The Full Story
With their latest critically acclaimed album 'GRAVITY' released via Frontier Records in May 2018, Praying Mantis continue to tour with their current band members Chris Troy, Tino Troy, Andy Burgess, John 'Jaycee' Cuijpers and Hans in 't Zandt. The band are now producing music which is some of the best in their 46-year history, but where did it all start and why are they still regarded as relevant in 2019?
Praying Mantis were formed in London, England, in 1973 by brothers Chris and Tino Troy. The music scene of the late 70's was widely regarded as stagnant in the wake of a dying punk scene so it became time for a new breed of British bands to emerge and establish themselves with their own creative style of music. Through Neal Kay, DJ at THE BANDWAGON, North London's premier hard rock disco, a new movement was being formed and today this story has become folk law to Hard Rock fans all over the world. Due to Neal's much appreciated support, Mantis were given a platform to air their music, which featured classics 'Captured City' and 'Lovers to the Grave'.
Along with fellow London bands Iron Maiden, Angel Witch and Samson, Praying Mantis quickly established themselves and rapidly received the attention of the music press of the time. Along with a number of similar bands across the UK this entire movement was labelled by `Sounds` as the New Wave of British Heavy Metal.
Spearheaded by Praying Mantis (and Iron Maiden), NWOBHM (as it became known) went on to dominate the Hard Rock scene in the early 80's, especially after the release of 'Metal for Muthas', a compilation album consisting of bands that had played at The Bandwagon. NWOBHM was just what the UK needed at the time; fresh, exciting music with energetic live performances and a togetherness that created a spirit of comradery between fans and bands alike.
The debut album ‘Time Tells No Lies’ received much critical acclaim and the single ‘Cheated’ went top 40 in the UK Charts in 1980. During this period, Iron Maiden and Praying Mantis were closely paired in many areas and formed a strong musical relationship, regularly playing together through the promotion of 'Metal for Muthas' which included an extensive UK Tour.
In 1990 this relationship saw Dennis Stratton and Paul Di'Anno (ex-Iron Maiden) join Praying Mantis on stage to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the NWOBHM in Japan. Dennis later joined the band on a full-time basis, as did Clive Burr (ex-Iron Maiden) and Gary Barden (ex-MSG).
Since then, Praying Mantis have released many successful albums with Pony Canyon in Japan, and this became one of the band's major territories.
The New Millenium
In 2007, guitarist Andy Burgess replaced Dennis Stratton in the line-up, continuing the dual lead for the famous Mantis guitar harmonies. He has also proved to be a strong songwriter and influence in the band.
In 2013, vocalist John Cuijpers and drummer Hans in 't Zandt joined the band replacing Mike Freeland and Gary Mackenzie. The Dutch duo has vast experience in their fields having toured with the likes of Toto, Jeff Scott Soto, Mad Max, Sinner and Vengeance. This has added a new and exciting dimension to the band's music and live performances.
In 2015 ‘Legacy’ formalised the new line-up and the album received great reviews and sales all over the world. The band promoted the album by touring as far as Japan, twice!
The current album ‘GRAVITY’ is being hailed as one of the band’s finest to date and is still receiving stunning views across the world. It was well received in the album charts, reaching number 23 in the UK, 70 in Switzerland and an impressive number 6 in Japan.
To hear and see the band now, fans will experience both the spirit and energy of 1980 together with a technical style that really compliments today’s standards. The band will continue to promote `GRAVITY` and take our music to the people before planning a new album.
Praying Mantis - "Highway" (Live Music Video)