Interview in London 16 May 1995 with Tino and Chris Troy
This took place in the Montcalm Hotel London on 16 May 1995. The interviewers
were Mac TakeKawa and Tets Mario. The Translator was Marie Nishimori. And took
place at Disk Union in Japan's request. The interview was subsequently published
in a little 16 page booklet in Japanese.
I have heard the original tapes and made my own transcript of what is said
rather than get someone to translate the Japanese back to English. I have mostly
stuck to what was said but left out some of the general in between chit chat and
clarification of facts.
The interviewer/translator (Int) says that the interview is about the current
album (To The Power Of Ten) but the Japanese fans have
some small questions on a Chronological basis.
Chris Troy (CT): OK. As long as we can remember
Tino Troy (TT): We are getting on now. Our memories aren't as good as they used
Int: The was first album was released in 1981
TT: Mmm-hmm 1980
CT: Yes I thought it was in 1980
TT: Time Tells No Lies. Yes 1980. Maybe it was 1981 in
[It was actually released around April 1981. I don't think it had charted at the
beginning of April 1981 but by 18 April it was at number 64 in the UK charts.
Tino must have been thinking of when it was recorded.]
Int: Mainstream music was Punk and Praying Mantis music was in the mainstream in
those days was it?
TT: Not really. I mean, when we first started I formed my first band at collage,
with a friend of mine another guitarist and then the Punk thing started to
happen and we were into rock. And erm the punk thing started happening and we
had to wait physically like about 5 years before we had our chance to make a
name for ourselves. It was that about 4 or 5 years?
CT: About that, 4-5 Years
TT: Although we got a following of a small section of fans that were following
the band, the punk thing was still happening. And then when the punk thing died
out, sort of died down a bit, this thing happened with Neal Kaye's Bandwagon the
Heavy Metal Soundhouse and it took off from there. A demo tape that we did he
played to all the fans and it got into the charts. The music the Heavy Metal
Charts in Sounds Magazine at the time.
Int: So you were not doing punk yourself?
TT: Oh no,
CT: I think Punk in many ways did us a load of favours. I think people got so
fed up with it. I mean it literally did become all encompassing of all the music
but people got quite fed up of it rather quickly and it was almost like sort of
cleansed the board for something new to come along. And when effectively this
New Wave of British Heavy Metal came because it was something that the people
had not heard for a while. They were hearing all this out of tune rubbish in a
way. Erm Maybe that's my own personal opinion but punk music was a bit rubbishy.
As soon as the Heavy Metal came along people welcomed it and that's why it
seemed to take off. It's like the Punk, because it was so bad, did it a lot of
favours and consequently it did actually elevate it quite a lot.
[The interviewer is basically into Progression rock and his position in the
company means he is in charge of this area. That is why he can relate to people
like Camel and a band called Sebastian Hardy. How do you position yourselves?]
TT: We have never actually compared ourselves with any band. Everybody has
always asked us what sort of music we are and what sort of category we put
ourselves into. We always say it's a rock band. A Hard Rock band. It's not Heavy
Metal as such it's a progressive sort of thing. More experimentation more a
sophisticated sort of rock really. More of a thinking mans rock. Lot's of little
cleaver ideas here and there. Lots of drama in the music. That's the best way to
Int: So before you got together as a band what sort of music were you listening
to? Led Zeppelin or 70's Music.
TT: I was listening to a lot of Led Zeppelin at the time as I was getting into
that at the tail end of school I was listening to a lot of Zeppelin and Hendrix,
Clapton your know the tail end of the Yardbirds
CT: Thin Lizzy. Thin Lizzy had quite a lot of influence.
TT: In the 70's when it started with the Twin guitar things Thin Lizzy and
Wishbone Ash. A lot of stuff having twin guitar leads we really got into. Also
some of the American things like the Allman Brothers and stuff like this
Int: Meaning you weren't listening to any Progressive Rock stuff yourself?
CT: No not at all. You see sometimes people say if you listen to too much music
it influences yourself. I mean it's great when your starting off as a young band
and your learning. Maybe there is something to say that sometimes if you do
listen to too much other music it may start affecting your own natural style.
You know it may suppress it and literally you start playing some else's music or
subconsciously as opposed to your own or what comes from beyond.
TT: I mean Chris started playing Flamenco Classical Guitar which included
Spanish lessons. He went to school and my mother sends him to a teacher and
every Christmas and Easter time the family would come round and he had to play
this little Concerto.
CT: She would Go "Chris, Chris Go and get your guitar"
TT: And he would start doing his little piece for them and they would clap him
and I got very jealous.
CT: I didn't know this
TT: Because they were all giving him money. So I decided I am going to do
something about this. So as I was good at craft work at school I made this
CT: He actually made his first guitar. His First electric Guitar.
TT: I got my first Electric guitar and I practised and practised. I like locked
myself in my room for like ten hours of the day and practised and practised. At
the time a friend of mine taught me how to play the 12 bar riff and then I got
into Status Quo because there I was doing 12 bar and of course we played all
Status Quo songs. So I could say that was a big influence in the start of my
actual playing career.
Int: Doing the translation. Tino Says "I was going to bash him one"
CT: And then on the Spanish guitar the two top strings snapped and I got not
afford to replace them so I became a Bassist. Ha, ha. That was a Joke there
TT: I said to Chris do you want to play Bass for the band and he said "What is a
Bass guitar?" He didn't know.
TT: We were all young at the time about 14 or 15. So what happened was erm the
guitar that I made at school. After this I had saved up for a Gibson SG. So I
made this one that I made at school into a Bass guitar. You know I actually
converted it and he started Practising it. And then he came up with this melodic
little bass line and that became our first song we ever wrote and it was called
"Night Child". Do you remember that? Bom, Dom Dom, Dom Dom, Dom Dom
CT: Yeah must be about 20 years ago. That's true.
