A few days before Dennis Stratton's gigs with Maiden United, we had the chance to talk to him. Read an interesting interview he gave to our Fan Club.

Can you tell us what you've been working on recently in terms of music or other projects?

Hi mate I'm going to try and do this very strange way of doing this with this recorder and I'm here alone first question what I've been up to well I'm a bit annoyed with you young man, because you should be knowing what I'm up to you, you should be following my career if you'd love the music you should know what I've been doing (laughs), basically I am I've been working with different projects around Europe as you know with Maiden United and Children of the Damned and working very hard finishing the Lionheart album The Grace Of A Dragonfly, which is released last month and it sounds absolutely fantastic, got great reviews and yeah we're hoping hopefully that the album would do well, so keep your ears open.

Iron Maiden, Dennis Stratton and Maiden United have a huge fanbase in Greece. How does it feel to be returning to perform here after all these years?

Yes, I've been playing them for quite a few years now and we arrange different sets for different tours. This year has been the 1982 so that's quite nice for me cause you saw the Iron Maiden and stuff that I did with Iron Maiden, Killers, some tracks from from both albums all the first album and it's fantastic the way we rearranged the songs, they sounds totally different, little bit classical it's acoustic as you know and it's fantastic, great atmosphere the people love it really, I really appreciate doing it and yeah it's great to be able to play these songs in a different way, so very happy.

What can fans expect from the upcoming Maiden United concerts in Greece? Any surprises in store?

I'm not sure we're playing with some Greek musicians who I've not met yet which is quite nice it's gonna be exciting, we do get lots of people singing along to the songs so I do hope that the Iron Maiden and Maiden United fans in Greece, sing along to the songs. They'll be maybe a couple of surprises on different songs that they're not used to. So, let's see what happens, it's all part of the surprise I think.

Spoiler Alert, we are expecting to listen to Alexander the Great if I'm right, how does it feel to perform this song in Greece? 

How can I say this, I haven't been asked to learn Alexander great, that doesn't mean to say that there might be someone else playing it, we will find out, as I say, it's not good to spoil the surprise, it's all part of the show so let's see what happens I know it's not been played before with Maiden United while I've been with the band quite a few years so let's see what happens.

Can you share any memorable experiences you've had performing in Greece in the past? Wearing our fan club's t-shirt back in 2014 with the Clairvoyants was my personal favorite.

Memorable things, not really a lot happens, so we have my surprise birthday in October last year in Tilberg, but maybe Maiden United are pretty laid-back, you know, when we got guys from Within Temptation and when musicians really mature sort of things, so a lot of the time, I don't travel a lot with the band only now again. Maiden United don't go crazy like sex drugs and rock 'n' roll, is none of that we're all quite mature men so there's not a lot of excitement goes on, it's pretty sincere and sensible really. I’m really looking forward coming back to Athens, as I say only been once and also the connect that you ever say I don't know we're off to the second gig and I'm really looking forward that because I'm never been there.

Maiden United offers a unique twist on Iron Maiden's music. How did this collaboration come about, and what do you enjoy most about working with them?

Well I first met Maiden United because they were supporting me and I was headlining with a band with Joey's bands called Up The Irons and they were supporting us and I have fell in love in the minute or so, because they do the Iron Maiden songs, so different and so catchy, we had Damien Wilson singing for many many years he was upfront but he's been pretty busy on his own now, so the lineup changes quite a lot and as I said earlier that we do change the set a lot so different songs of coming and gone as I said it's the 1980s so more early stuff now it was so including some other stuff you know from the new albums so yeah it's just interesting I love the change of the style. I'm not a brilliant guitarist on acoustic guitar, I'll find it very hard, it's very awkward to play and I find it very strange to sit there and with these big thick strings and yeah I'm not a lovely acoustic guitar, do try my best I'm not the best way of playing it but I'm learning you never stop learning and yeah I'm really looking forward to for the guys to hear it and get a reaction from the Greek fans to see what they say and that'll be interesting so I’m looking forward.

Are there any songs from Iron Maiden's catalog that you particularly enjoy performing with Maiden United, and if so, why?

I love all the songs we played with Maiden United because they're all Maiden songs. My favorite songs when I used to play with Maiden, when I play with the band, Italy and France and Germany and Holland and all over and play my set of the first two albums, my favorite songs always been The Phantom of the Opera, but with Maiden United, a lot of them, like Remember Tomorrow, The Trooper, well I've never heard a song so different and normally live but not to give too much away because some wanna save this surprise.

Looking ahead, do you have any personal goals or projects you're excited to pursue in the near future?

You know I’m coming up to 72 now so can I say I've done most of the things I've always dreamt of doing as a kid you know the venues that I've always wanted to play I suppose the bottom of the bucket list would be as I've said to Steve many times when we speak on the phone and text messaging we talk about West Ham, we talk about I was talking to him for about an hour yesterday on the phone and we had a lovely chat he is at home now and having a little bit of a rest before the tour kicks off and it's just lovely speaking with him, you know, we talk about all days and we talk about future things and you know we actually talked about Maiden United at the same time about you know how they sounds so different. I think to takeoff the bucket list at the bottom it's got to be too to walk on stage with the boys once more, if they ever do a union, or a farewell show, just to take off the bucket list before the fact that you know you just do one more song or one couple of more songs that at the end just before I pack it in or retire but honestly, I can't see and retiring just yet because they got too much to look forward to at the moment.

We definitely need a behind-the-scenes story from your time touring with Maiden United that fans might not know about?

Well as I said earlier what goes onto it stays onto her really but we Maiden United as I said we're pretty laid-back I think the most exciting thing we do during the day or night is some probably have dinner. It's very laid-back as I said earlier so there's not many things going on behind the scenes, we've Maiden United if it did, I think you would be very surprised but it's just fun playing with him and he has said very laid-back.

In what ways do you think Iron Maiden's music has evolved since your time in the band, and what do you appreciate most about its evolution?

I am very very happy to be part of the band for two years and also the first two albums although I didn't recall killers I did most of the work for it preproduction and the first album but what I'm more proud about is the fact that taking guitar style into the band from what they used to be like before recorded the first album they were just riding guitar and guitar so basically because I always work with harmony guitar bands two guitars, so I took that style of music into the band and they kept it so I was very proud the fact that Dave and Janick played harmony guitars Dave and Adrian played harmony guitars and they all forever play, so I'm glad that they kept the harmony guitars style in the newer albums, so at least I brought something to the band, that made a difference, so I'm very happy about that.

Please send your message to the Greek fans waiting for you next week.

To all them lovely people in Athens and in the whole country of Greece yeah we're coming. I have been to many many islands for holidays in Greece and I love it, love the food, love the beaches, love the water, just love the country, but regarding the fans, you know, what can I say I've only had one experience with the fans with that gig and Athens. Can't remember if Praying Mantis ever played in Greece, if we did, I do apologize but I know I have your fan club tshirt which I'm gonna try and dig out and find and where if I can't, you'll have to get another one when I come back, so I'm really looking forward to seeing you all and come to the shows please and let's have a drink let's have a laugh. Take care and let's hope we all meet up very soon bye-bye.

Manolis Varouchas