For 40 years Doro has dedicated every fibre of her being to her music and her fans. She deserves the title of Metal Queen like no other because she has earned it along with the utmost respect from the entire music industry. She is a peerless ambassador for heavy metal. So of course Gary Trueman jumped at the chance to chat to Doro about her new album, her long career and which song she will never play live.
You have an amazingly extensive back catalogue going back 40 years. Do you ever revisit it outside of for choosing songs for live shows, more for remembering ideas you had that maybe didn’t work for an older album but might for something new? And that must get you reminiscing too?
“All the time. Before I worked on this new album I was listening to ‘Magic Diamonds’ which is 52 songs. I love listening to them. And yes when I’m doing a set list I always try to add in some specials that people wouldn’t expect. It brings back great memories of all the great people I’ve got to work with. Judas Priest in 86 and then in England it was WASP, then Megadeth in the states. So many like bands from the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal – Saxon and Motorhead. We played many times with Saxon.”
Do you have a particular favourite song or album and are there any songs you’ll never play live?
“First the song I will never play live. There’s one song on the ‘True Steel’ album. There was so much pressure on us when we did that. The record company said it has to be more commercial. For a heavy metal band that’s pretty difficult. They said they would give us somebody that would help us with the lyrics. I thought yes I get that because if you’re not born in England sometimes it’s a little bit more difficult. So we got somebody, but he wasn’t a metalhead. He was English, and very nice, and he tried his best – but it was not metal! I gave him all my lyrics like I always do, and I said please leave the titles alone because I love them, and don’t change too much. I wanted to work together but it didn’t work out. He called me after a couple of days and said we have all hits, he said he’d talked to the record company and they’re going to love it. I said you talked to the record company before you showed me, and he said yes but they’re all hits, trust me. I thought it didn’t sound right. I read the tweaked lyrics and there was this one song, one of my favourite songs, it had a different title before. He said now we’ve made it much better it’s called ‘Igloo On The Moon’. I said you must be kidding, it’s so not metal. And he said the record company loves it. So I had to sing that song in tears and I will never play it live. It has no meaning for me. My favourite album is probably ‘Triumph And Agony’ because it was when everything started to happen and we started to become successful the first time. It has killer songs on it. We did a live version and that was so much fun to play. We played the whole album live in its entirety which I’ve never done before with any other album. Song wise ‘Love Me In Black’ is very special. It came out in 98. But every record is super close to my heart. And ‘True At Heart’, those three.”
The new album ‘Conqueress, Strong And Proud’ that’s quite a statement in the title?
“Yes! I want to make the fans feel strong and proud. I hope that when they listen to the songs they feel empowered and they give them energy. When we started our little band we had no idea it would ever play outside of Germany or that it would last this long, that it would conquer the world. It was totally unexpected. It’s a cool metal title. We had the idea of conquistador which I thought sounds cool but do people really know it, then I thought conqueror but let’s go with the female form of that. It’s a word that’s not over used either. And forever strong and proud sums up the last 40 years.”
What about the writing process for this album. Did you do anything differently at all? And is there anything you always do?
“Actually it took three years. I love it when ideas just pop out, usually I’m pretty good with the choruses, and when melody and lyrics are coming out at the same time, when it comes out of your heart and soul. Usually I get the best ideas when I fall asleep or when I wake up, I guess when I’m in a good state of mind. That way I don’t really have to do anything it just pops out. Then I put it on my phone and send it to one of my long time working partners Andreas Bruhn the former guitarist with the Sisters Of Mercy. We met in 1996 and we are a great team. If he feels it’s good then he puts the verses around it and all that stuff. I can tell when an idea has a little magic, when my heart is pumping and I can’t sleep at night – then I have to go into the studio to work on it. I think that’s the best way, when the lyrics and melodies come out first. It can be different sometimes though. I’ve written with my guitarist Bill Hudson, we did ‘Fire In The Sky’. And we have a new bass player Stefan Herkenhoff, he did a couple of demos and they became ‘I Will Prevail’ and ‘Children Of The Dawn’. Every song comes out in a different way. There’s never a plan. I guess it’s a spiritual process. Like when I was flying out to Lemmy’s funeral. I loved Lemmy so much. I was thinking of him, a mixture of being sad and of being grateful that I had a chance to know him and work with him. Then I had the words and the melody to ‘Living Life To The Fullest’ that went on our previous album (Forever United). The chorus was immediately there. I was on the flight and didn’t want to forget it so sang it on to my phone. After the funeral I went right into the studio. It set the tone for that album.”
You’re celebrating 40 years of recorded music in 2024. The music scene has changed out of all recognition over that time. How do you feel about how things have changed, that music is streamed so much now?
“I still love vinyl, I love to be able to hold it in my hand, and the art work. I liked it when I had to work for something, when I maybe had to drive to a foreign country to get an album or to see a band. In this day and age everything is so available. You can just press play and you have the song. It’s not the same any more. I think when you work hard for something it means more. I miss record stores too. I used to spend hours and hours in them, sometimes all night. I miss those days.”
Do you think it’s harder to make a living as a professional musician now compared to 40 year ago?
“Definitely because the artists and bands get so little money for all that work. Spotify and all those are easy access but I think the bands and the musicians get hurt big time. I know many friends of mine had to give up their bands because they couldn’t afford a living any more. It was impossible to live off of the music. And the time with the virus was very difficult as well. We managed to keep it going from the studio but many people couldn’t. Many friends of mine had to take on another job. It’s very difficult.”
With the new album you’ve already got some dates pencilled in for Europe. Have you got plans to come to the UK too?
“Yes, definitely. We want to play all the great festivals. We toured two years ago with Michael Schenker. That was the first UK tour we could do after the pandemic. We are planning to tour again and play festivals too. We are talking to the promoters as we speak. The UK is very important to me. Monsters Of Rock in 1986 opened so many doors for us. I have a special relationship with the English fans.”
You’ve dedicated pretty much your entire career to your fans and heavy metal music. There are new musicians coming through now, many of them female artists who are vewry thankful for people like you for being pioneers. You were the first woman to play Donington, one of only two to play Monsters Of Rock. So how do you feel about seeing all these great young women musicians coming through now and about the other female pioneers too?
“It is totally awesome. We all know each other and we all support each other. When people come up to me and say they saw me play and then they wanted to form a band I feel so happy that I could inspire people. It makes everything worth it. Being a musician isn’t easy, you have to give it your all. I know what it takes so I’m always happy for anybody who is doing it and becomes successful, especially these great women. One band that I loved was Rock Goddess and Jody Turner, she inspired me so much. There were some great women doing it in the 80s like Girlschool, Rock Goddess and of course The Runaways, and Lee Aaron out of Canada. There were a handful of great women. No though it’s a much better balance. I always like to have another woman on tour. It’s nice for the guys and they behave better haha!”
If you could go back in time and visit a 16 year old Doro and give her one piece of advice what would you say to yourself?
“The one thing I would say and I would say this to all young upcoming bands, before you sign a contract you’d better check it out and take a lawyer to look it over. Sometimes we sign away our lives when we’re kids, and we think everybody are our friends. We found out the hard way that sometimes it isn’t so. And the other thing I would say is follow your heart and do whatever makes you feel good.