Prong Comments on "Carved Into Stone" & Crowbar Tour
Band Photo: Prong (?)
Prong has another album on the horizon. “Carved Into Stone” hits retail outlets on April 24th, 2012 (hear the new track "Eternal Heat"). Vocalist/guitarist/founder Tommy Victor stated it’s the quintessential Prong album, which covers a lot of ground. Their down tuned guitar grooves and pseudo-hardcore vocals are unmistakable. One facet of Prong’s music that makes the unique is they are hard to pigeon hole into any one sub-genre. From thrash to hardcore to alternative and on to industrial—Prong records are a cornucopia of styles.
Prong’s output in the ‘90s played a pivotal role in the direction metal would take in the 1990s, especially the band’s groove. Singles such as “Prove You Wrong,” “Broken Pieces” and “Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck” became staples on MTV’s “Headbanger’s Ball,” leading to tours with Pantera and Sepultura.
Prong’s discography has been fragmented since releasing “Cleansing,” the album that produced “Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck.” Much of this can be explained by looking at Victor’s time in Danzig and Ministry. He can’t devote the time to Prong that he could in the ‘80s and early ‘90s. Currently, Victor has set his sights on promoting and touring with Prong, his own creation. Metal Underground spoke to Victor about managing his time between bands, an upcoming tour with Crowbar and why “Carved Into Stone” is the definitive Prong record.
Darren Cowan (Rex_84): “Carved into Stone,” your new album is finished and ready for release on April 24th. You were quoted saying your goal was to “make the definitive Prong album.” Do you feel you met that goal?
Tommy Victor: I think so. I really do. The concentration of songs—we delivered that. It has good riffs, some hooks in there, and good performances. I can’t find anything wrong with the record. I think it came out really well. We spent the bucks on a good producer. We spent the energy getting good songs together. We re-demoed stuff. We picked and chose from a selection of twenty-five songs down to eleven. The work was put in and we let the chips fall as they may. I think it covers all the ground with thrash, a little bit of hardcore, “Rude Awakening” kind of “alt” metal stuff in there. It covers a lot of what Prong has done in the past. I think it could be considered thrash still. I’m pretty happy with it.
Cowan: Did you choose the album title because this is the definitive Prong album?
Victor: It’s based on the song “Carved Into Stone,” which is about being affirmative. It’s based on some outside force coming into your life that gives you the power to be decisive. We brought that into a beam descending into a Prong logo that came from the future back into time and is engraved or embossed into rock. It worked well with the whole packaging—the lyrics, etc. Even that worked out. We were able to grab a lyric and a title from one of the songs that applied to the whole scope of the album.
Cowan: How much did Steve Evetts play into you getting the sound that you wanted?
Victor: A very big part. That’s why we hired him. We wanted somebody proactive into the approach, covering all ground from engineering, having projections without arrangements, busting my ass getting good vocal performances, directing me in certain ways, making sure guitar solos are dialed in correctly. The sounds…if you work with any descent engineer you’ll be able to get a descent guitar sound, drums, etc. He’s a producer/mixer/engineer that does more than just engineer. He put the drum parts together. We did pre-production—he worked his ass off really good.
Cowan: This record marks your Long Branch Records debut. Why did you change labels when you were formerly on Al Jorgensen’s 13th Planet?
Victor: We ended the relationship with them. They were more focused on Ministry and Revco than anything else. For the most part, people didn’t even know that last Prong album [“Power of the Damager”] existed, which may not be a bad thing (laughs). It wasn’t working out. We had to go do demos and find another record deal.
Cowan: Are you unhappy with the amount of press the last one got?
Victor: We didn’t really work it that hard, too, because I was so involved with Ministry at that time. The album cycle suffered because of that. I was definitely disappointed with the amount of press that was done on that record. I think it has a lot to do with who’s handling your press, as well. It’s the amount of energy put in from everybody involved.
Cowan: When you released “Power of the Damager,” did you release it on 13th Planet because you were working with Al Jourgensen? Did you think that was a good place to put an album that most people perceive as an industrial album?
Victor: It has some industrial on it. It has a lot of really good songs. We worked pretty hard getting the songs together. I think what lacked was the production. I produced it myself. You need some leverage when you’re making a record. You need somebody to stand over you to make sure you’re doing the right thing. I really didn’t have that presence. However, as far as making the decision on where to go with that album, we had a couple of opportunities. At that time, we thought that was the best thing to do. Based upon the amount of energy put into Ministry and Revco, we thought that maybe that would apply to Prong. That was wishful thinking, I guess.
Cowan: “Power of the Damager” was deconstructed and reassembled by numerous musicians for the remix “Power of the Damn Mixxer.” Do you have plans for a remix version of “Carved Into Stone?”
Victor: I guess. That whole entity of remixing records was cool at one time for bands like Prong because there weren’t many people doing it when we started doing those, so it had more of an impact. Now, there is a rejuvenated interest in Electronica, but I don’t really care that much whether there is one or not, at this point.
Cowan: Do you think you might use some of the songs you didn’t use on the album?
Victor: No, one thing I try to do is write for the garbage pail. The stuff that doesn’t make it is gone. I don’t even revisit that much stuff. It has happened a couple of times in Prong’s career, but only twice, where we brought back an older song to revisit. I doubt that’s going to happen on future releases.
Cowan: Tony Campos plays bass on the album. You two also appear on the new Ministry album “Relapse.” Did you strike up a friendship while working on the Ministry album and decide to work with him here?
