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Wild thing

Metal queen Doro Pesch returns to find a changed musical landscape

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It's been more than a decade since anyone in the U.S. has seen the face of German metal queen Doro Pesch grace a stage, and even longer since anyone here has heard her music. Currently on tour with Dio and Yngwie Malmsteen, Pesch is back to give us another try with her new disc Calling the Wild. While a tour on the "remember me?" club circuit isn't exactly the best way to stake a claim at national prominence, she's just happy to be playing here again.

"I was always doing records and always on tour," she says from a tour stop in Las Vegas, "but the records didn't get released here in the States. That was always heartbreaking because I made them in the States and they were meant for the American fans."

Mostly known as a pin-up in the metal mags back in the '80s thanks to her stunning looks, Pesch's music has actually been a mostly unknown quantity here. And thanks to the decline of her style of metal in the '90s, it looked as though she'd never get the chance to be heard. It's been her ever-present popularity in her native Germany, though, that has kept her riding the power-metal sound wave she helped pioneer in the band Warlock and has brought her to this latest opportunity.

"I would rather prefer if they would play the music," she says of her pin-up days. "In the early '90s, for hard rock and heavy metal, it was very hard when grunge was really huge. Nobody wanted us any more. I always loved to experiment and try new things, but I could never make grunge stuff. It's not in my blood."

On the phone, Pesch comes across as genuinely sweet and earnest about her music, and when she perceives a connection has been made, an endearing humbleness emerges. "I'm so happy that I can play here again," she says. "It's what I do best. Music is all about vibration and having immediate feedback from the people. That's my way of connecting with people. I don't have a lot of friends and stuff, I have a couple of them, but connecting with the fans makes me so happy. To me, music was my drug from when I was three or four years old, when I heard one song -- 'Lucille.'"

Now, Doro can rock with the best of the men. Her deep, guttural growl leaves sex at the door on tracks like "Terrovision," "Fuel" and "Burn It Up" from Calling the Wild. The true heart of Pesch's vulnerable soul shines best, though, when she chronicles the many avenues of heartbreak. Whether true experiences or an amalgam of romantic wistfulness, Doro lives in slower tracks like "Constant Danger," "Scarred" and the two tracks she performs with Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead.

"It's a very vulnerable song," she says, in particular, of "Scarred." "I'm totally that way. To me, it's always important to come straight, be totally honest. I couldn't even write fake shit."

As she returns to the U.S. to struggle on, Pesch displays a total commitment to her music that is, at the very least, worthy of respect. "I've never been married and I didn't date a lot of times in my life. It was always music. I don't have any kids. Nothing. I think it's hard to keep a relationship. It's almost impossible. I love the music so much, I could never see myself giving that up. I will do this until the day I die."

Doro Pesch performs at the Masquerade, Tues., Dec. 12, with Dio and Yngwie Malmsteen. Tickets are $20 in advance. For more information, call 404-577-2007.

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