DORO about 'Triumph And Agony Live'

DORO – a conversation about the ‘Triumph And Agony Live’ album to be released on September 27, 2021.

A couple of years before the pandemic, Doro and her band teamed up again with American guitar player Tommy Bolan for a celebration of the iconic ‘Triumph And Agony’ album which was released in 1987 and became a turning point in many ways. Record company Phonogram stood totally behind it, the album has lots of classics that are still in the live set and it was the last album as Warlock. I had a nice talk with Doro about this special record.

Geert Ryssen

Me: ‘First of all, I want to congratulate you on the show you did on Alcatraz festival because it was fantastic. I've seen so many live shows by you. But this one was really exceptional. Yes, the band was so tight. So focused. You were great. I think that maybe one little advantage of that COVID period is that you had a long time to take a rest for your voice.’

Doro: ‘In fact, I never took a rest. I've just had so many gigs. There were different ones, all in COVID safe situations. Sometimes it was hard as the people were so far away, we had to work hard to connect. For the Alcatraz show we finally had Nick (Douglas) back on bass. He flew in from the States just for this show. Luckily, he came in one day before, because one day later, the policy was that he would have been into quarantine for five days. And we couldn't have performed together. Nick is the only one who does not want to get vaccinated. We were talking to him. We said, You have to because we have to go on tour and, for example, go on to England. And we're just in the middle of applying to work visas. And you have to be vaccinated, otherwise, you will not get permission, not get a work visa. And so maybe it might have been the last show with Nick. I'm happy because he's 31 years in the band, but he doesn't want to take the vaccine. It was awesome. It was great to have the whole lineup like we had for so long. But yeah, the pandemic ruined so much stuff for so many people. It was tricky to survive the last one and a half years because of all these travel restrictions and lock downs, all that stuff. You know, I always tried to, you know, to keep up a good spirit and work in the studio and do stuff and so I didn't have any time to get depressed. That was good.’

Me: ‘I hope that Nick can stay because I think he's really an essential part of the band when he's in, there’s always something extra.’

Doro: ‘Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, sure. But I tell you, I keep my fingers crossed. But we didn't get through to him. Everybody was talking to him. But he said no. He said he will wait for one year, oh one year! I mean, we have all these shows, which got moved and postponed. So we have to see what will happen.’

Me: ‘You're going to release a live album of the ‘Triumph And Agony’ tour. I got a streaming of that documentary about the recording that album. I had very little time to watch it. I but it was very interesting, because it's so long ago, and it made me realize, again, how important that album was to you at that time. It was the start of your international career.’

Doro: ‘That's right. It was like, in 86, we were so lucky. We got on tour with Judas Priest. That was my first big tour. That was the UK tour. And then I could do a little promotion tour in America. It was my first time that I was in America and we wanted to have an American management and stuff. So we were looking for that. And then I was supposed to stay only three days. And after two days, I made up my mind, that I wanted to stay. And then it was a miracle. Everything seemed to fall into place. I got connected with great people. And we met our manager, he was advisor first. He said he wanted to wait one year. He spent his time and energy on the band. So he was a trusted adviser. And I told him, I really love New York, it was such a melting pot and was so exciting. Now, in this day and age, you can fly in and out, well, not with pandemic but usually you can.In those days it wasn't that easy!

Doro tells the whole story about the trip to New York, how she was impressed by the record shops that were open 24 hours a day, how she met people who showed her around, how she learnt about the clubs and jammed there. How she told Americans about the situation in Europe. In 1986 there was still the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain. She told the story of the first trip with Warlock to Hungary and how all the merchandising got confiscated by customs at the border. She had also magic experiences with making contact with the dead …  And this lead to songwriting with Joey Balin, the guitarist, musician, songwriter who opened up her eyes for unlimited possibilities of the American Dream.  She ended up writing the whole album with Joey. These writing sessions resulted in a great album with a lot of classics that still are an essential part of the live show. The hits ‘All We Are’, ‘Für Immer’ and stage favorites like ‘I Rule The Ruins’, ‘Metal Tango’ and the great ‘East Meets West’ are all on the ‘Triumph And Agony’ album. Doro wanted a real metal player on the album and so Tommy Balin did the guitar parts to much satisfaction. The whole story is told in detail on the Blu-ray that is companion to the live album of the shows that Doro and her band did with Joey Balin as extra guitar player in 2018.

Me: ‘One of the great and special songs on the album is ‘Metal Tango’. I wonder how you did get the idea for that song.’

