Doro, music above all else

Could there be anyone any more adorable than Doro? Let’s admit it, we’ve been completely baffled by her passion and sincerity. So much passion that she actually seemed in tears. « Seriously, are you ALWAYS like this? » is what I had to ask her by the end of this interview.

Regardless of what you may think of her music, Doro fully deserves her title of Metal Queen when you see just how much she lives for it. Music, and metal in particular, is her whole life. And that’s not a metaphor : Doro actually made the decision not to marry nor have children in order to keep on touring and writing music. She’s so deeply into it that she admits to having a hard time connecting with people who aren’t into music : « My fans are my closest friends ». That says it all.

A moving confession.

« I want to do every concert like if it was the only one and the last one in my life »

Radio Metal : Your 2500th concert features on the DVD 25 Years In Rock. Does it break the traditional routine of the concert by saying that “it’s the 100th, 1000th, 2500th”?

Doro : No, every show is always as exciting as the last one, and I’m always highly motivated when I see the fans. Every show is always a new adventure, a new challenge and I want to do every concert like if it was the only one and the last one in my life, so actually, every one is super special and there’s no routine at all.

Well, you must admit that when you say that “it’s the 2000th show”, it does something…

Yeah, but I must say that I love every day as a totally new day. It’s definitely a new challenge, but I could not even say that it’s close. Even in a tour, you know, when we do the same set list every day, sometimes we change it a little bit to keep in interesting for the fans who are travelling with us – there are tons of fans who always come to every show. But still, I’m always highly nervous when I go on stage, you know, before I’m like “oh no!”, so the stage fright is still there so I really care about every show, and I guess I will tell you the same thing when we’d have done 3000 show, which I hope that we will. Before you go on stage, it feels like bungee-jumping; the adrenaline is high, but I always have stage fright, for maybe two or three hours before the show. Then, when I go on stage and sing the first note, everything is okay.

Today, when bands celebrate such an anniversary, they usually perform one of their emblematic albums in full. However, you have not done this. Is this because you did not want to be like the others? Or did you find it hard to choose an album to perform?

Because we have so many records, we have sixteen records, and I’m just working and writing new songs for the fans. I wouldn’t know which record to choose to play it entirely because I love them all; I think every record has some highlight songs. Everyone maybe has this idea of playing every day a different record, then maybe it would be okay, but I love the good mixture between highlights and surprises, and new songs off the new records. So I know some people do it, but so far I don’t think I could just play one record and not the highlights off each other record.

Apparently, three songs do not appear on the DVD because of technical issues. What happened?

Actually, the show was three hours and ten minutes long, or three hours and twenty minutes, and there were some technical problems like feedback, etc. It’s hard to get rid of the feedback when it’s on all the microphones. They didn’t uphold the same standards as the DVD with all the other songs. Then I thought that it may be cool to have them as a bonus track for a new record, or a hidden track. So I thought “they’re not gone, not lost”.

Okay, so the three songs that don’t appear on your DVD may be released on your next album?

Yeah, maybe on a single as a bonus track. But I don’t know yet, we have so much material for the new record, but maybe, eventually, they will be released

« It’s my long-time experience that makes me feel that 99% of the fans and I are really in tune »

You once stated “When I don’t feel good about something then I think, well if I don’t like it, nobody will like it”. Where does the idea that your fans will have the same opinion as you come from?

I’ve been together with the fans for so many years, you know, twenty seven years, so I kind of feel it. When I presented the songs I was really excited about, usually, the fans felt the same. It’s my long-time experience that makes me feel that 99% of the fans and I are really in tune, and when I don’t like something, it’s probably obvious that my heart and soul isn’t in it, so the fans probably feel like it’s not great either.

2500 concerts in 25 years is basically 100 concerts a year without a break and without mentioning the various collaborations with other artists. This is quite a sustained rhythm, how do you manage to keep up?

You know, sometimes we did 200 or 250 concerts per year. When I am doing a new record we don’t do that many gigs but when the record is finished it can take a whole year to tour. So yeah, we counted them and I think it might actually be more. It’s definitely more by now, I think it’s 2550. It’s a long time but I love it so much, I love music. Since I was three years old, I wanted to become a singer, so it’s definitely the nicest thing in the world to perform in front of people, to do concerts and to play live. It is hard work, you know, it’s never easy, but I love it.

When we look at your path so far, we get the feeling that you don’t have much time to do anything else but music…

Yeah that’s right, it’s music almost 24 hours a day, I’m totally dedicated to the fans, to music, to metal, and I’m not married, I don’t have any kids, so I definitely chose this road to stay with the music, and nothing else even comes close when it comes to exciting me. I have some little hobbies like I love sports, but every day is usually music, either touring, or in the studio, or writing songs, or talking to the fans, or doing autograph sessions. All I want is connected to the music.

What are your own hobbies during the rare times when you are not in the musical sphere?

