch about her legacy, her latest record, Conqueress – Forever Strong and Proud, out now via Nuclear Blast records, vegan leather, and the importance of sisterhood.

(After some discussion of vegan leather and how warm it is, in reference to Pesch’s jaket); The jacket you’re wearing now is awesome; is all your stuff vegan now? You don’t wear real leather? 

Yeah I think it’s been seven years now, I’ve been wearing vegan leather ever since. It’s all because of the animals.

That’s so great; I love that message. Can you start out by talking a bit about your latest record and how it feels adding that to your catalogue?

Yes, absolutely. I am so excited and happy. We worked on this album for three years and it has, like, 20 songs on it. There are so many guests I love on it, so much love, friendship, and never-ending support. I got to do a duet with my hero, Rob Halford, and I’m so happy and proud of that because Judas Priest were my favorite band when I started out in the early ’80s. We got to hop on a tour with Judas Priest back in the ’80s, and it was absolutely unbelievable, They were so nice to us, and that’s when the friendship started.

I became friends with Rob, and we always saw each other at festivals. At the festival Hellfest, we were hanging out back stage, and he asked me what I was doing. I said finishing the new album that will be out in a couple of months, and he said, “Let’s do something together.” And I said yes right away. I was born and raised with British Steel. I said I would love to do “Living After Midnight” because that was one of my favorites, and we played it many times in the early ’80s. He said, “Let’s do it,” and he also said he had been wanting to do a song with me for a long time. I couldn’t believe it, and I love the final result so much. I could tell Rob had so much fun singing with me, and it was such an honor and a joy.


So in a lot of ways this record is kind of a full-circle moment for you when it comes to your career and the friendships you’ve made during the course of it. 

Yes, and I feel like now, all my dreams have been fulfilled. When we started out we were a little band rehearsing in a dirty old space, it was an old bunker, like a rundown factory. We never would have thought about where we are now. It was always my dream to go to America, and that dream came true in 1986 when I got to go on tour there.

I’ve had so many chances to work with amazing people like Ronnie James Dio, Gene Simmons, doing duets with Lemmy, and now with Rob. It all means so much, and I couldn’t be more happy.

You’ve also been doing a lot of touring on the record. How has that been going? 

We have some festivals lined up in America; I think the first one we’re doing is in March in Texas. We’re going to Mexico too and doing all kinds of festivals and touring next year. We’re also doing festivals all over Europe and maybe in South America. We played the Monsters of Rock fest this year and it was great.

So you’re not planning on stopping anytime soon—It sounds like you want to stay on the road for as long as possible. 

Absolutely, I love it. I love what I do live on stage even more than writing and recording. There’s nothing like it when you see fans with this excitement and all the happiness on their faces. That makes me sing ten times better than I could in the studio.

Do you think there will be another album after this one? 

Yes, it was actually really hard to pick and choose the songs for this record because we have at least 50 or so more songs that didn’t make the cut, or that weren’t finished or mixed. I definitely want to do another record, and the next release will probably be the DVD blu ray because we want to include live show footage as well.

Also recently, I played alongside Alissa White-Gluz of Arch Enemy; she flew in from Canada. I also did a song alongside Angela Gossow, formerly of Arch Enemy, and a few others, all at a show in Dusseldorf. It was really special, and I’ve done so many cool shows like this, so I also want to make more DVDs.

Speaking of the women in Arch Enemy, you’ve obviously been a huge inspiration to generations of women in metal, since you’ve really paved the way. How do you feel about that, and are there any metal artists you’re especially excited about? 

Yes, I love it so much. I think it’s awesome. When I started out there, weren’t many girls around in bands. There was Girlschool, Joan Jett, and a few people here or there. And a lot of times, when you went to concert. 99.9% of the audience were male metal heads. It was very rare that you would see girls or women, and now, it is quite balanced. There are so many great ladies now, singers musicians, I love Lizzy Hale so much, and Cristina Scabbia of Lacuna Coil. There are so many great bands. It used to be that if girls were on the stage, it would be cause they were there to dance naked, and that’s it. Now there are so many options for girls and women, and great role models. There are even women in death metal, underground metal, and all kinds of different bands.

Get the album here.