Interview With Tommy Victor Founder Of Prong & Guitarist For Danzig

Posted: 01/28/2016 in ICON, Music

tommy victor prong

Interview Done By Mike Wilkerson

I have saw Prong play over 10 times just want to put that out there. My first time was in OH when you opened for White Zombie.

MW: Please introduce yourself?

TV: I’m Tommy Victor, guitarist and vocalist for Prong. Guitarist for Danzig

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MW: How did Prong come together?
TV: I was working as the soundman and doorman at CBGB in NYC and Mike Kirkland who also worked there was dissatisfied with his band Damage and wanted to start something new. He found out from his girlfriend that I played a little and asked me to get together with him and we just started writing songs. I knew Ted the drummer from Swans and he was interested so that was it really.
MW: Did you think all these years later that Prong would have been such a influence on some many bands?
TV: Are we? If we are it doesn’t mean that much to me. Everything is for the taking. There’s nothing new under the sun.

MW: Tell me about each release?

prong-primitiveorigins(1)TV: Primitive Origins – That was totally raw. It was engineered quite well though. Wharton Tiers who worked with Sonic Youth and later Helmet did that one. It’s very Discharge meets Die Kruezen meets Celtic Frost and New York Noise.It was originally our tape demo and we remixed it adding solos to put out as an EP.

Prong-Force-Fed-459564Force Fed – Probably our first ‘metalcore” record and our first full length release. It was recorded in a storefront studio on the Lower East Side. We also started using drum machines and samples on that one. That was 1988. Some people consider it an early grindcore record.

beg_to_differBeg To Differ – Our first major label release. Produced by Mark Dodson. I had really gotten my sound man chops together by that point and injected a lot of NYHC into the approach since Mark Dodson didn’t know how to treat Prong. He was great but he was old school metal. Pushead did the artwork, Epic marketed us strictly as a metal band but it was still very alternative. The middle eight riff for Lost and Found was used as the “Headbangers Ball” theme. Our video for the title track was filmed in the sewer below Central Park.

23792911Prove You Wrong  – That was the first and only record with Troy Gregory on bass. I think we wrote some killer songs together but the second time around with Dodson was a mistake. The choice of studio and production direction was very mediocre. I still think there’s too much Ted Parsons on that record. I felt and still feel its songs first, vocals second and then guitars!

album-cleansingCleansing – This is our most famous and one of our classic records. I really had to take the reigns on this one based on what I thought were the shortcomings of Prove You Wrong. There’s more of a foundation of basic grooves and simple guitar parts, with more sampled noise in the context of songs. Terry Date produced this one to the chagrin of Epic records initially. They wanted some dude that did the Firehouse record and we fought tooth and nail to get Terry. This record has our most popular song “Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck”. That song was fueled by having Paul Raven from Killing Joke on bass in Prong. The setup of studios like tracking at the legendary Magic Shop and mixing at Electric Lady didn’t hurt in the success of that record.

5099748365125_600Rude Awakening – The mess of our personal lives and the micro managing by Epic Records definitely scarred the process of making this record. The process was also interfered with by forcing us to be involved in a disatsrous “Strange Days ” movie soundtrack, I think we got way too bold in being experimental on this record. The songs were okay but here again, the production was too complex. We were stepping way ahead of the game with too much focus on industrial metal. The record sold amazing out of the box by today’s standards, but not enough for Epic, who dropped us immediately after the release. Soon after, the band broke up.

38258-500x500Scorpio Rising – I was literally completely broke when I got a call to put Prong back together. I had to quickly rush to get songs together and a band in order to not start delivering pizzas. I had no idea what was going on in the rock world at that moment. I had some ideas for another project, but I really didnt know where Prong stood. Some of our fans have an affection for that record, But we really dont perform any of the songs form that record. It’s almost not even a Prong record. We had a lot of problems with producers, studios and technical inefficacies. That was a pretty bad period.

1000x1000Power Of The Damager – I got disgusted after Scorpio Rising and put Prong on hold. Most of my energies were put into Ministry. Like 5 years later Al Jourgensen was forming a label and he co erced me into signing with him, and making a Prong album. Again I think we had the songs but the production is shoddy. This record has its fans. It’s raw and uncompromising. The title track is still a staple of our live set.