TT: Which I Smashed! Do you remember?
CT: Oh yeah
TT: He made me cross and instead of just hitting him I smashed the guitar and I
blamed him ever since.
CT: He was a mini Pete Townsend in the Studio. On that day you were. You only
had it a year or six months. Anyway his hard earned cash and we were in the
studio to put a demo track down and he kept making a mistake so I shouted at him
"Get it right". And he in his Spanish/Greek temper and he went (Miming actions
of throwing it on the floor) and to add insult to injury he started stamping on
top of it as well.. The guitar neck was broken in about 5 places.
TT: And afterwards I went "Ohh" It's your fault. I should have hit him in the
CT: You liked that guitar didn't ya?
TT: Yeah It was a lovely guitar.
Int: This is like Spinal Tap!
TT: Yeah when I saw Spinal Tap the first time I could not believe how true to
life it was.
Int: So that was when you were like band members altogether?
TT: Yeah. Like I said I meet a friend at collage and he was just starting to
play guitar as well. We learnt together. We went round to his place to Jam and
Int: Not as Praying Mantis?
TT: No the very first band name was "Junction"
CT: What a naff name!
TT: And everyone was saying "Unction" It was horrible. I mean junction is a
horrible word to say isn't it.
CT: What idiot thought of that?
TT: Oh I don't know
Int: What about the sound? Was it already sounding like Praying Mantis?
TT: Originally when we first started we only had like one tune for about 6
months. That "Night child". Then all the rest were covers like Thin Lizzy stuff,
Quo stuff erm Wishbone Ash all that sort of thing. Just covers really. But
Junction it was basically Chris, myself a guy Pete Moore who I was at Collage
with. And then we had a keyboard player called Chris, Chris Hudson. He was a
Piano player and we used to go round to his house and we used to play all
together. And we used to get tunes together but then he decided that he wanted
to play Drums. We had a couple of drummers that came in but they were useless
and Chris this keyboard player said "I'm going to buy a drum kit and I'll do it"
so he learnt from there. And he was the very first drummer on the "Captured
City" you know the Soundhouse Tapes
CT: The very first one yeah.
TT: Captured City, The Ripper and Johnny Cool was it?
CT: Yeah Johnny Cool and the Ripper.
TT: Yeah Lovers to the Grave wasn't on that was it
Int: So the first Drummer was a keyboard player converted into a drummer?
TT: Piano player really. A pub Piano player.
Int: And that was your first drummer and you played the Bass.
CT: Yeah trying to play the Bass.
Int: The guitar player was Pete.
TT: Yeah Pete Moore.
CT: There's an interesting story because his Mother, Chris Hudson. Each Sunday
we used to go to his house. A small little semi-detached house. And we used to
play the Drums and everything and she did not like it and you could tell she,
Chris's Mother, was like this [pulls face]. A very sour faced woman. And one day
we were having a little party and she said to me. She said she was slightly
psychic. She was. She was a Medium. She was a practising Medium and remember
Mantis was nothing. We didn't even start playing the pubs then. We were
literally just beginning to makes songs.
TT: It was not even Mantis then. It was call "'Unction"
CT: And she said to me "The band will go somewhere my son won't be pert of the
band but it will happen. Things will start happening for you in the future. And
I see something to do with Egyptian/Oriental involvement" And I looked at her.
And Tino told me she was a bit psychic. And it was quite nice. I mean she
actually saw that things would happen for us and but without Chris's
involvement. I thought it very interesting at the time. It sounds boring as shit
now. It's true though
TT: Yeah I had forgotten that. Tets. You'll have to get us a record deal in
Int: How did Praying Mantis come around?
TT: Funny enough there's a funny story about that as well. We had another guy at
College he was a Welsh man. He had a very good operatic voice and we actually
wrote our first batch of Mantis songs with him because he was a very good
lyricist. And erm he had a great voice. He had short hair and everything. Looked
like a bloke next door. A straight laced guy
CT: A Brick Layer
TT: A lovely guy. One day we were recording something at Pete's house. That's
right we used a little practise Amp a little Wem Combo that we both used to play
through. And this guy Stan. Stan that's a really Rock'n'roll name isn't it? He
was listening to us once and we had this broomstick with a hammer tied to the
bottom and an old cassette recorder Mic. Like this. And we were singing doing
some backing vocals and Stan started going like that and I think Pete said that
looks like a Praying Mantis. And I said "Praying Mantis" that's a good name for
CT: And it just stuck
Int: And he was singing?
TT: Yes we did a few gigs with him you know like pub gigs when we first started
CT: That was also the time when erm, Captured City was written around that time.
Because basically we all lived in Council flats. Because nearly all of us were
bought up in these Cities in the Sky. Effectively if some people after all this
time don't know what this song's about. It's literally the Captured city. Means
an enclosed environment in there tall tower blocks. So "Captured City" was
emanating from there. It was like our roots trying to come out in a song. I
think Stan helped us quite a lot in that particular song.
While translation is going on Tino Says "Do you remember "Golden Robbo" that was
a good song Dum Dum Dum, Dum Dum Dum, Da Dung". Chris says and "Night child"
Int: So when did you exactly start playing as Praying Mantis with registered
CT: That was really with Neal Kaye wasn't it when we put the Demo tape together
TT: Yeah when we put the demo tape together. We did a few things up to then a
few pub gigs?
TT: I can't remember if that was still 'Unction or Praying Mantis
CT: No I think we had changed it by that time. We had just started doing some of
the public house gigs and we erm and a lot of people used to come up and say
it's really nice music and everything and you should try something else.
Int: Like with Neal Kaye?
