Mantis And The Prayer are a Melbourne-based art rock band.
"Are we gothic, alternative, indie, progressive or art rock? Perhaps we are all. . . perhaps it is not up to us to decide."
So poses Melbourne theatrical rockers Mantis And The Prayer, a three-piece fronted by vocalist, pianist and keyboardist Mantis. The band also includes Oyvind Jespersen (bassist) and Jimi Vaughan (lead guitar).
Revolving around Mantis – who took up the moniker after an experience whereby his reflection shifted form into a, you guessed it, praying mantis – the band fill their songs with emotive storytelling detailing themes of tragedy, triumph, love and loss.
"Our music has been crafted and designed to transport you into other worlds and other minds. We intimately bring you into our fantasies with pure abandonment and heart. Come play with us," purrs the band who cite the likes of Syd Barrett and David Bowie ('70s era) as major influences.
The genesis of the band; what's the story so far? I have brought the Mantis concept with me from New York to London, and now more recently to Melbourne where it has taken root and flowering more vibrantly than ever.
For those new to Mantis And The Prayer, how would you describe the group's style and sound? It is theatrical, melodic, sometimes dangerously sinister rock which always makes the listener feel the feels. We aim to tap into emotions and lift the soul.
Lust, power, sex and magik are themes that the band actively promote – is that iconic rock & roll lifestyle the type of escapism you're trying to achieve with the band? Those are themes we use in crafting our songs. The listener can be brought along in the experience and escape into these dimensions as well.
You've said that the band's music is 'crafted and designed to transport you into other worlds and other minds'; can you expand on that statement? Escapism is the key feature in our music. Whether the song is based in the supernatural or the human experience, the listener is transported to another place.
You've cited the likes of Syd Barrett, Bowie, and Pink Floyd as influences – do you draw from past generations more so than modern releases/ artists? And what about the music of the '60-'70s do you find fascinating? I am drawn to tragic artists like Syd Barrett, Brian Wilson and Jim Morrison. I find their art represents their unusual mental state and there is such beauty in that. I feel magnetised to this period because the artists of that time move me.
The songwriting process; do you approach making new music the same way or does it vary dependent on the needs of each song? Usually a song will just come into my head, sometimes coming out of a dream. I go to the piano, work out the structure and then bring it to the band. Although I write most of the songs, all band members write and bring things to the table.
The band name; is there a simple explanation or is it something a little more detailed? I have used the identity Mantis after an extraordinary experience I had where my image in a mirror changed to that of a praying mantis. I discovered that mantis translates to 'prophet', and when coined with 'the Prayer' is a nice play on words, but also a reference to an existence beyond every day reality.
You've created a music video for 'Go Too Far' (premiering 23 July); tell us about the filming process and what inspired the creative aspects of the video? The video was crafted to represent the loss of love and how far I was willing to go to try to get it back. Inter-dimensional travel was ultimately my undoing.
We also brought in elements like the plague doctor mask to represent the pandemic. The pandemic has caused so much mental anguish and the disintegration of many relationships.
You did have a launch show planned in Melbourne for tomorrow (23 July) now cancelled; given the current lockdown, when can fans expect the next live show from the band? Yes it is unfortunate. We will play again once Armageddon passes and we rise to play again another day. Keep an eye out.
On that front; how is the band coping with all the COVID-related issues; the stop-start-stop nature of the music industry at the moment? Plan for the unexpected, that is all that can be planned for. And we try not to sink into despair for we are the melody makers and the dreamers of dreams.
The next Mantis And The Prayer album; when can we expect more new music from the band? We did have a teaser go out on Triple R on 17 July. We were featured on Vital Bits and played a live version of a new song called 'The Satire'. We have more treasures just waiting to be revealed.
If you had to live in a city abroad, where would you choose and why? Melbourne. I am here already and love it.
Three people you'd like to invite around for a dinner party? Jim Henson and any of his Muppets. I would bring my own puppet too.
If we were coming over to your place, what would you cook us? Falafel! And loads of hot sauce.