PRONGCarvedIntoStoneCarved Into Stone – This is really the big “Comeback” record. we finally got some decent managment, a real record deal and signed on a real producer with Steve Evetts. He helped us mold into what modern Prong is. A more severe focus on song quality and arrangements, with collosal vocal hooks, was what was needed. The preparation for this record was outstanding, even before Evetts came in. We had about 25 songs completely written and demoed before entering the studio. “Revenge Best Served Cold” now stands as one of our most popular songs and videos to date. and another staple of our live set.

ob_6d1401_prong-ruining-livesRuining Lives – This record stands as probably the greatest accomplishment of Prong. Coming off a heavy touring schedule,and some personal life disasters, I had little time to write songs and put the pieces together to make a record. But it happened, almost miraculously. Hooking up with Chris Collier was a game changer. We simply blasted through the writing process and tracking and Steve Evetts produced my vocals and mixed this record. It’s hard record to beat. “Turnover” became an instant classic.

prong-songs-from-the-black-holeSongs From The Black Hole – We had a week off in Europe during festival season 2014. Instead of just hanging around. My manager suggested we either hit the studio with new songs or do a quick covers record. Jason Christopher ran with the covers idea, suggesting a batch of songs and a concept. We cut the tracks and they just exploded out of Trixx studios in Berlin. I finished it up with Collier in Los Angeles, paving way for a standard we would use on our latest release X- No Absolutes.

MW: What has been your favorite record to release?
TV: X- No Absolutes By far the best, most efficient most well organized Prong record to date. The songs speak for themselves and it has the best production of any Prong record.

MW: How do you find time to do Prong when you play with Danzig?TV: Well. I’ve also worked on Primitive Race and am doing a side project as well. And I still have a lot of time to fool around and kill time with friends at a Denny’s or play video games or go running and hiking or watching the Jets lose. Working with Danzig is a completely different situation and it doesn’t come into Prong at all creatively, so there’s no overlap. Listen, we spend like 2 years working on Rude Awakening and about 4 months on X- No Absolutes. Music and lyrics start to get watered down and weird if you overwork.

Glenn Danzig(Left)  and Tommy Victor of the band, Danzig

MW: How did you become a member of Danzig?
TV: John Christ got fired and replaced temporarily by a guy who wasn’t working out. Prong got dropped so GD called me. I had 2 days to learn the songs, and then be on the first Ozzfest in ’95. That was the start of the long run with Glenn.
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MW: Lets talk about X (No Absolutes) How did the release come about?
TV: One of our main goals in this new generation of Prong was to keep putting out consistent records. They just have to be done. I’m given a deadline and I make it happen. The label and managment want it so I give it to them. No messing around.
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MW: I got to tell you I love the double vinyl of it coming out. I got to order mine ASAP. Was the vinyl version your idea?
TV: We’ve been doing vinyl on very release since “Carved Into Stone”. It’s just something a cool label like Steamhammer does!!
MW: Speaking of vinyl do you think earlier Prong titles will ever be re-released on vinyl?
TV: I can see that happened, yes. It’s sort of up to Sony Music cos they still own that stuff. And always will.
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MW: What does 2016 look like for Tommy Victor and Prong?
TV: A lot of touring. When there’s a break I have to start writing for the next record.
MW: What are you most proud of over your 30+ years in music?
TV: Not to act like some guru or something, but I try to avoid pride like the plague. It’s too dangerous for a person like me. I’ll start believing bullshit about myself and start treating people badly. Everything I have is been given to me, especially when it comes to Prong. Based on my attitude, this should have been dead in the dirt a long time ago. So actually the best moment for me in my career is right now, doing this interview with you. Everything else is bullshit. Who cares? The past is the past, it doesn’t exist anymore.
MW: What would you like to say in closing?
TV: We have a lot of touring coming up. Say hello! Our dates are posted on our website. http://www. prongmusic.com. Check out our Twitter- prongmusic. Instagram – prongtheband. like us on Facebook… PRONG!
tommy-victor

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