CT: Well yes a friend of ours a said that Neal Kaye had opened this Heavy Metal
Soundhouse in Kingsbury North London and he encouraged us and said why don't you
record some and see if he likes them. That really helped us immeasurably. That
was about our biggest break I think because on a Friday night I think it was,
Tino went down there a gave him the tape and he said great I'll play it now and
if the fans like it I'll give you a gig down a club called Music machine which
was quite a sort of famous place for up and coming new bands
Int: Oh so he owned it?
CT: No it did not actually own it but he had quite an involvement so he would
effectively say to the promoter put this band down and they would trust his
TT: They had special nights like Heavy metal night
CT: Yeah and I think Friday night was actually the Heavy metal nights
Int: So had you already established your sort of melody line when you did these
Music machine gigs?
TT: Mmm by then yeah. We had already established that like when we were playing
the pubs we did a lot of covers and more of our songs and as we continued to
play more live shows we continued to bring in more of our songs and lost the
covers. But we were playing half and half at first.
Int: And how did you come up with this beautiful melody line that people when
they hear it just know it's yours?
TT: I don't know. I guess it must be the Mediterranean background from where we
come from because we got more of that
Int: You mean Greek?
TT: Well Spanish as well. I always listen to Greek music and Spanish music when
we were younger because we were obviously forced to. Not forced to but our
parents would play it. My father had all the old 78's you know you remember 78
revolutions per minute. Other than that I can't say what it is.
CT: Well it must be common to us two because it is only effectively Tino and
myself that were there from the start nearly 20 year from when Praying Mantis
started as a name from Praying Mantis I think it is literally about Twenty
years. We obviously do the majority of the writing so consequently it comes out
in that flavoured style.
TT: It's very rare thing that we don't like anything together if Chris writes
something I normally like it or Vice Versa. If we write a tune together we like
each others work and we work on it together and that's why we get the best
possible thing out of the first idea
Int: Trying to translate the word Phonograph]
TT: Yeah Phonograph
CT: With the big loud speakers
TT: He a radiograph a bit like that big chest over there. He used to open the
lid and it had this great big arm that came over like that
Int: Was it very traditional Spanish song?
TT: Very traditional. If you could hear it above the krrrrrrr. All the scratches
CT: And there was a hamster on the wheel that you used to spin round too make
the record go round
TT: And if it slowed down you used to tickle it's arse with a feather
CT: That's why most of the songs speed up half way through like "Lover's To The
Int: Did you listen to all the contemporary musician in Greece like Vangelis?
TT: Yeah, Demis Rusos we used to listen to.
CT: But no it's quite interesting because he crossed that barrier didn't he?
Because he crossed the Greek thing with rock. And although he was fat and ugly
he still got the sort of blend between the
TT: He wasn't fat and ugly
CT: He was the sort of Grecian Pavarotti really
TT: I used to go out with a girl you did the catering for him once. She said it
was the easiest job she ever had she just used to cook four whole chickens a
day. He ate four whole chickens a day
CT: They were still alive at the time
TT: And she did not have to cook them either
Int: You make us laugh. Your quite serious and tense musician while your on
TT: We quiet often like to have a laugh on stage as well. No two shows are ever
a like. We never choreograph anything. If we smash into each other then so be
Int: The drummer is like a summo wrestler or something
CT: Bruce is naturally one of the funniest people I have ever met
TT: He likes a few beers. We have jumped a few years here.
Int: Like in those days in Great Britain you had those fast guitar playing bands
like Motorhead and Punk Oriented Rock. In USA you have LA Rock. You have your
own background and your uniqueness to your sound
CT: Thank you
TT: I never got into any of that thrash bang wallop all that speed playing. I
think the most important thing for an listeners is melody and harmony and
something that is pleasing to the ears. I don't see any point in playing fast
and just playing a great guitar part that doesn't do anything for you personally
Int: So being a unique band and seeing you didn't belong to any of those
categories discussed before how did you see those other trends and fads?
TT: It's hard to answer that. I said good luck to them. I don't know why it's
happening but it is and perhaps we should go that way ourselves but you can't go
against what is natural
CT: There are so many bands that would sell out. They would literally play music
that is not natural to them just to become part of another market. That's fine
if you really want to try and achieve the fame but I think we found it
difficult. Although this country never really provided a platform to. All right
it provided a little bit of a platform but it disappeared quickly. I mean in
this country there is no stability. That's why I respected the Japanese audience
because. And I am not saying this because of everything that's occurred there.
But they have the ability to hold on to things and not just fly by night
situations so this is in today but two weeks later it is out of the charts
forgotten about. It's like I said here there is no inertia in the ability to
absorb music. Japanese fans do have that.
Int: He is glad you appreciate the Japanese audiences.
CT: Oh definitely. The English audiences suck really they're not, That's way we
have not tried to adapt our music to get this one going because we think it's
not worth it. I know it sounds silly but they are not worth it. There is no
point in selling yourself out, playing something you don't want to try and get a
minor audience like England because it's just not worth it.
TT: I mean we still have a hard core following here like dedicated Mantis fans
and they always want to hear more, you know. Why aren't we doing more over here?
We'll ask the record companies if they want to sell the band over here but they
are not interested in our music.
Int: He thinks the Japanese fans really go for your albums because of the album
TT: What the Rodney Matthews?
Int: It's like Yes and Roger Dean and you have this particular sense of beauty.
And the artistic value of Rodney Matthews reflects your sound
CT: It's important that the two fit with one another Yes.
