Chris Troy Interview 1998

Chris Troy 1998

Here is a conversation I had with Chris Troy at Markus Studios, London. It
took place on 10 March 98 during the third and final week of mixing of the new
album “Forever In Time”. There are a lot of pretty obscure/random questions in
this one as I was trying to fill in the gaps in my knowledge and also asking
questions on someone else’s behalf.

JH: Do you ever hear from Dave Potts or Steve Carroll?

CT: Steve – Like I said earlier, I don’t know what happened to him. Dave
Potts – I’d like to know where he disappeared to. His wife – I don’t know if
told you but she does Eastenders (a UK Television Soap Opera). She
is one of the extras on Eastenders, you know the type you see in the background,
but she has done it for 10 or 11 years. Often I have wondered about ringing up
the programs and asking where’s Dave, but I don’t know if they are still

JH: And Steve Carroll we don’t know about. What about Bernie (Shaw)?

CT: Bernie – all the time. We’re very good friends. In fact we wanted him to
do some background vocals on this album but then (sorry someone else in the
room spoke too loud compared with Chris and I can’t make it out. It might be “we
need to come up with the same sort of facade
“) He’s a great bloke.

JH: When you did the 1987 reunion concert is it correct that you were
sharing the same building as Uriah Heep and Bernie was having to go between
floors to practice with you both?

CT: Mmm no. Which reunion was that?

JH: The 87 one where he had just joined Heep

CT: Right

JH: And you did the one off gig at the Marquee

CT: I think, well unless he told us a lie, I mean really at the end of the
day it was the final dregs for us really. We knew things weren’t going well for
us really and Bernie said he was going to join Uriah Heep (the last few words
are my best guess. I need to position my mics better if I record an interview in
a crowded room again
. 🙁 ) and good luck to him. It was good for him.

JH: So you might still have actually done Mantis again then?

CT: It’s possible, he loved being in the band but you know .. (lost it again)

JH: Do you think he might ever talk to me?

CT: Of course, Definitely. He is a very, very easy going chap. He is one of
the .. I mean he is a lovely, lovely person. I really like Bernie.

JH: Yeah, It sounds from someone I was speaking to in Germany that he has
a soft spot for Mantis.

CT: Oh Yeah. Definitely. He would do anything for us.

JH: Have you ever played gigs in Germany? You have recorded there.

CT: We have never done a gig in Germany. We have recorded twice there.

JH: Stratus and the second album that was never released?

CT: Yes

JH: Did you actually record “No Mercy” and “Heartache” with Tom Jackson
on vocals?

CT: Yes

JH: So they are sitting around in Tino’s cassette tapes somewhere?

CT: Probably.

JH: Oh and why did he leave?

CT: Tom Jackson?

JH: Yes. Another one that didn’t fit?

CT: Yes. A lot of people used to come up to us and say “he does not fit in
the band”. He’s not *****???Quick enough because of the Alcohol???. He just did
not seem to fit.

JH: On the “Predator in Disguise” tour why did Dougie White only appear
half way through the set?

CT: It was a number of reasons, it was similar to the first time we went over
to Japan. It was Paul Di’anno that was going to do the lead vocal and what we
would do was do a few of the original Praying Mantis songs and then Paul Di’anno
came on. We tried to sort of re-emulate that with Dougie. We did some of the
songs that we could sing and then Dougie came on half way through. I always
think it’s nice for an audience to see a bit of diversity as opposed to ‘Bang’
there’s the singer, there’s the drummer, there’s the bass player and guitarist
and that’s it. Just that little bit of change.

JH: Yeah I thought it was really good when you did “Lovers to the Grave”
on the last tour. You had rearranged that a lot and it was probably the best
track as well. It’s was great hearing you and Tino sing. It seems to grate with
a lot of people that Tino won’t sing any more.

CT: The most I could hear above the noise of Dennis and his son play pool,
Tino laughing and other conversations was a few quiet Yes’s from Chris

JH: How did you feel about the Di’anno/Praying Mantis tour? Where you
supposed to be Praying Mantis. Or Praying Mantis with Dennis Stratton and Paul

CT: I think that’s a very difficult one that one because no one really knew
what they wanted out of it. At the time it was a little bit of a power struggle
because we had never really played with Dennis or Paul before. I don’t think
there was any animosity at all.

JH: It really grates with me that nearly all your songs are at the front
of the set and then it is solid Maiden until the Encore.

