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Dennis Stratton Interview
Guitarist Dennis Stratton appeared on Iron Maiden's classic debut album along with a spin-off EP. He was a memeber of Lionheart in the 80's and has been a key member of Praying Mantis since the 90's. Praying Mantis have been around since the late 70's and have had success in the 80's, managed to keep going in the grunge infested 90's in the Far East and are now enjoying a revival. Their new Cd is out at the end of April on Frontiers. 1. What are you currently up to?
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We have just finished the new album with Praying Mantis waiting for feedback from Japan regarding the next tour. Also before Christmas I set up a Promotions Company with two other partners named "Superb Promotions" involved with all kinds of entertainment.
2. What has been the highlight(s) and lowpoints(s) of your career to date?
Highpoints: Too many to mention like fulfilling most of my ambitions, doing Top of The Pops live, recording in L.A. with Lionheart, touring around most of the world, so many. Lowpoints: Being told by Rod Smallwood I couldn't listen to the Eagles, while on tour.
3. Who have been your main musical influences? And how has your guitar playing changed over the years?
Wishbone Ash "Love Harmony Gtrs" Geoff Whitehorn, Steve Lukerther. Started learning playing blues & very melodic, playing became slightly erratic through the N.W.O.B.H.M days then settling down again with Mantis concentrating on thought rather than speed.
4. Praying Mantis have a new album next month via Frontiers, 'The Journey Goes On'. It features two very talented vocalists - ex- Rainbow & current Malmsteen Dougie White & former Uriah Heep singer John Sloman. How did the band hook-up with these two and what did their vocal styles bring to the band?
I tried to get John Slowman to join Lionheart back in the 80's but he was working with Gary Moore, tried again in the 90's to get John to join Mantis, finally got hold of him to do the Mantis Album, great voice.
Doogie toured with Mantis mid 90's also great voice. Mantis had similar problems to Lionheart regarding singers. You have to make sure they are dedicated to the band & not just trying to use the band to further their own careers.
5. What are your personal highlights on the new album and why?
Again too many to mention when your stuck in a studio week after week. It's hard to listen to it without looking for improvement. Always love the harmony gtrs with Tino & myself.
6. Why do you think Praying Mantis never made the next step-up in the early 80's like say Saxon or Maiden? Any good rock'n'roll tales from those days?
When Praying Mantis toured with Maiden I used to watch their show. I found them slightly tame, the material was not heavy metal but wasn't light either. I think the heavier bands made it for their sheer power & energy. Yes lots of tales but I don't tell tales.
7. Iron Maiden - you played on the debut album and the 'Women In Uniform' EP. Did the band have any idea how well recieved the album would be? How did you come to leave the band?
I played on the Album, Single Running Free which we did on Top of The Pops "LIVE" Women In Uniform and all recordings up to the 2nd Album Killers I think. The record company knew the Album was gonna do well because of advanced orders, but it was nice to get great support everywhere we went. I never really got on with Rod Smallwood but we made it up when we met in L.A while I was doing the Lionheart Album in 1984.
8. Anything else you would still like to achieve musically? What other artists would you like to work with?
There is always more you would like to achieve but sometimes your fate is not always in your own hands, there are too many musicians around that I would love to work with, and like anybody I have my favourite musicians.
9. What was the best career move you ever made?
The best career move I ever made was leaving school at 15.
10. Message for your fans...
The Fans or Friends as I like to call them, are the most important people in the world. Without them you are nothing, I would just like to say "Thank You" for giving me the chance to tour and record and play live. God Bless You.