TT: I mean our albums and especially our last album A Cry
For The New World
was a very conceptual thing. Very green up to date as far as world politics go
and the state of the Environment basically. And the previous albums had
Time Tells No Lies
and obviously it doesn't. It goes on. It's there. It's blatant for everybody to
see. A Predator In Disguise
was basically Man is basically the predator feeding of the planet and destroying
it with his own hands. So he is the predator in disguise. He can't see it and
nobody else can see but that's how it's all explained basically. I mean to the
dedicated Mantis fan they understand this anyway because the song. Those two
titles came from one song "Children Of The Earth" which has a slow section in
the middle that says "Time has no meaning, time tells no lies" which we used for
the first album. Then it's "Man has evolved as a predator in disguise" so it's
those two things and that one song is about what Chris wrote the lyrics for ,so
he can tell you more. So we were thinking about our next album after those
"Collect all our Evils" Then it was no. Then thought maybe have a box set called
"Place them side by side". And then the last line was "There you have a potion
for a mass suicide" Then we thought no that's getting a bit too heavy.
Int: So how did you get in touch with Rodney Matthews?
TT: Funnily enough it wasn't us. It was our ex-management company Fireball
Management and we were looking for an artist to do the cover and they suggested
this guy. They said he was Roger Dean-ish and they thought it would suit our
music so we went with it and we were very pleased with what he did. That's why
we used him again on Predator In Disguise
TT: Yeah but we fell out with Fireball
Int: The second album was still Rodney Matthews.
TT: Yeah I got in touch with Rodney Matthews and he was still interested in
doing it. But on the 3rd album on A Cry For The
it was not up his street. He's a born again Christian now so a lot of the lyrics
on the album he didn't totally agree with. So he wanted to put like a side note
at the bottom saying this is purely fiction. I said "Well I believe in all this
stuff and Chris believe in it. You can't do that" So we had a sort of amicable
split and he said "Good luck in the future with what your doing". And I said the
[The tape ran out at this point]
Int: There was a long time between the first album and the second album
TT: Well that's because erm, Nothing else happened with Praying Mantis. I'll
tell you the story behind it. After Time Tells No Lies
was released we went to do another album in Germany. But at this time we had
been signed by Arista Records and money start going missing from our account.
And we were asking a management for accounts and stuff like that and they kept
going to the record company for more money and more money. And we said where is
all this money going? We were taking very minimal retainers each a week. And all
this money kept disappearing and they kept on asking the record company for more
money. In the end the record company got hacked off with it all and then decided
to drop the band. And at that time we said well this is it. You know?
Int: You mean somebody took the money?
TT: Well the management like. We wanted the accounts for the money and they
could not give it. And various …. [can't make out what he said. Sorry] of the
organisation. At first we thought they would be good. It was an introduction
from Iron Maiden's management Rod Smallwood who was an old friend of his and
they used to manage Steve Harley. You know Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel. And
then Rod Smallwood took over Iron Maiden. We wanted Rod Smallwood to get
involved but he did not want to put all his eggs in two baskets. He wanted to
put all the eggs in one basket Iron Maiden's. And He introduced us to this Bob
Keene. And at first it was good. When it was small time. But as soon as the name
started getting bigger and bigger they could not cope. And then money started
going missing and then the record company dropped us. And then we sacked the
management. And then we got involved in legal wrangles. And the band could not
work at all and the band name went (a sound implying out the window). I think
they thought they were bigger stars than the band, (the management) I think even
that fireball on the front of Rodney Matthews Time Tells
CT: Yeah. What you think …
TT: Yeah. I think Bob Keene said put a fireball on there.
Int: I am sorry I didn't hear you
TT: There was a picture of a Wizard throwing a ball on a fire
CT: It was a picture of Neal Kaye
TT: Yeah Neal Kaye throwing a ball on a fire. So that's why I was saying there
is such a long period between the first and the second album. In fact Mantis had
split up after that because we could not get any more work in England. Because
the name had plummeted. So we did . We disbanded. And then we tried to form
another band with Clive Burr called Escape first of all. And then it became
CT: There was another band
TT: Yeah there was another band going around called Escape. So we changed the
name to Stratus and then we did an album with Stratus (Throwing
Int: You completed the album under Escape?
CT: No by the time we got to do the album this other band because they had the
name Escape they were threatening to take out and injunction.
TT: 'Unction [back to the Junction joke]
CT: An Injunction on us to prevent us using the word Escape.
Int: xxxx said to me he thought Dave Potts had a master for an album for Escape
which has never been released.
CT: Errrm. What would that be? Oh er. Things like "Top Of The Mountain". Yeah
there is another.
Int: "The Horn"?
CT: "The Horn" is taken from it yes
Int: He says to me, to talk with you about the possibility of a release the
TT: No it was never a finished master. They were demos. Very good demos.
CT: I don't know if we have the 24 track of those have we?
TT: No that was Breeck[?] Street wasn't it?
CT: Mmm. See in truth to do that it would be best to
Int: It's up to you. If you don't want to we will forget that.
TT: If there was big demand for it. He has got the tape hasn't he? If he was to
play tracks on the radio and you know the fans liked it. If it was worth doing
anything with it. If it was a good response then maybe yeah
CT: Or a few of them. Maybe you could pick a few for an EP or something.
Int: It is possible for us to Re-mix?
CT: Exactly yeah. Who sang that? It was Bernie [Shaw] wasn't it?
TT: Yeah. So really it was only from the Japanese involvement doing the ten year
anniversary of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal that we got back together
again. And by this time other members had disappeared and weren't doing anything
else and that's when we decided to get in contact with Dennis Stratton. Well in
fact it was Paul Dianno that called me up and said he wanted to get his band who
was it? Battlezone at the time?
Int: He was in Killers or about to start Killers. And now it is 5 years ago
TT: Five Years ago yeah
CT: It's incredible
Int: (Something about NWOBHM) Did you know Dennis Stratton?
TT: Oh Yes we knew Dennis Stratton from the early days when we were on the Metal
for Muthas tour. And we knew all of Iron Maiden then I had not seen Dennis for
such a long time until we got back together to do this thing with Praying
CT: I mean at that point we must have played with Iron Maiden something like 100
times between the Metal for Muthas tour and .. I mean good a good Iron
Maiden/Praying Mantis combination must have had a 100 shows.