Doro: ‘. I always like to do some little surprises or experiment with something. And yeah, and we were thinking, let's do something what hasn't been done before. And suddenly this tango came up, I like that very much. I love it. And you know, we put the metal guitars over it. And then we have the idea that it's kind of an anthem with ‘the dance demons’ sentence. And I was just on tour with Judas Priest for the first time in Spain. And it was the first time that you know, I got in touch with like the passion of the Spanish metal heads, which later on in winter was in South America. Wow. You know, they live metal. I'm so excited. So I wanted to put a Spanish touch on it. And then there was the ‘olé’ in Metal Tango and the Spanish sentence in ‘Für Immer’. First we couldn't get anybody who would speak Spanish. There was one guy who was working on the Marshalls amps to tweak him. And he was like an expert on the Marshalls. And you know, I went to him and he couldn't speak English or German, but I kind of made him understand what the song is all about and said it's super important in order to tell an old story about the Judas Priest tour and the Spanish metal heads. You know, he didn't understand a word but he gave me that line ‘Hay una promessa, En el sonido’. I didn't even know what it what it meant. I trusted him and then I think it's powerful. It means that so there's a promise in that song, very deep inside my heart. So, it was perfect. And yeah, that was the last song we recorded. And then we delivered it to the record company. Back then it was phonogram. And they loved it. They loved the whole record. And they said, well, it's great. We will support it,  it's awesome. Just one song got to go. And I thought, Oh, no, I didn't know which song they even were thinking about. And I was looking through all songs. And so could that be maybe 'Metal Tango', because it's different or maybe ‘Touch Of Evil’ because I scream so loud. And then they said no, no, it’s ‘Für Immer’ the German song, it can’t be on this record. And I said, no, this is one of my favorite songs, it should be on it. Back then I was a teenager probably throwing things and smashing things. Screaming and yelling. Oh, okay they said, let's put it on as the last song, they probably thought nobody would hear it. And then we went on tour with the legendary great James Dio. On that tour, it was clear that Für Immer’ was the most loved song together with ‘All We Are’. And then the record company said, hey, we have to have a second single. It should be the German one. I said really? Didn't you say you wanted to take the German song off the record? No? I remember our big discussions and loud fights. It's awesome.’

Me: ‘I think ‘Für Immer’ and ‘All We Are’ still are key songs in your show.’

Absolutely, we always play them at every concert, every time. There’s some songs of the ‘Triumph and Agony’ album that we never played live like ‘Make Time For Love’ or ‘Kiss Of death’. ‘Three Minute Warning’ we only played it two or three times. And then a couple of years ago, I called up my old pal Tommy Bolan and said that we should do the whole album again for its 30th anniversary and he was so happy. He said that he’d been waiting for this call for thirty years!’

Me: ‘It’s very clear that the ‘Triumph And Agony’ was a turning point in your career, but nevertheless it would be the last Warlock album.

Doro: ‘Well, actually, it was not our doing. We got a big problems with the name because of our first manager, the German guy. He was the merchandiser. We sold so much T-shirts and merchandising. We didn't realise it.  And, and when I was on the Dio tour, suddenly my American manager Alex wanted to talk to us. He could speak German as well as he was from Switzerland but an American citizen which was perfect for us. He said our German manager had gone. We couldn't find him because he went to Turkey. Back, then, there was no chance that you could find anybody as there was no internet. So, I was totally shocked. But of course the tour was going on, you know, I was truly heartbroken and very sad, but you know, really mad as well. So how could somebody leave us just in this moment, where everything is really starting to get really big, before it was growing and growing and growing, but ‘Triumph And Agony’ was like, wow, you know, that was the first time that everything fell into place and to be played on video rotation, the record company was totally behind it, it was the first time that it was like worldwide, like really a big support. The first worldwide release was ‘True As Steel’, but it was like, pretty much half work as they didn't do anything. It was put out without much promotion. And now the manager was gone, there was total shock, because we didn't see it coming and there was no more contact. And I thought, this sucks. So the next record, we were going to do it in the same studio in New York. And it was supposed to be the follow up for ‘Triumph And Agony’. We were writing songs and stuff. And suddenly, we've got like letters from the lawyer that we were not allowed to use the name Warlock anymore. So we actually had the intention of using it anyhow. And then suddenly, we got letters like if we ever see the name Warlock on a poster again, you will have to pay 50,000 dollars. So we had to rip out all the posters and change the artwork and stuff. And we were in full force of the production of the next album. And then somebody said, well, call the next album ‘Doro’ until everything is sorted out, and the next album will be Warlock again. It wasn't my choice but we made that compromise, but then it took 20 years to get the rights to the name Warlock back!. Yeah, there were many lawsuits and and then I got a phone call from Metal Mike from Aardschok (Dutch metal magazine – GR, many years ago, and he said Doro I tell you something: your (disappeared – GR) manager got killed in Turkey. So maybe he did some bullshit with some other people. But I don't know if it's true. I've never talked to anybody but, at time we all really liked him. He was a great friend of ours. I never expected that he could do something, you know, which would hurt the band. But I tell you when people smell a little bit of success and smell a little bit of money, sometimes people go crazy. And I think that was the case because the first couple of years were pretty good. But then it all turned really, really bad. Yeah. And that was the reason why we couldn't use the name Warlock because he was doing the merchandising, because he wanted to cash in on the merchandising. Our parents got phone calls from people who bought the T-shirts that told them that people had to pack in the T-shirts and had to work day and night. There was something wrong! The band got zero money from it and he got it all. So when he left, we got stuck with so much shit problems. I thought we would all go into jail. It was horrible. So it started out really cool. And then it became really difficult. And then I thought now I want to go and do music. One guy already was so fed up - it was the bass player - and he left. It turns out that we were so naïve at the time.’

Lots of bands can tell this kind of stories, but out of it came a good thing. It made Doro more professional and it turned out that she build a great career as one of the greatest female metal singers of all time. ‘Triumph and Agony Live’ is out on the streets now. You can buy it on vinyl with a beautiful fold-out cover, on cd and Blu-ray. The Blu-ray has the complete Sweden Rock concert and a documentary about the original album. The cd and vinyl has cuts from different shows on the Triumph And Agony Tour featuring Tommy Bolan. The sound is rough and honest and one can enjoy her great band as well. It's the ideal way to relive that great album. Meanwhile, Doro is working on a new studio album that will be released on Nuclear Blast. The ‘Triumph And Agony Live’ album is released on her own record label Rare Diamond Productions.