CT: The thing is in fairness that because Maiden were so big over there we
had to make it like

JH: You couldn’t have mixed it?

CT: Not really because, like I said earlier, we did our set, we’d sing 5 or 6
songs whatever it was and then once Paul came on

JH: He did do a couple of your songs

CT: Yes I think he did.

JH: It was Visages “The Step” that was the intro music used for the 1982
Mantis tour and the 1983-4 Escape tour?

CT: It was Visage but I can’t remember the exact title.

JH: It was actually their music played and not anything you knocked

CT: No, no.

(I have since doubled checked the title with Tino and queried what they
were doing listening to Visage. And he quite rightly said they should not be
blinkered by types of music. But that in fact it had been a manager’s
suggestion. And it does in fact seem a good piece of intro music for the band

JH: Is “A Question of Time” an early version of “The Horn”?

CT: No

JH: Because I did not spot that it was “A Question of time” you were
playing as the first song after the Visage Intro. I just picked up on very
similar drum patterns.

CT: They are different songs. “A Question of time” was basically the theme
from Lawrence of Arabia, I don’t know if you have ever seen the film, mmm I have
forgotten it now but it’s actually a classic thing and what we did is take the
classical aspect of it and put double bass drums behind it. If you ever see the
Film “Lawrence of Arabia” listen to the music.

JH: With “Time Slipping away” why was it called “I know it” at Reading 82
and three days before it was “Time Slipping Away”? Could you not make up your
minds at the time

CT: Probably. I think it was as simple as that. I like “Time Slipping away”.
It sort of said it all. Sometimes you call a song by the most obvious one but I
think it just a case of that.

JH: Do you have any objections to me having Real Audio files on my site.
I have uploaded a track from each album to give people some idea what you are

CT: No

JH: You don’t mind that at all. And what about the new album?

CT: If it could be snippets.

JH: You prefer snippets as opposed to a whole song.

CT: Yes I mean just from the copyright aspect until it’s all sorted out.

JH: Why did the sound change so much when Bernie joined the band? It’s as
though you did not like “Time tells no Lies”. You had just done a really great

CT: Yeah, I don’t know actually.

JH: In a newsletter you were already saying how you had changed the sound

CT: Yes. To be honest it was not a conscious thing. It changed

JH: What made you get keyboards in?

CT: To be honest I am a keyboard fan. From the aspect I said before (I had
earlier queried why the keyboards were so up in the mix on the Captured live
album. Especially as they, to my ears, were too simple. Chris had not noticed
they were
) I found the guitar alone just a little bit raw and when I wrote a
lot of this album it was basically one keyboard. It was just a sequencer thing.
I just sort of played the parts. It was great because you can put the drums down
and the bass down altogether and instead of saying to someone “Oh come and
listen to this song” and play them an acoustic guitar you just press the play
button and you have almost got the finished thing there. I find with keyboards,
they just give another dimension. To me it has always been that aspect. Maybe I
remember them from the very first time I joined the band and we were supporting
this other band once and while we were doing our sound check the guitars were
sounding a little bit rough. And then the main band came on and – um – it was an
open air festival and this guy walked up to this keyboard and twisted a few
knobs and then put his hands down and there was the Gorgeous
sound. (Chris is talking very quietly but thankfully everyone has gone now).
I mean it was probably crap

JH: Yeah

CT: I remember this open air festival and this sound came from the speakers
and I thought “Isn’t it amazing!”

JH: So you prefer keyboard and guitars to guitars.

CT: I like them all basically but – um – I like the breadth that keyboards
give. I really do like the breadth. In simplistic terms I find guitar a little
bit two dimensional. Whereas the keyboards add a third dimension, they come out
of the speakers a bit more.

JH: I have to say I agree with you myself. Do you think as an
intellectual challenge “Can’t see the Angels” can be played without keyboards?

CT: Oh yeah. It could be. I think any song we do could be.

JH: I must admit that I was quite impressed that you did “Moment in Life”
and “Dream On” acoustically in Japan.

CT: Oh yeah I think that any song we have ever written can be sort of
manipulated into totally guitars and a guitar sound. In fact some of the songs
we have done here we have actually experimented with trying to take out. Like
one of them has a keyboard intro and we have actually tried taking it out
completely and just having guitars there and it seemed to worked out quite well.
So yes.