TT: But the sad thing is we could have been there with Iron Maiden and Def
Leppard up where they are today but for the management problems we had where we
could not work because we got involved in the legal wrangle that took about 18
months to solve and by then the name had gone cold
CT: There were many shows on the Metal for Muthas tour where we actually went
down slightly better on the night. People used to say the sound was so much
nicer and tighter than the Iron Maiden sound. And half way through the tour they
actually tried to steal our crew, our mixing engineer, so that they could try to
get the same sort of sound. They were trying to say no you give us your sound
Engineer and you can have our one. And there were many sorts of fights at first.
Int: But you did not give them your crew?
CT: Yes. They offered him too much money. They said "How much are you on now"
"£250 a week" " OK we'll make it £500 a week" you know money buys everything and
Yes he went. They said to him "will you be our sound engineer?" He said no. They
said "£500 a week". He said "Yes"
TT: But with all due respect. Rod Smallwood was a very good manager. He got the
band where they are today. It's great. I still see Dave, Dave Murray. He lives
round the corner from me now and we go out drinking a lot together thinking
about the old times. But Dave is the same he was 15 years ago. He has not
changed he is really down to earth, a lovely bloke
[The interviewer seems to have been a pre-Bruce Dickenson Iron Maiden fan and
when he saw Stratton and Dianno were playing with Mantis he was very pleased and
just had to go. He wished at the time Praying Mantis would go together one more
time. He was also wondering if it was allowed that they did so many Iron Maiden
songs on that tour.]
TT: The reason we did the Iron Maiden songs was because Paul and Dennis were in
the Band. So we did like half Iron Maiden half Praying Mantis. That was the
whole idea was to commemorate that period of NWOBHM. And erm that was the idea
behind that and it was such a success that erm the demand from the fans and then
Pony Canyon picked us up and said why don't you do a studio album and so we did
Predator In Disguise. But it was like thrown at us out of the blue.
CT: Yeah I think It was because literally Dennis had now joined Praying Mantis
Predator In Disguise
was very experimental. It was trying to accommodate some of Dennis's songs or
background into our style. So it was like a hybrid arrangement of songs.
Int: So is that the Hybrid? Your influence and Dennis's influence is in the same
CT: Yes erm. I wouldn't say it was antagonistic. But like I said, because there
was all these parties coming together. It was really the first time we had
worked with Bruce as well as a band you know, as opposed to just playing Iron
Maiden songs and old Praying Mantis songs. Predator In
was this new arrangement of trying to get Dennis and Bruce working in the same
sort of way as Tino and myself had worked for years.
Int: You say it was not Antagonistic?
CT: I think it had a few problems a few settling problems. I think it was
evident in some of the production of Predator In Disguise
though. I think it is a shame in some ways as I think a lot of the strongs in
Predator In Disguise
are strong and they didn't quite come across in the production. It's a learning
technique. It's was just trying to find the balance. That was it. It was just
tying to find the happy medium.
Int: "Can't See The Angles" is my favourite.
CT: But then again that was Tino and myself really. A typical sort of Troy
brothers song I think.
Int: It was ten years but the Troy brothers were still there and he could find
it right away.
TT: Of course in fact if Praying Mantis ever finished we were thinking of
forming a band call "Troy and Troy again" [A play on phrase "try and try again"
if you English is weak. Not that it can be any worse than mine]
Int: So when you came to Japan the first time as Praying Mantis and played Live
that was the also the first song you played live.
TT: Yeah I think so it was wasn't it
CT: On the Predator tour Yes
Int: It was the Instrumental that was the first song but that was the first
CT: Yeah right
Int: Because of his business interest he was always going to observe the show
but because of that tune he could not stop dancing. He was really enthusiastic.
Dennis was trying to pull people on stage.
TT: That was the last tour that we did wasn't it? No it was both of them. Next
time I said to Dennis "Next time you pull the audience up on stage., turn your
guitar down". Because every time he was pulling them up it was going Kerrrdang.
Ha ha ha ha
CT: The other thing there is always a crush down the front and I could see one
poor girl she was crushed against the barrier and he was trying to pull her. I
expected to see I the body, half the torso, being dragged upwards.
TT: It has become very liberated in Japan because the audience always used to
have to sit down didn't they?
CT: That would be boring wouldn't it
Int: 15 years ago they weren't even allowed to stand.
TT: Boring isn't it?
Int: Somebody died so the security had to be air tight.
CT: And 20 years ago they had to lay down to … Ha ha ha
Int: A real Progressive band like "Yes" they had to sit because people at the
back just wanted to enjoy the sound, they could relax and lay back. In the
audience at a Yes concert when he stood up and the audience got so mad at him.
When you first came to Japan you had a great response from the fans the
TT: A most wonderful response we have ever had. We just could not believe it. We
could not have wished for anything better it was brilliant.
CT: Tokyo is by far the best. The other territories are quite nice but Tokyo
always seems to come totally alive. There is an additional spark in Tokyo.
Int: When your first album was released on CD in January. Most of the people
that came to his shop just wanted your album
TT: That's incredible
Int: All 700 people wanted a copy. They sold almost 20,000 copies
CT: Of the CD?
TT: Time Tells No Lies?
CT: That's incredible
TT: Your joking! Really
CT: I didn't know there was that many printed. I thought there was only a few
TT: Where's the money then? Ha ha ha
CT: That's astounding
TT: That's amazing. Have another beer then. I'll buy you one
CT: That's good news isn't it?
TT: Nobody ever writes and tell us this. Your very secretive!
Int: Your third album had a new vocalist.
Int: Why did you have to have him instead of the other one?
TT: Instead of Paul Dianno? On “/mantis/disco/predator/”>Predator In Disguise
there was erm Dennis and Chris doing the vocals but we always felt that we
needed someone else to give the band Identity. Something that was immediate when
you hear the band on the radio. A lot of people say they can recognise the
Mantis sound straight away by the music.
