Interview with vocalist and guitarist Tommy Victor | By Nicholas Pendergast

Tommy Victor is a celebrated wingman of metal and has been pummeling eardrums with scathing riffs and great songs for many years. Since Prong’s debut in the late ‘80s, they’ve released tons of killer records, including their most popular album, which included the hit “Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck,” a song that enjoyed rotation on heavy radio stations across the country, and a spot in MTV’s “Beavis & Butthead.” Their new release, Prong X – No Absolutes, dropped Feb. 5 via Steamhammer/SPV. Of the record’s title, frontman Tommy Victor explains, “It’s our 10th full-length studio record of original songs. So, X stands for 10. ‘No Absolutes’ is one of the song titles. It reflects insecurity in our personal identities and the current worldwide situation.”

What motivates Prong to keep the awesome heavy metal going and not just break up or do something different? “It’s still a challenge,” Victor admits. “I don’t feel as if Prong has arrived yet. It just keeps getting better. Personally, I feel as though I’m maturing as a vocalist and guitar player. I have the benefit of working with some really talented guys, which makes things exciting. There aren’t any technical limitations. So, the sky’s the limit. I like making smart, modern records as well: quickly, efficiently, and economically.”

Prong’s last album, 2014’s Ruining Lives, had a profound impact on the new record. “Ruining Lives was a major accomplishment on a few levels,” Victor says. “I’ve never been involved in a record that was written and recorded so quickly with such satisfying results. We began Prong X – No Absolutes with a new confidence based on that. There’s even less hesitation in these new songs. We just knew it would be good and we could finish it on time. [Engineer] Chris Collier and I have developed this wonderful trust between the two of us. This makes things run so smoothly. We just get it done and have a good time. I can say this record is stronger on all fronts. It sounds better, it’s more sure of itself, and the songs are better.”

Victor spent time “getting deep into the songs and styles” of a lot of very seasoned artists while recording Prong’s cover album Songs From the Black Hole, an experience that influenced his approach on the new album. “Trying to respectfully give tribute to the vocal and guitar style of Neil Young on ‘Cortez The Killer,’ for instance, was a huge challenge. I learned a bit about my vocals. That transmuted into the vocal style on ‘Do Nothing’ on the new Prong record. I also took some of the aggression of Henry Rollins from ‘The Bars’ and put that into a lot on X. From a guitar standpoint, recreating and trying to improve upon the styles of guys like [Bad Brains’] Dr. Know and [Black Flag’s] Greg Ginn reminded me to have a more spontaneous approach, which one may find on the new Prong.”

The album’s first single, “Ultimate Authority,” was released in early October. “From a musical standpoint, I think it represents a fusion of all the songs on X, if that’s possible,” Victor says. “There are a lot of hooks on the record and a lot of slick, chunky guitar parts. There’s a lot of variety on the record, though. It’s not the last and only single. A lot of my lyrics are about taking responsibility and this one is no exception. This song says that everyone is allowed to do whatever the hell they want to do, but if you step out of line with, let’s say ‘natural law,’ then you may just have to pay for it. Everything at a cost.”

Though the music industry has changed since Prong started many years ago, Victor seems confident about the band’s place in the musical landscape. “Change is inevitable and whether one is prepared or not is almost like a roll of the dice,” he shrugs. “This whole thing has a lot to do with luck and being in the right place at the right time. If you want to go for it, go for it. If you’re afraid of losing, maybe you should do something else. Life is weird, you just have to go with the flow a lot of the time.”

Victor also serves as the lead guitarist for Glenn Danzig’s eponymous band, who may soon be retiring from touring, potentially allowing Prong more chances to head out on the road. “Over the last seven years, there has been a good amount of scheduling conflicts,” Victor says. “Those have always proven to be stressful, and Prong has definitely been compromised. We have to just see what happens. It may be strange for me, because I’ve been double-duty-ing and triple-duty-ing for over a decade now! I do wish, in any case, Prong could be continually on the road. That would be awesome.”

Pick up Prong X here.

Author

Nicholas Pendergast is a writer and artist with eight years of experience as a contributor. He has written for New Noise, Metal Injection, and Indy Metal Vault just to name a few places that have defied his low expectations by inviting his opinions. His goal in life is to die peacefully before backpains become a natural everyday occurrence, and he finally quit Warcraft because of China.

Write A Comment