Interview: PRAYING MANTIS
In Spanish HERE.
Chris Troy from PRAYING MANTIS speaks with us about their new album “Sanctuary”, some secrets from the past and of course, the future plans. Don’t you miss this great band!
M.D.: First of all, congratulations for your new album
“Sanctuary”. The band hasn’t loose its own sound, but has become stronger comparing to the previous albums. What happened in the band for this change to happen?
Chris: Firstly thank you very much…why has this happened?
We just think everything slotted together on this album. There was some very hard work that went into it but more importantly it was an iterative process with the record company Frontiers where everyone agreed which songs would be strong enough to go on the album. In the end this process worked brilliantly and I think it certainly shows. Most fans believe this to be our best ever product.
M.D.: We have no news about what happened with the Tony O’Hora. Can you tell us why did he leave the band? What does the new singer Mike Freeland have that Tony didn’t?
Chris: Tony had his fingers in a few pies and I think we believed that he would never be a permanent member; you tend to have a second vision of that. Mike is so different as he is so into this heart and soul. He is amazingly dedicated to the whole songwriting/recording processes and the general furtherance of the band. I don’t think we could ask any more from him.
M.D.: Looking backwards… your album “Time Tell No
Lies” is one of the NWOBHM jewels, but during the 80s the band didn’t have a continuation. What happened? Didn’t you have support enough? Didn’t you hav a label?
Chris: One can look back and wonder why things happened or
why they didn’t…we spend our lives doing that. It was a series of very bad decisions we made which included getting crap management that basically propelled us in the wrong direction. Initially we shared the same management
with Iron maiden and it looked as though we were going in the same direction as them. Most shows we did with Maiden we went down as well as them if not better.
But then things changed with the management and the rest is history. Our drummer at the time Dave Potts was actually headhunted by Maiden on the tour but Dave declined because he thought that Praying Mantis were the better band and had more chance of success. How wrong we all were …but hey that’s life!!
M.D.: I have to confess I’m a fan of the band, but in Spain
Praying Mantis have never been much known, it’s like a cult band just for a few fans. Did you ever play in our country? Have you had recently any offer to play
Chris: We know this and would certainly like to turn that
round, after all our mother is Spanish !!!!…we are currently in negotiation to do some shows there and we are sure we will soon be there.
M.D.: It is a good time now for the Hard Rock and Heavy
Metal music and there is a lot of activity in the scene. For me “Forever in Time”, “Nowhere to hide” and “The Journey Goes On” are awesome albums. Have your popularity grown due to them?
Chris: Again thank you for your great comments on our albums. And yes we agree that suddenly there is a real positive movement in the rock and metal scenes which is exciting. For the albums you mention, they certainly made some impact, however in the short space of time that Sanctuary has been released, it has already surpassed what those albums achieved. We as a band have been proactive in getting the album the exposure we feel it deserves.
M.D.: Why is not very usual watching you play at the biggest European summer festivals? Which one would you like to play at?
Chris: All of them!!!… We love playing the festivals and most fans believe that the music we do really fits the large venues and stages.
I think half the problem has been us not chasing these and hence many people thought we are just a recording band. I believe 2010 will see us play many more festivals and indeed some touring too.
M.D.: Are you satisfied with the answers of fans and media about “Sanctuary”? It seems that due to Frontiers Records you are having a good distribution. What do you think about the role of Frontiers these latest years?
Chris: We could not have asked for more from the fans and
media. The response has been brilliant and the reviews are the best we have ever achieved and that includes the “Time tells no lies” album. We have included just a few of these reviews on our web site and myspace pages and there are still many more coming in.
Frontiers are a good label and there is no doubt they are fully behind us. They had pushed us to get this album out and then were quite influential on the choice of the songs on the album, so I think we owe them a big thanks.
M.D.: And the idea for the album cover, how did it come and what’s the meaning?