Victor: When we went out on the Ministry tour, we didn’t really talk about it that much. When we got off the tour was when it became a possibility. I didn’t know what his plans were. I always had the belief in the back of my mind that he and Wayne [Static] would get together again and patch things up. But that didn’t happen, so it was after the fact that I said, “Hey, why don’t you help me out with some songs. Why don’t you come out and tour with us.” He said, “Yeah man.” We were rooming together on the Ministry tour, so when we stayed in hotels we had a relationship going.
Cowan: Glenn Danzig once stated he didn’t want his original lineup to play on four records. He wanted different artists on each album, so each album would have a separate personality. Considering the long list of musicians that have played in Prong, do you take a similar stance to recording as Glenn?
Victor: No, I like to keep guys around. It’s just that they abandon me (laughs). They usually find something else that is more profitable. I was totally happy with Monte [Pittman] and Aaron [Rossi] it’s just that Monte has four children to feed. He’s not going to do that playing with Prong all the time, so he has a great gig playing with Madonna. With Aaron it’s sort of the same thing where I totally enjoy playing with him and want him to continue, but he thought it was below him or wasn’t what he wanted to do. The same thing goes with Troy Gregory. We were totally happy with him. It’s just the way things go. I don’t really have any answers to it. It’s not really anything out of my own decision.
Cowan: Are you going with the trio on tour?
Victor: Yes, we’ve been doing that for a while. We’ve been a three-piece for at least six years now. When we do shows, it’s sporadic, that’s for sure. We don’t really play a hell of a lot. Playing with Glenn [Danzig] and Al kind of put Prong on hold a lot.
Cowan: There is the new Ministry album coming out [released March 26th] and he’ll be touring. Also, there is your tour. Are you doing both Ministry and Prong tours?
Victor: No, I’m not going on tour with Ministry, but I’m still going to play with Glenn. That’s something that I’m trying very hard to fit in.
Cowan: Have you ever done double duty? Have you ever played with both Prong and Danzig in one show?
Victor: No, I haven’t done that with Glenn. I did triple duty playing the Misfits set—you didn’t really see the whole thing. We did Danzig, Samhain and Misfits sets, so if you consider that any kind of extended set. That may happen occasionally, maybe here and there, if we do a couple of shows together. That is if he allows it.
Cowan: It would be interesting. The only time I saw Prong was on tour with Danzig in 2002. You weren’t playing with Glenn at the time.
Victor: Right, I played with Glenn before that, and then went back to Prong fulltime. Then I wound up playing with Glenn again. Then I went with Ministry. The last five years or whatever is my third episode with Glenn.
Cowan: You’ve been staying busy.
Victor: Yes, I have been. It’s been grueling, that’s for sure.
Cowan: I want to go back a little ways. You formed Prong at a CBGB’s show you were working. What sticks out the most in your memory when working at CBGB’s?
Victor: I worked there as the sound man. Mike Kirkland was the door man. He wanted to form a new band. I wasn’t really announcing that I played anything. I was considering a career as an audio engineer. He found out from his girlfriend. He said, “I heard that you play.” I said yes, and then we got together and started writing songs.
Cowan: CBGB’s is primarily known as a punk club.
Victor: CB’s had a collage of different styles. It’s noted as a punk place, but anybody could get a gig there if they were good. It was a great place for the local scene—acoustic acts or whatever. It ran the whole spectrum of kind of artists that played there.
Cowan: Considering that Prong has all of these different influences, was that a product of CBGB’s?
Victor: Absolutely! It was just being aware of what was going on down there. I was a part of the whole lower East Side for years, even before Prong. It was a melting pot. This was pre-Internet and pre-digital technology. You had to go to clubs to see things. In the early ‘80s, there were approximately twenty-five places to play original music in Manhattan alone. It was a thriving scene back then.
Cowan: Were industrial bands playing your area? Where did this form of music come in?
Victor: I think industrial came from the Chicago scene and Europe with Einstürzende Neubauten and Swans if you consider bands before us. They were a lower East Side band that was considered industrial. Bands like Einstürzende Neubauten and Big Black came through. We were definitely exposed to those groups.
Cowan: I have another question from the cellar. On You-Tube there is a video tape of tour with Pantera and Mind Over Four in 1990 shot by roadies. What do you recall from that tour?
Victor: Ah man, I was just trying to stay away from the Pantera guys because they forced you to get wasted and come party with them all the time. I couldn’t do it. I was getting ill, so I tried to hide all the time…I was sort of an outcast because I tried to stay sober on the whole thing. Eventually you submit...
Cowan: It looked like you had a good time, though.
Victor: It had it’s moments. It was youthful. It was raging. It’s just like anything, you get burnt out. How much fun can you possibly have?
Cowan: You hit the road with Crowbar soon. How do you feel about this tour?
Victor: We’re looking forward to it. It’s a band that we respect and really like a lot, so hopefully it’s a good package. I said “Hell yeah” when it was brought to me.
Cowan: Both bands are beacons of the ‘90s metal sound.
Victor: Right, I’d like to think so. At least they are. I don’t know about Prong.
Cowan: Prong is all over the place, but you also have that groove that figured so much into the ‘90s sound and even today.
Victor: Well, I appreciate it. That’s what I hear. I just do what I do.
Cowan: You’ll be performing “Beg to Differ” in its entirety. Do you think this is an apt album considering “Carved in Stone” is a return to your roots?
Victor: We’re not doing it on that tour, but we will be when we go over to Europe (U.K.). Here, we do a good amount of “Beg to Differ” material. We cover all of the early records. We do the “hits,” you know. We’ll do one new one. The record is not out yet. We’ve been doing one of the songs, so we may try to throw another one in there, time permitting.
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