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Ex-Iron Maiden Guitarist Dennis Stratton Explains His Contributions To The Songs on Killers' Album



The Metal Voice recently interviewed former Iron Maiden Lionheart guitarist Dennis Stratton.


Lionheart 'The Grace of a Dragonfly' will be released Release: 15 March 2024 via Metalville


Watch interview here


Lionheart 'The Grace of a Dragonfly'

The songs on The Grace of a Dragonfly  are sensational, with Lee Small’s emotional lyrics reflecting not only the pain and grief inflicted by war on ordinary, innocent people in every conflict zone, but also their strength, resilience, and determination. Supported by LIONHEART’s superb songwriting, soaring backing vocals, beautiful twin-guitar harmonies, and atmospheric keyboards, LIONHEART’s sheer power shines brightly from every one of the eleven songs, culminating in a heartfelt prayer for peace in the world.


Each new LIONHEART album has brought with it a leap in the quality of the songwriting and production, and this album is no exception. 'The Grace of a Dragonfly' is nothing short of epic and is, by far, LIONHEART’s finest work to date.


When asked about the lyrics themes on the new Lionheart album 'Dragonfly'

"The lyrics sort of tended to lean towards World War II but Steve Mann and Lee Small were writing the lyrics as a thank you to all the men and women that sacrificed their lives in the second world war, so we could live a sort of Freer life. Basically it's an anti-war thing and it was written before Ukraine and Gaza and all that. "



When asked to explain the musical difference in his time with Iron Maiden & his Current band Lionheart "

"I was in the band 'Remus Down Boulevard' before Iron Maiden, which was a twin Harmony Guitar band that followed Wishbone Ash all over the world and all over the country. We had harmony guitars and harmony vocals. Dave Murray and Steve Harris used to come down and watch me play at our residency in West Ham. That's why when they signed the deal in 79 to EMI (with Iron Maiden) they offered me the job, I didn't go down for an audition. They sent me a telegram. Basically they said here are the Soundhouse tapes, we want you to let us know what you can do and I went great. So they offered me the job straight away but my impression was to go home to listen to the Soundhouse tapes and listen to the songs that they had recorded or demoed already which were very Punky, very single guitar rhythm, single guitar solo and very raw. Basically I said to Steve listen I come from a Harmony Guitar band. I sat down with Dave and I said Dave  would you be into this?  And he went I'm open to any suggestions.  Dave was so easy to get on with and Steve loved it. The first lot of songs we laid into I started putting the harmony guitar parts into some of the riffs which they liked. We also started doing some harmony vocals with Paul (Di'anno) in the rehearsal studio and that's how the Harmony Guitar style got introduced to Iron Maiden. But remembering that most songs from the first two Iron Maiden albums were already written so all I had to make them bigger and make the production bigger by adding these harmony details and adding the harmony vocals. Not to change the sound of Iron Maiden but to make the songs more interesting. Songs like, Running Free, Phantom of the Opera all the harmony little Riffs that you hear were just little bits to polish the song up a bit more so it wasn't to change the sound of Iron Maiden."


Lionheart


When asked if he would tour with former Iron Maiden singer Paul Di'anno

"Stjepan Juras who's basically looking after his affairs (Paul Di'annos) he contacted me about 20 times. I even met him in Milan at the Maiden gig. I had a long Chat  So he contacted me in 2023  but unfortunately he asked me outright would  would you ever join Paul Dianno on the stage and I said I'm never going to say never. I said but at the moment it's just the wrong time. I said because I'm committed to a tour that I was booked in in 2020 I'm now going in 2023. I but I did say to him I'll Never Say Never  because you know many years have passed now so I don't carry things on silly little arguments and move on there's more things to worry about in this world than petty arguments so we move on we've all grown up." 



When asked what song off of Iron Maiden Killers album he should have gotten more credit for

"A very important question because most of the songs on Killers were already written. We were rehearsing both albums because we needed a one and a half hour set for Metal for Muthas' Tour 79-80. So all them songs were already written and put down as demos, I just added my Harmony Guitar bits and everything else. And then it was a case of Steve (Harris) choosing what songs are going on the first album. Then when we got halfway through the 'Metal for Muthas' tour doing an hour and a half we went on the Judas Priest tour where we're going to do 45 minutes slot, so then we reverted back to first album and maybe Wrathchild  or two songs from the from the Killers. We did work on Killers (the song) and Steve wasn't a lover of that Riff. But I think everything was so rushed that everything had to be done yesterday for the record company. I didn't like 'Women in uniform' I must admit I've told a lot of people I don't think we should have done a cover,  they had so many good songs of their own. But as I say the song I did the most work on was was Killers because we were working on that right up until I departed from the band."


When asked about his memories opening for Kiss on Unmasked tour

"I must admit Ace was very quiet. I got on really well with Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley to the point where  they took me and Dave Lights out in Stockholm on the ninth of October 1980 for my birthday. So they took us to a restaurant and Paul gave me a fire hat with all the signatures of a band on it.  Ace was very quiet I only used to see him when he used to be walking onto the stage. I've got photos taken with him on my phone but I have lots of photos taking with with Ace and Eric (Carr).  They (Kiss) probably forgot about me but you know it's nice to have their memories you know and also the photographs that I've got."


LINEUP

Lee Small (The Sweet, ex-Shy) - lead vocals

Dennis Stratton (ex-Iron Maiden) - lead guitar/backing vocals

Steve Mann (MSG, ex-Liar) - lead guitar/backing vocals

Rocky Newton (Grand Slam, ex-MSG) - bass guitar/backing vocals

Clive Edwards (ex-Pat Travers, Uli Jon Roth & Wild Horses) - drums, percussion

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