Chris: We had a lot of trouble coming up with the right album cover….many people wanted us to go down the normal Rodney Matthews route with the classical iconic Mantis. We on the other hand wanted a slightly fresh approach, as the music seemed to have taken a slightly different angle.
The artist we used already had available quite a lot of concepts that were drawn up. I remember during one recording session, Tino had his PC switched on at this artist’s website and there it was on full display, the decaying Liberty head with its imposing and haunting aura. We both looked at one another with the look that said, “that’s it “. It’s without doubt my favourite album cover and really befits some of the lyrics on the album.
M.D.: Personally, my favourite song is the ballad
“Lonely Way Home”. Which one is your favourite and why?
Chris: Hah…it is actually called “Turn The Tide”.
Initially it was called Turn The Tide then Tino though it sounded a bit like an American washing up powder “Tide” and we changed the name to Lonely Way Home.
This process was quite late in the day, and some of the media and press clips missed that we had changed the song name back to “Turn The Tide”… but this is actually this songs name. What I really like about this album is that I DON’T have a favourite. This changes each time for me and at present, I like “Tears In The Rain”. Mainly because at one point we though the song would
not be strong enough to contend with the other songs on the album. But by the end of the recording it had really come through the ranks and that was really positive outcome.
M.D.: Which countries do you have more acceptation in? Do you usually play in UK or do you spend your time writing and recording more than playing?
Chris: UK is our base but we don’t really have our musical roots there. It is a pretty strange country for music!!… Japan has always
been by far our strongest territory and they have followed the band for around 30 years.
M.D.: Dennis Stratton is no more working with you but for
me, he had a lot of weight in the band. Why isn’t he there anymore?
Chris: Dennis is great guy and we still get on with him, it’s not as though we ever really fell out with one another. A few years ago we
had a very quiet spell and it during this time we sort of went our separate ways in musical terms. Then some shows came up for Mantis which were important to do, and we offered Dennis the opportunity to play with us but he seemed to get cold feet. Don’t really know why and probably never will, but I think he may have later regretted that decision.
M.D.: I would love to watch you playing in Madrid, Barcelona and Bilbao, the usual places to play in Spanish tours. Is there any possibility for you to come, even supporting any other band, or maybe in any festival done
in our country?
Chris: There is a very good possibility of that in the near
future, so watch this space!!
M.D.: Which bands have been your influences in the past and which kind of music do you listen to nowadays?
Chris: The original influences for Tino and myself were Wishbone Ash, Thin Lizzy and Deep Purple/Rainbow. Believe it or not also Status Quo!!… Still listen to those bands occasionally, as sort of nostalgia and now Journey and TOTO are still very much up there for their great musicianship and songs.
M.D.: Beyond this all, I’d like to know your personal
opinion about Michael Jackson’s death. Could you tell us some words about this?
Chris: I am still not certain of his death. I am incredibly sceptical of most things and I didn’t ever believe that he would come to the UK to do those many shows!!… His poor body couldn’t have withstood that pounding as he was already pretty sick and it was the drugs that made him look as though he could pull it off. It may be the biggest conspiracy theory ever, next to man not ever having landed on the moon!!!… He probably had a little more plastic surgery and will disappear from his family, friends forever. I may not be right
but can you categorically say that this theory is wrong???
Believe it or not Michael Jackson and I were born on exactly the same day 29th August 1958!!… so we sort of grew up together and there is no doubt he was/is an incredible talent. If I can ever contribute an ounce of what he did then I could sit back and feel incredible achievement.
M.D.: Which are your future plans for 2010?
Chris: 2010 will be the year that Mantis will really become
something. It threatened to do in the early 80’s. I think we have this feeling that the recipe for the band and the music is the best it has ever been and we need to show the world that.
M.D.: If you want to tell anything else, a message, to our
readers this is your chance.
Chris: With our Spanish blood inside us, surely the Spanish
should support us and make us as big as Maiden… lets see how faithful they can be!!
M.D.: Thanks for your time and good luck in all your
Chris: Thank you so much.
Interview by: Wacky.