Heart of Steel: Interviews

Interview With Prong
Prong - Back For More with Tommy Victor

Interview by Keith McDonald

Prong are one of those metal bands who are well respected by their peers and fans but are not as recognized for making a big dent in the music scene. Having released a few albums on the powerhouse major label Epic, the band never saw the due promotion that a label like Epic can deliver. The band broke up after being dropped by the major only to regroup a few years later releasing a live album. Now with 2004 upon us, Prong has released a new studio album ‘Scorpio Rising’ via the indie label Locomotive Music. I recently had the opportunity to speak with Tommy Victor who gave me the lowdown on his band. You can check out their website at www.prongmusic.com.


Tell me about the new album, 'Scorpio Rising.' Is it musically different from other Prong albums?

There are certain consistencies on "Scorpio Rising" with previous records. I think in its design there was an effort to include some of what was seen as the better aspects of the earlier releases. Some songs were written differently on the new CD. Taking a fully written lyric, then making it into a complete song is a new concept for construction of a Prong song. I feel '"Letter To A Friend"' is unlike any other Prong song. It takes on a very traditional form, but churns into an angry anthem of sorts. We were a little scared of it, but the response has been wonderful. The tuning on the new record is different as well. This allowed me to experiment with a variety of vocal ranges and styles. This record is more of a hybrid than the others. Without many of the questionable restrictions of making a record on a major label.



How would you describe Prong's music to a fan who has never heard you before?

It's a hybrid of different heavy styles. I think it's contemporary hard rock. There is never a choice to exclude any "rock-form" that may be appropriate. But minimalism is very much of importance. With complexity abandoned early on, this created a boundary in order to have an individuality or hopefully uniqueness. I think lyrically, Prong is different from most. There is an occult tinge, some Gnostic spirituality. But remains political. There are personal, pissed off songs as well.



How did Prong start?

We came out of the Lower East Side of Manhattan music scene of the late 80's. I was working the soundboard at CBGB. I met a lot of bands, scene people, etc. I saw a lot of local bands and national acts. Mike Kirkland and myself felt we could do something different. I studied a lot of styles as a kid and merged that with what was going on at the moment. This is something I continue to do. With a little luck we got a record out without too much embrace from local scene. Our success in Europe opened eyes over here.



Do you still speak with the former members?

Unfortunately I don't.



What are your tour plans?

In May we are supposed to do an American run.



How did the live album do? Why did you decide to do a live record?

The main purpose of the live record was to introduce and/or reintroduce the material of some of our forgotten or under-promoted records. "Prove You Wrong" and "Beg To Differ" are both out of print. "Rude Awakening" was out for a month then Epic records decided to stop promotion of it. That record has proven to be ahead of its time. But this was all idealism and the Live record was overlooked and under-promoted as well.



Why did the band disband?

After Epic dropped us I was fed up. I was broke and disappointed. I was tired of working my ass of for everyone else involved and felt unappreciated. I was belittled continually and felt all the pressure of Prong's lack of big time success. I wasn't good-looking enough, my vocals sucked, I was an asshole ...bla bla bla. I should have stuck to my guns and believed in myself more and continued with a more supportive cast back then.



What is Locomotive Music all about, I'm not very familiar with it?

It's a very successful international independent label out of Madrid. They have offices in Germany as well. Prong is the only North American act on their label. They have been extremely supportive. Holger Koch may be known for his work for Nuclear Blast. I think he is an awesome A&R guy so there really wasn't much of a choice. It's a really great company.



How did the band reunite?

I was writing and making demos for another project that failed to get off the ground. Eventually Dan Laudo (who replaced Ted Parsons after Rude Awakening) and myself got back to jamming and used some of these songs. I was the last guy in the world to want to use the Prong moniker again. Ian Friedman, my lawyer and old friend pushed real hard for a new Prong record along with everyone around me. Eventually I succumbed!



How was it collaborating with the likes of Rob Zombie and others?

Technically it wasn't collaborative because I never got any credit! Eventually I have realized the importance of staying busy and productive. Guys like Rob and Glenn Danzig have unbelievable drive and focus. Monte Pittman has been a great guy to collaborate with. He's extremely talented and unbelievably positive about everything. Pat Lachman is another strong force to be reckoned with. I don't think I would have been able to do much without those guys.



Did you consider touring under a different name?

Yeah this was discussed earlier. It's still an option.



How well does your back catalog sell? Are all the albums available or out of print?

I don't know about sales. Record sales for all is obviously down. Again "Beg" and "Prove" are out of print.



What's the difference between an indie like Locomotive and a major like Epic?

Freedom! "Scorpio" is self-produced. Epic would have never went for that. I haven't had to showcase songs and submit demos with Holger from Locomotive.



What's the future for Prong?

I don't have a crystal ball. I'm forced to use the popular pro athlete cliché of taking it "one day at a time". I have to do what I have to responsibly on a daily basis. Things are really positive right now. Everybody involved is working very hard and I owe it to them to do the best I can.


Band Website: www.prongmusic.com