CT: But not the vocals Yes.
TT: We felt we needed a front man in. Especially when we on stage to take the
pressures of us as players as well. As we like to fool around a bit and get away
from the Microphones. So we got this guy involved Colin [Peel] an old friend of
Bruce's. And the guy was willing to do it. He has a great voice and is a good
song writer. But unfortunately this thing happened. He was torn between two
careers. He was into drama and acting as well as music he has a voice for it,
but he got offered this part. He went to this audition for this part in Hair and
actually got the gig so left us.
CT: Because it was remade, you know, two years ago it was remade on the stage in
the old Vic. But it only ran I think for 2 ½ -3 months. You know the producers
were expecting the same sort of crowds to come back again and see the new one
but it didn't happen so the crowds were very low and I think within 3 or 4
months it folded. It closed down but erm like I said he, really initially Colin
was more an actor as opposed to a singer. In fact he actually stared in a film
before joining Praying Mantis group called "Buddy's Song" with Roger Daltery. It
did OK. Who was the singer?
TT: Chesney Hawks
CT: You know "I am the one and only".
Int: But you got along with him while you was recording?
TT: Oh yeah. I still speak to Colin now I see him quite often because he lives
very close by
CT: Across the street. Tino says hello. And Colin goes in the other direction.
Ha ha ha.
Int: So what concept did you have on the third album that Rodney Matthews did
not really agree with?
TT: Well basically erm, It is best to read the actual album sleeve and then you
will get the whole concept of it. Because there is like a little story on the
back of the Japanese version. It's about man, he's like expended the planet,
basically and they need to find somewhere else to live with the same
characteristics of the Planet Earth. So they send this little man off on a space
ship. He is a very lonely man he does not have any family or anything so he does
not mind going. So he goes of on this space ship and he is put in this state of
suspended animation. He doesn't know how long for. He might be asleep for 5
minutes or he might be asleep for many, many millions of years. But the idea is
to find another Planet with the same character of the Planet Earth in another
galaxy. And to bring it's location back home with him and then man can move to
another planet and Destroy that! So what happens is the Space ships computer is
programmed to come back in the year 999,999. And he comes back to find a very
darkened planet and the sun has burnt out and Man is no more basically. And
you'll basically find that information on the sleeve notes [But not on the UK
version]. What Rodney Matthews's gripe was is that he does not believe that man
will go on that long and that Armageddon is close
Int: He should go to Japan.
TT: Yeah that's right. Arma gidding out of here! So basically he did not want to
do that album cover on those beliefs. So he said he you put a note on the bottom
saying it is just fiction then I will do it. I said "well no Rodney I can't say
that because this is What I believe". I believe there are other existence's out
there other than our own.
Int: After that you then did a mini album with former songs? [“/mantis/disco/onlythec/”>Only
The Children Cry]
CT: I think it was with Jet on that naff single with the best single cover in
the world! Erm "Turn The Tables" was always a favourite of ours and a lot of the
crowds that we thought had never been given a proper sort of airing. So we
decided to record it for the EP (Only
The Children Cry).
Int: When was it made?
TT: When was it Written? About 82. "Turn The Tables" is an older song that we
never had out on. Did we have it out on record?
Int: It was released as a single?
CT: Yes only in England. It was incredible badly packaged. To this day we look
at the Turn The Tables
single sleeve and we laugh. It's the worst single sleeve I have ever seen.
TT: It's the 5 of us like against this fence, this wall. And they cut round our
heads and everything like that.
CT: If you can imagine a garage door when the photographer took it. So the
record company said I don't like the Garage door. So someone got a pair of
scissors and cut round it. Some of the heads were almost like straight across
like half their heads were missing.
TT: It would have been better to cut us out and leave the garage door!
CT: The just plonked it on this white background and it just looked like a bunch
of cretins on this blue covers. It's the worst
TT: And then there is the horrible logo going across the top.
TT: It was the single sleeve from hell.
CT: No expense was spared on that cover!
TT: But the main reason behind this EP single [Only The
Children Cry] was to introduce this new vocalist.
CT: Ha ha ha Which we have not got anymore yeah!
TT: Which we have not got anymore. Yes! A guy called Mark Thompson-Smith. After
Colin Peel decided to do the drop on us. We thought, this was like Colin decided
to do Hair two weeks prior to do a promotion tour in Japan and erm all this came
all of a sudden and then the Promoter got wind of this and said Mantis can't
come now. And we were adamant that we should go to explain to the fans what has
happened. So we came over to Japan and explained that we were working with this
guy Mark Thompson-Smith and give us another chance. And then we came to Japan to
do the tour with Mark and what happened then? It did not work with Mark
CT: We don't like men that dress up in woman's clothes or Drink tea in effect.
Ha ha ha. No we thought Mark had a good voice and a good stage presence. But he
for some reason, he was not an integral member of Praying Mantis.
TT: He always made it clear that he did not want to be part of Praying Mantis.
He showed it on tour when we went out together after the show and he would be on
his own with Gary Flounders the keyboard player, who was just like a session man
at the time. And erm he never wanted to be part of the band at all.
CT: He has got his own way. His sense of music is different to ours really.
TT: He is more into the American thing and he wanted to write songs in a more
American style and we said no.
CT: To accommodate his requirements our style would have changed too much and it
would really have divorced us from our natural way of writing to accommodate his
style. And it just wasn't, we knew it would not work.
