Tommy Victor of Prong: Hardwired Prongisms

"Australia is a nicer Los Angeles I’ve heard"

Australian fans are frothing at the mouth for Prong’s first Australian tour, lead by none other than Tommy Victor; the face of Prong since its inception in 1989. Prong is considered as a pioneer of the urban metal scene and sustained mainstream success through the raw wave of the 90’s however the band also suffered crushing blows from Epic Records who took an axe to their contract. The band remained on hiatus until 2002 when a fresh perspective was attained and again Prong was in full stride. The history of Prong is engaging, as it portrays the true determination of a musician. Metal As Fuck caught up with Tommy Victor recently to chat about the latest album, the latest tour and the theory that being bitter from the very start casts away all disillusions.       

What are your anticipations for the bands first Australian tour? “I have no idea, I just know that Australia is great to visit and I’m excited for that – it’s a nicer Los Angeles I’ve heard” [Laughs]

It was with the release of 2007’s Power of the Damager that had began a new era for Prong; coupled with Carved into Stone and the latest of course (Ruining Lives) - what impact have these three albums had on the band? “It’s a renewed feeling about the whole project. The response on the last two albums have been great and it’s inspiring because you just want to keep making records. We spent time on the records and we are playing stuff that we like which is equally as important”.

You’ve previously mentioned that Ruining Lives in particular has captured the best elements of Prong? “By accident [Laughs]! I didn’t really have that much of a concept going into it, a lot of the old ‘Prongisms’ are ingrained into me and hardwired into the whole thing so it’s got to the point where reverting to old styles or not I really can’t tell but we concentrated a lot on the guitar so in that sense it sounds reminiscent of earlier records. It also had a lot to do with the fact that we played these albums in full during past tours and I realised that I really liked it all”.

No concept going in, so when did you have an idea or where did you realise it started to take shape? “It never real had one, that’s what we use producers and engineers for, to establish a general vibe and we just try to be cohesive with the direction. There are a lot of natural melodies in the riffs with the latest album, so we tried to utilize that as much as possible without wasting them, so by the point we’re up to the vocals, we want to take it to the next level and it opens up even more possibilities with a song, so I guess that was the concept in a way”.

The album came out beautifully and everyone can agree that Prong have had varying levels of success during its career, yet the band deciding to go on hiatus in 1996 – what was the initial reasoning behind this? “It had a lot to do with me and the fact that we got dumped by our label, I didn’t know if I wanted to continue doing Prong and then I was offered another gig with Danzig, I was like great I’ll be a side guy and just get paid to play guitar but ultimately that wasn’t enough for me, I began another project that didn’t go anywhere, so inevitably Prong was the thing I was supposed to be doing all along so I came back to concentrating on it more”.  Did you feel the alternative outlets you had during those years’ revamped inspiration and energy for Prong? “Maybe in a guile way, where I realised I was putting all this time and effort and money into someone else’s pocket, so much time was spent on the records of other people and helping their successes, you know, I should probably be using these ideas and riffs for my band. Musically no, I don’t know where my inspiration comes from, I guess from spinning records and listening to bands since I was a little kid, but I’ve never sat down and thought where it all comes from, it’s just emerged this way”.

You have had an amazing career and witnessed some of the greatest moments of heavy metal in the 90’s, Being that the industry is very unpredictable however do you feel Prong was unleashed to the world at a good time? “Anytime is a good time and everything is exactly how its supposed to be, Of course I would love if these records were done years ago when the intention was to sell a lot more records and people were more interested in rock; on the other hand I’m happy with the way things are, at this stage in my life and career I am proud that I am able to still continue to tour and write records”.

The changes in line-up over the years - how frustrating was this for you considering you were the guy who said, quote “I’m willing to eat Raman Noodles my whole life and stick it out” “Oh it’s frustrating, a lot of the people I did want to continue playing with but they decided to do other things, you feel like something is going well then they choose otherwise. People coming in and out of your life, suddenly the marriage isn’t there anymore. I’m used to it; I am a little callous against those things unfortunately but the fortunate thing about Prong is that as long as I am around it can be. In some projects members are replaceable, I can be replaced in any other project but I really cannot be replaced in Prong”. It has given you the opportunity to work with some amazing musicians “Yeah of course, it’s all good, the more I look back and the more I keep doing this the more appreciation I have for all these opportunities. Some people don’t get that, some get bitterer along the way, I am fortunate that I started out bitter”. [Laughs]

What are Prong’s plans to further promote the latest album? “We’ve toured quite a lot this year actually. We’re in Europe prior to the Australian run and that is the third time we’ve been in Europe this year, we just finished an American and Canadian tour also, plus we want to hit South America soon. It all seems to be working out so far".