Interview in London 16 May 1995 with Tino and Chris Troy
Last Modified On 21 Mar 2009
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 to be.
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 Japan.
[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 explain it.
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 first place.
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 then
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 EP.
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 Egypt!
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 the band
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 playing.
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 members?
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 word.
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 and everything
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 Grave".
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 stage
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 it.
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
TT & 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 covers.
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 New World 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 same.
[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 No Lies.
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 Stratus.
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 Shapes).
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 album.
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 Mantis.
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 songs?
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 Disguise 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 "song".
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 audience.
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 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? [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 basically.
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 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 first place.
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 sang songs.
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 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 Predator In Disguise to a certain degree.
Int: What do you mean Don't be afraid of Death/Dark in music. You mean after life
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 other?
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 worst.
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 you.
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 next album.
[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 tradition.
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 Praying Mantis?
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.]