Int: And now you have Gary Barden as a new member of Praying Mantis
TT: After Mark we got in contact with Gary. Funnily enough Gary we almost used
on the “/mantis/disco/predator/”>Predator In Disguise
Album. But for some reason, we never heard the exact reason, we found it was not
going to be a good situation for us and Gary Barden in Japan at the time so we
left it. We respected everyone's opinions there and we left it. But more
recently we got Gary involved again and Gary hadn't been doing anything for a
long time he had just been playing with a few pub bands and stuff like that. And
he was so keen to do it so we, he said "Yeah I'm there I'm there I'm there" He
didn't even want Money, money for it. He was dead keen so for someone to be that
keen means so much from the word off basically. To have the heart for it in the
CT: He seemed a lot, certainly in the same style and he seemed to fit in really
right easily from the start.
TT: He loved all the songs we played him and he was there.
Int: When exactly was it? Right after Mark?
CT: It was right about the time of getting rid of Mark really. Wasn't it? When
we knew Mark's situation wasn't going to work. We investigated this to see if
Gary was available. Which he was. We then played him some of the ideas we had,
which like Tino said, he really liked and he started contributing and we liked
his ideas. I think particularly on the slow song "Another Time, Another Place"
he contributed a lot of the lyrical and some of the Melody ideas which we
thought were brilliant.
Int: So you've know him for quite a long time
TT: Oh Yeah we've know Gary a long time. In fact I have played with him in a
couple of bands doing pubs and that he has come up and had a jam with us and
Int: Like how long back?
TT: We've know him since he first joined Michael Schenker Group. MSG yeah
CT: It's a strange situation because after the demise from MSG, Gary hasn't done
a hell of a lot as far as music is concerned but while we were doing the album
about half way though it. One day there was a phone call at the studio. It was
Michael Schenker or his girlfriend/manageress and asked him if he was available
to do another album for Michael Schenker.
TT: This is after 8 years!
CT: A long time
TT: We're going "What's the matter with us? What luck are we having with singers
all of a sudden?" I don't think anybody want's us to have a singer.
CT: He just questioned with us were we serious about taking him in as a solid
member. This literally as we were doing …. [The tape ran out]
TT: You should interview him he knows more about us than we do!
Int: Is this new album also a concept album?
TT: Not really we would like to have made it a concept again. Really, you run
out of ideas. Well I ran out of ideas. And I couldn't really further the other
situation not without sort of waiting another couple of years and seeing what
comes up. I am not saying that is the end of that sort of conceptual thing.
CT: I think the themes are always the same. You don't necessarily have to go
down the same track otherwise it does get tedious but. The theme on this is very
much like “/mantis/disco/predator/”>Predator In Disguise
and Time Tells No Lies, you know the two hands. You
know if we effectively go with the like good and the bad hand like I was
describing earlier. Effectively "The Power Of Ten" we are talking about the 10
fingers of the two hands where man has made so much. Has made all the
advancements he has made everything occur and yet it is the same hands that can
cause total destruction. You know all the time we are on this very, very fine
balance. I think Tino and myself very much believe we are all time going so
quickly towards that fine balance. And now it's almost beginning to tip on the
other side. And I think our album concepts are very much tuned around that
because that is our natural way of thinking.
Int: OK you just mentioned the fine balance is tipped over to the evil side.
Does that mean you will be writing about the bad side or the evil side of the
situation as far as human beings?
Int: Sorry, the heavy metal these days they tend to incline to the more evil
side. You might just have these apprehension that you might be bound over to
that kind of category?
TT: I don't think so. I can appreciate it from some of the lines in the songs
but like it does not come across blatantly like that. For instance "Don't Be
Afraid Of The Dark" which is like don't be afraid of death because there are
other places to get into. It's not the be all end all of everything. "Ball of
Confusion" is another interesting one because as you probably know it is a cover
by the Temptations. A very old cover an old Motown thing and I have always loved
the song. I thought it was a great song. So we thought why not rock it up. I
mean "Ball Of Confusion is about Planet Earth. And its a big mass ball with
everything going on. And just one day its going to explode. There is just too
much going on. So a lot of the titles on the album still pertain to that sort of
thing. About the destruction of the planet and the state of the Planet. It still
ties in with the last album and “/mantis/disco/predator/”>Predator In Disguise
to a certain degree.
Int: What do you mean Don't be afraid of Death/Dark in music. You mean after
TT: Well Chris will explain he wrote the lyrics.
TT: Like the lines "Don't bite the hand that feeds you"
Int: [Did some translating then] The Swedish Heavy Metal. Where they kill each
TT: What's this?
Int: Death metal and Doom metal
CT: Yeah but that seems to be like encouraging it. That type of metal is like
trying to bring it on. Welcoming the destruction. I think when we talk about it
is as a warning. We saying were on this path lets try to avoid it. I mean
effectively there is too much momentum too much inertia in the way we are
heading. And erm what we do now will be reflected in what happens to the planet
in 30 years time. And if you don't change it now, like I said we fear for the
Int: [The interviewer explained Death Metal to the translator] Sorry I did not
really know that was happening in Sweden.
CT: Mmm I wasn't really aware of it. No like I said I find it tedious they way
some of these bands go too much over the top. It's too obvious or too
apocalyptic you know in everything that they do. No, ours is just a gentle
reminder as opposed to a blatant hit them on the head and make them bleed.
TT: I think a lot of it is depicted by the music itself. You know if it is like
hard and thrashy and stuff like that and it sounds like doom metal. The music
reflects that anyway. Chris is a great lyric writer because without saying it
blatantly it's there and it's got all hidden meanings you can read into it a lot
further than is actually there on paper. And because of the melodies of the
actual songs themselves I mean sweet is not the word I am looking for but I
can't think of anything else.
TT: Yes and the music is like more melodic and doesn't sway anyone's mind to
think that way but that is not to say that there are lyrics in there that tell
you that whole thing as well. It's very are cleverly disguised. But the next
album is going to be called … I had a title in my head 2 seconds ago. "We are
all doomed" How's that? Not really.
