Interview Done By Mike Wilkerson
MW: Please introduce yourself?
TV: I’m Tommy Victor, guitarist and vocalist for Prong. Guitarist for Danzig
MW: Tell me about each release?
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.
Force 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 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.
Prove 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!
Cleansing – 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.
Rude 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.
Scorpio 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.
Power 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.
Carved 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.
Ruining 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.
Songs 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: 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.