Rockwind (GR): Praying Mantis – Tino Troy Interview

Tino Troy (PRAYING MANTIS) Interview

“Due to the occasion on the release of the new Praying Mantis album under the title “Sanctuary” an opportunity was given to to attain an interview with Tino Troy through our colleague Kyriakos Athanasiadis A lot have been told and very interesting stuff. So here it is…”

Hallo there! What’s the news from Praying Mantis?

– It is very exciting for the band at the moment, the new album ‘Sanctuary’ is getting fantastic press worldwide and we are being offered many shows again.

– Tell me some things about your new album “Sanctuary”?

– Well, for starters there is a more melodic power element to this album but it is also flavored with a few AOR ingredients. The songs are structured to give maximum musical momentum. We all feel that every song on the album is as strong as the other. One minute I have a particular favorite and the next day another song takes it’s place. Sanctuary was recorded mainly at home in the UK in my front room with vocal takes going down in the bedroom upstairs. Then we did a couple of vocal takes in Andy’s understairs cupboard, then did more overdubs in a garage to studio conversion at Chris’s house. We then decided to call up Andy Reilly (producer) in Atlanta USA. He was a friend in the UK and had also worked with Benjy in various other projects. He was very keen to finish the album and mix it , so we packed our guitars and spent 2 weeks laying down the drums and other bits and pieces including vocals, guitars and a few repairs to originally recorded parts to sync with the drums (original drum tracks were programmed).

– What’s the difference between “Sanctuary” and “The journey goes on”?

– The title!….Hahaha! Well, the one big difference is the introduction of new blood, we have 3 new members in Mike Freeland (vocals), Andy Burgess (guitar) and Benjy Reid (drums). Apart from Mike, we all happened to play together in another band called ‘Paddy goes to Holyhead’ – this is a band where we have been rearranging traditional Irish songs in the way Thin Lizzy did with ‘Whiskey in the jar’. We are on the verge of completing this album and it’s sounding great – naturally there is a definite Mantis influence on there. And there it was… staring us in the face, why did we not think of it earlier. The most obvious thing to do was to import Benjy & Andy into the Mantis situation. Mike, I knew of old when he sang in a covers band, more recently he just completed a project with a band called Dangerous Breed but they never took off. I asked Mike if he would like to try his voice on a couple of the earlier demos of the album. Immediately we knew we had our new front man. Mike is very dedicated and loves Mantis, he has even contributed in a major part of the songwriting.

– In my opinion, the cover of “Sanctuary” is excellent. Could you tell me some things about it?

– 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 classic iconic Mantis. We on the other hand wanted a slightly fresh approach, as the music seemed to have taken on 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 I had my Mac switched on at this artist’s website (Rainer Kalwitz) and there it was on full display, the decaying Liberty head with its imposing and haunting aura. Chris and me both eyed one another and I said…. “Looks just like you bro”. After tearing lumps out of each other’s faces hahahaha, we decided this was the icing on the cake of a fantastic album, all these elements seemed to be coming together as some sort of natural selection. It’s without doubt my favourite album cover and really befits some of the lyrics on the album.

– Your lyrics are about love and life generally. What do you think when you write lyrics?

– Most of the stuff is written from real life experiences and situations. For instance, “In Time” was written about the disappearance of Madeline McCann (from the parent’s perspective). ‘Sanctuary’ The title track of the album tells the story of bunch of young kids based in Wales who got involved in this Internet pact whereby for some reason unknown, they all ended up taking their own lives. ‘So High’ is about Hot air ballooning…ha ha! I’m sure everyone can work out the subject matter from the title ;-). We could go on and explain the subject matter of the entire album but then it wouldn’t be as much fun for you guys…and you might not buy the album if you thought our songs were about outdoor adventures such as Hot Air Ballooning 😀

– You are one of the less bands of N.W.O.B.H.M. which is in discography this time. Have you ever missed the early years of N.W.O.B.H.M.?

Could you give me a description of these years?

– The only thing we miss about those years is the fact that we can’t relive them and learn from the mistakes that stopped this band being as big (if not bigger) than ‘Iron Maiden’.

– How do you see Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Saxon this time?

– B******S!….. Hahaha, only joking. They have all established themselves as fine exponents of Metal and we can only wish that we had the success they enjoy… then again you are never too old to Rock!

– How do you characterize your music and what feelings would you give to the listener?

– I’d like to say it boosts your libido (sex drive). I would also say that it is singable rock, you hear those melodies and words and sing them time and time again, even the guitar parts are hooky to the point of infectious. If Sanctuary were a form of drug, I would tell everyone to get hooked on it, there is no better remedy for a bad day.

– Why Dennis Stratton left from the band some years ago?

– The mystery about Dennis still intrigues everyone….. Here goes, you asked for it: We love Den to bits, he was very much a part of Mantis and brought us a lot of laughs as well but Den was also going through some real personal stuff. It was June of 2004 and Dennis had been invited to Chris’ wedding he spoke about many problems at home and how he probably wouldn’t be able to make it. This would have been fine but the most hurtful thing for Chris was the fact that Den made no contact or sent any card. We were both so disillusioned by this that we thought “Well that’s it… The End of Mantis!”. Nevertheless we were invited to do a gig at the Astoria in London and up to a week prior to the show we had decided to do it without Dennis. Then with a week to go (and considering his bad run of fortune) we had a change of heart (after all, we loved the guy) However, things got worse when he said he was going to be away from London for a week and wouldn’t have time to learn the songs so we carried it off with the one guitar. We thought that was the end of a great era but we continued to get gig offers and plugged away regardless. We asked Andy Burgess to join the band on several occasions because we felt the band lacked the essential harmony guitar parts that are so prevalent in the songs. I think he was a bit nervous of steppin’ into the big mans shoes…Ha! Eventually he succumbed and along with Benjy (Paddy goes to Holyhead) here is the new Mantis. Andy’s and my styles compliment each other perfectly but the legend that is Dennis will live on in the ‘Mantis Hall of Fame’. He would be more than welcome to guest on stage at any time. As I mentioned we still love the guy and I was at his Mothers funeral a couple of months ago, RIP… I rest my case.

– What do you mean with your name “Praying Mantis”? Praying mantis is an insect…

– Hahaha!…. In the early years (pre-Mantis, circa 1973) I formed a band at Furniture Design College with fellow student/guitarist Peter Moore. I then asked my brother if he would join on bass and soon after we met Stan Cunningham. After hearing his great voice in the lavatories one day, we asked him to join the band (at the time known as Junction). We decided on recording a new tune we’d just written called “Golden Rainbow”. When it came to overdubbing the vocal part, we had Stan singing the main part and Chris, Pete and myself came in with Chorus backing vocals. We all held our arms up in a boxing/kung-Fu style – heads bopping from side to side. At that point Stan collapsed in a heap of laughter. When he managed to contain himself he said (in a Welsh accent): “Hehehehe… Ya shoulda seen yas all. Ya looked like three Prayin’ Mantis’ backin’ singas!!!”…. The rest is history.

– These I have to ask for you. Thanx for your time. Rockwind wish you good luck with your new album “Sanctuary”! The last words are yours…

– Efharisto poli to all our Greek fans… you’re the best. We hope to see you soon for a GOOD ROCKIN! Please keep in touch with the band at:


Kyriakos Athanasiadis