Metal's First Female Frontwoman Talks About Playing in a Man's World

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Up on the Sun talked with Doro about her first time in Phoenix in '88, the time she opened up for Metallica (and didn't even know it), and heavy metal's early days.

Up on the Sun: As the first female band leader in heavy metal, can you recall a memory when you first realized that the industry was embracing more females in heavy metal?

Doro: I love music and I loved the fans right from the starts. I had a great connection to the art and to the fans. To me, in metal, it doesn't matter if you're a woman or man, music isn't about that. So I never felt like I got negative feedback or feelings. I was just Doro! Everyone was so supportive, especially my other musicians or bands on tours, whether it was the legendary Judas Priest or the greatly loved and missed Ronnie James Dio and W.A.S.P. - we just had so many excellent tours and everyone was so nice and respectful. In the industry, it was always cool and I never felt different. I just know in the media and in magazines, they were writing things like, "one of the few women of heavy metal," but to me honestly ... I think people knew I was deadly serious and dedicated, so people maybe didn't question it.

So you never felt different or judged by being a woman, it was more the media that did that instead?

Yes, yes... you know, people might've thought it was crazy or different, a woman in heavy metal, but I never felt different. I think it was more, um, you had to fight more for your music; you had to fight more to do heavy metal. Because in the beginning with metal, it was accepted as a whole. So you had to really work your ass off, work 10 times more, to make other people feel like metal is something really beautiful. So as a metalhead, I've more issues in the beginning just haven't people accept metal in general. Laughter. Yeah, yeah! Metal has so much power and soul. It's about fighting for your music; to fight for heavy metal. That was way more difficult than fighting to be a woman in the genre.

You're bringing your anniversary show you performed in Germany last May, to celebrate 30 years since your first time on stage. What can fans expect from the show?

We will play only highlights, the best of the best -- no fillers, all killers. [Laughter.] It will be like lots of old Warlock songs because people really love that. So we'll start with the first album Burning Witch and the Hellbound album. And a lot of stuff off the Triumph and Agony album. And, um, some ... fast, hard songs, and some beautiful ballads, and every day it is a different set list. Every day. The audience kinda wants that variety, and some times people want to hear more of the new record, so we will do that. If they want more of older records, we'll do that. It's 150 percent energy and everyone feels that power at the concert! And I will never ever forget this tour. There's lots of power and soul; it'll really touch your heart as a true fan. And our band is like a well-oiled machine, so we can play non-stop, and it's like we get along so great. It goes without saying that we don't even have to talk about the set list, we just look at each other and know what to play.

That's so exciting! Bringing some good energy to Phoenix.

Ya, ya! I remember my first time in Phoenix it was so hot! It was so hot in the club, even hotter than outside because the air conditioning was broken. I remember we were sweating and by the second song I could feel the first row's sweat in my face from their head-banging and the long hair. It was unbelievable. [Laughter.]

And that was the first time, too. I remember when Ronnie James Dio, when we played for him, we went through Phoenix. To be where my metal God was living. I forgot that place where we played, but it was so hot! It was so awesome!

When was that?

That was in '88, when we toured for the Triumph and Agony album, and did the big Megadeth tour. The audience was amazing. Oh, and I love the landscape and the vibe. When I was a kid I always dreamed of going to America and wanted to go to Phoenix. I remember when I was there, too. There was this one girl who was such a big fan and she got on stage and gave me a huge huge! [Laughter.] A big hug around my neck and then she wouldn't let go. So I remember Phoenix for nice people, good conversation and cool vibes. And some cool spiritual gifts from the Native American culture.

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Lauren Wise has worked as a rock/heavy metal journalist for 15 years. She contributes to Noisey and LA Weekly, edits books, and drinks whiskey.
Contact: Lauren Wise