"I’m not so lonely now, there are other girls to talk with and exchange tips and tricks on how to survive a tour!" Heavy metal Queen Doro on a career in rock, near-death experiences and, erm, fighting ducks

Doro Pesch looking majestic
(Image credit: Press)

Since debuting with Düsseldorf legends Warlock in 1984, Doro Pesch has been the undisputed Metal Queen. She returned last month with her 14th solo album, the uplifting and tempestuous Conqueress – Forever Strong And Proud. She’s also just about the loveliest person on the planet, with enough positive energy to make Dave Grohl look like Eeyore, so it was high time we threw her your perceptive questions – well, perceptive except for the one about the duck/horse thing. That one’s just barmy.

Metal Hammer line break

Who are your musical heroes?
John Felix, Facebook

“That’s easy to answer! When I was a little girl, I was into glam rock – T. Rex, Sweet, Slade, Suzi Quatro, Alice Cooper – then when I had my first band, my heroes were Ronnie James Dio, David Coverdale, Rob Halford, Lemmy, Biff Byford, and all of the NWOBHM bands. Of course I loved Girlschool and Rock Goddess – [vocalist] Jody Turner was my favourite singer!”

You’ve influenced countless power metal bands over the years. What recent bands from the subgenre excite you right now?
James Allen, Facebook

“I like Powerwolf, but they’re not so young anymore! The ladies of Burning Witches are doing a great job, too. Of the heavier bands I like Nervosa, an all-girl band from Brazil. There are so many great new bands, many are doing the 80s metal stuff, they dress and sound just like the 80s, which I like so much!”

Who’s well positioned to one day take the crown as Metal Queen?
Jo Fleischer, Twitter/X

“There are many great females! I like Alissa of Arch Enemy, Floor Jansen, Lzzy Hale, Simone of Epica, Cristina of Lacuna Coil... there are so many phenomenal ladies and great singers, all in their own vein of heavy metal.”

What keeps you ahead of the game?
QueenCH6666, Twitter/X

“The love for the fans is, for me, the most important thing. Whether it’s
a small club or a big festival, I always find motivation and inspiration when I hop onstage and see all those happy faces lining up. I can overcome any difficult situations; I can jump 10 times higher because of the fans! And I love the music, I love metal, so these two things always make me want to power on and do more stuff.”

Is it true you live in New York now? Where would you recommend going?
Angela Beatty, email

“I still have a little place in New York, but when the World Trade Center was attacked, I moved from Manhattan to Long Island. I thought that would be safe, but then we had Hurricane Irene, and those houses are like cardboard, so that was destroyed. We tried to rebuild, but the next year Hurricane Sandy came and totalled everything again! But I still have a nice place in NY. I recommend the Village [NYC slang for Greenwich Village], they have tons of clubs and pubs and places to hear cool new music. Also Sixth Street, where they have 100 Indian restaurants – Ronnie James Dio always loved Indian food, so when we were touring together, we always ate on Sixth Street.”

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
Em Willis, email

“World peace! I would try to solve every problem and bring peace to the world, that’s the most important thing in this day and age. It would take a lot to do, but I hope I’d be a good peacemaker!”

Would you sing for Motörhead if they did a Lemmy tribute show?
Scott Kelloway, Facebook

“Yes, of course, no question! We did a Lemmy special at Wacken recently with Phil Campbell and Mikkey Dee. I did Love Me Forever – that was my first duet with Lemmy [on 2000’s Calling The Wild LP]. Also we did Ace Of Spades with all the guests and there was a big drone show, so we had Lemmy’s face in the sky smoking a cigarette. There was even a puff of smoke, it was awesome!”

Have you ever had a near-death experience?
Grimsby Pilchard, email

“Many times, as a child and as an adult. I have many guardian angels, I tell you! One Christmas I was driving a nice old BMW on the highway, I was really speeding, and a tyre blew. The car spun around and crashed into something, it all happened in slow motion. I thought, ‘This is it...’ but I felt like someone, or something, was present. Then the car came to a stop and these nice people carried me out. The car was totalled, I had to cancel the tour, but I was alive! I wouldn’t be here if there wasn’t
a heavenly superpower saving my life.”