CT: I mean as the same question are the Japanese people quite interested the
sort of planet, where it is going. I mean do they care about the destruction? Do
they care about it or do they tend to ignore it?
Int: Nobody's really thinking about the doomsday is coming.
[ I think there was mention of the Terrorists gassing people in Japan which had
just occurred ]
Int: All of those Heavy Metal bands themselves are tending to play that role
themselves as a disruptive spokesperson. And that is why all those people that
don't like Heavy metal to begin with might just think you are one of them.
TT: That is why I have always felt we got into the wrong category even at the
start with NWOBHM. I mean Heavy Metal. I always said Heavy Metal in those days
was Black Sabbath and erm
CT: Even Iron Maiden to a degree
TT: No, no. Yeah Iron Maiden were more like into that mould.
CT: We don't really fall into that classification of Heavy Metal it's not
Int: Just because they don't know it
CT: Yeah I mean, effectively you can't invent a new category and the band falls
outside it, so you fit it into the closest one. And well unfortunately well
maybe fortunately in that instance heavy metal was the closest one and we were
thrown into that category. But I think a lot of people when they came to see us
with Iron Maiden were surprised. It wasn't the sort of thrash bang heavy metal
and it was a lot sort of softer and a lot more sort of meaningful. And I think
people were surprised. Sometimes if it was the real dude Heavy Metal die hards
they would not like it. But the majority of people on the tours really liked it.
Because it was the type of music that appealed to the greater majority of people
as opposed to a very confined aspect.
Int: Will you please give this tour fans some comments on the album
CT: The cover or the actual album?
Int: No, no the sound.
CT: Do you want to comment on that?
TT: Well it's, the production is so much stronger. The songs are stronger erm
There is a little bit more commercialism about the songs but that is because we
want to branch out to more territories as well. But I still think there is the
essential Mantis flavour within the actual album sound. So I don't think we have
lost that. I don't think we ever will lose that. It will always be there. But
two or three of the songs are a little bit more commercial than any other Mantis
album's have ever been. What do you say to that?
CT: No I agree I don't see this a being particularly divorced from A Cry For The New World. I think at least 60% of it is very similar in
certain instances of it. I think the are a few aspects that are slightly more
experimental. But I think the flavour is essentially the flavour that we have
carried through in the past. And continue to do so.
TT: And we hope everyone enjoys it.
Int: Do you have any plan to have more sort of Greek Instrumental involved in
TT: We have always spoken about it actually or shall we say talked about it.
Shall we bring a little bit of this in, in fact
CT: One we almost started working on
TT: Almost one of the tracks on the album had a Spanish like Flamenco type feel
but on Bass guitar. Chris was playing it on Bass.
CT: It's beginning to come out now.
Int: Which one?
TT: It's not on this album. We never finished it but it's a good idea on the
[It is eventually appeared in "The Day Sun Cold Years" on "Forever in
Time" but was played on Guitar]
CT: It's a sort of techno Rock with Spanish stroke
Int: With Bass not guitars?
CT: Yes Sort of Spanish/Greek Techno Rock which is a really, really weird
aspect. Experimental but on the next album we will definitely have it an Epic 15
minutes long or something. Ha, ha.
TT: No Seriously. He's not taking seriously any more. Is he?
CT: Maybe not 15 minutes long. 14 and ½! Ha, ha, ha.
TT: Bonus track Good bonus.
CT: I think we have been renowned for quite long songs in the past so why break
Int: Is there an interesting band or music that you like to listen to?
CT: I personally did like the last the first Lionheart album.
TT: Me I don't have time to listen to music anymore. I am too busy writing it.
No I like erm at first I didn't like it, the new Van Halen album. But now I
really like it.
CT: But that's incredibly experimental though isn't it?
CT: I also like, although it did not do very well, Extreme "Every story has 3
sides". I quite like that because there was a lot of experimental stuff
Int: A Messages to the Japanese fans?
TT: We Love you all. What more can we say? The Japanese fans have been so great
to us since 1990 well since 1980 when the first album was released. We'd like to
say a big thank you. Carry on following the band and we will carry on coming
over to Japan.
CT: Likewise. I have said it so many times before. 5 years ago, although Time Tells No Lies was released in 1980/81 it was only 5 years ago that we
went first of all to Japan to this day the very first time to Japan was one of
the best times of my life and each time we go over there the Japanese people
make it an incredible memorable experience. And you can't, you can't find words
to describe that. I think they are beautiful people and I will thank them for
the rest of my life for that experience.
Int: So we when you come over to do a Promotional tour you will be delighted to
come over to his shop?
CT: Yes would love to.
Int: And maybe you could play a small set [Or was she referring to the epic? ]
for 15 minutes
TT: Yeah we'd have to learn it.
CT: I'll add two strings to the old one.
Int: So this is supposed to be a Praying Mantis?
CT: Yes. Funnily enough in Japan it is quite a respected insect. Is it not? The
Int: They just consider them as insects like Roaches
CT: They don't keep them as pets? No I thought that things like the Lotus and
things like that. I thought that I read somewhere that some of the actions I
don't know what they call it you know when they do the various dances revolved
around the Praying Mantis actions. Maybe I am wrong. I thought it was.
Int: You mean like Ti Ci [Spelling?] The Praying Mantis in Chinese is totally
different and is a Martial Art. But like Tets was saying when a lot of the
Japanese people hear Praying Mantis they just think of the female Praying Mantis
eating up the Male.
TT: That's what the song "Flirting with suicide" is on the first album Time Tells No Lies
is about. It's about a male Mantis that goes and gets gobbled up by a female.
CT: It's much smaller the male. Its a third of the size of the female. God knows
how she feels him. But that's why after the sex act normally what happens is
that the male tries to escape and she will chase him and bite the head of and
eat him. Literally just eat the body
TT: He came and went at the same time!
[And that is the end.]