JH: In October of the year you were doing the second album you were
convinced the album was coming out that December

CT: Right

JH: And then it has never seen the light of day. What happened? What did
happen to the second album? Did it just disappear completely?

CT: Which second album?

JH: The one where you were going to do “Battle Royal, A Question of

CT: Yeah. I think it.

JH: (checking my notes) “Heartache”, “Raining in Kensington”,

CT: Yeah because we were with Jet at the time. When we did “Raining In
Kensington” and all of that.

JH: Oh was that when the money disappeared and they lost interest?

CT: Yeah. Because Jet were going through a bad financial time themselves
anyway. So the money was drying up.

JH: So did it get fully recorded?

CT: No. We had them recorded but there were a lot of big gaps. “Raining in
Kensington” was recorded. Have you heard it?

JH: Yeah I think it is a good song.

CT: Yeah I think it is a lovely song. It has never been properly recorded
you know it’s never been actually put on proper vinyl.

JH: Yeah it’s not an official release. It’s a shame that. Tets (from
Pony Canyon in Japan
) was asking you about putting them out. Did he ever get
on to you any more about that?

CT: No, because there is a little bit of this aspect as well. We’re thinking
we can’t always rest on the past. You know a bit like the “Time Tell No Lies”
thing. We need to move forward. I think with this album, although in some ways
we are trying to bring back some of the history. These is only a certain amount
of the history you can bring back. Now the melody I think will certainly be
there on the tracks. I think to try and capture something exactly that happened
20 years ago is impossible. You couldn’t ask the Beatles to do it.

JH: No. Do you not think the fans would be interested in a sort of cheap

CT: Of “Time”?

JH: No of the second album that was never sort of finished?

CT: It’s possible.

JH: I know I am you see.

CT: Yeah

JH: And a lot of people do like that era so do you think it would ruin
your current sales? Or is that what you would be scared of?

CT: No, the sales thing doesn’t really sort of scare me or anything like
that. But you know if there was any sort of interaction I don’t think it would
cause that. I am certainly not adverse to doing that if they really wanted us to
go down that line. I know Tets has been asking about the re-release of the
Stratus thing and – um -,

JH: Ah right yes, who would do that? Because Oliver Kleem (from High
Vaultage records in Germany
) is supposed to be doing that as well isn’t he?

CT: I think so yeah

JH: So would Tets take it off .. Presumably you would lease it to both
would you?

CT: I think Tets would just take it off Oliver and do it like he did “Time
Tells No Lies” because “Time Tells No Lies” was never well released on CD in
Japan so somehow they got hold of the original 24 track or 1/4 inch tape or what
ever it was and transferred it to CD.

JH: Do you have any extra large T-shirts or know where they can be got?

CT: Any tour?

JH: Yeah.

CT: I might have some. I will have a look.

JH: What sort of sales figures have you achieved? You were talking about
20,000 for “Time Tells No Lies”

CT: I think “A Cry For The New World” did around the 35,000 mark.

JH: World wide? Or just Japan.

CT: Japan was about 35,000

JH: I had heard about 2,000 for the UK. Would you believe that?

CT: It is very feasible yes. Like I said the market doesn’t really exist for
us over here now. It’s very probably nostalgic. You know we have to concentrate
on the market as the hand that feeds you.

JH: What would you like to achieve with Praying Mantis now?

CT: In many ways, I think the epitome was once when my ex-girlfriend used to
say to me “Why do you keep listening to your stuff? Don’t you think it’s a bit
conceited?” I said “Why do you listen to an album?” and she goes “Because I like
what is basically the sounds I want to hear” I said “Yeah, you like hearing that
particular melody, that particular sound” and she said “Yeah”. I said, now put
yourself in my situation. If you can totally adapt that record you see that
record can only be a compromise. It is particularly what you want to hear. It
can never be totally. An album that I do is totally what I want to hear. If I
have written the songs that’s because that is what I want to hear. So you’re
bound to want to listen to it.

JH: And brings back memories of the time as well.

CT: Exactly. But that to me in a way, I get so much enjoyment of composing
and ultimately hearing the final product going to CD. Because it is something
you want to hear. You wouldn’t compose something that you don’t want to listen
to. Well if you do that just means you have been sucked into churning out
something purely to try and make a hit which I have never done. I wouldn’t say
that anything we have done down there today is trying to fit into a niche.
Trying to fit into a market. It’s purely because how I like it.

