Praying Mantis: The Journey continues for one of the UK's longest running hard rock acts..
Chris Troy talks about the band's new singers, new songs and dealing with life in 2003.
This album was recorded after the departure of vocalist Tony O'Hara. How did that originally come about? What were the circumstances leading up to his departure?
It is quite a long story but basically like all singers, they get too big for their boots and eventually start making excessive demands.
We really did try to salvage the band but I think when he moved from London to Birmingham the death knell was already sounding. Sometimes geography like that does make things very difficult.
On top of that there was talk from him for the requirement for big money and the band got sick and tired of it ...it just was not worth the hassle.
You have used the band members and two guest vocalists for the album - how was the process behind selecting those sings undertaken?
Mainly because there is some history there. John worked with Dennis when he was in Lionheart a number of years ago and he told Tino and me what a great voice he had.
I certainly could not disagree with that view after hearing him sing.
Doogie White (more commonly associated with Yngwie) also shared some history with Mantis when he did a tour of Japan with us some 11 to 12 years ago.
We have often looked forward to getting his great voice an album.
I think the combination is great and it certainly gives a different feel.
And how did you select what songs would suit which singer?
Both of them have great ranges and in the end I don't think it was a case of matching the song to the singer, I think either could have sung any song on the album. In truth I don't think there is a favourite as each vocalist showed their merits on each of the songs and did an admirable job.
Did you consider replacing Tony with a new permanent lead singer?
Time will tell. As you may know we have had more singers than hot dinners and I often wonder if that trend will ever cease.
Contrary to what people might think, we are so easy to work with and I think this is just a case of extreme bad luck!!!!!. Future singers, I just don't know, we'll see what's drawn out the hat!!.
Will you do this for the next album, or continue with the guest singers policy?
That is a definite possibility as there are few complications and the result can be just as satisfying.
In some ways I think we have had our stint of awkward vocalists that have the world constantly spinning around them.
The last album was a big hit in Asia and Europe - critically acclaimed etc....how much pressure was on the band to try and top that effort?
There is always pressure to better any album you do. And it will go on in the same manner. I personally rate this album higher because of the pressure we were under in many respects and the pure emotion that is evident in a number of the songs.
They may take a few more times listening to get the full impact, but then I think it is the fact that when songs grow on you too quickly you can also tire of them equally as quickly.
I'll be honest with you (as you can always read my review if I lie to you) I prefer the last album - in fact, it's my favorite of all your albums. Are landmark albums impossible to follow up on?
No, because each of us are different and there are so many factors to consider. We have had as many people say they prefer this album to the last , but then again there a re a huge number that still prefer the original "Time Tells No Lies"!!!!
Who will you tour with if you play some shows this year?
It's still a little early to know at this stage as things like this are all about timing and of course finance!
What's next for Praying Mantis?
Well if I had a crystal ball I would try to answer this one....but I really don't know. We have been to hell and back and survived so if the going gets a little easier there may be a bit left in us yet. Wisdom is a virtue indeed!
The band has been going a long time now - they have a great history. What differences do you find between working in the music business in 2003 compared with 1993 and 1983?
In 2003 there is immense pressure now and truthfully it is that much harder. There is very little meat on the bone as far as record companies go and I feel sorry for the up and coming bands as to make it now is really a great deal harder now than it was in 1983.
Aspects such as CDR and MP3 are certainly killing the business and I cannot see what can now be introduced that can possibly stop the rot.
In the early 90's there was still a good vibe in the industry and really it gave us a second bite of the apple where we kicked off again in Japan.
Anything you would have done differently if you had the chance to go back?
Obviously every one wants the chance of being a really really big star; I think anyone that disputes that is a liar.
Even for a short space in time it must be good to feel that you are that little bit special even if it a simple thing like being in a band. We are on this planet for such a short period of time, it is not a crime to indulge and want to have such a feeling.
I suppose in some ways we got very close but it didn't quite happen just because of a few crucial things our management company (at the time ) didn't do. I wish we could go back and change those few little things.
Can you tell us a little about each song on the new album
The Escape - This about a man who lives a very mundane existence in both his job and life in general. However he manages to have very vivid dreams in which he becomes a main character, even a hero saving the world. The dreams gradually become more life like and absorbing , and here he dreams of a takeover of the world by alien beings. Each dream is accompanied by reality and he realises that real life is quickly slipping away.
Tonight - This is about a prophet who foresees many tragedies in the world and ultimately sees his own death.
The Journey Goes On - About the struggles of life , overcoming its many hurdles and looking for the ultimate goal that most will never find.
Silent War - This is about a country gradually losing its identity, nationalism and history by a gradual dilution of its race (immigration, etc )
Beast Within - Revolves around a murder that occurred in the UK a number of years ago. A young child was abducted ,tortured and murdered by two older children. They were later released and given new identities. The statement made in the song is that the extent of evil shown at that age cannot be removed through any punishment.......it is inherent to the way the are and will always be!.
Hold on for Love - When certain people in life can take away the pains and make life worth living.
If Tomorrow Never Comes - Dedicated to my father. Its about returning to the place you were born and going through the various childhood memories knowing that life is nearing its conclusion.
Lost World - This song is about the future when man has found a way to travel in time though the earth was eventually destroyed through a series of catastrophic events. A craft has gone back in time in an attempt to change the events of history.
The Voice - About a young girl that is born into a life of drugs and hard living and desperately tries to escape, however eventually the roots that she was brought up in are too powerful and eventually take control of her life and her final demise.
Naked - (Dedicated to Tinos daughter who has lost at birth ) . This is a powerful song and lyrics of how a family comes to terms with such a loss and the extreme traumas created by such a tragedy.
Thanks for your time Chris!