General Interview with Praying Mantis
Last Modified On 21 Mar 2009
(Here is a conversation I had with everyone in the band and a few friends at Markus Studios, London. It took place on 10 March 98 during the third and final week of mixing of the new album "Forever In Time". Some of the questions I am asking are on behalf of a fan in Greece)
JH - me, TT - Tino Troy, CT - Chris Troy, TH - Tony O'Hora, DS - Dennis Stratton
JH - What is the new album called?
TT: "Forever In Time"
JH - And what is the line up this time?
TT: You know that!
(Tino Troy - Guitar, Chris Troy - Bass, Dennis Stratton - Guitar, Bruce Bisland - Drums, Tony O'Hora - Vocals)
JH - When will the album be released? Have you any idea?
TT: May the…
CT: May 20
TT: At 5pm in Japan
JH - And do you agree it sounds like "Cry For The New World"? A bit heavier?
TT: Um - Heavier than "Cry for the New World" but - um…
CT: As melodic but a bit more balls
JH - But not really "Time Tells No Lies" like as you promised in two places? (with a grin)
TT: Um - I don't think we will ever achieve "Time Tells No Lies" again to tell the truth. "Time Tells No Lies", it's just a one off . You can't.
JH - No it would be boring
TT: Something can sound like it but it is not going to sound the same.
JH - Right
TT: I think it is a cross between "Time Tells No Lies" and "A Cry for the New World"
JH - How do you explain that although you have released many perfect albums you have never met with the success you are worth?
Nick John (a friend of the band) - You have not slept with the right people!
TT: I don't know how to answer that really
JH - No
TT: How can we answer that?
JH - Have you tried making it outside Japan again?
CT: No, we haven't consciously tried - um -I don't know.
TT: We have unconsciously tried!
JH - I mean you have never really tried touring the UK or he wants you to tour Greece
Nick John - There is no point in this country.
TT: If he wants us to tour Greece tell him to give us about a thousand pounds each, put us up in hotels and like we'll come over there.
CT: You see it has to be financially viable.
TT: We're family men
CT: It's great when your young and you can just go in the back of a transit
JH - What would it take. How much do you require for a gig? Even here?
TT: If we got, if we got our flights and hotels over there as long as we get a couple of hundred quid a week each. You'd go for that wouldn't you?
DS: Yeah but I think business wise …
TT: As long as you could sort of look after you family.
DS: … It's like a vicious circle if the album is not being released in the territory …
CT: There's no point
DS: There's no point in touring. Then you can't tour there because your albums not coming out. So the money's not there to generate into the tour to sell albums.
JH - But could you sell …
CT: Our bodies!
JH - … CD's at the gig actual gigs. I mean a lot of bands do that.
(TT Makes some quip that I can't make out over my question and there is general merriment. Tino it seems is very happy. He is always laughing out loud and joking.)
CT: You see our record company, they're are pretty good in Japan but outside of Japan they are Crap.
JH - Do they have to sub-lease it?
Nick John - Do they license to other territories, Pony Canyon
TT: They will do but they have been greedy so far with the rights …
Nick John - I mean Germany is the other Metal orientated territory that still sells
TT: ... I think that is going to change now because we have said so.
DS: Yeah but they basically leave that to us and if we want to do a licensing deal in Germany go a head.
CT: But that's where we have come unstuck before
Nick John - I mean SPV or someone like that
TT: There is so many people want to license the band now but the Japanese want to retain 100 percent of the rights. So they say you can buy this much from us and it doesn't make it a viable prospect. But now they are going to change that. You can't sell anywhere else.
CT: It's silly I mean they shoot themselves in the foot because they make it so that it is not worth our while putting it out in any other territory.
JH - What was the British label like?
CT: "Music For Nations"?
JH - Yeah
CT: Well they were useless.
TT: They didn't want to promote it.
DS: There was a guy in Germany that got the album, the last one "The Power of Ten" and he phoned me at home and they were raving about it. And he had just been on a tour a couple of festivals with Saxon and some other bands there. And he said this album "Power Of Ten" is brilliant. Because that is why the Japanese got the hump we did an album more Rock'n'Roll Bluesy come "Power of Ten" for the European market.
CT: Or tried to
DS: They loved it. They said you come here and you will clean up. You'll do brilliantly but then that is where the stumbling block is because we can't go out there because we haven't got any management out there looking after us that can set it all up. The Japanese in a way are a little bit of a hurdle so in the end they are trying to get the album out and get us over there and it just …
JH - So would you be prepared to go over there and do festivals with other bands?
DS: Sure, we'll do anything.
TT: Sure if you are just covering our expenses and getting a little bit more that would be great. We don't want to earn sort of mega-bucks out of it. But if there is a festival going
CT: Yeah sure.
DS: This is what annoys us with this band in Japan. We rehearse for two months, three months, all the old stuff and the new stuff. Get every thing sorted and we go there and we do one show in Nagoya, 1 in Osaka, fly back to Tokyo, do two shows in Tokyo and come home. Like 10 days, two weeks.
TT: It's such a waste
DS: And Extreme from the States go out there and do a tour of all the little clubs about two hundred people in each club.
TT: That's what we would prefer to do.
TH: I would prefer to play more often.
DS: Exactly. I said to them why do we do that. Instead of going to one place and playing a to a couple of thousand people
CT: I think we will enjoy ourselves more.
TH: Play to 500 people a night for 10 nights.
CT: That's what we …
DS: And they did a little club tour. They went to Nagoya and did about four clubs there of about 300 people each and then they went to Osaka and did the same. And they were there for about 3 or 4 weeks doing these little gigs. And it is just like doing a load of Marquees.
TH: And they are bound to love it because every gig will be full
DS: That's right
JH - A lot of people seem to be turning up in Brazil at the moment, Even the old Saxon band Son of A Bitch, and Di'anno have just done out there
DS: Chris (Tsangaridis the guy who Mixed/Produced "Forever In Time") is going out there soon
TT: Chris is going out there Monday to do an album
TH: He is producing a band called Angra.
DS: So yeah it's a shame because we get asked all, you know, we'd like you to do this date (Some people arrived for Tony to collect at reception so the subject died here)
JH - Was Stratus a side project or a real group?
CT: Stratus was a real group. An off shoot of Mantis if you like.
JH - What happened to the production on that. Why is your guitar so sort of weak? Was it a sign of the times? Or was it just by Bootleg
Lee Borrows (Mantis Roadie from 79-80) - Who produced it?
TT: No it was weak. It didn't have much guts to it at all.
JH - You seemed to be heading that way even with Clive Burr's "Escape" to a certain extent.
TT: Maybe I just had a shitty amp. Ha, ha, ha. I don't know.
JH - What musicians would you use to form an all star band?
TT: Luther (? Can't make it out) , Gary Morral, Steve Lukather two guitarists.
JH - Who is he? (I clearly don't listen to the same music as Mantis)
TT: Toto guitarist
Nick John - Who's he! Ha, ha, ha.
TT: Gary Moore
(At that point Lee Burrows and friend had to leave so I moved on to chatting to Dennis Stratton)