Were you more influenced by early German rock and metal, or music from outside the country?
Chirag Toila, Facebook

“It was mainly music from England. England was the best! The NWOBHM was super-influential. There was just one German band I liked so much: Accept. I saw them supporting Judas Priest in 1980 – back then I didn’t even know Scorpions were from Germany, it was much later I found out!”

Will Warlock ever reform and do a new album?
Brandon Koncyk, Facebook

“I only have contact with two Warlock members: Tommy [Bolan, guitar] will come and play ProgPower with us in Atlanta and Michael [Eurich, drums] will come to our Düsseldorf show, the big 40th anniversary in my old hometown. We’re still great friends. But some of the Warlock guys gave up music altogether, I don’t know where they are, so it would be very difficult to do a new album – but not impossible, as long as people are alive!”

What other metal genres would you like to explore?
Christian Hernandez, Facebook

“To me, metal was always the freedom to do whatever you think and feel. Metal is the ultimate – from super- heavy stuff to soulful ballads. I’m completely happy with the whole metal spectrum. I’m a big fan of some New York and Boston hardcore bands, so maybe I could check that out more!”

What do you see as being the biggest changes in being a woman in metal in the 80s to now?
James Brady, Facebook

“It’s not so lonely! It’s great that there are so many ladies doing it now – in the 80s there was only a handful. For example, when we played the legendary Monsters Of Rock festival at Castle Donington I had some stage clothes, and nobody could help me into them! I asked my drummer in the end, but there were no women there, not even backstage, so it’s much better balanced. I’m not so lonely now, there are other girls to talk with and exchange tips and tricks on how to survive a tour!”

Have you ever met Sabina Classen from Holy Moses?
I Mladen Panic, Facebook

“She was just onstage with us when we did Wacken a few days ago! She sang with me on All We Are. We’ve done many things, we’ve always stuck together, it’s always been positive, good vibrations. It was the same with all the metal ladies in the 80s – there was no rivalry whatsoever, there was always a great connection, great friendship, we always supported each other. It was always great to tour together. I love them all!”

Were you mad about having to go on before parody band Bad News at Donington ’86?
Sally Friedman, email

“Ah, yeah, we didn’t know them, we thought it was a little weird! I’m never mad, I’m always grateful, but we did a killer show, and the fans were so great to us we were able to hop on tour with Judas Priest a couple of weeks later. I know it was like a fun band, it made people laugh, but for us we thought we’d like to be a bit higher on the bill! But you have to deal with what you’ve got and make the best of it, which we did. Also I met Lemmy backstage after our set and he gave me a little kiss on my head. Maybe if we’d played later, I wouldn’t have bumped into him?”

Would you rather fight 100 duck- sized horses or one horse-sized duck?
James McKernan, Facebook

“That’s so funny, but I would not fight with any kind of animal - I’ll even try to put a cockroach outside, so I don’t step on it! [New song] Heavenly Creatures is dedicated to animals – I love animals so much, every animal deserves respect. It’s the only thing I miss in my life, not having pets, but it’s impossible with touring. So no, no fighting!”

How does it feel to have inspired so many women to become musicians?
Vicky R, email

“I hear that many times from bands with female members - the singer from Nervosa recently said her favourite album was [Warlock’s 1987 album] Triumph And Agony. It’s so great to hear. Whenever you do something and it inspires something positive, it’s super-super!”

Doro's latest studio album, Conqueress – Forever Strong And Proud, is out now via Nuclear Blast. This interview was originally published in Metal Hammer #380

Chris Chantler

Chris has been writing about heavy metal since 2000, specialising in true/cult/epic/power/trad/NWOBHM and doom metal at now-defunct extreme music magazine Terrorizer. Since joining the Metal Hammer famileh in 2010 he developed a parallel career in kids' TV, winning a Writer's Guild of Great Britain Award for BBC1 series Little Howard's Big Question as well as writing episodes of Danger Mouse, Horrible Histories, Dennis & Gnasher Unleashed and The Furchester Hotel. His hobbies include drumming (slowly), exploring ancient woodland and watching ancient sitcoms.