JH: Would you like to hear some of the bootlegs of concerts you did

CT: No!

JH: They’re great for me because I have never heard them

CT: Yeah sure, sure. I think yes. Yes and no because the trouble is

JH: They are going to be awful quality.

CT: Yeah that’s what I am saying, you want to hear it as you’d like to hear
it basically i.e. the right format. I have never been one for live albums so I
don’t think I would ever play a live album personally speaking because I like a
slightly more polished thing i.e. the band playing quite tight. The production
doesn’t have to be ultra refined but you want to hear the song as it can be
played. As it can be recorded. And that’s why. I might still like to hear the
vibe of an album but I still want to hear it at the potentially best it can be.

JH: Would it interest you hearing some of your old performances?

CT: Yeah, just from a nostalgia point of view.

JH: Where do you think your influences derive from? I saw Wishbone Ash
the other day and it’s the first time they struck me that you sound like them.

CT: They used to be very much our – I mean – “Live Dates” I used to listen to
a lot – um – what’s the other one “New England”. What’s the one before that? All
those I really enjoy them. Those and Thin Lizzy were our two major influences.

JH: You all quoted Rainbow in your questionnaire responses for the 1980
Fan Club.

CT: Yeah I like Rainbow.

JH: Why did you change your names to Troy?

CT: Neophytou was too long. It was too much of a mouthful. And I hate it.

JH: Really?

CT: Yeah. Troy’s alright.

JH: What bands do you find really fantastic?

CT: I have always liked Toto.

JH: God that’s three of you then.

CT: Really?

JH: Yeah, Dennis said that and Tino would have used the guitarist in his
all star line up.

CT: Really? Yeah. I do like Toto. That’s probably why in some ways we don’t
have too many arguments in the studio. Yeah, there are a lot of those influences
that don’t necessarily come out but you can still sort of admire someone for
their playing. – um – The Eagles I like the singing and playing and writing
abilities. I mean I have never really been a heavy metal type.

JH: I said something I can’t make out.

CT: Bon Jovi, I do like Bon Jovi.

JH: So you’re into quite mellow bands?

CT: Yes.

JH: What musicians would you like to play with in an All Star band?

CT: Oh right

JH: Actually have you ever played in any other bands?

CT: No, none at all.

JH: So you have only played with Praying Mantis? You have not appeared on
All Stars like the others?

CT: No, nothing. No, I am very faithful. Ha, ha. I know maybe it sounds a
little bit boring but playing doesn’t particularly strike me. Maybe the playing
aspect isn’t one of my priorities. It’s really the songwriting. I think the
aspect of songwriting rates far higher in me than actually playing.

JH: How do you actually set about doing a song? Do you write the lyrics
or the melody line?

CT: It is almost always the song first and then I write the lyrics. It is
very rarely the other way around.

JH: Who did the lyrics to “A Moment in Life”?

CT: Actually Colin did them. I did do the initial set but he modified them
quite a lot. But again I had the basic melody lines. He thought his were a
little bit more commercial and on this one I agreed and made way but I did have
a set of lyrics for it but I let him use his ones.

JH: What about the chorus?

CT: Well all the lyrics used were Colin’s.

JH: In which countries are you most popular? Ha, ha.

CT: Without a doubt, Japan. It would be nice if we could become effective in
other countries like Germany. I mean

JH: That’s another thing, do you know that “Live At Last” has been
deleted in Japan?

CT: Deleted?

JH: Mmm could you believe that?

CT: No, that seems strange.

JH: A friend has just tried to order it and that is what he was told. I
would have thought Pony Canyon would have kept them all on unless they decided
to replace it with Alive.

CT: It could be, yeah. It’s 8 years ago now so I suppose it could be.

JH: Sorry, I was trying to get you to tell me what musicians you would

CT: I would have to think about that. Can I tell you another point? Ha, ha.

JH: Which Praying Mantis do you suppose to be the best and which songs?

CT: I still like “A Cry For The New World”. There is a lot of my personal
favourites on that album. I do “Letting Go”. I don’t know why but – um -. “A Cry
For The New World” I do like that one as well. I can’t recall what else is on

JH: Journeyman ..

