Metalzone: Hello and welcome to Metalzone. You have a new album entitled “Sanctuary”, so tell us a few things about it. Is there any kind of concept behind the title?
Tino Troy: It happens to be the title track of the album and the song depicts freedom from something, that’s why the amazing cover art features a sad looking ‘Statue of Liberty’ She also needs her own Liberty, hence the decaying face. The full explanation of the song itself is the story of bunch of young kids based in Wales who got involved in this internet pact whereby for some reason unknown, they all ended up taking their own lives…… very sad dark dtuff but it wouldn’t be a Mantis song if it were a happy one… Ha-ha!
Metalzone: You have a new line-up with Mike Freeland behind the mic. Would you like to introduce him to us?
Tino Troy: His first big influences were The Moody Blues, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin. Vocal influences focussed a lot around Ronnie James Dio and Bruce Dickinson.
Mike Spent the 80’s playing in a few rock bands with Axon IV, recording songs with Colosseum drummer Jon Hiseman as producer, a short spell with Brian Connolly’s Sweet, a couple of years in the mid 90’s playing rhythm guitar and lead vocals in the Back Alley Blues Band before joining Kenny Cox’s More in 1999. In 2006 I heard some songs he recorded with a band Called Dangerous Breed and produced by Chris Tsangarides. I first met him when playing in the covers band ‘The Wandering Crutchlee’s’ and he was in the supporting act called ‘The Sweet Shop Boys’ I remember then (around 1988/89) what a great voice he had. It was only in 2004 that we approached him after his involvement with ‘Dangerous Breed’ & Chris Tsangarides that we asked if he would be interested in singing on some of the new material. His voice blended perfectly with what we were doing and the rest is history.
Metalzone: What should fans expect from your new release (“Sanctuary”) comparing to your last one(“The Journeys goes on”)?Are there any major changes to your music or sound ,now that Stratton, after so many years, is no longer part of the band?
Tino Troy: Well … it has to be noted that apart from Mike we have 2 other new members Andy Burgess on Guitar & Benjy Reid on drums. The production is more up to date with today’s musical acceptance but the songs are essentially the ‘Mantis sound’ – epic tunes, great hooks and melodies while Benjy invokes much more swing into the rhythm.
Metalzone: After the departure of Dennis Stratton, you kept performing live with one guitar. How did you come up with such a decision, taking under consideration that many riffs are written for two guitars and what has changed now, that you have again two guitarists? Will you still use keys at gigs?
Tino Troy: Many of the riffs in our recordings would need 100 guitarists to make them sound the way they do on our productions Ha-Ha! After the departure of Dennis we only did a few gigs, two of those being in Greece and because of tight budgets we could not justify getting another guitarist involved. It was only when we decided to record Sanctuary that we got Andy in the picture. Both he and Benjy play with Chris and me in covers band you may heard of through the website link ‘Paddy Goes To Holyhead’. It made perfect sense for us to import this line-up to ‘Praying Mantis’.
Andy’s & my style of playing are so similar (and we share the same guitar hero thing) that it was such an obvious and natural decision to make him part of Mantis. We now have great belief in this line-up and the new guys are bursting with enthusiasm. There’s a real positive vibe around us.
Metalzone: Praying Mantis is referred as a NWOBHM band, but your sound is completely different from this particular scene. Can you share your influences with us, back, at that time.
Tino Troy: We were mainly into melodic stuff but with a harder edge. Early influences were twin lead guitar bands like ‘Thin Lizzy ‘ & ‘Wishbone Ash’ the latter inspiring us in the vocal harmony department.
Metalzone: How would you describe your music, what “label” would you use?
Tino Troy: I would put us in the Classic/Melodic Rock category.
Metalzone: The band has been the “shelter” for almost all previous Iron Maiden members. Is this made on purpose or you share some kind of friendship with them?
Tino Troy: It just happened to be the 10th anniversary of the NWOBHM when I got a call from Paul DiAnno asking if we would be interested in forming a Maiden/Mantis hybrid band to commemorate the occasion in Japan. This band featured Paul, Dennis, Bruce Bisland on Drums and the Troy boys. The shows were recorded and came out as ‘Live at Last’. We then secured a record deal in Japan and continued with Dennis while Paul formed ‘Killers’ (I think). I used to see Dave Murray quite often when we lived close to one another but we’ve not been in contact for sometime now.
Metalzone: “A Cry For The New World” is one of my top ten releases ever. This question is for your back then singer Colin Peel, whose traces disappear after this release. It is said that he was mostly into pop singing. Can you tell us more about the story behind this cooperation and departure?
Tino Troy: Just after the release of ‘A Cry for the New World’ Colin got offered the lead part in the remake of the 70’s West end musical ‘Hair’, just as we were about to embark on a tour of Japan and no amount of persuasion could make him stay. ‘Hair’ never achieved it’s previous status and folded shortly afterwards. We haven’t heard anything from him since.
Metalzone: Three years ago, you visited Greece for the first time. Considering your “roots”, how was the feeling of playing in front of the Greek audience? Do you speak any Greek at all?
Tino Troy: It was fantastic to play to our Greek fans and we now look forward to doing more shows there. Δεν ξέρω πάρα πολύ γιατί ελληνική μητρική μας είναι ισπανικά και όταν η μητέρα μου και ο Πατέρας συναντήθηκε μιλούσαν στα αγγλικά. Ωστόσο, αν είμαι στην Κύπρο για διακοπές θα αρχίσει σύντομα να μάθουν την ελληνική γλώσσα από τα ξαδέρφια μου – rude πολλές λέξεις-Ha Ha! What have I said??
Metalzone: At that time, the mic was handled by a gifted vocalist by the name Damian Wilson. What was his role in the band? Was he a session musician or something happened during your cooperation?
Tino Troy: Well… we were trying him out in the band but he seemed to have many other projects on the go at the same time and because of our lack of work he could not commit himself. We played a show in London recently and he came to see us… He is now working with a band called ‘Threshold’
Metalzone: During your career you have changed more than 5 singers. Is there a “vocalist-curse”, or something else happens?
Tino Troy: Yes… Like ‘Spinal Tap’ we have the exploding singer instead of drummer… Ha-Ha! All the previous vocalists have had other commitments and it’s been difficult to get them to put all their faith in Mantis, we now have Mike imprisoned in a cage and only set him free when we gig Ha-Ha! To be honest Mike is so into the band that I think he will stay…. Please God ! This is one of the reasons we have taken so long to release this album, we wanted to be 100% sure that we would have a solid line-up.
Metalzone: Can you name two of your favorite songs from your new album?
Tino Troy: Ask me if there is a song that I don’t like and I will say it’s the one that didn’t make it on the album. To tell the truth there were 2 or 3 songs that didn’t make it and they were also strong contenders…. maybe next time around!
Metalzone: So, what are the next plans or steps if you will in order to promote “Sanctuary”?
Tino Troy: Sanctuary at the moment is receiving great press everywhere we look. It is such a great buzz for us. We are at present doing a great amount of PR to promote ’Sanctuary’ and are also trying to organize a few shows here and there with possibly a tour of some description….It would be fantastic if we could do some sort of 30th anniversary gig with “Iron Maiden’. That would bring back some memories!!
Mantis has been too long in the darkness, it is time to set her free!
Metalzone: Thank you very much for the interview and good luck with the new album.
Tino Troy: Efharisto poli – We would like to thank all our friends and fans in Greece and we hope to see you soon.
In the meantime you can check out our activity at:
Interview by John “L.O.V.E. Machine” Litinakis and Nicoleta Sarantou