PRAYING MANTIS (UK)
become classics just become throwaways or sometimes the reverse can occur and the scraggy dog of a song becomes the Crufts champion!.
Q: What do you have in mind when you start writing new material? Does it depend on the mood that you are in, or is a writing process taking weeks, perhaps months?
A: A song can take a few hours or it can take a few years!! It has happened. I think the normal process is to come up with the basic musical format of the song which sets the theme. From there the lyrics are generated and matched to the music. Hopefully it will come up to expectations, if not we simply try to improve on the musical structure if possible and try different permutations , if not we they are simply binned and
the whole thing start afresh!!
Q: Can you tell us some more about the new album Sanctuary. Let’s start with the lyrics. Is there a thread, a kind of leitmotiv?
A: The lyrics are pretty deep in most of the songs and actually quite tragic.
That is the general theme which goes very well with the album cover. I don’t know why but the lyrics (certainly on the songs I have written) have been either macabre or very solemn. But at the same time it seems to fit the heavy minor chords of the general melodic structure of the songs.
A: Some of them are very tangible, as I believe the strongest emotion will come from deep meaning things that either have happened in life or can happen. I also like leaving the lyrics very open to the listener’s interpretation so people can put their own perspective on the meaning.
Q: The band inked a deal with Frontiers Records, which is a good move. Do you believe that the 30th. anniversary of the NWOBHM can evoke a second youth for the band?
A: It was Frontiers that approached us and encouraged us to come up with another album. It is great to know that they had the faith that we would come up with another album and they did have a say in the songs that ultimately made it on “Sanctuary”. We had previously been with them on smaller deals and this is the first time that we have done a worldwide deal. Of course the 30th.
anniversary can evoke a second youth, there is certainly a belief now that has never existed before.
Q: Are you still aiming for worldwide recognition, or is the band satisfied with the situation you are in right now?
A: Of course we are after world recognition!!!, I believe anyone saying anything different is either lying or just lying to themselves. Anyway don’t we already have it!!
Q: In a way, you succeeded in bringing the music that you like, played all over the world, and didn’t have to work in some kind of factory. Do you consider this also as your dream that came true?
A: Yes I think so. To have the opportunity of putting our musical creations onto Vinyl or plastic, etc is sort of leaving your mark on this planet when we eventually pass away sob….sob !! . One can always dream of that little bit more and being ultra famous but there is no doubt that even to have come this far and stay this long in the field is beyond our wildest expectations.
Q: Praying Mantis had really great fame in Japan, and released several albums on the Pony Canyon label. What makes Japan different than the rest of the globe? A: Japan initially really liked the style of music that we were producing and hence we became very popular there. No doubt, there are now many melodic rock
bands and the market is much more open and full of choice. However, the fans there do appear to be very loyal and we can only commend that as an attribute.
Q: If I’m correct, you played the Bang Your Head festival last year. How was the reaction of the crowd?
A: Yes, we did play Bang Your Head and it was great, went down really well.
It is funny because Mike our vocalist got legless after in the normal celebratory style after a successful show. Then all of a sudden…Splat! He came down straight on his nose and we thought he had broken it! From that point, we renamed it the “Bang Your Nose” festival.
Q: It was one of the first gigs for newcomer Mike Freeland, so I guess that he was surprised as well to see so many happy faces? A: Yes there was no doubt he was very nervous as anyone would be in the circumstances playing in front of thousands as your first show !!, but then he rose to the occasion in an admirable fashion, and without the aid of drink !
Q: Did you try to get on more summer festivals in Europe. We have Graspop Metal Meeting in Belgium, and I’m sure that you would fit perfectly on the bill!
A: That would be fantastic to play Graspop and hopefully this can happen in the near future, I believe we are currently working on that. As for the other festivals, yes they are definitely coming in now, so next year should be a lot busier on the live front.
Q: For some, Praying Mantis, will be unknown. Shame on you!! But,
for others, it’s a living legend. What is, in your opinion, the magic of
the band? What are the strongest points or issues?
A: It’s strange how many people actually know the name , so it has definitely spread though the business but then again after 35 years I suppose one would expect that !. Hopefully there is some magic there that has been
created over time but many of the fans, critic , etc are citing ‘Time Tell No Lies’ ( first album) and ‘Sanctuary’ ( latest album ) as the best things that we have done . Maybe it is the first and the last ones …ha ha hopefully
not!!. The strong points I believe are the fact that we really try that every song that we ever put on an album is strong on melody and not throwaway type tracks ( i.e. album fillers).
Q: And what about the weakest points?
Q: The band missed the train to major success worldwide like Iron Maiden could achieve? Some say that Praying Mantis had its share of bad luck? Do you agree?
A: We definitely had a large slice of bad luck , but hey, that’s life and at the end of the day we are still here after this amazing number of years , still producing albums which is a lot more than thousands of other bands may ever hope to do .For that we have to be grateful.
Q: And also that you took some wrong decisions at critical moments?
A: No it was the dreadful management that we had at the time …we should have known but were to naive to realise. Their hearts were in the right place but they honestly could not organise a wink in a sex shop!!
Q: Can you mention the highlights of the band so far? What were such awesome occasions or happenings that you will never forget?
A: When I was an infant at nursery school there was this dreaded day where I pood in my pants. I told the teacher who subsequently berated me and gave me a slap.. I then cried and asked for my mum. Eventually she turned up at the school, found out what happened and then she hit me as well!!!
From then on I knew the most important thing in life. If you shit your pants you will have no friends!
Seriously, playing Japan for the very first time took our breaths away. We were treated like gods and the whole experience was incredible and electrifying. It is almost as memorable as my pants dilemma!!
Q: On the new album, there is also a video clip of the track ‘Turn The Tide’.
Someone told me that this track was already on an earlier release. I guess that he was talking about ‘Turn The Tables’ that has a bit of the same title…
Am I right, or is he?
A: Yes you are correct. Turn The Tables is one of our earlier singles.
“Turn The Tide” is brand new track that was actually written just before we started recording the album.
Q: When we go back in time, the year 1980 to be precise, I bought the Metal For Muthas compilation album, and one of the best songs back then was Captured City.
Did you ever expect that M.F.M. would cause such a storm afterwards? A: Not really. I love captured city but I did wish that the recording was slightly better. In saying that some fans prefer that raw element to the recordings.
Q: Well, we did this interview vice versa. Normally we start with the beginning of the band, and end with the present time. I think it was nice to go back from present to the start, about 36 years ago. Is there anything that you want to add before we end this conversation? A: The writing of and the production of the album took a lot of very hard work, tons of stress and sleepless nights. However when we see the reviews like the one you have given ‘Sanctuary’ then it just makes it all worthwhile. For
that Euphoria alone we will continue for as long as we can and hopefully surpass this album. Thank you.
Q: I do wish you all the best. Give us another 36 years of great music, and let
us know when there is news to spread !!!
A: On behalf of us all ….Thank you so much.