Actually yeah, I love sports, I love to work out, you know, go jogging, running. I love to read books. Actually, when I have a couple of minutes, I love to read, especially motivational books. Especially on the road when you’re a little bit exhausted, reading a good book gives you good energy. That’s what I love, but even on the road there’s very little time for yourself, there’s like 14 or 15 people in the tour bus, so it’s hard to find some time for myself.

The song « Für Immer » implies that you are able to drop everything in order to help a person that you care for nonetheless. Would you cancel a concert that very night for the same reason?

It depends; the concert is always the most important thing, the top priority. It depends, if somebody is really, really in need, somebody very close to me. But usually, the fans are who I’m singing to; they’re the most important thing in my life. So if it would be an emergency, that’s something else, but usually I would do the concert. Since the fans are my closest friends, doing the concert would be my priority.

Passion for music, composing and performing on stage can be quite consuming. Some musicians have a habit of putting it ahead of their relationships with other people. What about you ?

It’s about friendship and the fact that you would do everything… but to me the fans are my closest friends, that’s totally true. The audience, the fans, it’s not anonymous, I actually know many, many fans personally, and it’s definitely a deep friendship, and because we love music, it’s at a deeper level than with normal friends, normal people, who are not into music: it’s sometimes hard to connect.

At the start of your career, you faced many line-up changes. This is a very discouraging situation for a musician, especially when it keeps happening. What advice would you give to musicians in order to not lose all hope?

I’d say follow your heart, always give 120%, never give up, even when these things are happening, and try again. When you get knocked out, get up very quickly and try again. You will find people eventually. Now in the band, my bass player Nick Douglas, he’s been in the band for 21 years, so there are definitely people in the world who are willing to do it, and who are loyal. My drummer, Johnny Dee, he’s been with me for 17 years, so people do stay with you for a long time. You definitely have to look hard, but even when stuff like this happen, when people leave, or quit, or do another job, you have to do what you love. When you’re all by yourself, you can always to so many things; you can concentrate on other stuff like writing songs, even though you can’t go on tour with a whole band. You will always find people who think alike and who feel alike, it’s part of life, sometimes it goes up, sometimes it goes down, sometimes people stay, sometimes they don’t, but you should always follow your heart, and always try, and try harder. There are always people coming into your life who really want to stay. Sometimes it was not my decision; it was not even the decision of the musician. Sometimes the record company says “Okay, this guitar player is fired” and we could not do anything about it. Sometimes it was very frustrating in different ways, when these things happen, but I’ve always had the feeling that I want to do music and nothing is working. But now I’ve found really good people who have been here for a long time: the bass player 21 years in the band and the drummer 17 years, that’s a long time, and I think that’s a very good sign.

« I’m totally dedicated to the fans, to music, to metal, and I’m not married, I don’t have any kids, so I definitely chose this road to stay with the music, and nothing else even comes close when it comes to exciting me. »

You recently declared that you have decided to take some time to rest and then go back into the studio to release a new album. Do you have any ideas, melodies or compositions already?

Yeah, a couple of really nice ideas, and we’re just working as we speak on new songs and I’m all excited, I think there are some really good songs on the way. I think I’ll have the album done by the end of the year and it would come out like next year, in spring time. We’re also doing a couple more concerts this year; we’re definitely coming to Lyon and Paris, I think in October, and we’re doing some South-American gigs in April. Not as many gigs as last year, but still, playing live is very important to me, so the studio work is great but I miss playing live so much so we’ll do a couple of gigs here and there.

What can you say about the new songs you’re writing for the album?

I have a couple of anthems in the making, a couple of fasts songs, which are very hard but I think the fans will like them, I have that feeling. I don’t know, I usually write as many songs as I can and then I pick and choose which one I think are really the best ones in the end. You can feel which song really shines. It’s too early to even say how it will really look and how it’ll sound but there will definitely be some great anthems. We usually take a whole year, so it’s too early to say which songs will make it. We just started, actually after the tour – we went out with Motörhead in December, and then we did our own tour – so we just started two weeks ago, so I can’t say, it’s too early. But I have a good feeling that it will be great, and I want to do everything that makes the fans happy, but it takes time.

You developed a friendship with the members of Scorpions. They recently celebrated your 25th career anniversary with you. During the Metal Female Voices Fest 2009, Tarja Turunen came on stage with you. Tarja and Scorpions are also very close (she sang on their latest album). As a result of this friendship, would it be possible to see Doro working with Tarja and one or more members of Scorpions on the next album?

Well, that’s a great idea you just had, I don’t know, I have to… maybe I’ll ask them. Tarja sang on the “Fear No Evil” album, we did one duet already, on “Walking With The Angels”, that was so nice. That’s a great idea, I have to talk to Klaus Meine and Tarja about it. Since we’re all really good friends, there’s a good chance there, but I didn’t think about that before.