CT: Yeah, most of the things I did like. “Fight to be free” as well. There
was one track when we were writing it I had this mental image. And sometimes it
does happen like that. You get this mental image of what you want a track to
sound like and I thought that one would be brilliant. I really thought it would
shine and it didn’t quite make it. When it came out eventually, you know we did
all the recording and Colin’s singing and everything. I thought this wasn’t what
I envisaged. It was OK but it was 60% of the track I wanted it to be. Had it
worked out exactly the way you have this mental image of it would be a stonker
but it just didn’t quite make it. I still like it. I still like that track.

JH: Who wrote “Beads of Ebony” that’s my favourite track.

CT: Tino actually did. Many, many years ago obviously. But I always liked
that one. I think it’s got a lovely chorus.

JH: It’s been even better for me since he told me it was about “Seal
Culls” last year.

CT: Oh, you didn’t know.

JH: That’s the thing about all the tracks. It did not even occur to me
Flirting with Suicide was about Praying Mantises. Unless you know what the topic
is sometimes you just don’t know. I have given the lyric to Beads of Ebony to
all sorts of people to see if it was my poor comprehension skills and no has
ever come back with “Seal Culls”

CT: It is. It is very well hidden that one. I don’t suppose you know what
“Letting Go” is about?

JH: No

CT: Death. Ha, ha. It’s actually about when you see the light. And
effectively about going towards the light. Some people have read into it, some
haven’t. Many of my lyrics are quite morbid to be honest (Whispers “Death”)

JH: Yeah, it’s good that. I liked the explanation of the “Concept” of “A
Cry For The New World” because the English CD of it did not have the story in
it. So I had never considered the songs might be related until I heard you
explain it in an interview.

CT: Tino came up with it as a concept and it was quite interesting. I don’t
think we are continuing on this particular album but it’s fair comment. And it
is something we partially believe in. I mean, recently I have been reading this
book about it called “Fingerprints of the Gods”. And all it is, is basically
looking at the things like the pyramids and temples of the Aztecs and the – um
-, I can’t think of them and basically they found maps of the Antarctic going
back 15,000 years and it just proves really without doubt there was a very
advanced civilisation. How it disappeared and where it came from is another
matter, but those things couldn’t conceivably have been constructed.

JH: Yeah. That brings me back to the current album. Do you know who is
doing the cover for it? Have you talked Rodney Matthews back into it despite his
religious beliefs?

CT: We couldn’t find him, basically.

JH: Oh right.

CT: But we have some general ideas. And these people here (Tony O’Hora’s
) are actually working on them.

(When we returned to the studio a bit later, various ideas for designs
were being shown around. They were graphical pictures in the Matthews
style/”Live In the East” bootleg style. They looked pretty good. It was mainly a
blue back ground with from memory a couple of pyramids. And a crying eye from “A
Cry For The New World”. The skull from Time “Predator In Disguise” or “Time
Tells No Lies” etc. in various positions.

JH: Is there any basic premise behind the album?

CT: What, the title or just the cover?

JH: The songs – have they got any linking to them or whatever? Tino
thought they might end up being about your father.

CT: There is quite a lot as it was a major thing for us.

JH: But would fans notice it?

CT: Probably not. It is quite subtle.

(I then ask for the title of each track which I have listed elsewhere)

JH: Do you have any interesting stories behind the lyrics?

CT: Most of them do, yeah. Like I said, some of them are subtle, some of
them are a little bit more obvious. One of my favourites is “Changes”. It’s just
basically about the struggle for life. How it can suddenly become so sort of
monotonous, basically. And of all the lyrics I have written. I don’t know why,
you just read them and ..

JH: Who wrote “The Story”?

CT: I wrote the lyrics to “The Story”

JH: And what was it about then?

CT: Ha, ha, ha. If I tell you it’s basically death again! It’s not something
that interests me greatly but – um – maybe I don’t know it’s – um – I find it
very easy to write about.

JH: Well you have got to get your emotion from somewhere, haven’t you.

CT: But yeah, exactly. It was very similar to “Letting Go” that same sort of

JH: But you wrote a lot of the new album?

CT: Yeah the majority of the songs.

JH: But it is sort of arranged by Tino, Tony .. Has Tony done any of the

CT: Yes. “Do you Remember my Name” is his song basically. So yeah – um –
it’s a lovely ballad that one. On the other stuff, a lot of it I did on the
machine and then just transferred it over and we just started adding the real
guitar parts. Real guitars substituting what was done on the keyboard.

JH: I will let you off now!

CT: Excellent. I will pop down and see how they are getting on downstairs


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