The list of rock stars with which you have worked throughout your career is very impressive. Some people would kill for the same contacts! What is your secret for getting in contact with all of these musicians to create such a network?

Actually, you always meet musicians at the festivals, and going on tour for so many years, you kind of have to eventually do something together, or go on tour together. Like with The Scorpions, the first time we were actually playing together was at the legendary Monsters of Rock festival, in 1986. It was in England, Castle Donington – we’re both from Germany but the first time was in England – and the line-up was unbelievable. It was something like Ozzy Osbourne and Scorpions headlining, and Def Leppard, Motörhead and another band, I think there was Michael Schenker. It’s easy to talk to people when you’re backstage, when it’s a nice festival, and then ideas come up. I love people so I usually go and talk to them, and then a friendship develops and it’s even easier. I must say: Lemmy from Motörhead, I’ve known him for so many years, I’m a big fan of his, and in 2000 we talked and said “Hey, let’s do something together!” and then I flew down to L.A. and we did the two duets on the album “Calling the Wild” and it was awesome! I was also a big fan of Kiss when I grew up, and it was always a dream of mine to maybe cover a Kiss song or work together. Then I had the great chance to introduce Kiss on another Monsters of Rock festial, it was in 89, and that was the first time that I met Gene Simmons, and later we sat down and said “How about we do something together?”, and it worked out so great that he ended up producing the whole album and writing many songs on it, so it usually develops when something feels right and feels good. It’s the same with the ladies in metal, we have a really good connection, and I think there’s a really good support system. The ladies in metal, we call each other up when somebody has a problem or when we need advice, but I guess it’s because I’ve been doing this for such a long time. It’s always a joy to do something with great people, I love it, and I hope there are many more duets coming and many more interesting collaborations. I love that stuff!

Lemmy The Movie came out recently. According to your friendly relationship with Lemmy, we were expecting to see you appear in it. This was not the case, how come?

Oh, I don’t even know. But now that we’ve toured together, that was one of my highlights, in December. It was awesome! Actually, I was at the after-show party of the movie. I was in Berlin but due to the bad weather, the plane didn’t land in time so I missed the movie. But it’s actually great not to be in it so you can enjoy it and it’s cool. But the tour with Motörhead was so fantastic, so I’m glad that we did that. You can’t be on everybody’s record or in everybody’s movie, that’s totally okay.

We interviewed Lemmy a few months ago and he told us that he was not planning on retiring because he wouldn’t know what to do else. I get the feeling that it’s the same for you…

Yeah, the music, the fans, metal, that’s my life! It’s like the most important thing, I enjoy it so much, even though it is hard; it’s never really easy. I love it and I hope to do this for many, many more years. I want to do it until the day I die, if that’s possible.

I know that you would never want to take a final bow, but what would you think about an ultimate concert where all of the musicians with which you worked would came on stage with you and pay tribute to you? Like a kind of celebration of your career?

Oh (laughs) that would be awesome. That would be to do only when you know it’s the last show, like if you’re dying. But it would be great if it would happen when everybody’s there, so you do your last concert and you go on. Who knows? I don’t know what would happen, and it can be over every day. I was witness to many things, many accidents, and many people who died in a very short period of time. My guitar player, Mario, he died in 2000, he had cancer, and it happened in 3, 4, 5 weeks. He was gone, and it was so unbelievable. You never know what can happen. I try to enjoy every day, and of course, when there’s good company on your last day, that’s awesome. You never know. I take it as it comes, and I’m open to anything.

Sean Iseult was often denied entry backstage during her own concerts with Rob Zombie because she is a woman and that many people thought she was a groupie. Have you ever encountered this type of scenario in your career?

No, actually. Never. I’ve never had anything like that. It was always cool, I was always treated well and with respect, I never felt that. It was always cool.

It’s stunning, we’ve been talking for half an hour, and I really have the impression that you’re speaking with your heart when you’re talking to me about your life, your career, and we’ve even had the impression that you’re about to cry. Do you always speak from the heart like that?

Yeah, it’s the only way I know how. It’s always like that. What you see is what you get. I always try to answer the questions as good as I can, always speaking from the heart, of course.

The stupid question : Did you know that Doro is also the name of a cell phone company?

Oh really? No, I didn’t know that! That’s funny. But I’m born with the name, so I probably can’t change it. I think the meaning is “Gold”, which is pretty nice, in Spanish or Italian. “Gold” or “of gold”, so I can live with it. (laughs)

Has anyone ever contacted you to sort out a phone credit problem?

No! Not yet! Maybe it’s just in France. I’ve never seen it. I know in Germany there’s a video company called Doro, but it’s okay. My real name is Dorothee, and from early on I was called Doro. I’m not the only person it the world so I can live with it, it’s okay.

Interview conducted by phoner in january, 2011
Transcription : Stan

Website : www.doro.de

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